Boasting rich, creamy and cheesy flavours, the classic carbonara is a weeknight dinner staple in the kitchens of many households. To celebrate this Italian favourite, we've collated our best twists on this beloved dish, recipes which are perfect for when you fancy experimenting while still enjoying carbonara's salty, creamy charms.


Our vegan and vegetarian carbonara ideas are ideal for the meat-free eaters in the family, while our clever additions with chicken, chorizo and salmon are great for extra protein.

Looking for a classic carbonara? We've got you covered with our ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe, next level spaghetti carbonara and creamy carbonara. For more pasta recipes, see our Italian pasta collection, quick pasta collection and healthy pasta collection.

1. Carbonara with chicken

Chicken and bacon spaghetti carbonara on a plate

This deliciously simple carbonara includes chicken for extra protein, combined with a rich creamy sauce which the whole family will love. Serve fresh out of the pan for a hearty, crowd-pleasing dinner.

Find more simple chicken pasta recipes with our chicken pasta collection, including our popular chicken pasta bake.

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2. Vegan carbonara

Two plates of vegan carbonara in blue bowls

Now vegans can enjoy a piping hot bowl of carbonara with Sara Buenfeld's nifty vegan recipe, omitting bacon for meaty mushrooms flavoured with smoky paprika.

Find plenty more healthy vegan recipes with our vegan Healthy Diet Plan.

3. Vegetarian carbonara

Two bowl of spaghetti with veg and parmesan

This healthier vegetarian twist replaces pork with mushrooms and courgettes, ideal for packing in veggies while still enjoying something hearty. It takes just 30 minutes too, perfect for busy weeknights.

See more of our speedy pasta meals or check out our vegetarian pasta collection.

4. Mushroom carbonara

Crispy Mushroom Carbonara

Leave out pancetta and replace with meaty chestnut and baby button mushrooms in this simple veggie carbonara, ready on the table in only 30 minutes. It uses a one-pan cooking method to save on washing-up. Also, discover health benefits of mushrooms.

For more mushroom pasta recipes, see our mushroom pasta collection, featuring a creamy ham & mushroom bake.

5. Chorizo & purple sprouting broccoli carbonara

Chorizo and purple sprouting broccoli carbonara in a large blue dish

We've ramped up the indulgence by adding chorizo in this seasonal carbonara, while simultaneously upping your leafy green intake with purple sprouting broccoli. The best of both worlds!

Seek more comfort with our comfort food collection and healthy comfort food collection.

6. Smoked salmon carbonara

Two bowls of smoked salmon carbonara in white bowls

Here's a brilliant way to use up leftover smoked salmon trimmings – the rich flavour works extremely well in this creamy, indulgent dish.

Find more ways to use up leftover salmon with our leftover salmon recipes, including a speedy pasta with salmon & peas.

7. Cream-free spaghetti carbonara

Cream-free spaghetti carbonara

Comfort, without the cream. Enjoy a warming bowl of classic carbonara without cream, using eggs to create a silky sauce. Don't worry, it's still packed with flavour from pancetta and parmesan.

Find more healthier ways to enjoy comfort food with our healthy vegetarian comfort food recipes, including a slow cooker vegetable lasagne.

8. Spring greens carbonara

A large bowl of carbonara spaghetti packed with spring greens and bacon

Seeking comfort but also craving veggies? Look no further than this spring greens carbonara. Sweet peas and asparagus balance the saltiness of the pancetta and richness of the egg yolks.

Discover more ways to up your veggie intake with our spring green collection, featuring a vibrant spring greens spanakopita.

9. Swede & pancetta spaghetti

Three white bowls of swede & pancetta spaghetti

This budget-friendly and simple twist on carbonara sees seasonal swede paired with pancetta and plenty of parmesan. This is the perfect carbonara to rustle up on chilly autumnal nights.

Find more simple pasta recipes which are perfect fuss-free weeknight meals.

10. Crispy bacon & sausage carbonara

Close up shot of a bowl of penne carbonara with crispy bacon & sausage

We've swapped spaghetti for penne and added crispy bacon, eggs and sausage to create a breakfast-themed twist on a classic. Ready in just 25 minutes, it makes a great budget-friendly dinner, too. Also, discover our how to cook bacon guide.


See more budget pasta recipes for thrifty weeknight dinners.

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