Alfredo Sauce

September 21, 2019

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The best homemade Alfredo Sauce recipe! Made with basic ingredients like rich cream, butter and milk, and an abundance of flavorful (real!) parmesan. There’s also a hint of garlic to bump up the flavor.

This super easy, crave-worthy sauce will leave everyone wanting fettuccine alfredo for dinner on repeat!

Bowl of fettuccine pasta with alfredo sauce.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce Recipe

Alfredo is one of our favorite dinners around here but most classic alfredo sauces leave me feeling completely weighed down. Plus they don’t tend to reheat well.

So my version uses milk in place of half of the heavy cream, and instead of using a full stick of butter I’ve found 3 Tbsp is just enough to keep it rich and creamy. And since I’ve made these adjustments it’s thickened up with just a hint of flour.

Then the one thing I choose not to be skimpy on in this recipe is the parmesan cheese, because alfredo sauce is all about that parmesan! I also like to add 1 clove of garlic (sometimes 2) because who doesn’t love garlic? But if you’d prefer you can omit it altogether.

Alfredo Sauce Video

 

This is just makes one of those dinners that is 100% comforting and satisfying and seems almost too good to be true! It’s perfect for long busy days and weekends too. Any day of the year is a good day for fettuccine alfredo!

Alfredo sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Is it Authentic?

You may be wondering, is this authentic alfredo sauce? No it’s closer to the American version. Usually the traditional, authentic Italian alfredo sauce is made with just Parmesan cheese, butter, pasta water and salt. Which is delicious but why not add cream and milk to make it even richer?

What Ingredients go into Alfredo Sauce?

  • Parmesan cheese – for best results us real parmigiano reggiano. You know, that kind cut from the big giant Murray’s cheese wheels at the cheese counter of the grocery store. Whatever you do, don’t use grated powdered parmesan or pre-shredded parmesan with the powdery coating. They won’t melt into the sauce (plus they won’t taste good here either).
  • Heavy cream – look for “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream” on the label. “Whipping cream” doesn’t have the same amount of fat so the sauce wouldn’t be as rich.
  • Whole milk – skip lower fat percentages of milk for a deliciously creamy sauce.
  • Butter – unsalted or salted butter will both work great here.
  • Flour – this thickens up the sauce a little. At first the sauce may seem a bit runny (even though we add the flour) but as it tossed with starchy pasta and as it cools it will thicken right up. I’ve found I like just 1 Tbsp flour, use anymore and by the end of dinner the sauce is much too thick.
  • Garlic – if you choose to use garlic go for the fresh stuff and skip powders or pre-cut garlic. It’s all about building and bringing the best flavors together.
  • Salt and pepper – add these to taste. Keep in mind parmesan cheese is pretty salty so you shouldn’t need a whole lot of salt.

Alfredo sauce ingredients.

How to Make this Easy Alfredo Sauce:

  • Make roux: Melt butter in a large, deep skillet (or saute pan) over medium heat. Add flour, cook 30 seconds stirring constantly, then add garlic and saute until flour and garlic are golden, about 30 seconds longer.Sautéing flour and garlic in butter in a skillet.
  • Add dairy liquids: While whisking slowly pour in heavy cream and milk. Cook stirring constantly until mixture simmers and thickens slightly.

Whisking cream into flour and butter mixture in skillet.

  • Stir in cheese: Remove from heat, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Return to low heat, stir until cheese has melted through.

Adding shredded parmesan to cream mixture in skillet.

  • Keep warm: Cover and keep warm over warm heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is finished.
  • Toss with pasta: toss sauce with fettuccine or other pasta of choice. As it rests sauce will thicken upon standing, it can be thinned with warm pasta water.

How Can I Make it Lighter without Cream?

Yes. You cane make alfredo sauce with milk only. If doing so here use 1 1/2 cups whole milk and increase flour to 2 Tbsp. Parmesan can be reduced to 1 cup. Just note that the sauce won’t be as rich with these changes.

How to Make it Richer?

Want to go the extra rich route? Replace the milk with more heavy cream (using 1 1/2 cups total), omit the flour. Melt butter and saute garlic 30 seconds, add cream and bring to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat about 3 – 4 minutes (to reduce slightly), then stir in parmesan cheese and melt through.

 

Cooked fettuccine pasta over alfredo sauce in skillet before tossing.

Tips:

  • Let butter brown just a bit for added flavor.
  • Be careful not to burn the garlic, that can add a bitter flavor to any dish.
  • Use best quality parmesan.
  • Slowly add cream and milk so sauce thickens properly.
  • Add parmesan off heat, then fully melt through over low heat so it doesn’t clump and separate in the sauce.

Variations:

  • Use half and half in place of cream and milk.
  • Add grilled chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken, who can resist Chicken Alfredo?
  • Add sautéed shrimp. I mean why not? It cooks in about 3 minutes in a skillet.
  • Like spicy food? Add red pepper flakes to your hearts content.
  • Try it with half Romano cheese in place of parmesan cheese.
  • Make it extra special with fresh fettuccine instead of dry if you have access to it. Use 1 lb.

Fettuccine alfredo in a large pan.

How Many Cups Does this Yield?

This recipe makes about 2 cups of sauce, or enough for 10 – 16 oz. of dry fettuccine pasta (depending on how saucy you like it, I like to use 12 oz).

What Sides to Serve with Fettuccine Alfredo?

Overhead image of single serving of homemade fettuccine alfredo.

More Italian Dinner Favorites:

 

Alfredo sauce and fettuccine in a skillet
5 from 18 votes

Alfredo Sauce

My idea of the best alfredo sauce! Made with basic ingredients like rich cream, butter and milk, and abundance of flavorful (real!) parmesan. There's also a hint of garlic to bump of the flavor. This super easy, crave-worthy sauce will leave everyone wanting fettuccine alfredo for dinner on repeat!
Servings: 6
Prep10 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream*
  • 3/4 cup whole milk*
  • 1 1/2 cups (4 oz) freshly, finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Melt butter in a large, deep skillet (or saute pan) over medium heat. Add flour, cook 30 seconds stirring constantly, then add garlic and saute until flour and garlic are golden, about 30 seconds longer.
  • While whisking slowly pour in heavy cream and milk. Cook stirring constantly until mixture simmers and thickens slightly.
  • Remove from heat, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Return to low heat, stir and let cheese melt through.
  • Cover and keep warm over warm heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is finished.

Notes

  • *Half and half can be substituted for heavy cream and whole milk, it will just be a little less rich.
  • Makes about 2 cups sauce, enough for about 12 oz. fettuccine pasta.
  • Tip: start pasta cooking just before you start cooking the sauce so they finish about the same time.
  • If desired you can thin coated pasta with some of the warm pasta water as it rests, it will thicken upon standing.
  • Add grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp along with pasta if desired (about 1 lb before cooked).
  • Nutrition estimate is for sauce only, not including pasta.
Nutrition Facts
Alfredo Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 252 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 378mg16%
Potassium 80mg2%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 812IU16%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 279mg28%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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56 Comments

  • Andrew Flick

    I double the recipe for 16 oz of pasta and add 1 ½ tsp of italian seasoning. Perfection.

  • kb

    Re: authenticity. Classic Italian Fettuccine Alfredo is closer to the French amuse-bouche than it is to the American creamed version. The idea is to create a pasta without a sauce that tastes like it has a sauce by pasting a crust of butter and cheese to the pasta. If fussy about how al dente your pasta is, start by under cooking it becaues it will cook some more during the pasting process. Drain the pasta in colander, put the pot back on the stove and melt the butter. Put the pasta in the melted butter and stir to coat the pasta with the butter. Now comes the hard part. Gradually add grated cheese to the mix while stirring like crazy so that as the cheese melts into the butter, it sticks to the pasta, much like a breaded veal cutlet has bread crumbs, egg, and flouer stuck to it, but this is only cheese and butter (an occasional short cut with a little pasta water or white wine). The amount of cheese to use cannot be specified in advance. The right amount of cheese is how much it takes to completely blend with the butter so that when finished, there is no butter left in the bottom or pan nor any pieces of cheese laying on top of every thing. the whole thing is a solid
    pasta wearing a coat of butter and cheese. This is a famous dish more because it is hard to make than for its taste, which is excellent. It takes technique and your full attention. Any cook can make a butter, cream, & cheese sauce to pour on pasta, but it takes a chef to make Fettuccine Alfredo. Which is what makes it so fun to cook.

    When Fettuccine Alfredo is served, there is no puddel of sauce on the plate becaues there is no sauce in Fettuccine Alfredo.

    Note: Only trial and error can find the optimum blend of butter, cheeses, and a little liquid that will bring it off. You will quickly learn how to find the right balance, and then you are done, however much butter or cheese you used.

    Note: Another bit of cheese magic in authentic Fettuccine Alfredo is that the cheese melts, which, Parmesan does not do when sprinkled on top of pasta. There are melting (Swiss, Cheddar) and non melting hard cheeses, but a hard cheese will melt if it is cooked in starchy liquid (that’s why the above recipe uses flour. While it does thicken the non-traditional quantity of liquid in the recipe, its major role is to melt the cheese (which also thickens the sauce). Classic Fettuccine Alfredo relies on the contact between the cheese and the pasta– starch– as the cheese is stirred into the butter to cause the cheese to melt (adding pasta water with dissolved starch makes it easier; adding white wine makes it tastier but more difficult)

  • Christine Haynes

    Going to try this tonight! Is the butter salted or unsalted?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Either, if using salted you’ll just want to add less salt to the sauce.

  • Artie

    This was simple and easy receipts to follow. It was great and loved that everything was in the pantry. 1 tip I added a pinch of nutmeg from a previous recipe and it was great!

  • Joel A

    I’ve done numerous different alfredo recipes over the past few months – this one is a winner as far as taste and easy prep. Curious as to how the author would feel about adding olive oil to the mix at the same stage as butter and garlic? That’s what I did out of habit/reflex, and it came out wonderful. Also added a bit more garlic and a pinch of nutmeg.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Olive oil is a great alternative/or addition to butter, I’ll have to try that next. Thanks for your feedback Joel!

  • Brenda

    This was wonderful ! For the serving size, is that for the whole thing or how much a serving is ?

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