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You will love this rich and decadent Chicken Carbonara. It’s made with crispy bites of tender chicken breasts, tantalizing bits of Italian bacon, perfectly cooked pasta, and the most flavorful creamy sauce.

To get the perfect consistency in the egg-based sauce, it’s all about the timing and the technique, which I’ve outlined below with tons of step-by-step photos. I can’t wait for you to make this recipe!

plate of chicken carbonara pasta.
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Why I love this recipe

  • My version of a classic Italian pasta dish
  • It’s the perfect comfort food the entire family will love (or you can make my even more kid-friendly ham and pea carbonara version)
  • Fantastic for any kind of dinner, from a busy weeknight to special occasions

Ingredients needed to make Chicken Carbonara

With this type of recipe, it will really make a difference if you use the best quality ingredients.

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and black pepper
  • all-purpose flour
  • fresh whole eggs
  • finely grated parmesan cheese
  • heavy whipping cream
  • bacon, pancetta, guanciale, cured pork belly, or rancher’s bacon
  • fresh minced garlic
  • butter and olive oil
ingredients needed to make chicken carbonara.

How to make Chicken Carbonara

Prepare ingredients

Ensure all ingredients are chopped/measured/prepared before you start cooking.

1. Heat a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer until you are ready to bring it back to a boil to cook the pasta.

2. Lay chicken breasts in between two layers of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/2″ thick using a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin. Coats both sides with salt and pepper. Add flour to a large plate and dredge the chicken in the flour to coat. Set it on the flour plate until you are ready to cook.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, parmesan, and heavy cream. Whisk to combine.

Start cooking bacon

Heat a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until it begins to slightly turn golden brown and release hot grease, about five minutes. Add the garlic, stir to coat, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Push the bits of bacon to the edges of the pan. Note: if there is an excessive amount of bacon fat, you can remove the crispy bacon using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate, and discard the excess bacon grease.

Start cooking chicken

Add the butter and oil to the center of the hot pan and place the prepared chicken on the hot surface. Allow it to cook, mostly undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom. You can use tongs to slightly lift the chicken to allow the hot butter/oil/grease to get underneath.

Start cooking pasta

When the chicken is about ready to flip, increase the heat under the pot of water to high to bring it to a boil again, and add the pasta. The time required will depend on the package directions.

Finish the chicken

Flip the chicken and brown the other side. When done, transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board. Remove the sauté pan from the heat.

Slice the browned chicken into small, thin, bite-sized chicken strips. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the cooked bacon.

Reserve pasta water

Prior to draining the pasta, add at least 1/2 cup of the salted starchy pasta water to a measuring cup to thin the sauce later on.

Mix hot pasta with carbonara sauce

Drain the pasta and immediately return it back to the pot. With the heat off, add the egg and cheese mixture to the hot ingredients and stir very well to combine.

The hot pasta will cook the egg enough to turn it into a wonderful sauce without scrambling the egg. Thin with reserved pasta water, as needed (or wait until you’ve added the chicken and bacon and see if it needs thinned then).

Add meat and serve

When the sauce is ready, add the chicken and bacon mixture, scraping any oil and bits that remained in the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with fresh basil and additional grated parmesan, if desired.

Recipe tips when making chicken carbonara

  • Finely grate the cheese: Freshly grated parmesan always melts better than pre-shredded. Either will work for this recipe, but finely grated cheese from a block is best. You can substitute the parmesan with a different hard cheese like pecorino romano or grana padano.
  • Get the timing right: For the best creamy chicken carbonara, the trick is to transfer the hot pasta directly out of the pot of salted boiling water and into the sauce, away from additional direct heat to avoid curdling the egg. This can be done either in the pasta pot or in a dish.
  • Choosing the right pasta: Although any type of pasta can be used, spaghetti is really your best choice because it has a sufficiently large ratio of surface area to volume. This means that the cylindrical shape of each spaghetti noodle will maximize it’s contact with the sauce, thus ensuring the sauce gets properly cooked.
  • Follow the recipe exactly: To avoid having the egg scramble, never add the egg in carbonara sauce over direct heat. You use the heat from the freshly cooked pasta to heat and cook the sauce. You can also avoid curdling by setting your eggs out at room temperature a few hours before using them. That will decrease the temperature delta between your eggs and the hot pasta.
homemade chicken carbonara.

Storage and reheating

Chicken carbonara is best if eaten fresh, but leftovers can be stored and reheated.

  • Store any leftover carbonara in an airtight container and refrigerate. Plan on eating it within a few days.
  • Leftover pasta carbonara can be reheated, but you must do it gently. My recommendation for reheating would be to either heat on the stove, covered, over very low heat. The alternative would be to heat in the microwave at a low power, say 30-50%, and to stir it often to ensure it gets heated evenly. 
serving of homemade chicken carbonara with spaghetti noodles.

If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!

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Chicken Carbonara

Prep10 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Total30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
You will love this rich and decadent Chicken Carbonara. It's made with crispy bites of tender chicken breasts, tantalizing bits of Italian bacon, perfectly cooked pasta, and the most flavorful creamy sauce.

Ingredients 

For the pasta:

To make the carbonara:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to 1/2 inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup parmesan finely grated – highly recommend using a microplane
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bacon, pancetta, guanciale, or rancher's bacon diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • for garnish: fresh basil sliced into thin ribbons and more parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • Prepare ingredients: Ensure all ingredients are chopped/measured/prepared before you start cooking.
    1. Heat a large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer until you are ready to bring it back to a boil to cook the pasta.
    2. Lay chicken breasts in between two layers of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/2" thick using a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin. Coats both sides with salt and pepper. Add flour to a large plate and dredge the chicken in the flour to coat. Set it on the flour plate until you are ready to cook.
    3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, parmesan, and heavy cream. Whisk to combine.
    chicken coated with flour.
  • Start cooking bacon: Heat a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until it begins to slightly turn golden brown and release hot grease, about five minutes. Add the garlic and stir to coat. Push the bits of bacon to the edges of the pan.
    chopped bacon cooking in large skillet.
  • Start cooking chicken: Add the butter and oil to the center of the hot pan and place the prepared chicken on the hot surface. Allow it to cook, mostly undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom. You can use tongs to slightly lift the chicken to allow the hot butter/oil/grease to get underneath.
  • Start cooking pasta: When the chicken is about ready to flip, increase the heat under the pot of water to high to bring it to a boil again, and add the pasta.
    skillet with cooked chicken and bacon next to pot cooking pasta.
  • Finish the chicken: Flip the chicken and brown the other side. When done, transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board. Remove the sauté pan from the heat.
    Slice the browned chicken into small, thin, bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the cooked bacon.
    cooked chicken breasts and bacon in large skillet.
  • Reserve pasta water: Prior to draining the pasta, add at least 1/2 cup of the salted cooking water to a measuring cup to thin the sauce later on.
    reserving pasta water to thin sauce.
  • Mix hot pasta with sauce: Drain the pasta and immediately return it back to the pot. With the heat off, add the egg mixture to the hot ingredients and stir very well to combine. The hot pasta will cook the egg enough to turn it into a wonderful sauce without scrambling the egg. Thin with reserved pasta water, as needed (or wait until you've added the chicken and bacon and see if it needs thinned then).
    adding carbonara sauce to hot spaghetti.
  • Add meat and serve: When the sauce is ready, add the chicken and bacon mixture, scraping any oil and bits that remained in the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with fresh basil and additional grated parmesan, if desired.
    adding chicken and bacon to pasta carbonara.

Notes

  • Freshly grated parmesan always melts better than pre-shredded. Either will work for this recipe, but finely grated cheese from a block is best.
  • For the best carbonara, the trick is to transfer the hot pasta directly out of the pot of salted boiling water and into the sauce, away from additional direct heat to avoid curdling the egg. This can be done either in the pasta pot or in a dish.
  • Although any kind of pasta can be used, spaghetti is really your best choice because it has a sufficiently large ratio of surface area to volume. This means that the cylindrical shape of each spaghetti noodle will maximize it’s contact with the sauce, thus ensuring the sauce gets properly cooked.
  • To avoid having the egg scramble, never add the egg in carbonara sauce over direct heat. You use the heat from the freshly cooked pasta to heat and cook the sauce. You can also avoid curdling by setting your eggs out at room temperature a few hours before using them. That will decrease the temperature delta between your eggs and the hot pasta.
  • Leftover pasta carbonara can be reheated, but you must do it gently. My recommendation for reheating would be to either heat on the stove, covered, over very low heat. The alternative would be to heat in the microwave at a low power, say 30-50%, and to stir it often to ensure it gets heated evenly. 

Nutrition

Calories: 746kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 200mg, Sodium: 1739mg, Potassium: 532mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 820IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 254mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you're in the right place! Stick around... I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

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