Follow these easy make-ahead steps for shrimp carbonara with grilled corn (it doesn’t have to be grilled) and bacon. Pasta water helps create the perfect sauce along with eggs, garlic and red pepper flakes forming the base to a fabulous shrimp dinner. Fresh basil and parmesan pull it all together.
When you’re looking for a special dish to serve for friends and family, this pasta recipe is an all time favorite. Grilled summer corn adds a sweet flavor to a classic pasta dish. While it might look complicated, you can make everything well in advance and then throw it all together right before you’re ready to eat.
Shrimp carbonara with grilled corn is a favorite of ours, it’s light and fresh with lots of flavor from summer corn on the cob and succulent shrimp. No cream needed for a creamy carbonara, the eggs and pasta water create a sauce that is enhanced by lots of garlic and red pepper flakes all cooked in a little bacon grease.
The combination of salty bacon, sweet corn, shrimp and fresh basil create a decadent bucatini carbonara recipe that is perfect for summer dinners. While the grilled corn is a nice addition, you don’t have to grill it to still have a fabulous pasta dish. Just cook the corn in the microwave or even use frozen corn.
If you’re overflowing with fresh corn, get out the iron skillet and make some skillet corn with bacon and a little cream – yum!
What is Pasta Carbonara
Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish typically made with eggs, a hard cheese like parmesan or romano and pancetta served over linguine. The egg plus starchy pasta water creates a creamy sauce that’s flavored with bits of meat. Some versions also have cream in the sauce for a richer dish.
Traditionally carbonara does not have meat or cream. It’s a simple dish that can be thrown together quickly and with just a few ingredients.
This version of carbonara takes a bit more planning as it has a few steps, but you can do some in advance. You can grill the corn early in the day and cook the bacon and shrimp ahead of time. When you’re ready to eat, just cook the pasta and assemble it so there is minimal time in the kitchen when your friends arrive. You want to serve this right away.
If you want to keep things cool and love shrimp and pasta recipes, try making a shrimp orzo pasta salad, it’s great for summer dinners.
Why do you add pasta water to carbonara?
When the pasta cooks, it leaves starch in the water. This starchy water helps emulsify the eggs and cheese so that they don’t separate but evenly coat the pasta. Reserve the pasta water at the end of the cooking time for the maximum amount of starch.
By whisking the eggs with the cheese before adding to the pasta, you avoid having scrambled eggs and instead a beautiful coating to the bucatini.
Pro tip: Try cooking the bacon with flour in the oven for the crispiest bacon without making a mess.
Reasons you’ll want to make carbonara with shrimp
- You can prep in advance
- Simple ingredients
- Amazing flavors
- No cream or butter needed
This makes a large portion so it’s a great recipe to make for friends. Not only do you get a lot of flavor from the shrimp, grilled corn and bacon, but it looks pretty impressive for company.
If you don’t have a basil plant outside, learn how to keep a basil plant alive in your house so you’ll have plenty for this pasta dish.
With some pre-planning you can assemble this in just a few minutes. This is still fabulous if you don’t want to grill the corn or if frozen is all you can find. If you forgot to make plans, and need something fast, try shrimp and asparagus for a super quick and delicious one pan dinner.
If you’re looking for a rich and creamy carbonara, you’ll love pancetta carbonara, it’s an all time favorite around our house.
Ingredients for Shrimp Carbonara
- Bucatini – this type of pasta works great for carbonara because the sauce will stick to it, but you can also use spaghetti.
- Corn – Corn on the cob if it’s summer and if not, use frozen corn.
- Bacon – this adds so much flavor, you’ll save the grease from the bacon and use that instead of oil to cook the garlic and to coat the pasta.
- Shrimp – you can use fresh or frozen, just peel and devein before using. Any size will work, but I tend to use smaller shrimp so that you get shrimp in every bite.
- Parmesan cheese – you can’t have carbonara without parmesan or pecorino romano
- Fresh Basil – this adds brightness to the dish at the end.
- Eggs – you need these for the sauce.
- Garlic – lots of garlic is cooked in the bacon grease so that you get the flavor throughout the dish.
- Red pepper flakes – these can be left out, but it perks things up a bit.
How to make carbonara with grilled corn and shrimp
Step 1: Grill
Grill or microwave the corn and let it cool enough to remove from the cob.
Step 2: Bacon forms the base
Cook the bacon and remove to a plate, reserving the bacon grease.
Step 3: Cook the shrimp
Cook the shrimp and remove to a plate.
Step 4: Add flavor
Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in some of the bacon grease and then add cooked pasta to coat.
Step 5: Make the sauce
Whisk together eggs and parmesan and add to the pasta with some pasta water.
Cook for a couple of minutes then add the bacon, shrimp and corn back to the skillet, toss and add fresh basil and serve immediately.
What is the difference between carbonara and alfredo sauce?
Carbonara is made with eggs, while alfredo sauce is made with butter and cream and is a much creamier sauce. You can add cream to a carbonara recipe but it’s still not as creamy and rich as an alfredo sauce.
Does carbonara tastes like eggs?
No, carbonara does not taste like eggs. The eggs create the sauce but their flavor is overpowered by garlic and bacon or pancetta.
How to Store Shrimp Carbonara
You can store carbonara in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Just reheat in the microwave.
You can freeze it, but the texture of the pasta tends to get a little mushy when frozen and reheated.
What to serve with shrimp and corn carbonara
- Tomato tart
- Ham & cheese puff pastry
- Spinach pinwheels
- Peach salsa
- Strawberry skillet cake
- Lemon chiffon pie
- Peaches in puff pastry
More corn recipes to try
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Shrimp Carbonara with Grilled Corn
- 8 slices thick sliced bacon chopped
- 1 ½ lbs raw shrimp peeled and de-veined
- salt & pepper
- 4 ears corn on the cob grilled
- 1 lb bucatini pasta
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese grated
- fresh basil
- Cook corn on the grill until lightly charred, or cook however you prefer. Let it cool enough to cut from the cob and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together eggs and add cheese.
- Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta per package directions, drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
- In a very large skillet cook bacon over medium heat. Once it is crispy, remove to a paper towel lined plate. Leave one tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan and save the rest for later in the recipe.
- Pat shrimp dry and add to the skillet, cook over medium heat until just cooked, about 3-4 minutes, transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining bacon grease back to the skillet or add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat over low heat. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add pasta to the skillet and coat in garlic and bacon fat.
- Add egg mixture and ½ cup of pasta water to the skillet and toss quickly for about 3-4 minutes until it coats the pasta evenly. Add bacon, shrimp and corn and combine. Remove from heat and add fresh basil. Serve immediately.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can use frozen corn, if so add it to the skillet with the red pepper flakes and garlic.
- You do not have to grill the corn, you can microwave it wrapped in plastic.
- Don’t forget the starchy pasta water, it’s what keeps the eggs from scrambling.