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The 5 Secrets to Expert Fettuccine Alfredo

For the creamiest alfredo sauce, you don't use any cream at all.
By Published Sept. 28, 2022

When you hear fettuccine alfredo, you’re probably thinking of a thick, heavy, supercreamy sauce. But that’s not how the earliest versions of this comforting pasta dish would be described. 

In fact, the original fettuccine didn’t have any cream in it at all.

Our easy recipe for Fettuccine with Butter and Cheese takes inspiration from the real-deal original and brings things back to basics. Just four ingredients—pasta, butter, Parm, and salt—will result in a silky (never gloppy) sauce that coats every noodle.

Focusing on a few key techniques will transform the simple ingredients into a cheesy, creamy bowl of pasta so good you won’t even miss the cream.

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In the newest episode of our YouTube series Today’s Special with Ashley Moore, she shows you how to make fettuccine alfredo so good, you’ll never buy another jar of the premade stuff again.  

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Use Less Water to Cook the Pasta than You Might Think

Because the sauce is built around the pasta water, cooking the pasta in 3 quarts of water (compared to the 4 quarts we typically call for) boosts the starch and makes the final dish even creamier. 

2. Reach for the Good Parm

This recipe is all about the Parmesan. Grating your own Parmesan cheese at home, the best you can get your hands on, is key. The cheese you purchase pre-grated contains anti-coagulating ingredients, such as cellulose, that keep the cheese from melting properly and emulsifying into a sauce. 

3. Stir Vigorously (and Keep Stirring)

As the sauce comes together, it may look a little watery, but it will thicken up if you keep stirring, guaranteed.

4. Let the Pasta Sit for a Minute

After you've stirred everything and your sauce has come together, don't serve it right away. Remove the pot from the heat and cover for one minute. This short amount of time will help the pasta absorb any extra water for the creamiest sauce. 

5. Warm Your Bowls

The serving bowls stay warm in a low oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit) while the pasta cooks. That way, the sauce will stay silky-smooth when it gets ladled into the bowls. If the bowls were cold, the sauce would seize up when the pasta hits the bowl. Once the pasta is ready, serve immediately for the best texture.

For more tips on how to make the perfect bowl of fettuccine alfredo, watch Ashley take you through the steps.