How To Make Alfredo Sauce | Everything You Need To Know

A dark grey wok filled with pasta covered in alfredo sauce made with parmesan cheese and colorful vegetablesHow To Make Alfredo Sauce

  1. Melt butter into heavy cream in a large shallow pan
  2. Add plenty of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  3. Cook at medium heat
  4. Salt and pepper to taste

Toss with pasta – plate – serve – raise a toast 

Buon Appetito! Enjoy this pasta with thick creamy sauce. 

The handle of a silver fork sticks out form a large plate of penne pasta covered with thick creamy alfredo sauce

There's a reason this rich and creamy sauce recipe is one of the favorite pasta dinner ideas for millions of food lovers across the world. So do your loved ones a favor and warm their souls with a skillet of rich and buttery Fettuccine Alfredo, a blend of butter, cream, and parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, tossed with abandon into pasta, meat, or vegetables–or all three.

No loved ones within arms length? No problem, whisk together a bowl for yourself. The tangy, comforting warmth of pasta with homemade Alfredo sauce will almost match the effect of a long, affectionate hug. (Remember those?)

Content Gallery:

  1. Alfredo Sauce Recipe : Different Options
  2. How To Make Homemade Pasta 
  3. The History Of Alfredo Sauce - Where does the name come from?
  4. Alternative Dishes to Alfredo Sauce
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Alfredo Sauce Recipe : Different Options

Pasta covered in alfredo sauce wrapped around a silver fork with a blurred plate of past a in the background

2 ways to Alfredo perfection in 3 Short Steps

Minimal Tools

  • Apron 
  • Large skillet
  • Medium or large pasta pot
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater or food processor
  • Pepper mill, optional
  • Microplane for nutmeg, lemon rind, and paring knife for garlic, all optional
  • Candlelit table, Nina Simone playlist, optional essential


  • 1.5 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 6 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 cloves garlic, optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • Freshly grated lemon rind, optional
  • Sauce for 1lb. fresh or packaged fettuccine pasta
  • Serves 4

Classic Alfredo Sauce Recipe Made with Heavy Whipping Cream

  1. Simmer 1.5 Cups heavy whipping cream* in a skillet, stirring occasionally, until cream is thickened and slightly reduced. 
  2. Melt 6 tablespoons of salted butter into the heavy cream, and then stir in 2 cups of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano. 
  3. A grating of nutmeg and/or lemon zest balances the rich flavors in the Alfredo sauce recipe, as do a few generous grinds of black pepper.

To use milk instead of heavy whipping cream in any sauce: melt 2 TBLS of butter in a saucepan, add 2 TBLS of all-purpose flour and mix, over heat, for a couple of minutes.

Add up to two cups of whole milk and stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens into a smooth roux. To make an Alfredo sauce from scratch with milk instead of cream, proceed with the recipe above, substituting the roux for the heavy cream.

Cream cheese is also a nice option to consider. Oat milk works well as a homemade Alfredo sauce plant milk substitute.

Classic Fettuccine Alfredo Without Cream

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons of salted butter in a medium-hot skillet.
  2. Use tongs to add dripping al dente pasta into the skillet. Reserve the pasta water. Coat the noodles well with the melted butter.
  3. Sprinkle 2 cups of finely grated Parmigiano Region into the skillet. Use the tongs to help the noodles absorb the rich mixture of melted butter and salty cheese. Add generous grinds of salt and pepper.
  4. One or two splashes of the starchy pasta water will help thicken the Alfredo sauce and coat the noodles

 Pro Tips:

  • Regardless of different cooking styles, pasta will continue to cook and absorb sauce, so adding noodles to a sauce al dente, or firm, means the pasta never overcooks 
  • Good quality, freshly grated cheese will make or break Alfredo sauce
  • Gruyere, or a mix of parmesan cheese and gruyere add extra creaminess
  • Lemon zest balances the richness of the fat in traditional Alfredo sauce
  • No matter how you prepare Alfredo sauce or its similar “tossed pasta" dishes, retain the pasta cooking water. A few splashes of the hot, starchy water will loosen a thick, cheesy sauce, such as traditional Alfredo sauce, or thicken a butter sauce and help coat the salty noodles. 
  • Play with the proportions of butter/cream/cheese. Use what you have on hand to make your own homemade Alfredo sauce recipe. 
Buon appetito!

2. How To Make Homemade Pasta

Two hands that are white with flour hold strings of homemade pasta above a table of flour

Emptying a box of good, dry pasta into a pot of salted, boiling water is a completely respectable choice for every pasta lover. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

However, if you’d like to test the waters, celebrated chef, Samin Nosrat, suggests using one cup of “00” or all-purpose flour to one egg + an additional egg yolk. Scale the recipe, as needed; two portions per original recipe.

Mound the flour onto a clean, flat work surface, make a well in the middle, and dump the egg + yolk into the well. Using a fork, slowly stir the ingredients together into a shaggy ball.

Stirring slowly helps the flour to incorporate the egg evenly. Use your (clean) hands to pull the dough into a rough ball, knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic, and allow the dough to rest for 20* minutes.

Advice on making pasta is as varied as the cooks tackling it. Read widely–the research is guaranteed to get you hungry and into your kitchen!

Once it’s ready, knead the pasta dough into a smooth circle, and begin to roll it out. Eventually, you’ll want the noodles to be paper thin, and as even as possible. When you’ve reached a satisfactory thickness, fold your greatly widened circle of dough into thirds, and repeat the process.

Lastly, cut the long rectangle horizontally into 3/8” ribbons. Sprinkle the noodles with flour to help separate, and then shake the noodles to remove extra flour. 

Proudly drop your tangle of noodles into a large pot of well-salted, boiling water and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, until al dente (almost done, but still a bit firm). 

Add which ever pasta sauce takes your fancy and enjoy your meal. You might even feel like you're at your very own olive garden. 

3. The History Of Alfredo Sauce

A black bowl filled with pasta covered in parmesan cheese, tomatoes, pesto and Alfredo sauce has a fork balancing on its edge

So…Was Alfredo Sauce Invented by a Real Person?

Legend has it…

Italian restaurateur, Alfredo di Lelio, had a pregnant and nauseous wife on his hands. Looking for dinner ideas, Alfredo tossed a handful of fresh pasta-of-the-day into a pan of sizzling melted butter, ready to create a plain dish of pasta in bianco. Alfredo slid the buttery noodles onto a plate, and added a dusting of salt and pepper, and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. His wife, Ines, so loved this mild and comforting dish that Alfredo finally added it to the menu.

And Along Come the Influencers…

This being the 1920s, the “influencers” du jour were American movie stars, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, who were passing through Rome on their honeymoon.

It so happened that the day the golden couple dined, fettuccine was the pasta-of-the-day, forming the basis of the soon-to-be famous recipe for Fettucine Alfredo. Pickford and Fairbanks returned to America with the recipe, thanked “Alfredo the King of the noodles,” and the rest is history.

Since the 1920s, American have dabbled with recipes for Alfredo Sauce, adding cream or cream cheese here, thickening the sauce with a roux there, and experimenting successfully with additions of garlic, lemon and lemon zest, and finely grated nutmeg for delicious rich and creamy sauces. 

Alfredo has influenced different cooking styles and is a favorite pasta of millions worldwide. Today, chefs at the olive garden and beyond offer Chicken Alfredo, Asparagus Alfredo, even Alfredo with shaved black truffles. At heart, Alfredo sauce is butter, parmesan cheese, with the addition of cream cheese if you like: a comforting dish that is so much more than the sum of its humble ingredients. 

Pro Tip: From a friend…Fettuccine Alfredo is not a dish for dieters.

4. Alternative Dishes To Alfredo Sauce

A stainless steel pot and frying pan dangle from hooks on a wooden kitchen rack
The homemade Alfredo Sauce recipe is a favorite among American pasta lovers. If cooking with heavy cream isn’t an option, and you’re looking for a healthy chicken Alfredo sauce recipe, or healthier pasta sauces in general, consider adding these delicious variations of Alfredo di Leio’s original Alfredo sauce to your culinary repertoire. 
1. Pasta in bianco is white pasta tossed with butter and parmesan cheese.
  • Cook the pasta of choice in salted water.
  • Place a little of the starchy pasta water into a shallow pan and add butter to emulsify, or thicken, into a sauce. Generally about 3 TBLS of butter to a 1/2 Cup of the reserved water.
  • Toss the sauce with pasta, generous grinds of black pepper, parmesan, and even nutmeg or shaved black truffle.

2. Fettuccine al burro is another popular and simple variation of traditional Alfredo sauce. In this homemade sauce, 

  • add chunks of butter to a serving bowl. 
  • Emulsify into a sauce by adding enough of the starchy pasta cooking water. 
  • To this simple sauce, add parmesan so that it melts into a creamy coating for the pasta. 
  • Toss the hot fettuccine into the sauce right in the serving bowl. Add more of the hot water, as needed.

3. Doppio burro, or doubling the butter, is fettuccine al burro with additional melted butter added to the dish just before serving.

4. Cacio e pepe, or cheese and pepper, is a simple and delicious sauce 

  • Toast 1tsp ground black pepper in 3 TBLS butter, 
  • add about 1/2 Cup of reserved pasta cooking water to the mix and cook gently 
  • along with 1/2 Cup of Parmigiano Reggiano or a similar hard Italian cheese, until the sauce emulsifies. 
  • Toss sauce with the cooked pasta, and serve, adding additional grated cheese on top.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I store alfredo sauce? 

Place leftover Alfredo sauce in well-sealed plastic bag(s) and refrigerate for up to a week. Gently reheat on the stovetop.

Is it possible to freeze Alfredo sauce?

Cream sauces don’t freeze well, but it is possible. Seal in plastic freezer bag(s) and store frozen for up to six months. 

What is the difference between white sauce and Alfredo sauce?

Alfredo sauce recipes contain parmesan or other hard Italian cheese in addition to other ingredients such as garlic. White sauce is mostly milk with butter and some flour to thicken it.

How many calories are in Alfredo sauce?

There is typically 535 calories per every 100 grams of Alfredo Sauce.

Is Alfredo sauce healthy for you? 

Due to the large calorie content it's definitely not advised to eat Alfredo sauce everyday. There are some healthy alfredo sauce recipes. Using low fat ingredients will reduce the calories and therefor be healthier for you. 


Written by Jennifer DeBell
Jenny believes there’s nothing better after a long day of writing than coring apples for a mile-high pie. 


How To Make Alfredo Sauce | Everything You Need To Know

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