No Cream Traditional Alfredo Sauce

When I say Alfredo sauce, do you think of a cream-based pasta sauce? Truth be told, a traditional Alfredo sauce is made without cream. That’s right —you only need 2 ingredients. Butter and cheese! Bonus? This super quick dinner can be on the table in less than 20 minutes!

close up of creamy alfredo sauce on fettuccine
I’ve made this no cream alfredo so many times…cozy, quick comfort!

The best thing about family recipes is how they get passed down from generation to generation. Heck, it’s why Josie + Nina even exists. This traditional Alfredo recipe is no different. When Alfredo Di Lelio, the originator of the recipe, created this easy pasta sauce, he didn’t make it with cream in it.

Interesting that today, Alfredo sauce is commonly made as a butter and cream sauce!

Allow me to introduce you to the authentic Alfredo sauce made in the way Alfredo intended…

…and you are gonna love that there’s only 2 ingredients!

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Traditional Alfredo sauce ingredients

Ingredients for Traditional Alfredo Sauce fettuccine butter cheese and salt and pepper
Only 2 ingredients in the sauce for a creamy Alfredo

Butter (and a lot of it)

Traditional Alfredo sauce starts with butter. One cup of butter to be exact. Now isn’t the time to cut back or find a substitute. When a recipe has only 2 ingredients, you go for broke.

Grated Romano cheese

Yep, you will be hand grating (or use your food processor grater attachment) the cheese. And —using Romano instead of Parmesan for its sharp bite and fluffy texture.

Fettuccine

Cooking pasta al dente is required—just ask my grandmas. Alfredo sauce just glides down fettuccine as you twist it up on your fork. And its creaminess seals the deal making it easy to eat.


♥️ Advice from the grandmas ♥️

Please…don’t use pre-grated or shredded cheese for Alfredo sauce. It’ll affect the creaminess of the sauce!

-Josie + Nina

How to make Alfredo sauce without cream

melted butter in large black skillet for alfredo sauce
Melt butter over low heat until foamy.
black skillet with melted butter and cheese being stirred in
Add cheese a bit at a time and stir with a stainless whisk.
  1. Heat large skillet with sides over medium heat and add the butter stirring until it’s melted and foamy
  2. Add the cheese to the skillet and using a whisk, stir the whole time until creamy
A large skillet with traditional alfredo sauce being stirred with a whisk
Add a little pasta water, more cheese and keep stirring.
no cream fettuccine alfredo being tossed with tongs in a black skillet
Finally, add in the fettuccine plus a little more pasta water until the pasta is coated and creamy!
  1. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and continue whisking until mixed in. Don’t panic if you see some trails of cheese in the butter and pasta water. It will come together!
  1. Using tongs, add the fettuccine into the skillet tossing to coat with the sauce. Add more pasta water in 1/4 cup increments as needed. That’s it!

Pasta water down the drain?

If you accidentally threw out all the pasta water, relax!

Pasta water has an important role in Alfredo sauce (and most pasta sauces) by emulsifying the sauce, thickening and making it creamy at the same time. But…you have options.

Here’s what you’ll do:

Add about 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch to a cup of boiling water. Tada! You have now created the same thickening properties of pasta water!

Tips from the kitchen

large black skillet with tongs stirring traditional alfredo sauce on fettuccine
Follow these tips for an authentic alfredo without cream!

Over the years, I’ve collected some tried and true tips to help you easily make homemade pasta sauces. And this one isn’t any different.

  • High quality ingredients. With only 2 ingredients, now isn’t the time to skimp so choose the best your budget can afford.
  • Room temp rules. Like in baking, when it comes to making sauces with cheese, your ingredients need to be at room temp so the Alfredo sauce doesn’t seize up.
  • Mis en place. That French for “everything in its place.” Have your butter out and your cheese grated (and a glass of your favorite beverage poured!)
  • Big skillet with high sides. My favorite All Clad Deep Weeknight Skillet is my go to for making the best pasta sauces to toss with pasta.
  • Use a stainless steel kitchen tool when stirring cheese into hot sauces or soups to avoid clumping and sticking.
  • Low and slow. Keep your burner on low…there’s no need to rush things!
  • Reserve some additional pasta water in an airtight container and add along with a little butter to loosen up and reheat any leftovers.

Best pasta shapes for Alfredo sauce

Alfredo sauce is a clingy kind of pasta sauce and that is meant in the best way! Here are some great pasta shapes that will hug the creaminess Alfredo has:

  • Cavatappi. It shows off its curves and turns in this viral baked pasta with goat cheese.
  • Bow tie pasta. One of our favorite dressy pasta shapes. Bow tie pasta has great folds to hold sauce like in this creamy bow tie recipe.
  • Rigatoni. Any tube pasta like rigatoni can hold a lot of butter and cheese sauce!

Serving suggestions

blue bowl with white trim holding creamy alfredo with fettuccine
So many great recipes pair well with alfredo sauce!

Serve Immediately: Alfredo sauce is best enjoyed right after it’s made. It tends to thicken as it cools, so serve promptly for the creamiest experience.

Makes a great main course tossed with some juicy sauteed chicken breasts, quick charred broccolini or as side dish sprinkled with Italian spinach and garlic.

Storage and reheating

Storage. Store leftovers in an airtight container with a lid in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat. To reheat traditional alfredo sauce, heat in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of milk, cream or pasta water, stirring with a wire whisk. Add a little more butter as needed to loosen things up.

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


close up of creamy alfredo sauce on fettuccine
5 from 1 vote

No Cream Traditional Alfredo Sauce

When I say Alfredo sauce, do you think of a creamy pasta sauce? What if I told you that a traditional Alfredo sauce is made without cream? You're going to love how quick and easy this Alfredo sauce is. The simple pasta sauce becomes so creamy with only 2 ingredients. Crazy, right? Talk about an easy weeknight meal…this is one to make for the kiddos!

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • In a large skillet (10-12”) with sides, heat the butter until melted. Stir in the romano cheese a little bit at a time stirring to make a cheese sauce. Add in pasta water ¼ cup at a time, stirring the whole time so that it's creamy. Keep stirring and mixing over medium low heat until a creamy sauce forms.
    1 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups grated romano cheese
  • Toss in hot drained fettuccine, tossing to coat with the sauce. Add more pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with more romano.
    ½ lb fettuccine, kosher salt/pepper

Notes

Reheat tips. Reserve some additional pasta water in an airtight container to reheat any leftovers.
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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