This chicken and shrimp carbonara is going to satisfy your Olive Garden cravings, I promise. It's tasty, easy, and so comforting and decadent at the same time. Juicy Argentinian shrimp, chicken breast, and pancetta pair so beautifully together in a silky smooth sauce.
This recipe is, dare I say it, even better than what you can get at Olive Garden. It's also not super difficult to prepare, and the ingredients are pretty common.
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Chicken and shrimp carbonara is a creamy, delicious and indulgent comfort food. This Olive Garden specialty can be made even better from the comfort of your own home.
Why You're Going to Love this Recipe
Honestly, there's really nothing NOT to love about this recipe. It's packed with absolutely delicious ingredients, like (Argentinian) shrimp, chicken, and crispy pancetta all cooked to perfection (don't worry, we're totally going to talk about how to do that!)
Next up, the sauce is so luxurious, creamy and full of rich flavor. We're using heavy cream and parmesan cheese here so just know that this is definitely a "once-in-a-while" meal, not an every day one. Although you may want to make it every day.
Finally, it's going to satisfy all your Olive Garden cravings, while not actually having to go to Olive Garden. Don't get me wrong, I love a night out, but you know what else I love? This recipe. In my sweatpants. Straight from the pan. Don't judge me.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, definitely not. A traditional carbonara relies on egg yolks, parmesan cheese, and pasta water to create a creamy sauce. We're skipping that here in favor of the heavy cream, because it's quicker and easier to make. And, traditional carbonara doesn't include chicken or shrimp.
Try a Pinto Grigio or a Riesling - those go great with carbonara. Chardonnay could also be a great choice, as it pairs well with seafood.
No, it doesn't. The heavy cream more than makes up for the creaminess that we would get from adding eggs (or egg yolks) to this recipe.
Carbonara pasta sauce is made using guanciale, egg yolks and cheese, while Alfredo uses butter and heavy cream.
This ingredient list is so fun - I love it. Here's the list of what you need, and we'll talk about why I made some of the choices I did below.
- Argentinian shrimp
- Chicken breast
- White wine
- Heavy Cream
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Parsley, for garnish
- Your favorite dry or fresh pasta
So, a couple of things about these ingredients.
I use pancetta in this recipe instead of bacon, for a couple of reasons. First, I find that bacon is overwhelming in flavor, especially in creamy pasta sauces. Pancetta still gives you that salty, smoky flavor, but it's just more mild.
Second, there is way less fat. I find that bacon leaves this sauce pretty greasy, and pancetta takes care of this! That being said, if you want to swap out for bacon, no problem. Just make sure you take out a bit of the fat from the pan after it's done rendering.
Whenever a recipe calls for shrimp, my preference is Argentinian shrimp.
Argentinian shrimp are caught off the coast of, you guessed it, Argentina. Unlike other species of shrimp, the are red when they are pulled out of the ocean, and when they're raw (so the shrimp turning pink isn't necessarily an indicator of doneness). They have a super sweet flavour and a beautiful meaty texture that some have compared to lobster. Once I tried them, I haven't looked back.
You can absolutely sub your favourite type of shrimp in this recipe though. They all work!
How to Make Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara
Step 1: Cook the Pancetta, Chicken, and Shrimp
We're going to cook each meat one at a time, as they all have drastically different cooking times. This definitely adds a few extra steps, but it's worth it. There's nothing worse than rubbery shrimp or chicken in a pasta!
First up, let's cook the pancetta. In a saucepan over medium heat, let it render until it gets crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan to a bowl, and set aside.
Next, cook the chicken. Season it with some salt and pepper before it hits the pan. If the pan is dry, add a little olive oil. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Finally, cook the shrimp. No more than two minutes per side! Again, if the pan is getting dry, add some more olive oil.
Don't worry if the pan is starting to look really brown on the bottom - we're going to take care of that in step three.
Step 2: Cook the Garlic and Shallots
Add the garlic and shallots to the pan. Cook for about a minute, until they're fragrant.
Step 3: Deglaze
Using the white wine, deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits off the bottom.
Let the wine reduce until almost all the liquid is gone.
Step 4: Make the Sauce
Add your cream and parmesan cheese. Add just a bit of pasta water as well so the sauce has some body. Let it simmer away until it's thickened just a little bit.
This is where you can add the salt and pepper. Make sure you taste for seasoning! This is so important in a creamy white pasta sauce.
Re-add the pancetta, chicken and shrimp, mix well.
Add your pasta, and toss to coat with the sauce.
Step 5: Garnish and Serve!
Sprinkle the parsley and some extra parmesan cheese on top, and enjoy!
Storage & Reheating
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
To reheat, the stove in a saucepan is the way to go. Do this gently, over medium-low heat. Add more cream if you need to loosen up the sauce.
You can try doing this in the microwave, but I can guarantee you're likely going to fry the shrimp.
Tips & Tricks
- If your pan is getting dry at any point during the cooking process, add some olive oil!
- I love Argentinian shrimp, but you can use any kind you want. Just make sure they're peeled and deveined, with their tails off.
- You can swap the pancetta for the bacon if you want, just be careful of how much fat it renders. You might have to remove some of it.
- Use a very healthy dose of black pepper in this recipe - it goes amazingly well with cream pasta sauces!
Other Amazing Pastas to Try
Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara
- 8 oz dried pasta
- 6 oz pancetta cubed
- 1 C chicken breast cubed
- 15 shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 shallots minced
- ½ C white wine
- 2 C heavy cream
- 1 C parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ C pasta water
- 2 tablespoon parsley for garnish
- Cook your pasta according to package directions in a pot of boiling salted water. Reserve ¼ C of the pasta water.
- In a large sautee pan over medium high heat, cook the pancetta. Cook until it just starts to turn crispy, about five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook the chicken in the same pan. Once it's cooked all the way through, remove to a bowl.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, and cook in the same pan. If the pan is getting dry by this point, add a bit of olive oil. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes per side, and then remove.
- Add the garlic and shallots in the same pan. (The bottom of the pan should be pretty brown and crusty, don't worry, this is normal). Cook until fragrant. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom with a spoon.
- Let the wine reduce until almost no liquid is left (see video for reference). Add your heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Add your salt and pepper. Make sure you try the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken.
- Add the pasta water to the sauce, then add the pancetta, shrimp and chicken back into the pan. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.
- Garnish with parsley and more parmesan cheese if you wish. Serve.