Homemade Alfredo Sauce is rich and creamy and takes about 15 minutes to make from scratch with just a few ingredients. Serve it over your favorite pasta and you’ll never want to resort to store bought again!
I have been making homemade Alfredo Sauce for so long, I know this recipe like the back of my hand. It’s super simple, tastes like you slaved over it, and is delicious with all kinds of pastas. We especially love it with Tortellini or Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells.
Homemade Alfredo requires just a few easy to find ingredients – butter, cream and cheese. We also love to add garlic and black pepper to give it a little more depth but it’s always so homey and comforting. It’s no wonder it’s such a popular dish!
While serving it over pasta is my favorite, you can also pour it over chicken, pasta, or even pizza. It makes a great bread dip too!
What is Alfredo Sauce?
A classic alfredo sauce is a creamy, cheesy white sauce served over pasta, usually fettuccine.
There are basically two ways to make it. The traditional way is heating the ingredients on the stove and the non-traditional method involves creating a roux.
I think both methods are delicious, and the roux method is definitely a “skinnier” recipe since it uses a lot less butter and a cream. However if I had to choose, it’s going to be traditional Alfredo every time.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce from Scratch
You only need 5 ingredients to make the best Alfredo Sauce from scratch: butter, cream, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and pepper. It’s creamy, delicious and is the best over fresh, hot pasta. Once you learn how to make Alfredo, you’ll never go back!
- Melt the butter over medium-low heat with some minced garlic, then add the heavy cream. Do not use milk or half and half for this recipe; go all out with the full fat cream. Bring it to a simmer, just barely bubbling, but do not boil.
- Whisk in fresh grated or shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Work quickly with the cheese. Once you add the cheese, you’ll want to whisk vigorously in order to incorporate it into the sauce and so it can melt. This will keep your cheese from clumping. Simmer away for a few minutes or until the sauce has thickened up.
- Salt usually isn’t needed because the butter and cheese have enough salt to flavor the sauce quite nicely, but you can judge for yourself. Toss with your favorite pasta and add some fresh minced parsley and cracked black pepper.
What does Alfredo Sauce taste like?
This Alfredo sauce is thick and creamy and so delicious. It’s got a nuttiness from the parmesan cheese and if the garlic adds a whole other level of flavor.
While it’s similar to the butter and cheese sauce on Cacio e Pepe, alfredo is slightly more complex and uses heavy cream.
Top Tips and Tricks
- The cheese is important! You will want to buy only fresh Parmesan cheese when you make your homemade sauce. The grated stuff in the can doesn’t melt and can end up tasting grainy, and the pre-packaged shredded Parmesan won’t melt as well either because of the coating they add to it to keep it from sticking together in the bag. Buy the block of good quality Parmesan from the deli for the very best results.
- How to thicken a thin Alfredo sauce: Sauce not thick enough for you? Add a couple ounces of softened cream cheese (from the block, not the spread) to your sauce and it will give it a creamier texture and will help it thicken up a bit. You could also add a roux to the mixture. To do this, melt a couple of teaspoons of butter in a small saucepan, and add a couple teaspoons of flour. Cook until golden, then add to your simmering sauce and stir until it’s completely incorporated.
- Let it simmer. Be sure to turn the heat down when you add the Parmesan cheese. You don’t want to boil this sauce at all, just a simmer (a few small bubbles coming to the top) will do fine. Boiling can result in a broken sauce, and nobody likes that.
- Salt your Pasta. The sauce won’t need any added salt, but do add salt to your pasta water. At least a tablespoon or two to 4-5 quarts of boiling water.
If you’re looking for a Skinny Alfredo Sauce without heavy cream, be sure to check out our Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti.
Storage and Reheating Tips
If you happen to have some leftover, you’ll want to store the pasta and sauce separately if possible. If it’s already mixed together, don’t freeze it, but you can keep in the fridge for a few days and reheat using the instructions below.
- Refrigerator: If you happen to have leftover sauce, you can reheat it but proceed with caution. Add a teaspoon of two of milk to the pasta and sauce, then simmer it over low heat or heat in the microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until warmed through. Reheat slowly and stir frequently or the sauce can break and create a greasy mess.
- Freezer: Freeze Alfredo sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 6 months. To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight, then place the sauce in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until heated through to avoid breaking the sauce (when the cream and butter separate and your lovely sauce becomes a greasy mess). Freeze the sauce without the pasta. Make fresh pasta when you’re ready to use the sauce
Alfredo Sauce is usually served with Fettuccine Pasta. The long, thick Fettuccine noodles mop up the luscious sauce so you don’t miss a drop. Try that with macaroni! You could also try your hand at making some homemade pasta. Sprinkle on some fresh minced parsley or chopped basil for a little color in the presentation. Because it’s so rich, we usually serve alfredo topped pastas with just a simple green salad and some homemade Garlic Bread.
Eat More Pasta!
Homemade Alfredo Sauce
- 1/2 cup butter 1 stick
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream (not milk)
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese off the block
- Fresh cracked black pepper and fresh minced parsley to taste
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn.
- Whisk in heavy cream and allow to bubble up to a simmer, then simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Vigorously whisk in the parmesan until melted and bring to a simmer - do not boil - for about 3-4 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
- Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste and toss with fresh, hot pasta. Garnish with fresh minced parsley.
- Recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce, which is enough for a pound of fettuccine pasta.
- Nutritional information does not include pasta.