A delicious twist on an Italian classic, my chicken carbonara with leek and mushrooms recipe is the perfect quick and easy midweek meal – quick as a flash and knock-out delicious!
You'll have it whipped up in less than 20 minutes, which'll please the whole family! Trust me... this is a pasta dish you're going to go back to again and again!
Why you'll love this chicken carbonara recipe
- A quick and easy pasta dish that makes the ideal midweek dinner.
- Highly adaptable – you can tweak it to your tastes.
- It's healthier and less greasy than a traditional carbonara, with no bacon grease.
- The mix of succulent chicken breast, earthy mushrooms, subtly sweet leek and creamy rich sauce is absolutely delicious!
Equipment you'll need for this recipe
There are a few pieces of equipment that you'll need for this chicken carbonara recipe:
- Cooking pot – get yourself a quality stainless steel pasta cooking pot with strainer for this recipe
- Slotted spoon – the perfect way to remove your pasta from the pan, while also scooping up a little of that all-important pasta cooking water
- Pasta tongs – you'll need these to serve up your pasta
- Pasta serving bowls – serve up your pasta with style
How to make chicken carbonara with leek and mushrooms
Brown the chicken pieces in oil.
Gently fry the leeks, garlic, and mushrooms until cooked. Remove from the pot.
Place the eggs, cream and cheese in a bowl.
Whisk and season to taste.
Place the cooked pasta in the pot.
Cover in carbonara sauce.
Add the chicken and vegetables, then toss. Top with even more cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Place the cooked chicken on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess grease.
What to serve with Chicken Carbonara
Any type of crusty bread would be perfect on the side of this chicken carbonara dish. Add garlic butter for a garlic bread carbonara combo from heaven!
An Italian red would be perfect! Go for something with acidity, like Pinot Noir, Barbera, or Chianti.
Variations to this recipe
- Add an extra egg yolk to the whisked egg mixture for a silky-rich carbonara sauce. When making a traditional carbonara, the Italians often separate the egg yolks from the whites for a richer taste.
- This recipe is an alternative to a standard carbonara, but you can add pancetta if you want to. Fry the pancetta (or guanciale, cured pork cheek, as the Romans traditionally use) in the pan. I recommend draining the pancetta on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess grease.
- Some people prefer their cooked pasta to be 'al dente,' which means "to the tooth" in Italian. It's a more traditional way of cooking and eating pasta – the Italians say it's better for savoring the flavors and aids digestion. If you prefer al dente pasta, cook the pasta for about 5-6 minutes. You want it to be tender and chewy but no longer crunchy.
- You can use turkey breast in place of chicken for this recipe.
- For a vegan version, leave out the chicken and replace it with tofu or seitan, for example. You could also opt for a big, flavorful mushroom-like shiitake or oyster mushrooms.
- For a less heavy version, replace the heavy cream with single cream.
- You can swap white onions for leeks at a 1:1 ratio.
- When draining your pasta, keep some pasta water aside. You can use reserved pasta water in the sauce – it makes it thicker and helps to bind the pasta with the sauce.
- Carbonara is all about simplicity, timing, and quality ingredients. Use free-range eggs, organic chicken breasts, and good cheese (parmesan or Pecorino Romano).
What is carbonara?
It's a simple Italian dish that traditionally consists of chunks of cured pork, spaghetti, or fettuccine, and a sauce made from egg and cheese. Historically, pieces of guanciale – cured pork cheek – are used, although nowadays, many people use pancetta.
It's believed that spaghetti carbonara originated in the Lazio region of Rome, Italy. It was first made by charcoal workers in the city, otherwise known as Carbonari, as a cheap and delicious lunch meal.
Nowadays, the traditional recipe inspires others – as with this delicious chicken carbonara recipe!
What's the golden rule of cooking a carbonara?
Be delicate with the carbonara sauce! Eggs are delicate, and you need to be gentle with them.
The pan should be cool when the carbonara sauce is added. You don't want the eggs to cook when added to the pan. The hot pasta should gently heat the egg mixture, and cooking water with the extra pasta creates a rich, deliciously creamy sauce.
Another golden rule... eat it right away! Carbonara should be enjoyed immediately after cooking when the pasta is warm and the sauce is silky smooth.
What's the best cheese to add to a carbonara?
Two types of cheese are usually added to a traditional carbonara – parmesan and Pecorino (usually Pecorino Romano). Parmesan is one of the most beloved types of cheese in Italy, with a wonderful nutty, rich and slightly fruity flavor. Pecorino is a special variety of Italian sheep's milk cheese with a distinct nutty, slightly salty flavor, with a spicy, smoky undertone.
What pasta should I use for this recipe?
I've gone for spaghetti or fettuccine, the perfect pasta to soak up the carbonara sauce.
How do you know when pasta is cooked?
Spaghetti or fettuccine generally takes around 8-10 minutes to cook.
To ensure it's cooked properly, use a fork to take a piece of spaghetti or fettuccine out of the boiling water, then let it cool for a few seconds. Squeeze it between your fingers – if it's a little stiff and hard to break, it's not ready yet. Give it a few minutes. If it breaks easily enough, it's done.
What meat goes well with carbonara?
Traditionally, carbonara is made using chunks of guanciale – cured pork cheek. However, other types of meat go really well with a carbonara sauce. In this recipe, I've gone for chicken breast, which
What's the difference between alfredo and carbonara sauce?
Can this recipe be scaled?
Yes! If you want to make a big chicken carbonara batch, double all the measurements below.
Can it be made in advance?
This dish is best eaten as soon as it's made, as the texture of the sauce and the flavors won't be the same if stored and reheated.
How do you store chicken carbonara leftovers?
If you do find yourself with leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container. Keep the container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
More pasta recipes
Are you a fan of Italian cuisine? Are you looking for more quick, simple pasta dishes to liven up the week? Here are some more delicious recipes for you to try your hand at:
- Chicken and leek pasta bake – such an easy and satisfying recipe, this chicken and leek pasta bake is one of those classic comfort foods that’ll please the whole family. It is flavourful, with a few cooking tricks to make your taste buds tingle. If you’re looking for a simple, sumptuous supper with hardly any prep time, this is the one for you.
- Bolognese pasta bake – this pasta bake is the perfect comfort food that anyone can master. It's an excellent recipe for cooking large batches of food at a time, which you can defrost and enjoy later.
- Pasta alla Norma – Pasta alla Norma from the Catania region in Sicily is made from aubergines, tomatoes, and ricotta. It's a delicious traditional Italian meal that is perfect for a busy midweek evening.
- Sausage pasta bake – rich sausage meat in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with bubbling melted cheese, this pasta bake is a truly sensational one-tray wonder! It's so easy to prepare and make, and will no doubt be a hit with the whole family.
- Gluten-free spaghetti bolognese – a delicious gluten-free pasta dish packed full of flavor and easy to make. If you have gluten intolerances and are a big fan of Italian cuisine, this is the dish for you!
- Chicken pesto pasta – As this recipe proves, you only need humble ingredients to make a spectacular dinner. What's best is that you can alternate between different types of pasta and make this pesto pasta dish your own. The same goes for the pesto. In addition, if you wish, you can quickly turn this into a vegetarian pesto pasta dish!