With just a handful of ingredients, 30 minutes, and a bit of know-how, you can have a homemade Alfredo sauce to toss with your fettuccine or use in a variety of creative ways.
A creamy, luscious Alfredo sauce is a culinary dream -- a handful of ingredients that add up to something wonderful. It hails from 1920s Rome, where it was created by restaurateur Alfredo di Lello. His hallmark dish, Fettuccine Alfredo, combined hot fettuccine with a sauce made of butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, with generous grindings of pepper to help add spark to all that richness. While Fettuccine Alfredo is still a classic, much-loved dish, the sauce has become a favorite way to add opulence to many recipes, from casseroles to veggies to pizzas.
Sure, you can buy jars or refrigerated containers of Alfredo sauce, and certainly they fill the bill when you're pressed for time. However, some commercial products use cream cheese or food starches as thickeners, which can mute the sauce's hallmark butter, cream, and Parmesan flavors. When you make Alfredo sauce from scratch, it will taste fresher -- and the flavors of those three ingredients will be more vivid. Fortunately, homemade Alfredo sauce takes just minutes to make.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce
It's hard to believe that just three ingredients, plus salt and pepper, can result in such a wonderful sauce. This recipe makes enough sauce to serve with 8 ounces of pasta (four main-dish servings).
1. Gather the Ingredients
Tip: You can use pregrated Parmesan cheese, but it won't have the pronounced, intense freshness of cheese that you grate at home just before you use it. And if you really want to treat yourself to something wonderful, use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the Italian original, imported from Northern Italy). It might be more costly than domestic versions, but it offers a bold, snappy flavor that few look-alikes can match.
Tip: Be sure the pan is off the heat, as high heat can cause cheese to clump or become stringy rather than melt smoothly.
To serve with pasta, toss the sauce with 8 ounces of hot cooked, drained pasta (fettuccine is traditional and holds the sauce nicely with its long strands, but just about any pasta will work except miniature shapes). Transfer the sauced pasta to a warm serving dish and serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and/or top with snipped fresh Italian parsley.
Other Uses for Alfredo Sauce
Alfredo sauce works well wherever a rich, creamy sauce is called for. Here are a few ideas. You can also use Alfredo sauce in recipes (for some examples, see the recipe links below):
Homemade Alfredo Sauce is really just a creamy cheese sauce made with Parmesan. Start by briefly cooking the garlic in a skillet and then add the cream. Whipping cream is key for flavor and texture, since it doesn't need any additional thickeners like flour or cornstarch. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently making sure it doesn't bubble over. Cook uncovered until its thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. When you can run your finger through the mixture and leave a trail, it's ready. Off heat, stir in Parmesan cheese, this will thicken the sauce even further. Now add hot pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve with a simple salad and crusty bread. This is a dynamite made from scratch dinner.