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Published January 9, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This delicious authentic alfredo sauce recipe is the perfect blend of richness and creaminess that is then tossed in fresh fettuccine pasta for an amazing meal. You will love how simple and tasty this real classic Italian sauce and pasta are.
I eat pasta at least once a week, but I’m Italian so it’s very natural for me to do so. I definitely recommend trying my Pasta Primavera or Pasta Pomodoro if you’re as big of a pasta fanatic as I am because they are amazing.
Alfredo sauce is a rich sauce that was created in the 1920s by a Roman restaurant owner, Alfredo di Lello. His most famous dish created was known as, Fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce that we know in the United States is different than that of Italy. Classically the sauce is made with butter, grated parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Hot starchy pasta water is also added when tossing it with pasta to bring about more creaminess.
There are some renditions of the sauce that use heavy cream, egg yolks, and flour, however, those would not be the traditional way of making it. Since this is a dish created in Rome, you can look no further than classic dishes like Cacio e Pepe or Pasta Alla Gricia to see the techniques and simple ingredients that are to be used. While this sauce was originally created for pasta, it’s now also used to coat things like chicken or vegetables.
Fettuccine alfredo is the most common dish associated with Alfredo sauce. It is a combination of wide-cut fettuccine pasta that is tossed in alfredo sauce. While you wouldn’t traditionally see things like chopped fresh parsley on it, I like to garnish with it for a touch of color and freshness.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pasta – You can use fresh or dried fettuccine pasta for this recipe
- Butter – Always use unsalted butter in your cooking and baking so that you control the salt content.
- Cheese – Grated parmesan cheese is the classic cheese to use in this alfredo sauce recipe.
- Water – Some hot starchy pasta water is used to help emulsify the cheese and butter and bring about more creaminess to the sauce.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce
Start by adding the cubed unsalted butter to a large bowl or frying pan.
Next, sprinkle half of the parmesan cheese over top of the butter.
Drop the fettuccine pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. If you are using dry pasta this will take 7 to 8 minutes for it to reach al dente. When using fresh pasta, it will only take 90 seconds to two minutes for it to reach al dente.
Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the butter and parmesan cheese, and add about ½ cup of hot pasta water to the bowl as well.
Begin tossing the pasta by slightly dipping the bowl down, sharply pushing it forward then immediately bringing it back. This will take some practice. You can also just toss using tongs as I did.
While tossing, begin to sprinkle in the remaining parmesan cheese.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with additional parmesan cheese. Add optional garnish of chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be served as soon as it is done cooking.
How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This will not freeze well.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of alfredo sauce to a medium size pan over low heat along with ¼ cup of water and heat until creamy and hot. Toss in fresh pasta and serve.
Chef Notes + Tips
- You should use Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe, but if not, you can easily swap it out for dried.
- The main reason there are clumps of cheese in the pasta is that the pan gets too hot. Be sure to stir constantly, and make sure to turn the heat off if the cheese begins to clump. You can remove the clumps by carefully bringing down the temperature.
- If Parmesan is not available, then substitute with Pecorino Romano.
- The technique of stirring the pasta is very similar to stir-frying.
- You may need more pasta water so ensure it stays creamy and the pasta noodles don’t suck up too much of the sauce.
- Al dente means to the tooth. The pasta should be firm but not hard or chalky.
More Pasta Recipes
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Linguine with Clam Sauce
- Bucatini All’Amatriciana
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Authentic Homemade Alfredo Sauce Recipe
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + ¼ cup for garnish
- ½ cup of hot pasta water
- 1 pound dried fettuccine or
- 1 ½ pounds fresh fettuccine pasta
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Start by adding the cubed unsalted butter to a large bowl or frying pan.
- Next, sprinkle half of the parmesan cheese over top of the butter.
- Drop the fettuccine pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. If you are using dry pasta this will take 7 to 8 minutes for it to reach al dente. When using fresh pasta, it will only take 90 seconds to two minutes for it to reach al dente.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the butter and parmesan cheese.
- Add about ½ cup of hot pasta water to the bowl as well.
- Begin tossing the pasta by slightly dipping the bowl down, sharply pushing it forward, then immediately bring it back. This will take some practice.
- While tossing, being to sprinkle in the remaining parmesan cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with additional parmesan cheese. Add optional garnish of chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley.