How to Make Alfredo Sauce as Good as Your Favorite Italian Restaurant
Make pasta night extra special when you make Alfredo sauce from scratch using our homemade Alfredo sauce recipe. With just a handful of basic ingredients (no trips to a specialty store needed) and a saucepan, you'll learn how to make a sauce that's better than anything from a jar—we promise!
A luscious, creamy 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 Lelio. 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 a fettuccine Alfredo recipe is still a classic, much-loved dish, Alfredo sauce has become a favorite decadent sauce to add to many recipes, such as casseroles, veggies, and pizzas. Thanks to our recipe, you'll know how to make homemade Alfredo sauce to add to all of these dishes and more.
Related: Easy Pasta Recipes
How to Make Alfredo Sauce
It's hard to believe that just four ingredients, plus salt and pepper, can result in such a wonderful sauce. Our Alfredo pasta sauce recipe makes enough sauce to serve with 8 ounces of pasta (four main-dish servings).
1. Gather the Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup whipping cream (or heavy cream)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling over the final dish, if desired
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. Some folks try to shortcut homemade Alfredo sauce by making an Alfredo sauce with cream cheese, but we say blasphemy! Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano are hands-down your best options for flavor. Learn more from our cheese guide.
2. Cook the Garlic
- In a 3-qt. saucepan melt the butter over medium-high. Make sure the butter does not brown—one of the hallmarks of this sauce is its creamy white color.
- To bring soften the garlic and bring out its flavor, cook the garlic in the hot butter over medium-high for 1 minute.
3. Thicken the Cream
The secret to creamy Alfredo sauce is the cream, of course!
- Carefully pour the cream into the saucepan with the melted butter and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring the butter-cream mixture to boiling, then reduce the heat and boil gently, uncovered, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cook the sauce gently until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. You'll know the Alfredo sauce recipe is thick enough when it coats the back of your spoon.
4. Add the Cheese
Your best Alfredo sauce recipe will include freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Here's how to add it:
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Continue stirring until the cheese is incorporated into the sauce. Your sauce is now ready to toss with pasta or use as desired.
Tip: Be sure the pan is off the heat when you stir in the Parmesan, as high heat can cause the cheese to clump or become stringy rather than melt smoothly.
The final step in how to make Alfredo pasta is to serve the sauce with pasta! Toss the sauce with 8 oz. 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.
Related: Make Homemade Noodles
Other Uses for Alfredo Sauce
Homemade Alfredo sauce works well wherever a rich, creamy sauce is called for. Now that you know how to make Alfredo sauce like a pro, start using it in non-fettuccine ways such as in Scallop and Asparagus Alfredo, Stove-Top Alfredo with Bacon and Peas, and Macaroni Alfredo with Pumpkin and Kale recipes. Then get really creative and use Alfredo sauce in recipes that don't involve pasta.
- Alfredo-Sauced Pizza: Use Alfredo sauce as a pizza sauce instead of tomato sauce, and top with your favorite ingredients.
- Alfredo-Topped Baked Potatoes: Combine Alfredo sauce with cooked vegetables, such as peas, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and red sweet peppers. Heat through and spoon the sauce over hot baked potatoes.
- Alfredo-Sauced Vegetables: Use as a sauce for cooked broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or a combination of vegetables.
- Alfredo Meatballs: Combine with cooked meatballs for a luscious appetizer. Try this Meatballs and Alfredo Sauce recipe.
Homemade Alfredo Sauce vs. Store-Bought
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.
Purchased Alfredo Sauce Recipes
Short on time? Purchased Alfredo sauce is a simple shortcut for dinner and perfect for beating the weeknight rush. Of course, now that you know how good homemade Alfredo sauce is, you may not think the shortcut is as tasty. When you're in a pinch, try using purchased Alfredo sauce in these recipes for Lemon Caper Tuna and Noodles, Chicken Alfredo Potpies, and Tortellini Alfredo with Roasted Peppers. And of course you can always swap in your homemade Alfredo sauce recipe for the purchased sauced called for in each of these recipes.