Easy chicken carbonara with spaghetti, tender strips of chicken, plenty of bacon and a delicious Parmesan sauce comes together in one pan and is ready in about 30 minutes!
Today’s recipe for easy chicken carbonara is one of those I have wanted to tackle for a long time.
But it seemed a little bit intimidating. I don’t know, I think I thought there was some special trick to it or fancy chef method needed.
Well, I was so wrong. This dish is super easy to make, comes together quickly and has amazing flavor!
That creamy sauce made from the eggs and Parmesan cheese is super rich and just clings to every noodle.
And then the strips of chicken and bits of bacon throughout are just scrumptious. And the lemon zest lightens and brightens the whole dish at the end before serving.
Nothing intimidating here - or difficult.
Also, it's just 7 ingredients!
Plus, this dish is ready in about 30 minutes. You can satisfy your carbonara cravings at home anytime!
First things first.
Chicken carbonara is a popular version of the classic Italian carbonara, a pasta dish made with bacon or pancetta, whisked eggs and Parmesan cheese.
Adding the chicken makes this more of a hearty main course meal for my family.
Also, fun fact - there’s no heavy cream needed for carbonara.
Yes, it’s got a creamy, rich sauce that clings to the noodles, but that sauce is simply made from the eggs and Parmesan cheese.
And oh man, it’s so, so good.
It’s definitely going to be a new pasta night favorite!
OK, let’s get cooking.
Now, I’ve got some notes and tips coming up below on how to make chicken carbonara. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
- Spaghetti: Regular or whole wheat spaghetti will work here. You could even try a gluten-free pasta. Just be sure to reserve some of the cooking liquid.
- Bacon: The more, the better! Seriously, cook as much as you can fit in your pan. (Or cook some extra in the microwave like I usually do; you need about 1 minute per slice, unless your bacon is really thin.) You can also substitute pancetta if you prefer.
- Chicken: The chicken needs to be sliced into very thin strips. You want it to incorporate with the pasta and twirl up with every bite.
- Eggs: These are what make the sauce and give the dish it’s richness. You just need to stir quickly and constantly when you add the egg-Parmesan mixture to your pan so the eggs don’t scramble.
- Lemon zest: This adds the perfect bit of brightness to the dish to finish it off, so I don’t recommend skipping.
Also, I highly recommend you serve this with extra Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. It just takes this dish over the top.
Seriously, you are going to be impressed with yourself when you plate this dish and dive in. It’s delectable - and restaurant worthy!
(And I won’t tell if you won’t that it’s actually really easy to make!)
Speaking of serving this up, I usually just pair it with some steamed broccoli or another green vegetable to round out the meal. A light green salad would work well, too.
Last thing, let’s talk about the leftovers.
To be honest, I don’t think chicken carbonara saves and reheats as well as some other pasta dishes. It’s definitely not in the category of “better the next day.”
The sauce just doesn’t last and retain the same creaminess after it’s cooled and reheated.
However, you can store the leftovers, in a covered container, in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat in individual portions in the microwave.
It still tastes good, just not the same wow factor as when it’s first made.
Whether this has long been a restaurant fave of yours or is just a dish you’re curious to try, I hope you give this chicken carbonara recipe a go.
I think you’ll be swooning from the first forkful!
- 12 oz. spaghetti
- 8 slices bacon (see notes)
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into very thin strips
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Zest of 1 large lemon
For serving (optional):
- Extra Parmesan cheese
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a wide, deep skillet over medium heat until crispy, turning occasionally. Remove to a paper towel to drain and cool. Crumble the bacon and reserve.
- Season the chicken strips lightly with salt and black pepper. Add to the pan where the bacon cooked and cook over medium until chicken is cooked through, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the pasta and the reserved bacon to the pan and mix to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and Parmesan cheese together, along with a pinch of black pepper.
- Add the egg mixture to the pasta and chicken mixture. Stir well, quickly and constantly, to coat the noodles (and to avoid scrambling the eggs.) Add a splash of reserved pasta water, as needed, to help the sauce adhere to the noodles.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes to warm through then top the dish with lemon zest and serve immediately, with extra Parmesan cheese and black pepper if desired.
Spaghetti: Regular or whole wheat spaghetti will work here. You could even try a gluten-free pasta. Just be sure to reserve some of the cooking liquid.
Bacon: The more, the better! Seriously, cook as much as you can fit in your pan. (Or cook some of it in the microwave like I usually do; you'll need about 1 minute per slice unless it seems really thin.) You can also substitute pancetta if you prefer.
Chicken: The chicken needs to be sliced into very thin strips. You want it to incorporate with the pasta and twirl up with every bite.
Leftovers: Honestly, I don't think chicken carbonara keeps as well as some other pasta dishes do. The sauce just doesn’t last and retain the same creaminess after it’s cooled and reheated. Plus, the bacon isn’t as crisp. However, you can store the leftovers, in a covered container, in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat in individual portions in the microwave.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 615Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 328mgSodium: 1021mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 62g