Knowing how to make a basic fettuccine Alfredo is good for 2 reasons. One, because it’s easy. And two, because it’s fast. You can serve it up with pride and almost everyone enjoys it. But for real, all that matters is that I like it and it’s quick to whip up while my toddler grabs at my knees.
Fettuccine Alfredo is best eaten right away and does not reheat well. For this reason I usually only make enough for the moment and have written this recipe for roughly 4 side servings or 2 full bowls. You have probably already guessed that I’m a “full bowl” type.
Breaking out my trusty dutch oven with a ceramic coating, I fill-er-up with water and drop in a tablespoon of salt. You want your noodles to cook in salted water so that they take on a taste of their own. No bland noodles here!
I take a half package (1/2 pound) of fettuccine noodles and cook until al dente. This means until they’re almost done. Not all the way. You want it to have a little firmness or bite to it.
Before you strain the pasta water, turn off the burner and scoop out about 1 cup of that bubbly hot liquid and set it aside. You might need it later.
Pour out your noodles into a colander to strain out the remaining liquid and let it rest there while you continue. IMPORTANT! Don’t rinse your pasta! You need the starch on them to help your sauce stick to the noodles and not slip off!
With your dutch oven (or whatever large pot you’re using) back on the burner, turn the heat up to medium and plop down half a stick of butter. Also pour in a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Let the two warm up, melt together, and marry like the lovers they are.
Give the mixture a little stir and then dump 1 cup of grated parmesan into your pot. Please use real parmesan, folks. The stuff from a can is a completely different animal and the texture and taste will be very different if you attempt to interchange them. Trust me!
Another gentle stir and then throw in all your noodles. They’ve been waiting! Using tongs, fold the fettuccine around in the sauce. Get everything nicely coated.
Check that the texture is nice and silky at this point. If your fettuccine Alfredo is too thick and clumpy you can thin it out with the still warm pasta water you set aside moments before. Just add a tablespoon at a time until you get it just right.
Salt and pepper to your liking and there you have it! Serve, baby.
The Italian man who first to melted freshly grated parmesan into warm butter was an absolute genius. And apparently he made it for his wife in 1914 before putting it on the menu of his restaurant. You can read a bit about the origins of fettuccine Alfredo by Kimberly Komatsu while killing off your hot pasta bowl!
The best sauce is Alfredo sauce. There, I said it. But let’s take note of all the creamy delicious varieties that this dish can take on. You can add garlic, caramelized onions, asparagus, mushrooms, or even chipotle for a kick! You never have to get bored because Alfredo sauce is like a blank slate.
But there’s something to be said about a simple fettuccine Alfredo. It’s classy. And in my case, no trouble to pass off to my kids – WHICH IS KEY!
- ½ pound (1/2 package) fettuccine noodles
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup (half stick) butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Fill a large pot with water and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to boil and add fettuccine noodles. Cook until al dente then turn off the burner and scoop 1 cup of the pasta water out and set aside. Strain the liquid from the noodles in a large colander.
- Using the same large pot, put it back on the burner and add butter and cream. Let the butter melt and warm up with the cream while stirring gently. Once hot, add parmesan and gently stir as it melts with the butter and cream mixture. When the sauce comes together add the fettuccine noodles and toss until evenly coated. If the sauce is too thick add 1 tablespoon at a time of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!