Alfredo Sauce

September 21, 2019

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.

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

5 from 2 votes

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
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 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

  1. 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.

  2. While whisking slowly pour in heavy cream and milk. Cook stirring constantly until mixture simmers and thickens slightly.

  3. Remove from heat, stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Return to low heat, stir and let cheese melt through.

  4. Cover and keep warm over warm heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is finished.

Recipe 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.
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Alfredo Sauce
Author: Jaclyn