Fettuccine Alfredo

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.

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


  • 1/2 pound dry fettuccine pasta
  • 3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper

Additional, for creamy version:

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Nutmeg


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

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

2b 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, do not turn off the heat, but keep the heat at its lowest setting while the pasta cooks.

3 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. 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.

4 Serve at once with either a little black pepper (for classic version) or nutmeg (for creamy version) ground over the pasta.

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  • Sue denkler

    Thank you for such an easy and delicious recipe. I am not good about leaving comments but this recipe is so versatile. eBay to make creamier…. I’ve used it with a variety of noodle. Thanks for once agin providing a simple recipe for a traditional dish

  • Stephanie

    I made this for dinner last week. I splurged a little on some decent Parmesan cheese, and I used unsalted butter as the recipe calls for. I had never used unsalted butter before, and I was shocked in the difference of the flavor.

    Just wanted to say I loved it! Made some grilled chicken for the carnivores, but I could have been happy with just the pasta alone. I shared this recipe with my sister, too!

  • Megan

    I have made this both ways…delicious and a great quick dinner. I add chopped fresh parsley just before serving. Elise, thanks for another great recipe!

  • Lyn

    What brand of parmesan do you use? I used fresh grated but it didnt melt. Just turned into a clump.

    • Elise

      Hi Lyn, Parmesan Reggiano. I grate my own using a fine grater.

  • Milena

    I made this for a small dinner party last night. I added a some smoked salmon and a bit of parsley and everyone raved about it.

  • Gia Colonno McNaughton

    Growing up in a huge Italian family in America our favorite dish was what we called “White Spaghetti” my grandparents never fully spoke English so I don’t know what it was really called. However it was spaghetti pasta, that was tossed in while really hot with some of the water, a whisked egg (or 2 depending on the amount being made), lots of garlic cloves that had been cooked until slightly soft and I know this sounds strange small bits of cooked cauliflower and tons of Parmesan cheese. As I grew up I left the eggs and cauliflower out and use mizthra cheese instead. My favorite dish! Oh don’t forget lots of course ground pepper.

    • Elise

      That sounds fabulous Gia! I love pasta and cauliflower.

  • Paola

    Ciao Elise, thanks for the compliments, if you want in my blog there are so many pasta recipes that you can repeat in your blog. Unfortunately, the recipes are in Italian. I love the American cakes.
    Ciao Paola

  • Paola

    Hello Elise, my name is Paola, I’m Italian and I live in Rome, I was looking for a sweet american and I found your blog . Yuour blog is very nice.
    I have seen the “Spaghetti Alfredo” They are good but are almost unknown in Italy with the name.
    Unfortunately I do not speak english , but I hope to have written it correctly.
    Ciao Paola

    • Elise

      Hello Paola, bonjourno! Rome is the most magnificent city with the most amazing food, you are lucky. Yes, I think this dish is more popular in the United States than it is in Italy.

  • Kallie

    Just made your creamy version of fettuccine Alfredo for dinner tonight , to accompany broccoli stuffed chicken breasts. It was amazing!!! While I did not have cream on hand, I used evaporated milk. The flavor was excellent!

    I plan to try other suggestions offered in the comment section. Thank you so much for this great recipe! I plan to use it often!

  • Ben

    In Mexico we add some shrimps on it. Specially in the creamy version, they taste wonderfull.

  • Ana

    The recipe I had in Rome used egg yolks, heavy cream, and grated cheese. It was wonderful.

  • gina

    Wow!I just wanted to say this was the first time I made fettucini alfredo with out the cream and it was amazing! I followed Daniela’s advice and did not melt the butter but instead creamed it with the pasta water…..AMAZING! That made the dish! It reminded me of Italy, simple yet mouthwatering.Thank you so much!

  • ines

    We are the grandchildren of Alfredo Di Lelio (Alfredo and Ines Di Lelio). The story is this. Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in Rome nel 1914, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina Rose Square (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Deaf). In this local fame spread, first to Rome and then in the world of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”. In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio gave the local to his collaborators.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando (Alfredo II) his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo”, which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo (same name of grandfather) and Ines (the same name of his grandmother, wife of Alfredo Di Lelio, who were dedicated to the noodles).
    In conclusion, the local Piazza Augusto Imperatore is following the family tradition of Alfredo Di Lelio and his notes noodles (see also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo”)

  • pf

    It’s weird to know that Alfredo Di lelio is renowned all around the world apart that in Italy!
    Do not misunderstand me, they use to serve this kind of pasta in Italy as one of the basic pasta dishes at home (but no butter and cream unless you are feeding a kid!), you can have refined versions with special kind of cheese at the restaurant and normally they call it “cacio e pepe”, and the cheese might be a special pecorino seasoned in a cave or on a bed of oak leaves for examples.
    I think it is interesting to reflect on the fact that at international level a codification of some kind of dishes occurred. Those dishes lost their regional connotation and have become symbols of a not better defined international cuisine, like Caesar salad or chicken pizza (nobody would eat chicken pizza in italy!), dishes you can find anywhere in places where western foods are served. And they also become cliches misidentifying local cooking cultures. Pasta Alfredo is definitely one of these examples and we should define it as an American pasta dish or a western pasta dish, but definitely not as an Italian recipe.

  • Tim

    Hi Elise, I make this Fettuccine Alfredo with a Cream Sauce for Me and my daughter. This recipe is really great. Thanks! love it with the creamy sauce and without.

  • Theresa

    I made this for my family with elbow macaroni instead of fettuccine, told the 2 and 3 year olds that it was mac and cheese, and we all LOVED it! It was quick, simple, and so very delicious!

  • Karen

    OMG I made this last night and it was so good! I don’t like “Alfredo” sauce, just not a big white sauce fan but this was fabulous – I love the no cream! I sauted some shrimp too and added it to the top, it was just perfect and my husband loved it too. Can’t wait to make this for my daughter so she can see what real Alfredo is like!

  • Angela

    I just made it and it was so easy. It tastes great.

  • Dyanna

    A little bit of lemon zest and a touch of the juice as well, and I am so there!

  • Alessandro

    I was going to comment about the “cacio e pepe” receipe, which preferably uses pecorino instead of parmigiano, when I saw Teresah’s comment. And then others. The only thing I can add is that pecorino (even better the “romano” type) is way better than parmesan.

    About Carbonara (Dave’s request): the receipe is very simple, very common when in large groups of friends to share. The trick is to mix the egg yolks (already mixed with cheese, parmesan or pecorino) very quickly with the non-completely-drained spaghetti. The best way is to have someone pouring eggs&cheese while you mix everything. Someone is using the trick to add some cream, but this is a trick, not for “professional” ;-)

  • lenguamor

    How it “morphed” into a cream-based sauce instead of just butter is: the butter in Italy is richer (double or triple cream) and therefore needed no additional dairy enhancement. Using American butter, you must add cream to achieve the creaminess of the original.
    Also: I thought the dish originated in Napoli…?

  • Solo Di Passaggio

    I’ve been Italian all my life and I find very funny thet the only times I hear about Fettuccini Alfredo is from Americans. I’m not saying that there isn’t a restaurant in Rome that serves them (even if this is the first time I read that) but I say that 99.9% of italian would look you as you where a clueless stranger if you tell something like “I love italian food, expecially your famous fettuccini Alfredo”

  • Sal Alberico(Salvatore)

    I love this site always a fabulous recipe bravo!As far as the alfredo recipe if you decide to make it with the cream,Which I always do,Use white pepper not black.Black pepper tends to break the cream down real fast. Alfredo sauce just isn’t alfredo with out the cream.

  • Dave

    When I was in Italy Pasta Carbonara (Fireman’s Pasta) became my favorite. How did they make the egg remain a sauce and keep from solidifying? Please, please and authentic Pasta Carbonara receipe! Dave

  • Cary

    Occasionally I add an egg yolk at the very very end, off the heat but while it’s still warm. Adds a silky richness (since all the butter and cheese are clearly not rich enough!)

    Mmm, I love adding egg yolks to pasta, sort of like a carbonara. ~Elise

  • Ross

    ah!! here’s a nice Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper), as we call it in Rome.
    There’s just one slight difference with original Cacio & Pepe: parmesan is “cut” with pecorino romano + obviously, pepper.
    there’s no way to do this pasta without adding a couple of spoonfuls of pasta water: as mentioned in other posts, the starch-added water will help emulsify the sauce. One little trick: warm up the dishes you serve it in. It will stay smooth for longer (just rinse them under hot water and dry them roughly with a cloth).

    It’s soo nice you guys love it so much, I love when good simple Italian dishes travel this far.

  • Daniela

    Hello Everybody!
    I was born in Rome and living here since then…
    So, I ‘m used to go to Alfredo from a lifetime to celebrate FAmily Events… Take it from me, the plain version is the ONLY one and is delicious beyond any imagination… Here on our tables, we only use that one but never put the butter over heat, just heating the bowl, adding a tablespoon of the pasta boiling water to make the butter creamy. Then, if you try my mamma’s secret you will have the creanest version on earth: make the butter creamy as I wrote, then, when you have the fettucine al dente ready, please take them not so dried and just toss them in a separate bowl with the parmesan. Stir well until the parmesan will be well melted all around fettuccine . NOW toss it into the butter! You will see how creamy with NO cream!!

    Great suggestion, thank you! ~Elise

  • Teresah

    Hello Elise, I live in Italy and love to cook classic Fettucine Alfredo which all my family love. Another twist to this classic is A “SPAGHETTI CACIO E PEPE”.
    The receipe does not have any oil or butter, as with your receipe, just cook spaghetti, lift it out of the pot and move the pasta to a sauté pan. Do not drain the pasta. Mix in a cup of grated pecorino cheese, a ladle full of the pasta cooking water, stir vigorously, the cheese will melt together with the hot cooking water giving the pasta a very very creamy texture. Serve hot with lots of black pepper.


  • Celeste

    Thanks for this. Spring is here in Zone 5, Illinois, although we’ll have a cold snap, or two, before mid-May when we feel it safe for starting the things that like it warm and sunny.

    Family here is ready for fresh and lighter, so thanks, Elise et al!

    I’ve found we can make a creamy-ish sauce without any cream by using some reserved pasta water with the parm. Veggies like new asparagus, peas, etc., blanched and stirred in are lovely. Fresh herbs-nice, too. And if you can, a bit of bacon.

  • Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat)

    I’ve heard the same background on the sauce from Alfredo di Lelio but with another twist (possibly just legend):

    Some say that Alfredo never changed his pasta water and that when he made his namesake sauce he would add a ladle-full of the cooking water to the butter and cheese. The super starchy water would mix in with the butter, cheese, and egg pasta (fettuccine of course has egg in it when other pastas don’t) and it would create a creamy texture to the pasta sauce.

    Americans, apparently, didn’t know this trick of using the pasta water to complete the sauce and assumed he had added cream to give it that unique texture. When they remade it, they remade it with cream, incorrectly!

    On a side note, I’ve been eating pasta with Parm and cheese on it since I was old enough to eat solid food and it is the first thing I ever learned to cook on my own. It’s divine!