Learn how to make the BEST homemade Alfredo Sauce ever!
This decadent sauce is super easy to make. Whip up a batch in minutes whenever a craving strikes!
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Are you looking for the most decadent, yet easiest pasta sauce ever? Then, this homemade Alfredo Sauce is for you!
I'm absolutely in love with this classic Italian-American sauce, and I'm guessing you are, too. This creamy sauce has so much flavor, and it makes a wonderful treat.
And you won't believe how easy it is to make! Seriously, this recipe is so simple and quick, and it's a million times better than the jarred stuff!
Ready to get cooking? Then, keep reading for all the details.
About the Sauce
Fettuccine Alfredo is super popular here in the U.S., so chances are you are pretty familiar with this mouthwatering sauce. But did you know that it's actually an Italian-American creation?
This popular pasta was inspired by an Italian recipe that combined pasta, butter, and cheese. However, cream wasn't added until the sauce made its way to the U.S. (Read more about the sauce's history here.)
Whether it's authentic or not though, I think we can all agree that it's super delicious!
And even better, it's sooo easy to make! The best thing about this easy Alfredo Sauce recipe is that it's so fast. You can be enjoying a big bowl of Pasta Alfredo in about 20 minutes!
Because this sauce is so rich, I like to save it for special occasions, like New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day. But it's easy enough to make anytime you get a craving, so why not treat yourself?
Are you wondering what Alfredo Sauce is made of? While there there are different ways of preparing it, my recipe uses very simple ingredients.
Here's what you'll need:
- Unsalted Butter
- Heavy Cream
- Parmesan Cheese
- Salt (I prefer Kosher salt.)
- Freshly Cracked Pepper
So simple, right? This classic Italian-American recipe is very basic and does not include any fillers like cream cheese, Italian seasoning, and flour.
As with any simple recipe, you'll want to use really high quality ingredients. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is especially a must. Do not try to substitute canned or pre-shredded Parmesan! You won't get the same results, and your Alfredo may turn out grainy.
If your store is out of heavy cream, it's fine to use whipping cream instead. Don't use milk or half-and-half though, because your sauce won't turn out the same. This Alfredo recipe is definitely rich, but I think it's better to indulge once in while, rather than try to lighten it up.
As far as pasta goes, I like pairing this sauce with fettuccine. It's a classic combo for a reason, although you can use other types of pasta, too. And because it doesn't have flour, this recipe is also naturally gluten-free. Just pair with gluten-free pasta if you're serving someone with a gluten allergy.
You will also need a large, heavy skillet. It should be big enough to fit the sauce and the pasta in the same pan. I'd also recommend a pair of tongs for tossing everything together.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce
Okay, let's get cooking. You won't believe how easy this sauce is to make!
The most important thing to know before getting started is that timing is really important. Your pasta and sauce should be finished cooking at the same time. So before you begin the sauce, start cooking the pasta in a large pot of salted water.
Once the pasta starts cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and heavy cream.
Cook the butter and heavy cream together, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the sauce comes to a simmer.
Tip: make sure your skillet is large enough to hold the pasta later. A 12-inch pan with tall sides is ideal.
You don't want to boil this sauce, so reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. If it gets too hot, you can always remove the pan from the burner for a minute.
When the butter and cream are combined, it's time to add the Parmesan cheese. You can use a whisk for this or a wood spoon.
To keep the cheese from clumping together, add the Parmesan in two to three batches, stirring until smooth in between. It should melt in pretty quickly.
Parmesan cheese adds tons of flavor to this simple recipe, and it helps thicken the sauce, too. For best results, use a really good imported Parmigiano Reggiano. Or if you're vegetarian, use my fave vegetarian Parmesan.
After you've added the Parmesan, season your homemade Alfredo Sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
And that's all there is to it ... wasn't that easy?
The finished sauce is fairly thin. Don't worry though, because it will thicken up after you add the pasta. So make sure to mix the sauce and pasta together (see directions below), don't serve the sauce over pasta.
It's also important to know that you can't make this sauce ahead of time. The butter will separate from the other ingredients when you try to reheat it, leaving you with a really greasy sauce.
But there's really no reason to make it ahead anyway, because it's so quick and easy to make.
Mixing the Sauce with Pasta
Fettuccine is the classic pairing for this sauce. The Alfredo coats this flat pasta perfectly, and as you twirl the noodles, they will catch any extra sauce. Feel free to experiment with other pastas though, if you prefer.
This recipe makes enough sauce for one pound (16 ounces) of pasta, which is what I usually use. If you prefer saucier Fettuccine Alfredo though (as in these pictures), use 12 ounces of pasta instead.
Like I mentioned earlier, you want the pasta and sauce to be finished cooking at the same time ... or as close together as possible. So start the pasta before you begin the sauce.
Boil the pasta, stirring often, until it's just shy of al dente. It will finish cooking as you toss it with the sauce.
When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it well. Then, add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss everything together for a minute or two over medium-low heat until the sauce coats the pasta evenly. Taste the pasta and add more salt, if necessary.
Then, it's time to eat! I like to serve this quick pasta sprinkled with extra Parmesan cheese ... so simple, yet decadent!
Because the sauce is so heavy and rich, I prefer to serve it with sides that are light and fresh, like salads or veggies. You can also add veggies right to the pasta, like I did with this Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Still have questions about this yummy sauce? Keep reading for answers to some frequently asked questions:
What does Alfredo Sauce taste like?
Alfredo tastes like the richest, creamiest sauce you can imagine. The butter and nutty Parmesan cheese flavors really shine through.
What can I add to Alfredo Sauce?
While I don't recommend adding fillers like cream cheese to this sauce (it's just not necessary), there are a lot of ways to spice up Alfredo. For starters, try sauteing garlic in the butter just until fragrant (don't brown it) before adding the heavy cream. Yum! You could also throw in some red pepper flakes for a spicier sauce, or try adding fresh lemon zest. To lighten up the dish, don't cut back on the butter and cream. Toss in steamed or roasted veggies along with the pasta, or serve smaller portions instead.
How do you make Alfredo Sauce thicker?
This sauce is fairly thin on its own, but there's no need to add other ingredients like cream cheese or flour to thicken it up. The sauce will thicken naturally as you toss it with starchy pasta.
What is the best pasta to use with Alfredo Sauce?
Fettuccine is the classic pairing with Alfredo. Feel free to experiment with other types of pasta though, such flat shapes like linguine or pappardelle, or stuffed pasta like tortellini.
Can I use milk instead of cream for Alfredo Sauce?
You shouldn't use milk instead of cream for Alfredo, because you'll end up with a runny sauce. This is one of those dishes where you should just indulge every once in a while and embrace the fat and calories! If your store is out of heavy cream, feel free to substitute whipping cream instead.
Can you reheat Alfredo Sauce?
Homemade Alfredo Sauce doesn't have any stabilizers like flour. If you try to reheat it, the butter will separate from the other ingredients, and it will become really greasy. Plus, it's so easy to make, that there really is no need to prepare it ahead of time.
Is Alfredo Sauce Italian?
Despite its popularity, Alfredo is not a traditional Italian recipe. Though it was inspired by an Italian pasta made with butter and cheese, the addition of cream makes this sauce an Italian-American creation.
Is Bechamel the same as Alfredo?
While they may look similar, they are not the same. Bechamel is a French white sauce that's made by cooking flour and butter together, then adding milk to make the sauce. Alfredo, on the other hand, has no flour. ... it's made with butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese.
What's the difference between Carbonara and Alfredo?
While both sauces are creamy and look similar, Carbonara has no cream. It's made with butter, eggs, and cheese, along with Pancetta (or some other kind of pork, like Guanciale or bacon).
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Melt butter and heavy cream together in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Heat until sauce begins to simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese in batches. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, add 1-pound cooked pasta (such as fettuccine) to sauce. Toss together for a minute or two, until sauce thickens and coats noodles. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- To get the timing right, start cooking your pasta before you make the sauce. You want to cook the pasta until it's just shy of al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce).
- This Italian-American sauce is traditionally served with fettuccine. Use one pound pasta, or for a saucier pasta, 12 ounces fettuccine.
- For best results, use top quality ingredients for this recipe (no canned or pre-shredded Parmesan) and avoid making substitutions.
- For extra flavor, try sauteing garlic in the butter (before adding the heavy cream), or add crushed red pepper flakes or fresh lemon zest.
- The finished Alfredo Sauce will be fairly thin, but it will thicken as you toss it with the pasta.
- Alfredo Sauce does not reheat well. For best results, prepare sauce while pasta cooks.
- Find lots more tips by reading the information before the recipe.