Italian Recipes/ Main Course

4 Ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo
With temperatures getting cooler, I am feeling the need for a warm bowl of pasta. This simple and classic, 4 ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo is just what the doctor ordered.

Fettuccine Alfredo

My favorite Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is a classic Italian one with just 4 ingredients. Yes, they are 4 rich, sensual ingredients which means that Fettuccine Alfredo is not an everyday dish. But that’s OK. Because when one does sit down to  big bowl of this luxurious Italian pasta, it is a bowl that is so satisfying it will hold you over to the next time you need something to satisfy all your senses. Often for special meals I made pasta, because what kid doesn’t like pasta?   From a cook’s perspective there isn’t much that is simpler to make, and from a diner’s perspective it is hard to beat sensuous noodles glazed with cream and butter topped with rich, snowy flakes of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Marcella Hazan is one of my favorite Italian writers who is credited with introducing classic Italian cooking to the United States. I was gifted one of her first cookbooks back in 1979 when I graduated college and through the years it has seen a lot of use. Her simple four ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is not a pasta with white sauce or garlic or gloppy cheese. However it is redolent with the flavors of rich cream, butter and real Parmigiano-Reggiano. Yes, this is the time to use the real stuff. Grate it fresh and you will be rewarded with the salty, rich, granular flavor of this outstanding cheese.

I’ve seen so many versions of fettuccine that are ruined by the addition of flour and/or cream cheese.  Fettuccine Alfredo does not contain garlic. It really doesn’t. It doesn’t contain flour and it doesn’t contain cream cheese or milk. It contains cream. Heavy cream. The dieter’s nemesis. The diner’s delight! It contains butter, not oil, or God forbid margarine. And no garlic. Please no garlic.  Marcella’s Fettuccine Alfredo recipe contains not much in the way of ingredients, but those simple ingredients combine to make a dish that everyone desires. The optional nutmeg grating is up to you, but I have found myself slowly recognizing the need for those spicy, tiny brown flakes.

Fettuccine Alfredo

There aren’t many foods sexier than Fettuccine Alfredo. And there aren’t many foods that are simpler to make. I am sure we could have a discussion on other sexy foods such as lobster and truffles and caviar and oysters, and let’s not forget chocolate, but those sexy foods, (besides the chocolate) aren’t easily served to those under the age of 18. (Though I bet my kids would have eaten them.).  We often ate Fettuccine Alfredo for Valentine’s Day. We had the red balloons, the red candles, the red flowers and always a stuffed animal. Even if Valentine’s Day fell during the week I always went out of my way to make dinner special and this classic Italian specialty was one way to do it.

How do you make Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce?

Fettuccine Alfredo sauce is made by combining heavy cream and butter and simmering for less than one minute. Add this to the pasta along with cheese and seasonings and that’s it. I do recommend using fettuccine pasta because of its thick and flat surface. This allows the cream to sit on the pasta and the thickness of the pasta helps conquer the richness of the dish. No rinsing the pasta ever! The starch on the pasta also helps thicken the sauce and allows the cheese and sauce to stick to it.

Fettuccine Alfredo

What goes with Fettuccine Alfredo?

I often served the fettuccine with  steak, but that is a lot of richness. I’m happy to just eat this with a salad, garlic bread and red wine. I love Fettuccine Alfredo with red wine and don’t forget it. I know many would say white, but not me. Now if I had a truffle, I would shave some on top. But I don’t have a truffle, so I will not. If I had lovely slices of chicken breast they would perch quite nicely on top of this bed of pasta, but I do not. If I had some grilled shrimp, those would work well on the side. But I do not have grilled shrimp. so I will just devour this quite simply noodle by noodle, and then ask for the chocolate cake. Which goes very well with red wine, too!

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Fettuccine Alfredo

This is an updated post from 2016.
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Fettuccine Alfredo

4 Ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Total Time: 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

With temperatures getting cooler, I am feeling the need for a warm bowl of pasta. This simple and classic, 4 ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo is just what the doctor ordered.


Scale

Ingredients

1 lb of the best Italian 100 % durum wheat semolina fettuccine
1 c heavy cream
3 T butter
Salt
2/3 c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and more for serving
46 grinds of freshly ground pepper
A tiny shaving of nutmeg, which is optional


Instructions

Boil pasta in well salted water, according to directions. Please only cook this al dente! No mushy pasta! Drain well but please do not rinse!

In a large pot that can accommodate all the pasta, put in 2/3 c of the cream and all the butter and simmer over medium heat for less than 1 minute, until the butter and cream have slightly thickened. Set aside.

When pasta is cooked, add it to pot with butter and cream. Turn the burner to low and toss the fettuccine, coating the pasta with the sauce. Add the rest of the cream, all the cheese, 1/2 t salt,  4-6 grinds of black pepper and nutmeg if you want. Toss briefly and serve with more grated cheese.


Notes

Thank you Marcella Hazan.

Keywords: fettuccine Alfredo recipe, fettuccine Alfredo sauce, fettuccine Alfredo easy

More to Try from Marcella:

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Linguini with White Clam Sauce

Linguini with Clam Sauce

Easy and Famous Tomato Sauce

Easy and Famous Tomato Sauce

 

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  • lisaiscooking
    October 7, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Fettuccine alfredo is one of my favorite things! Love this simplicity. I wish I could eat it every day.

  • Balvinder
    October 5, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Just love this simple pasta recipe. Thanks!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks! It is deliciously simple!

  • sippitysup
    October 3, 2019 at 9:30 am

    I made this last night for dinner. I threw in peas and used shell-shaped pasta. It was delicious! GREG

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 5, 2019 at 9:27 am

      So happy you enjoyed it Greg! The peas make it healthy, right? Marcella is never wrong!

  • Juliana
    October 2, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Hi Abbe…somehow I have never made fettuccini Alfredo…and I am loving the 4 ingredients only…looks delicious and perfect for the cooler weather as you mention…thanks for the recipe…
    Have a wonderful rest of the week!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 5, 2019 at 9:28 am

      You must give it a go Juliana. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Liz
    October 2, 2019 at 3:50 am

    Mmmmm……can never resist this classic pasta dish!! I think Fall temps will actually arrive this week!! xo

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 5, 2019 at 9:28 am

      When it is made right, it really is the best. Can’t wait to see you Liz!

  • Healthy World Cuisine
    October 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Abbe, save us a bowl. Well maybe 2. Do you know what today is? Join us on instagram to join in on the Noodles Without Borders fun. Classic and delicious recipe. Nice clicks too.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 5, 2019 at 9:29 am

      As long as you save me some Chinese noodles. I will try to get over there!

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    October 1, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Good to see this dish return! Such a classic — and I haven’t made this in ages and ages. Maybe this weekend! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 1, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      You can’t go wrong! Thanks John!

  • Ines
    February 18, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo", this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 "Il Vero Alfredo" (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    I must clarify that other restaurants "Alfredo" in Rome (as Alfredo alla scrofa or Alfredo’s gallery) do not belong and are out of my brand "Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma".
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

  • Tricia Buice
    February 15, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Simple, pretty, cheesy and delicious – works for me! Thanks Abbe 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 17, 2016 at 5:03 am

      Creamy. Very Creamy! Thanks Tricia!

  • ChgoJohn
    February 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Isn't this the best way to serve fettuccine? The best pastas have the fewest ingredients, Abbe. This is such a tasty pasta and definitely suitable for a romantic dinner for two.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 17, 2016 at 5:03 am

      My daughter did make it for Valentine's Day. I'm always glad when memories become reality!

  • mjskit
    February 15, 2016 at 3:45 am

    I usually don't make Fettuccine Alfredo because it is just too darn tempting. I love it so much that I could eat the whole batch. But thanks to your wonderful and easy recipe, I'm now craving this!!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 17, 2016 at 5:02 am

      It is a hard one to resist? But once a year is OK!

  • La Table De Nana
    February 15, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Oh yeah:)

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)
    February 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    You can't go wrong with any of Marcella Hazan's recipes.

  • Sippity Sup
    February 14, 2016 at 1:43 am

    Ts the season for sexy food! GREG

  • Angie Schneider
    February 13, 2016 at 10:34 am

    It has been ages since I last had some pasta! This looks so inviting with just a few of ingredients.
    Have a great Valentine's Day!

  • Karen Harris
    February 13, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Who doesn't love this dish? This and spaghetti carbonara could please any child's taste buds. Happy Valentine's Day!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 13, 2016 at 3:23 am

      Hope you are feeling better! This would please anyone's buds, but kids just gravitate toward it!

  • Liz Berg
    February 13, 2016 at 2:12 am

    Definitely a heavenly dish! One of Tom's favorites—I'll definitely treat him to Marcella's version one Sunday night when he's over for dinner!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 13, 2016 at 3:23 am

      I just love Marcella! Now those are books that would be fun to cook from, Liz! Happy Valentine's Day!

  • Biz
    February 12, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    That is my daughters favorite pasta! Once we went to an Italian restaurant – she was about 8 at the time. When asked for her order, she replied that she wanted "plain spaghetti, with a pat of butter and fresh Parmesan cheese." A few minutes later the Chef came to the table asking why Hannah didn't order a red sauce for her pasta. I explained that she didn't like red sauce, and asked him to please make her spaghetti with butter and fresh Parmesan cheese like she asked.

    His reply was "she's never had MY red sauce!" and walked away. What happened next floored me – the server brought her pasta with . . . red sauce. I was so mad!

    We swore we'd never go back, and I read in the paper that the restaurant went under a mere three months later. 😀

    Happy Friday Abbe! 😀

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 13, 2016 at 3:22 am

      Unbelievable! Deserved to close. This was always Zoe's fave, too!

  • mimi rippee
    February 12, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    My recipe that I've always used comes from the old set of time life books. It's equal parts butter, cream and cheese! Nothing else!!! I bet it's really similar to yours!!! Definitely sexy.

  • Kitchen Riffs
    February 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Yup. This is the way I make Fettuccine Alfredo too. Why mess with a classic? Particularly one that's so good? Red wine is a good choice, although I'd opt for champagne. Because champagne is Mrs KR's favorite tipple (why couldn't she like beer? So much more affordable!) so I wouldn't have any choice int he matter. 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 13, 2016 at 3:21 am

      Well, it seems that Mrs. KR has very good taste! She did choose you, right?