Fettuccine Alfredo

Comfort FoodQuick and EasyItalianPasta and Noodles

Fettuccine Alfredo two ways: with cream and nutmeg, or with butter and Parmesan! Try it both ways and decide which one you like the best!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Mmmm. Fettuccine Alfredo. So simple, but so so good.

Most of us in America know this dish in its cream-based form, with a little nutmeg sprinkled on top.

But did you know that the original fettuccine Alfredo sauce didn’t use cream? Just butter, Parmesan, and black pepper.

Fettuccine Alfredo: A History

The “Alfredo” in fettuccine Alfredo is Alfredo di Lelio who operated a restaurant in Rome. Legend has it that he fancied up a basic pasta with butter-and-cheese to appeal to his wife, who was suffering from morning sickness. When he later served it at his restaurant, it was a hit, and fettuccine Alfredo was born.

Americans can thank Hollywood for our love of this simple Alfredo sauce.

In the late 1920s, movie stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford ate at di Lelio’s restaurant while on honeymoon in Rome, and brought the dish back to the States.

Fettuccine Alfredo has been here ever since. Somewhere along the way, it morphed from a simple butter and Parmesan Alfredo sauce into a creamy version; how that happened is anyone’s guess.

How to make Fettuccine Alfredo

Creamy or Classic Fettuccine Alfredo

I present both Fettuccine Alfredo versions here — the classic and the creamy. Both taste great! Whether you make one or the other just depends on what you feel like eating. Making the creamy version is just a matter of adding some cream to the sauce’s butter as it melts, and sprinkling with nutmeg instead of black pepper.

Fresh or Dried Pasta?

While I’ll usually choose fresh pasta over dried if given a choice, for this dish, I recommend using dried pasta. Dried pasta is firmer and will hold up better to the sauce. That said, you can use fresh pasta if you prefer, just cook it al dente.

Tips for Making Fettuccine Alfredo

  • Serve the pasta immediately. The sauces are weak emulsions, which will break if held too long.
  • Warm your serving dishes. Run your hot water over your dishes (or put them in a low oven, if they are oven-safe) before plating the food. Warm plates will help the sauce stay together.

What to serve with Fettuccine Alfredo

Serve Fettuccine Alfredo alongside baked or grilled chicken breasts, grilled or sautéed shrimp (like our shrimp scampi), a simply dressed crisp green salad, and a dry white wine. The pasta is already rich with butter and cheese (and cream if you are making that version), so something light and slightly acidic will help cut through the richness of the pasta.

Storing and Keeping Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is the best served as soon as you make it, but it will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can be reheated with a little bit of water or butter in a saucepan over low heat. It typically does not freeze well.

LIKE PASTA? CHECK OUT THESE FIVE CLASSIC DISHES:

Updated September 5, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

For this dish we prefer dry fettucine noodles to freshly made because the pasta holds up better to the sauce. The instructions assume that you are using dry noodles. If you use fresh, adjust timing accordingly.

Ingredients

For the classic version:

  • 1/2 pound dry fettuccine pasta
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper

For the creamy version:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Additional cheese
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Method

1 Start the pasta: Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil and drop in your fettuccine.

2a For the classic version: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat off.

2b For the creamy version: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over low heat. Add the cream to the butter as it melts. Stir often to combine the two, keeping the heat at its lowest setting while the pasta cooks.

3 Swirl pasta in the pan with butter: When the fettuccine is al dente (cooked, but still a little firm) lift it out of the pot with tongs and move the pasta to the sauté pan. Do not drain the pasta. You want it dripping wet with the cooking water.

Turn on the heat under the sauté pan to medium and swirl the pasta and butter together to combine.

4 Incorporate the cheese: Add half the cheese, then swirl and toss the pasta until it has incorporated into the sauce.

If needed, add a few spoonfuls more of the pasta cooking water. Add the rest of the cheese and repeat.

5 Sprinkle with black pepper and/or nutmeg: Serve at once with either a little black pepper (for classic version) or ground nutmeg (for creamy version) over the pasta.

Leftovers keep for 3 to 5 days in the fridge, covered.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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40 Comments / Reviews

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  1. [email protected]

    Delicious recipe

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Ines Di Lelio

    HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    The restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the Registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence – section on Historical Activities of Excellence” of the Municipality of Roma Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    IN ITALIANO

    STORIA DI ALFREDO DI LELIO, CREATORE DELLE “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), E DELLA SUA TRADIZIONE FAMILIARE PRESSO IL RISTORANTE “IL VERO ALFREDO” (“ALFREDO DI ROMA”) IN PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE A ROMA

    Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).
    Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).
    Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.
    Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di aprire a Roma il suo ristorante “Alfredo” che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.
    Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).
    Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).
    Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand di famiglia.
    Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.

    Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti
    Ines Di Lelio

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Merzy

    I thought it was great. It’s the best method I’ve tried to get a silky sauce. No big cheese globs about!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Benjamin

    Very delicious recipe! Easy to make and clean up. We used heavy whipping cream and it made the sauce a perfect consistency. We used approximately 3/4 pound of pasta and added a bit to each ingredient and it still turned out very good. Will be making again!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Monique

    Would I double the creamy recipe if I’m using a pound of pasta?

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