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Vegan Carbonara

This is my totally unauthentic, but extremely delicious VEGAN carbonara recipe with smoky tempeh bits! It’s real comfort food!

Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara with smoky tempeh bits

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim that this is authentic carbonara – it’s quite the opposite actually, BUT it is extremely delicious! And you should try it!

Recently I fell in love with the use of homemade cashew cream all over again. It’s the perfect base for creamy dishes like this carbonara recipe.

And the cool thing is that you can store the cashew cream in the fridge for up to 4 days, and use it for all kinds of recipes (sauces, dips, dressings, add it to soups,..).

You can always thin out the cashew cream if you need to. I’m using pasta water to make the cream thinner, so don’t forget to save it when you drain the pasta!

My ‘meaty topping’ alternative is tempeh. I love tempeh because it soaks up the flavor of the soy sauce and liquid smoke really well. But if you don’t like or can’t get tempeh, you can also use tofu, soy granule, or sliced mushrooms instead.

Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara with smoky tempeh bits

How to make Vegan Carbonara

The Ingredients

As always, you can find the whole recipe at the end of the post. But here’s an overview of the ingredients you will need:

  • pasta (e.g. spaghetti)
  • fresh parsley
  • for the sauce:
    • cashews
    • garlic clove
    • lemon juice
    • salt
  • for the tempeh bits:
    • tempeh
    • soy sauce
    • oil
    • liquid smoke

The basic steps

cooking spaghetti in pan
Step 2: Boil the pasta in a pot (or if you’re lazy like me, use the pan you’re going to use later for the tempeh).
tempeh bits in pan
Step 3: Cook the tempeh in oil, soy sauce, and liquid smoke until brown and crispy.
combining spaghetti and cashew sauce
Step 4: Combine the spaghetti with the cashew sauce. If you need to thin out the sauce, use more water. Add more salt to taste.
Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara with smoky tempeh bits
Step 5: Add the spaghetti to a plate, top with the tempeh bits and fresh parsley. Enjoy!
Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara with smoky tempeh bits

More Pasta recipes you will love

Love it? Rate it!

I hope you enjoy this vegan carbonara as much as I do! Let me know if you give it a try!

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Cheers, Bianca

Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara with smoky tempeh bits

Vegan Carbonara

Bianca Haun | Elephantastic Vegan
If you're craving carbonara, you will love this vegan carbonara recipe with tempeh bits – creamy white sauce made with cashews.
3.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 2 people
Calories 768 kcal


  • 4 oz spaghetti pasta
  • fresh parsley

Carbonara Sauce

  • 1 cup cashews raw, unsalted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Tempeh Bits

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil (or your fav plant-based oil)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup tempeh cut into small cubes


  • For the carbonara sauce: Cover the cashews with water and let them soak overnight in the fridge. The next day, rinse and drain. Add all the ingredients for the carbonara sauce in a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
  • Boil the pasta. In a pot. With water. (You know this. You can do this. I believe in you.)
  • For the tempeh bits: In a large enough pan, heat the oil on medium to high heat. Add the tempeh bits, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. Stir. Let the tempeh bits cook for about 3-4 minutes until crispy, stir them around until all the sides are crispy. Then set aside.
  • Once the pasta is soft, drain it (save the pasta water!) and put it back in the pot or pan. Add the carbonara sauce, thin it out with the pasta water (I usually add about 1 1/2 cups of pasta water) but it really just depends on the preferred consistency. Add salt to taste.
  • Give it a good stir and heat it up until warm. Then divide the pasta carbonara into bowls and add the tempeh bits and fresh parsley on top. Enjoy!


Calories: 768kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 35gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 772mgPotassium: 894mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 128mgIron: 7mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @elephantasticvegan or tag #elephantasticvegan!
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