How to Make Creamy and Delicious Alfredo Sauce from Scratch

Take pasta night to the next level by learning how to make Alfredo sauce from scratch. With just a handful of basic ingredients, a saucepan, and a spoon, you'll be all set to whip up this homemade Alfredo sauce recipe that's so much better than anything from a jar.

pasta with alfredo sauce on a plate
Photo:

BHG/Madhumita Sathishkumar

A luscious, homemade Alfredo sauce recipe makes for 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 1920s 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.

Step-by-Step 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.

ingredients to make creamy alfredo sauce

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1. Gather the Ingredients

We'll walk you through how to make Alfredo sauce as explained in the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book 17th Edition.

You'll need:

  • Butter
  • Garlic, minced
  • Whipping cream (or heavy cream)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

You can use pre-shredded Parmesan cheese in this Alfredo sauce recipe, but it won't have the pronounced, intense fresh flavor that you grate just before using. And if you really want to treat yourself to something wonderfully authentic, use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the Italian original, imported from the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Modena, north of Bologna). It might be a bit more of an investment than domestic versions, but it offers a bold, snappy flavor that few can imitate.

Some folks try to shortcut homemade Alfredo sauce by substituting cream cheese, but it's worth the extra effort to go the classic route. Fresh parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano are hands down your best options for flavor. Learn more from our complete cheese guide.

minced garlic cooking in oil

BHG/Madhumita Sathishkumar

2. Cook the Garlic

This step mellows the raw garlic to bring out sweeter roasted flavors.

  • In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high. Make sure the butter does not brown—one of Alfredo sauce's hallmarks is its creamy white color.
  • To soften the garlic and bring out its flavor, cook it in the hot butter over medium-high for 1 minute.
alfredo sauce cooking in sauce pan

BHG/Madhumita Sathishkumar

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 a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 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.
grate parmensan in pot with alfredo sauce

BHG/Madhumita Sathishkumar

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.

alfredo sauce in a saucepan

BHG/Madhumita Sathishkumar

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 recipes such as in Scallop and Asparagus Alfredo, 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 your pizza base 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 mask the sauce's classic 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 bold. Fortunately, homemade Alfredo sauce takes 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 in each of these recipes.

Now that you're an expert at making your own Alfredo sauce from scratch, stock up on garlic, butter, cream, and Parmesan. That way, you'll never be more than half an hour away from a cozy, delicious Italian-inspired meal.

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