How to Make Alfredo Sauce That's as Good as Your Favorite Italian Restaurant's
Take pasta night to the next decadent level by learning how to 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), a saucepan, and a spoon, you'll be all set to whip up an Alfredo sauce recipe that's so much better than anything from a jar—we promise!
A luscious, creamy Alfredo sauce recipe is a culinary dream come true. As soon as you master how to make Alfredo sauce, you can combine a handful of affordable ingredients, boil some pasta, toss it all together, and you’ll feel like you’ve been instantly transported to an Italian trattoria. The original Alfredo sauce recipe was developed by restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio in the 1920s in Rome. His hallmark dish, fettuccine Alfredo, combined hot fettuccine with a rich sauce made of butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, and generous grindings of pepper. While a fettuccine Alfredo recipe is still a classic, much-loved dish, Alfredo sauce has become a delicious addition to many other family favorites, including casseroles, veggies, and pizza recipes. With this guide to making Alfredo sauce from scratch, you can be well-stocked for this versatile, silky sauce so you’re never more than minutes away from all of these dishes and more.
Related: Easy Pasta Recipes
How to Make Alfredo Sauce from Scratch
It's hard to believe that just four ingredients, plus salt and pepper, can result in such a wonderful cream sauce.
1. Gather the Ingredients
- Garlic, minced
- Whipping cream (or heavy cream)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
You can use pre-grated Parmesan cheese in this Alfredo sauce recipe, but it won't have the pronounced, intense freshness of cheese that you grate at home just before using. 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 a bit more of an investment 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 it’s worth the extra effort to go the classic route! Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano are hands down your best options for flavor. Learn more from our complete cheese guide.
2. Cook the Garlic
This step mellows the raw garlic flavor to bring out sweeter roasted flavors.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high. Make sure the butter does not brown—one of the hallmarks of Alfredo sauce is its creamy white color.
- To 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 ingredient that makes this Alfredo sauce recipe so creamy, is, well, cream!
- 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 ($12, Bed Bath & Beyond). You'll know the Alfredo sauce recipe is thick enough when it coats the back of your spoon.
4. Add the Cheese
Our Test Kitchen pros swear that the best Alfredo sauce recipes 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.
Test Kitchen 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 sauce from scratch for pasta entrées is to (you guessed it!) pair the sauce with noodles. Toss the sauce with 8 ounces of hot, cooked, and drained pasta. Fettuccine is traditional and holds the sauce nicely with its long strands, but just about any pasta will work.
Transfer the Alfredo-sauced pasta to a warm serving dish and serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and top with snipped fresh Italian parsley.
Beyond-Pasta Uses for This Alfredo Sauce Recipe
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: Pair Alfredo sauce with cooked meatballs for a crowd-pleasing party appetizer.
- Alfredo Soups: Use it as the base for a creamy soup or stew, as in this chicken-loaded Fettuccine Alfredo Soup.
Homemade Alfredo Sauce vs. Store-Bought Alfredo Sauce
Sure, you can buy jars or refrigerated containers of Alfredo sauce, and they absolutely get the job done 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 recipes take just minutes to prepare.
When you're in a pinch, try using purchased Alfredo sauce in these recipes for Lemon-Caper Tuna and Noodles, Chicken Alfredo Pot Pies, 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.
Now that you’re an ace at making Alfredo sauce from scratch, stock up on garlic, butter, cream, and Parm. That way, you’ll never be more than half an hour away from a cozy, delicious Italian-inspired meal.