How to thicken alfredo sauce

When you toss hot pasta with butter and cheese, the cheese and butter melt quickly and combine to form a rich, creamy sauce. While the original recipe for Alfredo Sauce only uses butter and cheese, many recipes require cooking the ingredients on the stove above, combined with cream for added richness. The cream also thickens the sauce so that it coats the pasta completely. Separate the cream, butter and cheese in the Alfredo sauce and solidify fairly quickly, so the pasta dish has to be eaten quickly to keep them together.


• Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The amount of butter to use is really up to you as it varies so widely with different recipes. You might prefer a lighter alfredo sauce with just a few tablespoons of butter, or you can melt a whole stick - 8 tablespoons.

• Add the cream to the butter to taste. The amount of cream also depends on your preference, ranging anywhere between 1/2 cup to 2 cups, depending on the richness desired in the sauce.

• Beat the cream and butter to combine. Butter has a higher fat content with at least 80 percent fat compared to cream, which has only 30 to 38 percent fat, depending on the cream. Just as butter rises and solidifies on the surface of water as it cools, there is some separation between cream and butter. A whisk forces the butter and cream to combine, but don't whisk too much or you make whipped cream.

• Use a wooden spoon to melt the crushed Parmesan cheese and stir into the fat-and-cream mixture. Season to taste, with spices such as salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Stir the mixture constantly to keep the ingredients together until ready to serve over pasta or other food.

• Place the hot pasta straight out of the water pan on a heated plate. You can preheat the plates in the oven. Stovetops and hot pasta keep the butter and cheese melted, but they solidify quickly when chilled pasta is added to a cold plate. Alfredo sauce is most commonly served over fettuccine pasta, but it can also be served over hot meat or vegetables.

• Ladle the hot Alfredo sauce over pasta or other foods. Throw the pasta completely with two forks until well coated with the creamy, cheesy sauce. Serve immediately so that the pasta and sauce are still hot and not curdled.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stir the sauce before adding it over the pasta, meat or vegetables when the ingredients in the pan have separated. Stir as often as needed to keep the cream, butter, and cheese together. Resting a layer of fat on top of the sauce means separation, which means that you have to stir the sauce.

Related articles