Today we’re sharing a delicious, authentic, restaurant-quality recipe for Chicken Carbonara. Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish that originated in Rome with a creamy, rich sauce made from eggs, cheese, bacon and black pepper – and it’s one of my all-time favorite dishes!
Behind the scenes in a restaurant kitchen, carbonara is often made-to-order by a chef manning a sauté station. If you recall reading about it here, a sauté station is set up with a variety of ingredients that are prepared ahead of time. Then, when a customer’s food order is placed, the ingredients are combined together and served hot and freshly cooked.
The sauté station concept is a great idea for cooking dinner for your family when you know time is going to be tight – and today’s Chicken Carbonara is written so that you can pre-prep many of the ingredients ahead of time. Then – just cook up dinner when your family gets home after a busy day!
Our Chicken Carbonara has all of the classic ingredients – bacon, cream, Parmesan cheese, eggs – plus the addition of tender chunks of cooked chicken, pine nuts, basil, garlic, chopped parsley and lemon zest which adds a delicious freshness to the rich, creamy sauce.
We served our Chicken Carbonara over spaghetti – but you can serve this over any favorite pasta you’d like!
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When this dish is done right, the rich deep flavors of the egg mixture combined with the bacon make this a satisfying and delicious comfort dish. Getting the temperature of the egg and cream mixture hot but not scrambled is the most difficult part and the key to success.
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 box spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini – or any pasta of your choice
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar (adding this helps the eggs cook without scrambling)
- 6 egg yolks
- 1½ cups Parmesan cheese divided plus a little more for sprinkling over finished dish
- ½ cup fresh basil, plus some extra for garnishing the finished dish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound raw chicken tenders
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Zest from one lemon
- Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Set aside both crumbled bacon and bacon fat.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Cool and set aside but keep moist.
- Toast pine nuts in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat until lightly browned. Set aside.
- Mix the butter and flour together in a small sauté pan and heat over medium to low heat for four minutes until the raw flour smell is gone. Set aside.
- Heat cream, milk and sugar to hot in a small sauce pan. Do not boil.
- Fill a low wide pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Beat egg yolks in stainless steel or heat proof glass bowl that will fit over hot water pan without touching water but don’t place over hot water yet.
- Slowly pour hot cream and milk into egg yolks in a very slow steady stream whipping vigorously as you pour. Place bowl over hot water and whip continuously until the mixture is hot but not scalding. This step is critical that you do not over heat, or you will scramble the eggs. If the mixture heats too quickly, pull bowl off of heat and let cool a bit and then back on, but whip continuously.
- Once done, remove from heat and add one and one half cups of Parmesan cheese, one half cup chopped basil, salt and pepper. Then whisk in the cooked butter and flour mixture until the mixture is smooth. Set aside. If preparing early in day, refrigerate.
- Remove tendon from the chicken tenderloin by laying the dull edge of a knife blade over tendon and with your other hand, pull tenderloin up with your fingers and slide off of the tendon. You should be left with the tendon on the board and the tenderloin in your hand. This takes some practice but once the technique is perfected, you can quickly remove tendons from tenderloins. Finally cut each tenderloin into three or four pieces.
- If you prepared the basic ingredients earlier in the day, pull the egg mixture out and gently bring back to serving temperature over hot water, again being careful not to get it too hot.
- Heat a pan of water to boiling with an opening large enough to drop a strainer into, to reheat the cooked pasta. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and place the butter and two tablespoons of bacon fat with the chicken and sauté for two to three minutes until chicken is no longer pink. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Place the pasta into the hot water for a few seconds, then into the pan with the chicken. Toss in the parsley, lemon zest and the crumbled bacon (save a little bacon to crumble over top of dish). Remove from heat and add in the egg yolk and cream mixture. Bring the pan just to serving temperature. Again, if you get it too hot, you will scramble the eggs.
- Slide onto serving dishes and top with reserved crumbled bacon, sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a little more basil and finish with the toasted pine nuts.
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