How to Make the Original “Fettuccini Alfredo” | Italian Fettuccine all’Alfredo Pasta Recipe
An incredibly simple dish with an incredibly delicious flavor. You and your guests won't believe that the sauce has only two ingredients! This is the real, authentic Italian version of a misunderstood classic. Trust us, you'll never go back to the heavy cream after you try this.
The History of "Fettuccini Alfredo"
This is a funny recipe, with a bit of a strange history. While “Fettuccini Alfredo” (or even just “Alfredo sauce”) is a staple in American cuisine, most Italians have never heard of it. When they hear descriptions of the pasta, loaded with heavy cream and garlic, they understandably assume it’s an American invention.
As it turns out, the dish has real Italian origins. “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” was invented in Rome by Chef Alfredo di Lelio. However, the original recipe has little to do with the American spinoff as it is made with fresh fettuccine pasta, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. No cream, no parsley, no garlic, and certainly no chicken.
Fettuccine all’Alfredo vs. “Burro e Parmigiano” Pasta
Ironically, while the average Italian has never heard of “fettuccine all’Alfredo,” just about every single Italian has eaten the simple, classic “Burro e Parmigiano”: butter and cheese pasta, in other words. It’s the kind of recipe that shocks you when you try it, because you would never imagine that such a simple dish could be so good.
What sets “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” apart from normal “Burro e Parmigiano” is the use of fresh egg pasta, rolled extremely thin to maximize the creamy texture of the sauce. That and the golden cutlery Di Lelio used to serve the pasta with. You can safely skip the ceremony.
Ingredients Needed for Fettuccine all’Alfredo
Obviously, you’ll need some fettuccine pasta. More on that in a moment.
The real Alfredo sauce is made simply with unsalted butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Please note that parmesan cheese is not an acceptable substitute. When a dish has so few ingredients, it’s particularly critical to source the good stuff.
Both the butter and cheese can be adjusted to taste, but a good rule of thumb is 1 tbsp of butter and 1 oz. (~25g) of cheese per serving of pasta.
The Right Pasta for Making Fettuccine all’Alfredo
It seems obvious: fettuccine, right? Yes, but one of the characteristic qualities of this dish is the use of an extremely thin, fresh fettuccine which blends smoothly with the creamy sauce. Even if you have access to store-bought fresh egg pasta, it won’t be thin enough. Not to worry, you can easily make it yourself! Check out our full guide to making homemade egg fresh pasta here.
A pasta machine really comes in useful for getting the dough super thin (probably the thinnest setting on the machine, or close to it) but you can certainly roll it by hand. It should be basically paper thin. When in doubt, roll it thinner.
How to Make the Perfect Fettuccine all’Alfredo
Prepare the sauce by cutting the butter into thin pats and spreading them across a large platter. Have your grated cheese ready on standby.
Boil the pasta in a generously salted pot of water until it is al dente to your taste. If the fettuccine is of the proper thinness (see above) it will cook very quickly, in as little as 30 seconds.
Use tongs to transfer the pasta onto the butter platter. Don’t be afraid to get messy, you want plenty of that dripping pasta water to end up on the dish. In fact, add a few extra spoonfuls. Top the pasta with the grated Parmigiano. Use two forks to toss the pasta, butter and cheese all together until thoroughly mixed into an even, creamy sauce.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make Fettuccine all’Alfredo here:
FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO RECIPE
Makes: 4 servings
Cook Time: 10 minutes
For this recipe, you will need:
4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, or to taste
4 oz. (115g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 servings of very thin, fresh egg fettuccine
Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it generously. While the water comes up to temp, prepare the sauce by cutting the butter into thin pats and arranging them evenly on a large platter. Be sure to have your grated cheese on hand and ready.
Add the fettuccine into the boiling water and cook until al dente to your taste. If it’s properly thin, it can boil in as little as 30 seconds. Use tongs to transfer the pasta onto the butter platter, along with a few spoonfuls of extra pasta water.
Working quickly, top the pasta with the grated cheese. Use two forks to vigorously toss the fettuccine until the butter and cheese have melted and blended together into an even, creamy sauce. Serve immediately.
Want to try some variations of this sauce? Check out some of our “Burro e Parmigiano” recipes here!