Don’t mess with perfection.
A rich and deeply delicious pasta, worth every creamy, cheesy bite. This authentic fettuccine Alfredo recipe is classic perfection — and takes minutes to make.
The Best Fettuccine Alfredo
This may not be a dinner for every day, but a classic, authentic bowl of fettuccine Alfredo just cannot be beat. Creamy, silky, and satisfyingly flavorful thanks to a hint of garlic and generous amounts of pecorino-Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, this is one creamy pasta dinner you will truly savor.
Who Invented the Original Fettuccine Alfredo?
The original fettuccine Alfredo recipe originated as a simple, common dish of pasta with butter and Parmigiano cheese, which Rome restaurant owner Alfredo de Lelio prepared for his pregnant wife. His wife suffered from serious morning sickness and could not eat much during her pregnancy.
Alfredo de Lelio served the simple butter and cheese pasta with whatever pasta was around in the restaurant that day. But one day, in 1927, the American silent film actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, on honeymoon, came to eat at the restaurant.
Fettuccine happened to be the pasta of the day when Alfredo served the couple served the butter and cheese pasta. They loved it so much that they spread the word back in Hollywood, and sent Alfredo a gift of two engraved, personalized golden spoons. Eventually, fettuccine Alfredo made its way stateside and evolved into a recipe with cream.
Why Is Fettuccine Alfredo Unhealthy? (The Inevitable Question)
Sigh. One might expect the answer to, “Is fettuccine Alfredo healthy?” to be a solid no. After all, fettuccine Alfredo was dubbed a “heart attack on a plate” by C.S.P.I.
But on the other hand, every well-rounded, “healthy” diet deserves a treat now and then, right? So while this authentic fettuccine Alfredo recipe may not contain vegetables, fruit, fiber, or whole grains, I do think that a special treat can be appropriate in any diet.
What is traditional fettuccine Alfredo sauce made of?
Other than perfectly-cooked al dente fettuccine pasta, this dish is all about the Alfredo sauce. This Alfredo sauce recipe is an easy one, made with all the best food groups:
- Heavy Cream
- Pecorino-Romano cheese
- Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- Egg yolk
- Salt and pepper
Traditional Fettuccine Alfredo: Recipe Notes
Fettuccine Alfredo sauce tastes uniquely creamy and makes liberal use of good, aged Italian grating cheeses and cream. A bit of garlic adds an additional, subtle flavor note, making for an extraordinary result.
Here are some more recipe tips for acing Alfredo:
- Use good cheese. Do not skimp. Use actual pecorino-Romano cheese and real, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- In keeping with Alfredo sauce’s retro vibe, and to add a punch of color, I like to garnish with good old-fashioned Italian parsley, with some extra black pepper on top.
How to Reheat Fettuccine Alfredo
Pasta dishes rarely reheat well in the microwave, which heats the pasta but also dries out the sauce. Fettuccine Alfredo is no exception. To reheat this dish so that it comes back to its silky, creamy best:
- Add just enough water to coat the bottom of a skillet.
- Add the leftover pasta.
- Reheat on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until it becomes creamy again and warmed throughout.
Love this Alfredo dinner? You will also love these Italian comfort food dishes:
- 12 ounces dried fettuccine pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 turns freshly-cracked black pepper, plus more to serve
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- ½ cup pecorino-Romano cheese, grated, plus more to serve
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)
- Cook the fettuccine in well-salted boiling water until just shy of al dente. It is done when the pasta is slightly undercooked.
- While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and black pepper and cook until fragrant and sizzling, about one minute. Do not brown the garlic; it should only become yellow or slightly toasted in color. Lower the heat as necessary.
- Whisk together the heavy cream, egg yolk, and a large pinch of salt. Pour the cream mixture into the butter, garlic, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir until the mixture is hot, but not bubbling. Keep warm, frequently stirring the Alfredo sauce, until the pasta has cooked. Lower the heat if necessary.
- Using tongs, drag the fettuccine into the cream sauce, taking a little pasta water along with it. (Reserve the pasta water.) Turn the pasta in the skillet to fully coat and finish cooking. Add the cheese and keep folding gently until the cream is mostly absorbed. Taste for seasoning. If the sauce starts looking too dry or "tight," loosen it with warm pasta water, a tablespoon or so at a time.
- Serve, garnishing with a sprinkle of minced parsley, grated cheese, and some more black pepper.
Kim Halowski says
I used truffle cheddar and it was OUTSTANDING!
Oh wow–that’s SUCH an amazing idea!!!
Super easy! For anyone who’s looking for a healthier option, I used earthbalance butter and fat free half and half and it turned out great! Obviously eat it however you like, but just wanted to share!
So good to know that fat-free 1/2 and 1/2 works well! Thanks for making it and leaving this helpful note.
Laura Duggan says
The best recipe I have found !! its so creamy and delicious!
Thanks, Laura! Isn’t it so good?!
Amber V says
I haven’t yet tried this recipe yet but I am looking for sauces that I can use for canning. Would I be able to use this recipe if I can this for the winter and the next year? Please let me know thank you!
Hi, Amber. Hmm…I am unfortunately not an expert on canning. I would be a little reluctant to can Alfredo sauce, however, because in my experience the sauce really need to be boiling hot to can, and this takes a softer temperature approach. Luckily, the sauce comes together rather quickly, so it shouldn’t take too much time to make it right at dinner, fresh. Good luck!
My cousin is a 5 star Michelin chef in Italy so I have to say this.
This is Not authentic fettuccine Alfredo. It may be really good, but please do not mislead people by saying it is authentic.
Authentic fettuccine Alfredo is made with 4 ingredients. Fettuccine noodles, parmesan cheese, butter and pasta water. That’s it.
Made this and was the best Alfredo sauce! Loved it bc it called for less butter then I’m use to. I do have a question…would this sauce work as an Alfredo bake? I want to a chicken Alfredo bake, this afternoon, and reheat tonight for dinner but worried about sauce separating? Think it will work?
Hi, Elly! I am so glad you enjoyed it. I love alfredo so much! Sorry for the late response since you were hoping to do a chicken alfredo bake that afternoon. But! I do think this would work. I would be less afraid of it breaking, though, and more concerned about it being too dry, since pasta continues to absorb liquid as it bakes. Try adding an extra 1/2 cup cream and one extra egg yolk. Let me know if you try it out; I’d love to know the result.
My experience reheating Alfredo is the butter separates from noodles/cream.Do you have any tips for that other than just not having any left overs?
Hi! Yes, reheating creamy pastas can be a challenge. The best way that I have found is to use a double boiler, with just a little splash of extra cream, or even water. I do this with carbonara as well, and it works like a charm! Make sure your water is simmering, not boiling, and does not touch the bottom of the pasta bowl. Stir often. Let me know if this works!
This is OUTSTANDING! I do not make this often, but I was craving it so went with this recipe, and I will have to say I will never make another. This is great. No substitutions necessary.
Jeff Winett says
You have single handedly solved my years long Fettuccine Alfredo conundrum. I cannot count how many versions of this classic dish I’ve prepared over time…all have been tasty, but always something that is perhaps not totally “there”. I had my way with your dish last night, and followed your road map exclusively, other than my having no Pecorino in the house…it was all Reggiano last night. This sauce was ummmazing with my home made pasta, and besides our fantastic dinner, I never need to even think about other Alfredo renditions. Thank you so much for what you’ve shared. Healthy and happy new year!
You can never go wrong with extra Parm-Regg (especially when it’s aged 24+ months), so I am so glad that you enjoyed this and shared the results. This made my day. Hope you continue to enjoy the recipes!
My husband and I loved this recipe! When I make it again I will try cutting back on the pepper a bit – the 1 1/2 tablespoons was a bit too spicy for the kids… I didn’t see at what point I was supposed to add the 1/2 cup romano and Parm, so I added it to the cream when it was hot. Was I supposed to leave it out of the cream mixture and just sprinkle it on the noodles at the end?
Hi, Karen! Yeah, the pepper is definitely aggressive since it’s a combo of Alfredo and cacio e pepe, but you can adapt it however you like to your taste. And I think I accidentally cut the cheese part–oops! It’s like the most important thing. I added it back in, but you did it exactly right. Thanks for writing.
I almost wish I didn’t make this because it is so unhealthy and now I have to make it all the time. OMG this is good.
Haha!! Sorry(?). Glad you loved it.
Nicolas Franzetti says
This dish was delicious. So much good stuff on here always. how do you do it?
Matt R. says
This dish was simply amazing. I am a longtime fan of cacio e pepe, but this dish really takes it to the next level. I also enjoyed reading about the history of the dishes.
The flavor and creamy texture on this was outstanding, and I will make this again, though hopefully not too soon since it IS rich! I remember eating at Elaine’s in New York City when my husband and I would visit for nearby doctor’s appointments and we enjoyed this dish there many times. Now we can enjoy this!.
Wonderful. There weren’t any leftovers. Scraped the plates 🙂
Anna Paul says
THIS IS AAAAMMMAAAZZZZING!!! I don’t even care that it is not healthy. WORTH IT!