Rich Homemade Alfredo Sauce is a creamy, delicious way to elevate your pasta and throw together a dinner the whole family will enjoy! Made with simple, real ingredients like heavy cream, butter, garlic, and parmesan cheese for the ultimate in flavor and comfort, this Italian classic never fails to please.
Although there are many jarred sauces at the grocery store that make dinner prep easy and quick, we have yet to find a store-bought alfredo sauce that can even come close to the fresh, delicious taste and texture of our homemade version. Most of the alfredo sauce in jars are usually too thick, gloopy, or bland and there is hardly any comparison to a fresh batch of creamy alfredo sauce that you can make in under 10 minutes on the stove.
It goes amazing with all types of pasta from bowtie to shells to fettuccine, it's traditional pairing. Throw in a protein like cooked chicken, shrimp, or even bacon and some veggies like roasted or grilled asparagus, broccoli, or peas and you have a fantastic dinner that will have everybody running to the kitchen.
Here's a list of what you'll need to make this homemade alfredo sauce recipe. See the printable recipe card below for exact amounts and full instructions.
- Heavy cream: Other recipes may blend cream cheese and milk or use half-and-half, but this is the real deal alfredo sauce here and heavy cream (sometimes also labeled heavy whipping cream) is where it's at.
- Butter: We use salted butter to saute the minced garlic for a warm, rich flavor.
- Garlic: With such simple ingredients you will find that using freshly minced garlic makes a big difference.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese melts into the alfredo sauce much better than the pre-shredded stuff or powdered parmesan cheese from the store.
- Seasonings: Coarse kosher salt and black pepper are complimented with a pinch of cayenne pepper. It's our secret ingredient that makes our alfredo sauce recipe better than any other recipe out there. It doesn't make the sauce spicy, just gives it a subtle complexity that we love.
If you are at the end of you brick of Parmesan, don't throw it out! Stick it in a resealable freezer-safe bag and add it to your soup base the next time you make a batch for even more flavor.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce
Be sure to see the recipe card for full ingredients and instructions.
Saute garlic. Melt the butter in a large skillet, then add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds over medium heat until fragrant.
Add cream and spices. Stir in the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. The butter and cream will combine as the sauce cooks.
Bring to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for about 2-3 minutes until bubbles start forming around the edges. You want the sauce to come to a bare simmer, but don't let it reach a full boil.
Stir in cheese. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the freshly grated parmesan cheese to the sauce, stirring until the cheese has melted and been fully incorporated. Remove from heat and add to your favorite pasta dish.
Alfredo sauce shouldn't be overly thick or gloopy from being thickened with too much flour. It will naturally thicken from the cream and parmesan cheese, especially as it cools. If it isn't thick enough for you, you can try simmering the sauce for a few additional minutes to thicken it. Also, keep in mind that alfredo sauce continues to thicken up as it cools, and once you add it to cooked pasta the sauce further thickens from the starch as they are tossed together.
If your alfredo sauce is grainy instead of creamy and smooth, it could be that it was cooked at too high of a temperature and the cream started boiling. It could also be that the parmesan wasn't freshly grated and didn't melt completely into the sauce.
Tips for Success
- Use freshly grated parmesan. The pre-grated packaged parmesan won't melt into the alfredo sauce nearly as well. Instead, buy a brick of parmesan and use a grater to grate it fresh.
- Don't bring to a boil. Cooking alfredo sauce over too high of heat can cause the cream to curdle and the sauce to break.
How to Store
This alfredo sauce will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Store it in a glass jar with a resealable lid, then warm gently on low or medium-low heat on the stovetop before using. We don't recommend reheating alfredo sauce in the microwave as it is likely to separate.
More Pasta Recipes
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Homemade Alfredo Sauce Recipe
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a clean skillet or the same pan used for the chicken, melt the butter for the alfredo sauce.
- Once the butter has melted and starts to bubble just a bit, add the garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
- Slowly add the heavy cream while stirring. Season with the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Let this cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the cream is just starting to bubble around the edges, but do not let the cream come to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, then sprinkle the freshly grated parmesan cheese over the sauce, stirring while adding until the cheese is melted in. If the sauce isn't thick enough, let it sit for 2-3 minutes off the heat to thicken slightly.
- Remove from the heat and toss with fettucine, tortellini, or other pasta and serve.
- Optional: You can add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to the sauce for additional flavor, if desired. Or try adding the juice from ½ to 1 full lemon or a little lemon zest for a lemon alfredo sauce.