What is Alfredo Sauce?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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Alfredo sauce is a white sauce which is often used to accompany pasta dishes. Traditionally, it was made with butter and Parmesan cheese, but more modernly, and especially in the United States, this sauce also includes heavy cream. In many parts of the world, it is prepared separately from the pasta, and it is sometimes also available for sale in jars at stores.

In Italy, the country where the inspiration for the sauce can be found, Alfredo sauce is not made separately from the pasta. Instead, the ingredients are added to the pasta individually and the whole mixture is tossed to coat the pasta. Both methods are perfectly acceptable, and you can find directions below detailing each technique. Fresh Alfredo sauce made with fresh ingredients is preferable, and very easy to make, so cooks should resist purchasing it in a jar.

The core ingredients of Alfredo sauce are high quality salted butter, heavy cream, and freshly grated Parmesan. Variants include additions like pepper, nutmeg, and parsley. Outside of Italy, this sauce is often combined with proteins such as chicken, or vegetables. The quintessential dish with this sauce is fettuccine Alfredo, made with extra-thick fettuccine noodles drenched in the rich, creamy sauce. This dish is a stock offering at many Italian restaurants.


To make Alfredo in the traditional Italian way, cook noodles as you would normally while grating a copious amount of fresh Parmesan. Drain the noodles, and toss butter into the warm pan. Once the noodles have thoroughly drained, put them back into the pan and toss with the butter to coat. Next, add heavy cream, the grated Parmesan, and more butter. Toss again before serving, cracking generous amounts of salt and pepper on top.

To make Alfredo sauce in a pan, cook pasta while you heat cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese on low. You can also add ingredients such as parsley or nutmeg. For a more complex layer of flavor, caramelize onions and or garlic in the pan before adding the dairy ingredients. Once the pasta has cooked, toss the pasta with the sauce to coat, or pour the sauce on top. If you wish to add ingredients like vegetables and protein, layer them on top of the pasta before pouring the sauce on. You can also thicken this Alfredo sauce with a roux, if a thicker cream sauce is desired.

To make a roux, measure out equal amounts of butter and flour. Heat a pan on medium, and add the butter, allowing it to melt before adding the flour. Whisk the flour in the pan until it combines with the butter and starts to brown. Next, pour in heavy cream, or milk for a lighter sauce, whisking as the sauce thickens. A roux is a useful thing to know how to make, since it can be used to thicken sauces and gravies, and in a variety of dishes such as lasagna.


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Post 10

Who cooks a pasta dish with noodles? Pasta dishes are made using pasta. Noodles are Asian, used in stir-fries and similar meals. Get it right.

And, as all the Italians posting here have said, 'Alfredo' is not a traditional Italian sauce at all. It's an American invention. Yes, there was an Italian chef called Alfredo who tossed pasta in butter and parmesan - which is a perfectly ordinary way to serve pasta. It's not a sauce, and it wasn't called 'Alfredo'. This is an insult to Italians everywhere.

Post 9

Alfredo sauce is something totally not Italian and fake, just like spaghetti bolognese and other billions of American industrial bad imitations.

Post 8

The so-called alfredo sauce is just an american product that has nothing to do with italian cuisine. It is one of the many inventions that have found a better response than many real italian dishes (good pr). I bear the same name as the sauce but that is far from being appealing to be compared to such a degrading product. You do not need to be the brightest of the bunch to cook a decent sauce. get cooking!

Post 7

Alfredo sauce is an American invention, not Italian. Good luck trying to find Pasta Alfredo in any restaurant in Italy.

Post 6

I would caramelize the onions and garlic, make the roux in another pan, then stir the roux into the caramelized onion mixture. Make sure to have an appropriate liquid on hand to loosen it up if it starts to get too thick. Good idea! I am making red and white lasagna in a couple weeks, and will use this method.

Post 5

My name is Francesco and i live in Rome. This sauce doesn't exist in Italy and is not Italian. is just a fake. Ciao!

Post 4

actually after is "dopo" in italian, notice only 1 p, while the word "doppo" does not exist. but "doppio" meaning double is indeed correct.

Post 3

Doppo means after in Italian. Doppio means double, therefore doppio burro is correct.

Post 2

When Roman restauranteur Alfredo di Lelio created the dish that now bears his name, he called it "doppo burro" or "double butter" because of the copious amounts of butter he blended with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and served over egg noodles.

Heavy cream is an American addition and the dish is commonly served this way in Italian-American establishments. It's a fine, versatile sauce, but should never be confused with a classic Alfredo.

Post 1

Is it possible to make a roux and also carmelize onions and garlic? It seems like it's either one way or the other.

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