This creamy brussels sprouts pasta recipe has an easy carbonara sauce and is peppered with tender shredded and sauteed brussels sprouts and smoky crisp bacon. It comes together in minutes and makes an easy weeknight meal!
Why We Love This Recipe
If you are looking for fast and easy veggie-filled dinner recipes to get you through the busy school year this creamy Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara is a great recipe to save. This pasta dish is made with only five ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and only takes 15 minutes of active time. The hardest part is waiting for the pasta water to boil!
At this time of year, as the temperatures start to cool down and the kids are busy with fall sports, we really love simple comfort food meals like pasta carbonara. Since learning how easy carbonara is to make when I first tried Vegetarian Fettuccini Carbonara with Mushrooms it has become a go-to cooking technique when the cupboard is nearly bare because you only need a few pantry staples to make it! Carbonara is a great way to get dinner ready in under a half-hour
The basic principle of carbonara is that you cook pasta then toss it while it is still piping hot with cheese and eggs which melt into a beautifully silky, creamy sauce that coats each strand of pasta in a magical way.
I first had it in Italy when I was in my early twenties but had never tried making it at home. Now I know just how simple it is and I am so excited to share this Brussels sprouts version of pasta carbonara!
Ingredients For This Recipe
For the sauce, you will need two egg yolks and one whole egg. If you buy farm fresh eggs from pastured hens the yolks will be bright yellow and give the sauce a beautiful golden hue.
Like other classic Italian pasta dishes such as cacio e pepe or Puttanesca sauce, this recipe is so very simple and has only a few ingredients. That is why the quality of the ingredients matters more than ever. In the case of this recipe, I suggest hand grating Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for the best taste and texture.
Note: Pecorino Romano is a good substitute but is a little more salty, so keep that in mind when salting the pasta water.
Classic linguini carbonara is made with bacon and its grease or crispy guanciale which is Italian cured pork jowl. I’ve used only two strips today to give this dish classic smoky taste. Chop the bacon before cooking.
Note: turkey bacon does not render enough fat to use it for this recipe. If you do use turkey bacon, you’ll want to add olive oil to the skillet for cooking the Brussels sprouts.
You will need a half-pound of Brussels sprouts to make this recipe. Look for those without signs of mildew or pests and remove any discolored leaves from the outside of the sprouts before cutting them.
Many grocery stores also sell pre-shredded Shaved Brussels sprouts in the produce section and they can be used as an easy time-saving alternative.
Linguine, Fettuccine or Spaghetti
Spaghetti is classically paired with carbonara, but fettuccine and linguine also work beautifully! You will need a half-pound for four servings. Feel free to use whole-wheat for added nutrition.
Salt and Pepper
To boil the pasta, you will need 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt. To season at the end add in black pepper to taste.
Step By Step Instructions For This Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara
The key to carbonara is having everything prepped before you start making the sauce because it comes together so quickly! Make sure to read the recipe through in its entirety before starting.
The pasta water takes at least 10 minutes to come up to a boil, and then ten more (or so) to cook, so in the meantime, you can prep and cook all the other parts of the recipe so they will be ready when the pasta is done cooking.
Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Aim for about 1 gallon of water in the pot. When the water boils add 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt and then cook the pasta to al dente according to the timing on the package.
Step 2: Meanwhile, as the pot of water is coming up to a boil, trim and slice the Brussels sprouts into very thin shavings:
- Cut the bottom of the stems off. Then cut each one in half through the stem end.
- Lay the Brussels flat on their cut surface and slice very finely into thin shreds. You should have three to four cups of shredded sprouts.
Step 3: Stir egg yolk and whole egg in a small bowl with the shredded Parmesan.
Step 4: As the pasta is cooking, on another burner over medium-high heat, cook the bacon in a medium or large skillet (cast iron is best.) When it is crispy and the fat is rendered, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain it on a plate with a paper towel. Keep the bacon fat and the browned bits in the skillet for the next step.
Step 5: Add the shredded Brussels sprouts to the hot bacon fat, and saute until they are just tender. If there are any bits of bacon fond on the skillet, scrape them up as you cook the Brussels sprouts. That will add more flavor to the dish!
Step 6: When the pasta is done cooking, carefully remove one cup of the pasta water before draining it. Return the drained pasta to the pasta pot. Off heat, scrape all of the egg and cheese mixture into the steaming hot pasta and toss continuously with tongs to cook the egg with the hot pasta. As you toss add the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce and make it creamy.
Step 7: Add the Brussels sprouts, bacon, and black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine everything. Continue to add more of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as necessary.
FAQs and Expert Tips For This Recipe
If you prefer to make this a vegetarian dish, skip the bacon, and use 1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter to cook the Brussels sprouts instead of using the bacon fat.
While the eggs in carbonara are cooked to a safe temperature of 160 degrees most of the time from the heat of the pasta and cooking liquid (both of which are around 200 to 212 degrees when added to the egg) it is possible for there to be some variation with the possibility of the egg not reaching 160 degrees. Therefore if you, or a member of your family, has a weakened immune system, or other health concerns, avoid using unpasteurized raw eggs.
Cold carbonara will clump together so it is important to add liquid and stir as the pasta is reheated. Cook it in a non-stik skllet or saucepan over medium heat with a little water. Or add water and heat it in the microwave in short intervals, stopping to stir often. Only reheat until steaming hot.
Variations On This Recipe
- As the creamy Brussels and hot pasta comes together you can add in a little lemon zest or squeeze of lemon to the creamy sauce to brighten the flavors.
- For a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the skillet with the Brussels sprouts.
- You can also add in shallot or garlic by cooking it in the bacon fat for a few seconds before adding in the Brussels sprouts.
- You can also add in shredded cooked chicken for extra protein.
- You can also top each serving with toasted breadcrumbs cooked in brown butter for a rich and crunchy contrast to the creamy sauce.
- Pine nuts also add an interesting flavor profile with the creamy pasta.
- I also love to add fresh parsley on top of pasta for color and freshness.
More Brussels Sprouts Recipes
Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie
This creamy Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara is made with bacon and shredded Brussels sprouts. It only takes 15 minutes of prep work and makes a satisfying weeknight dinner!
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
8 ounces dry spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine, whole wheat if desired
½ pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 large egg + 2 large egg yolks, both room temperature
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 slices center-cut bacon, chopped (look for Certified Humane)
Freshly groun pepper, to taste
- Bring one gallon of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Once water comes to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to package instructions to al dente.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. You should have about 3 to 4 cups.
- Stir egg and yolks together in a small bowl. Once fully mixed, whisk in the cheese. Set aside.
- Set a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon, stirring often, until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to prevent burning. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked bacon to a plate covered with clean paper towels.
- Add Brussels sprouts to the skillet and sauté in the bacon fat until crisp tender, scraping the bottom to release any browned bits (fond) stuck to the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside.
- When the pasta is done, carefully remove 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Off the heat, gradually stir in egg-cheese mixture, stirring constantly with tongs to cook eggs and coat noodles. Add pasta water as needed to thin.
- Stir in the Brussels sprouts, bacon and pepper. Serve hot.
Cooking Tips For The Best Results
For best results read the recipe through before cooking. It goes really fast, so it is best to have a clear idea of the steps before you start.
If you tend to forget to reserve pasta liquid, set your measuring cup into the colander, that way when you go to drain the pasta, you will see the measuring cup and be reminded that you need to scoop out the cooking liquid.
The pasta (and cooking liquid) should be piping hot when the egg mixture is added in because the heat of the pasta is what cooks the egg.
The pasta may not need all of the liquid, but it will set up quickly as it sits.
- Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup
- Calories: 329
- Sugar: 3 g
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated Fat: 4 g
- Carbohydrates: 48 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 17 g