Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Simple, Decadent Alfredo Sauce: Cream, Butter, and Cheese

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
510 Calories
51g Fat
6g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 510
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 51g 65%
Saturated Fat 32g 159%
Cholesterol 152mg 51%
Sodium 594mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 270mg 21%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 125mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Alfredo sauce is a classic Italian sauce made with just three main ingredients: cream, butter, and cheese. How could that be bad? It's quick to make and will be just as quick to disappear—no one can resist the decadent, creamy sauce.

Alfredo sauce is named after its inventor, Alfredo di Leilo, who served the dish at his restaurant in Rome in the early to mid-1900s. It was prepared tableside, and some restaurants still carry on this practice today. Taste for the dish quickly spread outside of Italy and it is especially popular in America.

A simple combination of heavy cream and butter is heated and reduced before a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese is added off the heat. For the best results, serve it fresh. Put a pot of water on to boil before you begin so that you have freshly cooked, hot pasta ready to toss and serve. Serve with fettuccine for a classic dish, with other pasta shapes, in lasagna, as a dipping sauce, and more.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, optional

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Simple, Decadent Alfredo Sauce: Cream, Butter, and Cheese, ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a large sauté pan, heat cream and butter over medium-low heat until it starts to simmer.

    butter and cream in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Lower heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced somewhat.

    butter and cream sauce in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Remove pan from heat and cover.

    butter and cream sauce in a covered pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add cheese gradually, stirring the whole time, until it's melted and well combined. Adjust consistency with additional cream if necessary.

    cheese added to the butter and cream sauce

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Stir in chopped parsley, if using.

    parsley added to the Alfredo Sauce

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    salt and pepper added to the Alfredo sauce

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Toss with the hot cooked pasta of your choice and serve right away.

    pasta added to the Alfredo Sauce

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

How to Store and Freeze

  • Alfredo sauce is best made and served fresh. However, leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • While not ideal, Alfredo sauce can also be frozen. Let cool slightly, then add to a zip-top freezer bag and squeeze out the air. Freeze for up to three months. Let defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.
  • To reheat leftover Alfredo sauce, first use a whisk to mix, especially if the sauce looks separated. Place in a small skillet or saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly.

Tips

  • Don't overheat the sauce. Just bring the butter and cream to a light simmer and reduce over low heat.
  • Add the cheese gradually, stirring the whole time. Freshly-grated Parmesan is recommended for a creamier sauce, and finely-grated is ideal since it melts easily.
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools a bit.

Recipe Variations

  • Cream works best for Alfredo sauce, but half and half will work in a pinch. Note that it will make a thinner, less decadent sauce.
  • Make a garlic Alfredo sauce by adding two finely minced or grated garlic cloves to the butter and cream.
  • Parmesan is a classic choice, but you can swap part or all of it for grated pecorino romano or aged Asiago cheese.

How Do You Thicken Alfredo Sauce?

To make a thicker Alfredo sauce, cook the cream and butter down for longer. Note that it will thicken greatly after you add the cheese and it cools a bit. You can add more cheese to thicken it even more.