What is Chicken Carbonara?
Creamy chicken carbonara is inspired by a classic Italian (Roman) pasta dish made with bacon or pancetta, whisked egg, and hard cheese. Bacon, egg, and cheese me all day, baby. Carbonara sauce is an egg-based white sauce featuring Parmesan cheese, black pepper, fresh herbs, and sometimes cream. It’s creamy, delicious, date-night worthy, and will rock your world.
Thanks to the magic of bacon, this is the most heavenly smelling pasta dish I or you will ever make. Chicken, garlic, and linguine swirled in bacon fat and melted Parmesan cheese. It’s a cheesy pasta dish loaded with flavor without being overly heavy like fettuccine, which I’ve never really been a fan of. It just makes me feel gross.
The recipe is really simple if you break it down into simple parts, plus it all comes together (mostly) in a single cast iron skillet in about 30 minutes.
How to Make Carbonara Sauce
This simple carbonara sauce is comprised of 4 eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Recipes will occasionally only call for egg yolks, omitting the whites, but I think the whole egg contributes to the overall texture and flavor. I’ve added a little heavy cream to my sauce for additional creaminess.
Adding reserved starchy pasta water at the very end will also help thin the sauce out, keeping it creamy without being too thick or dry.
Whisk all carbonara sauce ingredients together in a bowl and stir into the warm pasta at the very end. The hot pasta, plus the warm skillet will cook the egg just enough without scrambling the eggs. If your pan is too hot, then you’ve just made breakfast.
How to Make Chicken Carbonara
Cook the thick cut bacon in a skillet (thick is important) first, reserving some bacon fat for flavor. Cook the chicken second with the garlic in that flavorful bacon fat. Add the bacon back to the skillet, add linguine or pasta of choice, and stir in the carbonara sauce until you have a creamy, rich pasta dish. Finish with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper, Parmesan cheese, and chopped basil.
Recipe Prep Makes All The Difference
Prep makes a big difference in this recipe. Cutting the chicken and bacon before you start anything else makes the recipe move quickly and smoothly. As you get your pasta water boiling, whisk together the sauce and slice your proteins so you can fly right out of the gate. If you’re making something for the first time, I’ve always found it tends to cut down on the stress, especially if you’re cooking for guests.
If it’s Italian it’s got to be served with wine. I think this would go well with a crisp, fruity white or Chianti Classico. I’m going with Chianti.Print
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized strips
- 12–14 ounces linguine
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguine al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before straining.
- Combine eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese, basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a cast iron skillet on medium heat until fully cooked, remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the skillet and discard the rest.
- Add minced garlic and sliced chicken to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook until chicken is fully cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
- Return bacon to the skillet, add the warm linguine and toss with chicken and bacon. Turn the burner down to low and let the skillet cool for 2-3 minutes. If the skillet is too hot you run the risk of scrambling the eggs.
- Add egg mixture to the skillet and toss with the pasta until fully incorporated. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of reserved pasta water until creamy. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.
Keywords: creamy chicken carbonara