Vegan Corn Carbonara with Tempeh Bacon

By Alexandra Caspero on August 6, 2018
One of my favorite summer meals. A must-make when fresh corn is in season.
Serves 4

Vegan Corn Carbonara with Tempeh Bacon Crumbles. So incredibly creamy without any dairy, cheese, cream, cashews or beans! 

Vegan corn carbonara! I cannot say enough incredible things about this pasta. Cannot say enough how creamy, how silky, how delicious this one is.

It’s carbonara without any cream, any dairy, any cashews, any beans- none of the usual suspects. The sauce is made from pureed, fresh corn kernels and tossed with spaghetti, homemade tempeh bacon, basil and fresh tomatoes.

If you love carbonara pasta, then you are going to love this one.

Vegan Corn Carbonara with Tempeh Bacon.

Vegan Corn Carbonara with Tempeh Bacon.

See the silky sauce? BL couldn’t believe this one was dairy-free; it coats the pasta so well, I could just drink it. I thought about stopping there, but what kind of carbonara doesn’t have bacon? So, I added in my vegan bacon crumbles. Ta-da! The perfect addition to this vegan corn carbonara recipe. 

These are one of my favorite ways to enjoy tempeh. I make a batch all the time to add to pasta, eggs, tofu scrambles, wraps– pretty much anywhere you’d normally put bacon.
Add a little soy sauce, maple syrup, balsamic, cayenne and red pepper flakes and in minutes, the tempeh transforms into crispy bacon bits.

Since it’s summer, I couldn’t imagine this pasta without lots of basil and tomatoes, which add the perfect balance of freshness and texture. Promise me you’ll try this one out, I know the idea of corn in pasta sounds weird but it works and it’s amazing. Make it soon!

vegan corn carbonara with tempeh bacon

If you like this Vegan Corn Carbonara, you’ll love these pasta recipes:

Vegan Lasagna
Vegan Pesto Pasta
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Spicy Vegan Pasta with Sausage
Vegan Curry Noodles
Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Vegan Corn Carbonara with Tempeh Bacon.

If you try this vegan corn carbonara with tempeh bacon, make sure to come back to leave a comment and a rating. Your feedback helps others readers and seeing you make my recipes makes my day! 


vegan corn carbonara with tempeh bacon

Vegan Corn Carbonara with Creamy Corn Sauce and Tempeh Bacon

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, main
  • Cuisine: Italian, American


YOU GUYS. This recipe. SO delicious and creamy, you’d never guess it was free of dairy, cheese, tofu, cashews, ect. Silky corn carbonara with crispy tempeh bacon, tomatoes and basil.

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, main
  • Cuisine: Italian, American
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, main
  • Cuisine: Italian, American


  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
  • 8 ounces tempeh, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. This is how you add flavor to pasta while it cooks- the water should be salty! Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. Just before draining, add 1 cup of the corn and let cook for 1 minute.
  2. Drain the pasta and corn, reserving ½ cup of pasta water and set aside.
  3. While the noodles are cooking, make the bacon. Crumble the tempeh using a box grater or very finely chop. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the tempeh along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cooking until tempeh is golden brown and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk together the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, cumin and red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over the tempeh, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid is absorbed and tempeh is glazed and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. While the bacon is cooking, make the sauce. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the garlic and remaining 3 cups corn, remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup, salt and cayenne and cook for 3-5 minutes, until heated through. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  6. Add the corn sauce to the cooked pasta and toss to coat. If too thick, add in reserved pasta water 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Add in the bacon, lemon juice, basil and halved tomatoes and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  7. Plate and garnish with extra basil and more fresh black pepper, if desired.


Recipe adapted from Chloe Flavor 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Susan
      September 6, 2018 AT 6:58 pm

      Hi,Alex, I am planning my first foray into tempeh tomorrow and read your How to Cook Tempeh post. I would like to make it into bacon but I think I would prefer slices so I could possibly freeze? some of it as I would be the only one in the house eating it. I understand about steaming first but not sure what to do next. Would it be possible to slice it and then proceed with the sauce or glaze as the recipe is written? Those flavors sound good to me and I think this format would be more practical for me than a full pot or recipe of something even if they all sound great! Thank you so much for your help. I have been googling like crazy to find out what to do with tempeh but as a subscriber to your blog it dawned on me to search and see what you like!

      1. Alex
        September 8, 2018 AT 7:15 am

        Hi Susan- yes, you can freeze tempeh though I haven’t done it with this particular method. The steaming is to remove any bitterness- sometimes I do this and sometimes I don’t! Really just depends on how much time I have to get dinner ready 🙂

        I love tempeh like this, it’s delicious! I also have a recipe for tempeh sausage in this breakfast burrito recipe that’s good:

        You can try the bacon in slices- just be careful with turning it as it’s delicate. I’d use the same sauce and pan fry it to golden, then add the sauce! Let me know how it turns out!

        1. susan
          September 8, 2018 AT 3:42 pm

          Thank you, Alex, for your reply and suggestions. I made the tempeh bacon in the carbonara recipe as you suggested and I like the flavor of the sauce. Tempeh does not have a lot of flavor on its own I discovered but the texture may be an acquired taste! I may try it as crumbles next time I buy it as I don’t like buying the prepared kind out of the supermarket freezer. Too processed. Tempeh sloppy joes or chili could be really good! I will also check out your link to the tempeh sausage. I remember seeing it in your original post. If that is the one in which you mentioned including eggs in your diet I agreed with you 100%! Thanks again! I enjoy your blog. 🙂

          ps: Do you have a preferred brand? A friend told me they tend to be different one to another.

    2. Dani C
      August 10, 2018 AT 6:59 am

      I made this recipe last night and I loved it! took about 6 ears of corn. Perfect amount of heat and I love the way all the flavors come together. I also am very happy that the tempeh bacon does not include liquid smoke, for some reason that ingredient never tastes quite right to me. Absolutely wonderful recipe. Thank you!

      1. Alex
        August 10, 2018 AT 7:33 am

        So glad you liked it! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! xo