Simple, Decadent Alfredo Sauce: Cream, Butter and Cheese

Spaghetti alfredo
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  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 servings
Ratings (41)

Like so many classic Italian pasta sauces, the alfredo sauce is based upon the premise that you should be able to make it at any time, using staple ingredients that it is assumed you would have on hand at all times.

Go ahead, scan the ingredients list. I'll wait. It won't take long.

See? This is not a stretch, right? You're reading a cooking site, and you're looking for an alfredo sauce recipe, which means you cook. Therefore, I'm going to say that there is a 50 percent certainty that you have all five ingredients in your kitchen right now. And to get five, I'm counting salt and pepper as one ingredient, which is being extremely generous, I mean you can't not have those.

So really, it's four, and if you're missing one, it's probably going to be the parsley, only because it's green, so it's more perishable. But guess what? The parsley is only in there for folks who can't stand seeing a plain white sauce. It's a sop, in other words. You can leave it out.

Which means at its core, we are really down to three essential ingredients, the heavy cream, the butter, and the parmesan cheese.

And once you look at it this way, you can see why this recipe is so decadent. You are basically serving pasta with cream, butter and cheese.

I don't want to hear anything about adding bacon or anything like that. If you want bacon, try a carbonara. Alfredo sauce is for those who want a creamy, soul-enriching sauce that's simple and easy to make. Picture yourself coming home from a hard day at work, and within half an hour, you've downed a glass of wine and now you're about to sit down to a gorgeous plate of pasta with a cream, butter, cheese sauce. It reminds me of those signs on new developments: If you lived here, you'd be home now.

Now, lest it seem that I am giving short shrift to the seasonings, I'm not. Certainly the salt is crucial as always. But particularly the pepper. Let it be freshly ground, and let it be ground freshly in great abundance. If ever there were a time to be a pepper-monkey, it's with this sauce. To be clear, though, my preference would be to season the sauce with salt, then toss your cooked pasta in the sauce, and finally grind your pepper over the finished dish right before serving.

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and cream over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble. Lower heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced somewhat. Remove from heat and cover.
  2. Add the cheese and toss until fully mixed. Adjust consistency with additional cream if necessary.
  3. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with the hot cooked pasta of your choice and serve right away.