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Fettuccine Alfredo has tender strands of pasta smothered in a smooth and silky cheese sauce.
Easy and delicious comfort food!
Fettucine Alfredo is one of the easiest comfort food dinners around! It has pasta in a decadent, rich, creamy cheese sauce – and if you’d like – you can garnish it with more Parmesan cheese and chopped, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley when served.
What is Alfredo Sauce?
Alfredo Sauce is named after Alfredo di Lelio, who is believed to have first served Fettucine Alfredo at his restaurant, Alfredo’s, in Rome around 1914.
Back then, it was simply fresh fettucine tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese – but it was prepared tableside in a ceremonious fashion for his customers. (This dish is also sometimes called Fettucine al burro – which means with butter in Italian.)
As the Parmesan cheese melted, it emulsified the butter and residual pasta cooking water – creating a smooth, creamy sauce that coated the fettucine.
Over the years, versions of Alfredo Sauce have evolved (including our recipe today) to include heavy cream, garlic, and other seasonings – so it’s more of a thick cream sauce with generous amounts of freshly-grated, aged Parmesan added for both flavor and texture.
What the difference between Béchamel Sauce and Alfredo Sauce?
Béchamel is a classic, French, creamy white sauce that is thickened with a roux made from butter and flour. It’s often used as the starting point for white sauces in many recipes such as our Chicken Florentine, Chicken Enchiladas, Mexican Lasagna, and Chicken a la King.
Alfredo Sauce traditionally has no flour, corn starch or any thickening agent – just lots of Parmesan cheese to make it thick and creamy!
Today’s recipe is written for dried fettucine pasta. If you use fresh pasta instead, the timing of this dish will change.
Fresh pasta cooks up quickly, so make the sauce first, then cook the fresh pasta and add to the sauce.
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12 ounces dry fettuccine pasta
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Few grinds fresh nutmeg
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
Optional – chopped parsley (for garnish)
- Place a large pot of water on to boil and once boiling, salt the water then add the fettuccini. Always salt pasta water to flavor the pasta. Cook to al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet or saute pan over low heat, melt butter and add the garlic.
- Cook for a few minutes on low, just until the garlic barely starts to brown.
- Add in the cream, whisking into the butter and garlic.
- Whisk in the salt, pepper, mustard and nutmeg. To make things easier, measure out all of the spices in a little dish ahead of time.
- Whisk in the Parmesan cheese and turn off the burner.
- Once the pasta is almost cooked, use tongs and remove pasta to the cream mixture. Do not discard the cooking water yet.
- Turn heat back onto the sauce to medium heat and cook until the pasta is tender and the sauce is thick. Add pasta water if it gets too thick. Pasta water is also good to use to reheat leftovers so save a cup or two.
- Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese over the top of each portion along with optional chopped parsley.
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If you use fresh pasta instead of dried pasta, the timing of this dish will change. Fresh pasta cooks up quickly so make the sauce first, then cook the fresh pasta and add to the sauce.