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15-minute Creme Fraiche Carbonara with Bacon

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Crème Fraîche Carbonara is the best way to fake your way to a carbonara – with bacon and parmesan cheese this is just as tasty as the original, but easier to make and with more staple-friendly ingredients.

side view of a pan full of créme fraîche carbonara with bacon, with parmesan cheese in the background

This dish is one of those true and tested recipes that I’ve made for years. It’s a quick way to get a delicious dinner on the table, and while not an authentic carbonara – it tastes just as good.

Why you will love this recipe

  • It’s quick and done in 15 minutes, heating the pasta water included
  • It’s easy without any unnecessary steps
  • It’s delicious and packed full of flavor
  • It uses common staple ingredients – and if crème fraîche is not a staple in your house, just go for cream instead
close up of créme fraîche carbonara with bacon

Why this carbonara is fake

Fake carbonara, I say. Yes, because a true, authentic carbonara definitely doesn’t have crème fraîche – or bacon or parmesan for that matter. Instead the sauce is made from egg yolks and pecorino cheese which combine with the pasta water to create the creamy carbonara deliciousness.

But! I like to keep things easy, so while I love making a classic carbonara – more often, I make a fake one. You can make it with cream or with crème fraîche, but I for one love how the acidity of the crème fraîche helps to lighten this dish up a bit. And yes, bacon, because the classic guanciale (cured pork cheek) is preettyyy hard to find at my local ICA and parmesan because, well, it’s always in my fridge.

What you need to make this fake carbonara

To make this recipe you will need just a few simple ingredients:

top down view of ingredients needed to make creme fraiche carbonara with bacon - pasta, leeks, bacon, creme fraiche, parmesan and ground black pepper
  1. Uncooked pasta – whatever kind you prefer. I like fusilli for how the sauce clings to it
  2. Leeks – just chop small and rinse in a strainer, and don’t forget you can use the whole leek – not just the white part
  3. Bacon – but it already diced or get strips that you slice small
  4. Crème fraîche – or your preferred type of cream
  5. Shredded parmesan – or pecorino, or skip it if you don’t have either
  6. Ground black pepper – fresh ground is always better, but not necessary here

How to make crème fraiche carbonara

To make this dish, start by chopping your leeks and bacon and shredding your parmesan cheese. Then get your pasta of choice cooking according to package instructions and while the pasta is boiling you should have enough time to make the bacon sauce.

When the pasta is finished, drain most of the water – but make sure to keep a bit to add to the sauce.

c0ollag showing how to fry bacon and leeks
  1. Now for the sauce, start with a cold pan. This is important as it will allow the bacon to release as much fat as possible and hence you won’t need to add any extra fat to cook in – and that nice bacon fat flavor will spread throughout your sauce. So place your diced or sliced bacon in a cold pan, and then place the pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the bacon looks done. It shouldn’t be crispy or too brown – just cooked.
  3. Then add the chopped leeks and mix. Cook for another two minutes.
  4. And then add the crème fraîche together with some pasta water.
collage showing how to add créme fraîche and seasoning to bacon and leeks
  1. Mix well until the crème fraîche has melted.
  2. Then add the shredded parmesan cheese and ground black pepper.
  3. After mixing well, bring to a simmer and let simmer for 2 minutes for all the flavors to combine.
  4. Then add in the pasta, mix well, and serve! Top with some extra parmesan and ground black pepper if you like, or serve it alongside the pasta for your guests to add themselves.

Expert tips and FAQ

  • Chop the leek before you rinse it to be sure you remove all that earth
  • Placing the bacon in a cold pan allows it to release a lot of fat while heating up and this way you don’t need to add any extra fat to cook in
  • Fresh parmesan is amazing for this recipe but in a pinch you can skip it
  • Crème fraîche makes this pasta creamy while adding some acidity but you can also switch it in part or fully for your preferred type of cream
  • Don’t add salt out of old habit – both the bacon and the parmesan are salty so odds are you won’t need it

What can I use instead of crème fraîche?
Instead of crème fraîche you can use cream – light, full fat or half n half.

Do I have to use parmesan?
No! You can use pecorino instead, or just skip it.

side view of a pan full of créme fraîche carbonara with bacon, with parmesan cheese in the background

I hope you enjoy this fake carbonara just as much as I have over the years! Love it? Rate it 5 stars below! And while you’re there – why not leave a comment and let me know how I’m doing?

Looking for other quick dinner options? Check out all my 15-minute dinners – and for more quick crème fraîche pasta recipes how about a crème fraîche salmon pasta, chicken crème fraîche pasta with sun-dried tomatoes or a chicken crème fraiche pasta with feta cheese?

Enjoy!

Emmeline

side view of a pan full of créme fraîche carbonara with bacon, with parmesan cheese in the background

15-minute Crème Fraîche Carbonara with Bacon

5 from 5 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: European
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 990kcal

Ingredients

  • 250 g uncooked pasta
  • 280 g bacon diced or sliced small
  • 5 dl leeks chopped small
  • 4 dl crème fraîche
  • 1 dl pasta cooking water
  • 2 dl shredded parmesan + more to serve (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper + more to serve (optional)

Instructions

  • Start by getting your pasta water going and cook the pasta al dente according to package instruction, and then drain almost all of the water. Make sure to save some of the pasta water for use in the sauce. While the pasta is cooking, you can make the sauce.
  • Place diced or sliced bacon in a cold frying pan over medium high heat and cook for about 5 minutes until bacon looks cooked, mixing often.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add in the chopped leeks. Mix and cook for 3 minutes.
  • The pasta should now be done, so add the crème fraîche and pasta cooking water to the bacon and leeks. Mix well and then add in the shredded parmesan and ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the pasta and mix well.
  • To serve, bring the pan from the heat and top with shredded parmesan and some ground black pepper.

Notes

Top tips

  • Chop the leek before you rinse it to make sure to remove all that earth
  • Placing the bacon in a cold pan allows it to release a lot of fat while heating up and this way you don’t need to add any extra fat to cook in
  • Fresh parmesan is amazing for this recipe but in a pinch you can skip it
  • Crème fraîche makes this pasta creamy while adding some acidity but you can also switch it in part or fully for your preferred type of cream
  • Don’t add salt out of old habit – both the bacon and the parmesan are salty so odds are you won’t need it

FAQ

What can I use instead of crème fraîche?
Instead of crème fraîche you can use cream – light, full fat or half n half.
Do I have to use parmesan?
No! You can use pecorino instead, or just skip it.

Nutrition

Calories: 990kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 62g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 1374mg | Potassium: 690mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 3123IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 792mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutritional information is approximate and automatically calculated, and should only be viewed as an indication.

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