Alfredo sauce is the creamy, delicious ingredient integral to incredible dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo. Learning to make Alfredo sauce from scratch is a valuable skill sure to impress families, friends, and dinner party guests. Pre-made varieties of Alfredo sauce taste good, but only a homemade sauce will make an exceptional dish. Containing both butter and Parmesan cheese, it's difficult to find someone who dislikes this Italian-inspired delicacy.

Origin Of Alfredo Sauce

According to legend, Alfredo sauce was created in 1912 in Rome. The sauce gets its name from chef Alfredo di Lelio, owner of a Roman restaurant named "Alfredo's." The sauce is based on an Italian dish, Fettuccine Al Burro, which features a similar sauce but contains far less butter.

History Alfredo tovfla / Getty Images


Alfredo Comes To America

Alfredo sauce made the journey to the United States in 1927, when honeymooning film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks first tried it in Rome. They were so impressed they brought the recipe home to America and served it to their friends. It quickly caught on in Hollywood and shortly became a national Italian-American favorite.

Italian chicken alfredo fettuccine pasta in cream and cheese sauce


Alfredo's Evolution

The original Alfredo sauce contained mainly butter and Parmesan cheese, so when it was introduced to the United States, those who wanted to make it faced a challenge. The butter and Parmesan available in America were far less rich and creamy than their counterparts in Italy. This variation of ingredients caused the recipe to evolve and include heavy cream to add richness to the home-made Alfredo sauce.

Bowl of alfredo - Italian pasta sauce


Why People Love Alfredo

People enjoy Alfredo sauce for all the flavor and texture butter, Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream--in the American version--add to the recipe. Heavy cream is the high-fat layer skimmed off of milk before pasteurization. Parmesan is an aged cheese described as having a bitter, salty, and burning taste. Butter consists of at least 80% milkfat churned into a solid consistency. All three of these ingredients contain high amounts of fat that create a sensation of fullness and richness, a combination people around the world love.

Authentic Italian fettuccine alfredo pasta dish on wooden kitchen table


Choosing The Right Ingredients

Heavy whipping cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese are key to making an excellent Alfredo sauce. A great Alfredo also contains salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. The heavy whipping cream is available in most grocery stores. For butter, you can use the salted or cultured version. Cultured butter will provide a creamier texture, but it's not required for a great sauce. For greater flavor, use fresh minced garlic rather than its powdered varieties.

To make the best version of Alfredo sauce, get the Parmagiano-Reggiano, the Italian Parmesan cheese. Its name, "Parmagiano-Reggiano," should be stamped on the rind to ensure authenticity. For the rest of the ingredients, any brand of seasonings may be used.

Ingredientes ready to make Alfredo Sauce


How To Make Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Mix the cream and butter in a sauce-pan. Use 1/2 a cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream. Stir over low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is lightly simmering. Next, add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir the mixture well, then grate 2 cups of Parmagiano-Reggiano and add to the mixture. Stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is silky and smooth. The cheese will thicken the sauce. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it sit for 2-3 minutes before serving. travellinglight / Getty Images


Mistakes To Avoid When Making Alfredo

When making Alfredo at home, there are a few things to avoid:

  • Replacing heavy cream. While you may be able to get away with using half and half or another milk product, your sauce will suffer as a result.
  • Using grocery store Alfredo sauce. You may be tempted to buy a pre-made sauce, but you will be missing out. The sauce will lack the creamy flavor and texture of authentic homemade Alfredo.
  • Using high heat. If you don't keep your heat low enough, you run the risk of curdling the dairy, which will ruin your sauce.

Mistakes travellinglight / Getty Images


Why You Should Always Make Your Own Alfredo

Grocery store pre-made Alfredo may be a tempting way to save time and effort, but the simplicity and higher quality of the homemade Alfredo sauce are worth the trade-off. Pre-made Alfredo is often loaded with starch, artificial flavoring, and preservatives, and also lacks flavor, texture, and richness in comparison. It also contains a large list of un-natural ingredients that are not part of a healthy diet.

Home-made superior nanjan / Getty Images


Pasta And Variations

Meat, poultry, and fish make excellent protein additions to Alfredo dishes. Some classic combinations are shrimp Alfredo and chicken Alfredo. A good method is to cook the protein until it's almost finished and then let it simmer in the sauce to cook it thoroughly. Vegetables can also be added by themselves or in addition to protein. A common vegetable people add to Fettuccine Alfredo is peas, as its flavor pairs excellently with the sauce and adds a nice color to the dish.

Variations StephanieFrey / Getty Images


Fun Facts About Alfredo

  1. National Fettuccine Alfredo day takes place on February 7th.
  2. Alfredo Di Lelio sold his restaurant "Alfredo's" to Mario Mozzetti, and it still remains open to this day.
  3. A restauranteur opened a new restaurant chain with an endorsement from Di Lelio named "Alfredo's II." The chain has locations in New York, Orlando, and Las Vegas.
  4. Fettuccine is the type of pasta most commonly used with Alfredo, but any kind of pasta can be combined with the sauce.

Beautifully-servered, turquoise wooden table, on which there is a plate with Italian pasta with chicken and white sauce, napkins with a spoon and fork lie on the table


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