The Ultimate Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

The Original, perfect, Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is one of Italy’s most wondrous exports. A perfect pairing of rich, creamy sauce and perfectly cooked pasta that serves equally well as a main dish or as a side to nearly anything you feel like serving with it.  It’s complex yet simple,  filling and decadent.  What could be more wonderful?

Now what if I told you that every recipe that you’ve probably ever seen for Fettuccine Alfredo was wrong?  What if I told you that it was probably the most simple dish in the world to make?  What if I told you that Mr. Alfredo’s Fettuccine has been done a glaring disservice by a million cooks, including renown chefs around the world.  Would you believe me?

If you won’t believe me, would you believe Saveur magazine? Their May issue features an article by Tod Coleman titled “The Real Alfredo”, which details the history and creation of this iconic dish from its birth just after the turn of the century.  Alfredo, it seems, created the dish for his wife, who had lost her appetite after giving birth to their son.  His modified Fettuccine al Burro featured far more butter than the original, a combination that “…neither his wife or his customers could resist.”

While most versions I’ve seen are fairly complex and require a fair bit of attention to detail, the original Fettuccine Alfredo has just four ingredients and takes mere minutes to make, but results in a dish far more complex and wondrous than any Alfredo I’ve ever eaten in an Italian restaurant anywhere… Ever. And I’ve eaten a lot.

So please be so kind as to take a moment to meet the real Alfredo.  You’ll never think of this dish the same way again.  But you may find you eat a lot more of it.

The Ultimate Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
The original recipe for what might just be the perfect pasta dish. (Adapted from a recipe in Saveur magazine, may 2009)
  • 18 oz. fresh fettucine, cooked, drained and piping hot
  • Aproximately 3/4 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, cut in small cubes
  • 3 1/4 cups grated Parmesan Cheese (Roughly 1/2 lb.)
  1. Bring 6 quarts salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until it is just al dente. (for fresh pasta this takes approximately 2 minutes. For dried pasta it will take approximately 8 minutes.)
  2. Drain pasta, reserving about a cup of the pasta water.
  3. Bring 3/4 cup pasta water and butter to a boil in a large skillet. Add pasta and sprinkle with cheese. Toss until a rich creamy sauce is formed, adding more water as necessary. (about 2 minutes)

What I would have done Differently had I thought of it at the time:

Aside from the fact that I used fresh pasta because it’s what I had on hand, I will NEVER change this recipe.  It’s too simple, too perfect.  It is sheer and utter decadence and should not be adulterated in any way.

It’s spoiled me from ever eating Alfredo in a restaurant again… But I’m not complaining.

Links to other recipes like this:

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  1. says

    I promise you that this one blows every other Alfredo I’ve ever tried clean out of the water. It’s a thing of pure beauty

    • says

      It’s nothing short of perfection. I’m not sure why anyone ever decided they needed more than butter and Parmesan. I’ll never go back!

  2. Davese G says

    I have visited Alfredos in Rome and I must say this is EXACTLY the recipe… I made it and invisioned I was in Rome, sitting outside eating and enjoying the city….. thank you !

  3. says

    I can’t take credit for the recipe, but I’m glad that it brought you happy memories. It truly is the best Alfredo I’ve ever eaten and I look forward to having it again.

  4. says

    You are free to modify the recipe as suits you, but my goal was to show the “original” Alfredo recipe here. I’m not saying I won’t muck around with it a bit myself in the future, but I guarantee that this will be on my go to list as-is for as long as I need a great recipe. The simplicity is perfection.

  5. Wenceslao says

    Hi Jerry,


    WTF. They should wisen up & delete the thick dividing line between commercial restaurants & private home cooking, & outright prepare your “Ultimate Fettuccine Alfredo” just the way it should be. Calorific & unhealthy should never be a consideration when the “optimal” quantity is consumed. It is always a personal decision…or indecision. I just washed mine away w/ a gulp or 2 of Zinfandel. Glorious!

    I always look for food bloggers who have passion, know-how, & a scientific gene in the blood.
    Parrots do cook!

    Was a food enthusiast for as long as I can remember, raised by a physician and a home economist [or so it was known eons ago] in the 50’s, when kilojoules & cholesterols were virtually unheard of…and that makes me aged. But now, that I’m professionally finished w/ that part in my life, I read, cook, & create dishes @ home w/ recipes from matter-of-fact chefs who learn AND read AND experience. I find them more honest, candid and can create a lot more interesting culinary ideas that I can connect to.

    As my father once said, we don’t learn everything in the university, but likewise both in our readings [for the rest of our lives] and in our soulful search for the truth.

    Thanks & congratulations on your award-winning [In my book] endeavour. Cool blog. Cool blogger. Imfao.

    It’s storming outside here in Manila have enlivened my day. I shall “twit” your blog forevermore.


  6. Jules says

    Oh. My. Stars. I just had this for dinner, and even with lame pasta it was fantastic. Thank you so much for the recipe and the interesting info on my favorite dish!. Down with nutmeg! Up with real alfredo!

  7. Bad Cook says

    Looks great
    Could I cut this in half seem like a lot for only two of us.
    Also would 12 oz of dried pasta equal 18% of cooked?

  8. Elisabeth says

    What a wonderful to have again! As one of “those people” that have tasted this excellent concoction in Italia, I can truly say it is superb! Why do Americans need the extra cream in other alfredo recipes anyway? There’s enough butter in this one to satisfy! Thank you very much for posting such an excellent recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing either!

  9. Memoria says

    I’ve read about the real fettuccine alfredo before on wikipedia a while ago. I was surprised, too. I’m glad to see the real version circulating the web now! I’ve been meaning to make this dish and have never gotten around to it, even with how simple it is. Thanks for reminding me. It looks fantastic!

    Many people “mess up” Spaghetti Carbonara, too, but the dish tastes great either way.

  10. Christine says

    I’ve made this twice already and it’s AMAZING!! I used aged parmesan the first time and that gave it such a greater depth of flavor rather than simply using a block of regular parmesan. I also added some freshly cracked black pepper, and that balanced out the flavors very nicely.

  11. says

    Why are fettuccine alfredo dishes served with the pasta and sauce already mixed, but spaghetti is not?I’m making fettuccine alfredo tonight and the thought just popped in my head. I notice that restaurants will serve alfredo dishes mixed already, while most meat sauce dishes are served sauce on top of the pasta.

  12. Sarah says

    I just made this and would like to let you know that it is AMAZING! As a poor working full-time college student with very high standards in my food, I’ve been struggling to find recipes that are simple, cheap to somewhat cheap, and DELICIOUS. This has met all of my general standards, and my nit-picky ones. I actually made this with spaghetti since I have three boxes of it in my pantry, and it still tastes fantastic! Thank you SO MUCH! You’re a life saver!

  13. says


    It was new to me, and similar to something else i make a lot of, so I’m happy to share!

    Awesome. Glad you like it. I’m sure the aged Parm and pepper were a great addition.

    In Itally almost everything is served pre-tossed. It’s an American thing to pour the sauce over on the plate

    I’m glad you like it. Enjoy! share it with your friends.

    @Sarah #2
    I prefer it without th cream. There are, of course, no boundaries in cooking so go for it if you like it!

  14. Pamela says

    Supposedly heavy cream was added when Italians came to America because the butter here was not as creamy as the Italian butter. And you can believe that the parmesan cheese that they found here was nowhere near as good as the real thing!!!!

  15. wm says

    That is the BEST tasting stumble ever! We added baby portabella mushroom and Vidalia onions and used fresh homemade pasta.

  16. Dawn says

    I’d love to try this. I have clients that want me to prepare pasta dishes, and I know they would love for me to offer a fettuccini alfredo but the one I make with butter, cream and cheese always breaks. Do you think it is possible to prepare your recipe for 50 or even 25? Any chance it would survive in a steam tray for food service?

  17. GSmooth says

    Maybe in northern or central Italy, but in the south and sicily………it’s Romano…….always…..never parmesan. Delicious either way. But what can i say, my Sicilian grandparents were born in Sicily and once you are raised on real romano cheese, parmesan is fairly bland in comparasin. I guess it’s all in how you were brought up.

  18. Hannah says

    I’m going to make this recipie for my boyfriend and I for valentines day:)
    I like that it’s so simple, we’re college students and I’ve gotta cook it in the dorm kitchen

  19. Daniela says

    Hello Everybody!
    I’m Daniela and… I was born and I live in Rome… SO! i was used to go to Alfredo with family for a lifetime to celebrate Family events… This recipe is the very original one , take it form me, nobody in Rome could cook it in any other way!! Of course, we just use the traditional method. And, I think it can be interesting, there is a “very roman” tradition to use half parmesan + half “pecorino romano” to obtain a very tasty and popular version that is very common in our families… Spaghetti are more popular in this version… I think it could be because spaghetti and pecorino are cheaper than parmesan and fettucine… Try and let me know! Greetings from ROme!

  20. says

    this is the way I make my alfredo sauce always! although I have to say I rarely use fettucine as I prefer spaghettini. The real secret here is the quality of the butter and cheese. North American butter is just not creamy enough for the best results. I use unsalted butter always and add about a tbsp of whipping cream to give it some extra creamness and use freshly grated parmesan or gran padano cheese…pay a bit extra and get yourself a good chunk of it, it is worth it! Also the beauty of alfredo sauce done like this is that you can tweak it to suit your tastes that day, try adding chopped olives and fresh chopped basil…delicious!

  21. Holly says

    Hm! I’m eating this as we speak and it’s pretty good! I think I made a few fatal errors in mine though:
    – I didn’t use fresh parmesan…makes it a bit gritty and the cheese melted kinda funny
    – I used salted butter, but the cheese itself is far salty enough, so next time I would use unsalted

    I did add some oregano though, and I think that’s the part of it that makes it most tasty, so far anyway! Thanks for the recipe though! Maybe if I had some bread of something it would cut the saltiness. Perhaps I’ll come back and try it again with better ingredients :)

  22. Cindy says

    I made this yesterday – NOT good. The whole pan full went in the trash. I will say that, like Holly, perhaps using cheap ingredients was my downfall. It was terribly oily and salty and the cheese did melt ‘kinda funny’. Maybe someday I’ll try it again with 1.) fresh pasta 2.) fresh parmesan and 3.) unsalted butter (and definitely less of it). It was fun trying, though! :)

  23. Jewlskies says

    It seemed quite easy, I made it last night but it seemed like waaaaay too much butter. Also I would not recommend using Kraft “freshly” grated parmesan as to the fact it did not melt like a good quality parmesan. All in all It didnt not turn out the way I had hoped it would, it was not creamy at all :/ Just Verrrry butteery.

    • says

      Unsalted butter will help, but the key is in grating your own cheese. Any prepackaged already grated parmesan will cause the sauce to either break or fail completely. Definitely do try again with a fresh wedge of Parmesan. it doesn’t have to be expensive, Sergento’s works perfectly well.

    • says

      Sorry you didn’t like it. But I do have to ask, were you using good quality, freshly grated Parmesan cheese? It seems to be the consensus that less expensive alternatives to this are an utter failure.

      It is also to be noted that not all tastes are the same, so this variety might just not be to your liking. (I happen to be a fan of both)

  24. momto1tot says

    So u dont need any pepper or salt or nutmeg in this?!?!?! i have a 4 ingredient recipe i love too but its a bit hard on my stomach with a cup of heavy cream in it plus pepper salt and nutmet some butter …. so i guess ok 5 ingrediants….

    • says

      Nope. No salt, no pepper, no nutmeg. This is as simple and straightforward as a recipe gets. (Of course you can add any of thise things if you like. I won’t tell anyone!)

  25. Alex says

    So I tried this recipe and it came out pretty good for my first try…however the sauce came out a little gritty almost, like the parmesan cheese didn’t melt all the way. Is this because the ratio of cheese to butter to water was off or because the cheese I was using wasn’t fresh? I halved the recipe and it’s possible my rough guesstimations could have been off!

  26. Knighthawk36 says

    Usually this happens when you let it get a little hot. I had this problem when I first started cooking Alfredo

  27. car34 says

    My mother used to make this for me when I was a kid.. I am now 78 years old. She would give me a choice of “red” or “white” and this was the white. It is unbelievable when using romano cheese if you like more robust flavors. Thanks for this recipe. I never realized just how she made it..

  28. Annie says

    I made this last night and it was pretty good. My only problem with it was that it seemed too oily or greasy like. Any way to prevent that next time? I used good unsalted butter and good cheese, that I shredded myself. Thanks!

  29. angie says

    I just made this for my husband and this was fantastic! WoW! All I can say is thank you so much. I will keep making this.

  30. Sara says

    Just made this and it was amazing. Used real (unsalted) butter (FROM ALDI’S) and a wedge of parmasean cheese (used a potato peeler to grate it haha) . It was neither oily nor gross nor grainy. It taste PERFECT. I did use about 1/2 c more of the pasta water and some cracked pepper..but that was it. Taste better and far less oily than Macaroni grill’s. To annie..did you make sure it was real butter aka sweet cream? B/c once you bring the (real) butter and pasta water to a boil it almost comes to a cream and is no longer oily. I let my pasta water and butter boil for about 2 min.

  31. R. says

    This was the most silkiest richest Fettucine Alfredo I’ve EVER eaten. You never lied when you said it was “The Ultimate.” I will never make it with cream again ; this stuff was HEAVEN. I did cut the butter and cheese a little (only used 1 and 1/4 sticks of butter) but gosh I can’t imagine it being more richer than that…just fantastic. THANKS.

  32. mrhotstepper says

    Looks like the originators at Alfredo alla Scrofa use an aged 36 month Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio cheese. 20 euros for a 1st course. And yes, I think its ok to modify it if you eat it alot and want to try Aisago or Romano or sweet cream butter, unsalted, add an egg, try some sage, garlic, shallot, wine reduction, etc. Sometimes the original gets so perverted to the point that it becomes another dish altogether. Its nice to get back to basics.

  33. mrhotstepper says

    Posted from Alfredo’s website.

    Fettuccine Alfredo Written by Emiliano Petrucci
    Posted in Italian Recipes – First Course

    The original recipe of ” Fettuccine Alfredo”
    Ingredients: Pasta egg, butter, parmesan cheese.

    Preparation: boil the water,salt moderately,add the pasta.

    Once the pasta is cooked (time of cooking depends from the type of pasta) remove it from the water and lie it on a warm oval plate were in advance you have put the butter.

    Cover the pasta with a lot of parmesan cheese and melt everything gently.

    When everything will be well melted and you will see a cream sauce coming out , you can serve and taste it.

    Enjoy your meal!

    • says

      Sorry to hear that. this recipe really is one of my family’s all-time favorites. did you try adding a Tablespoon of pasta water to the mix? That can help if it starts to get ugly.

  34. Carrie says

    So, I am domestically challenged. I tried this recipe and the taste was amazing. The consistency of my sauce was wrong though. There were clumps and strings of cheese. Do I just need to use fresh parmesan? I want to try it again…..

  35. Shelly says

    I MUST try this recipe! Thanks so much for posting it. Its so hard to find awesome Alfredo sauce. From reading the comments, I believe I just have. I will post again to let you know how it turned out. I think I will be adding a bit of fresh basil and garlic. And I may pair it with chicken breast covered in ham. I had a dish sort of like this one at Johnny Carino’s and it was DELISH! Thanks again for posting this!! So excited to try it!!

  36. Briana says

    Holy cow, I am so stoked about this recipe. Just made and it’s FANTASTIC!!!!!!!! I honestly just want to tell all my friends…in fact, I did…on Facebook. :D

  37. Giulia says

    Hello Americans,
    I love the fact that you all like Italian food and I will try this recipe myself :)
    Just one fact: Fettuccine Alfredo have never existed in Italy. I’ve been traveling to the US a lot and met a lot of Americans who believe it is a pure original Italian dish when it is not!And it doesn’t even resemble other recipes. We do not use butter in pasta’s recipes at all :))
    Can you tell where this restaurant in Rome is? I am really curious to go!

    • says

      From the original article:
      “Cream, it turns out, was not a component of the original dish. The recipe was invented at another Alfredo’s, a humble Roman restaurant opened by a man named Alfredo di Lelio just after the turn of the 20th century, on the via della Scrofa near the Tiber River. As the story goes, after di Lelio’s wife gave birth to their son, she lost her appetite. Di Lelio, determined to get her to eat, transformed his fettuccine al burro—a homely preparation of pasta tossed with butter and parmesan—by increasing significantly the amount of butter he used. The result was a more lavish dish, which neither his wife nor his customers could resist.”

  38. kevin says

    I am a pasta chef at an italian fine dining resto, one question…. Wheres the cream and salt to taste? certain types of hard cheeses have differet levels of saltyness… pecorino being rather salty and grana padano not much at all or the classic parmegano reggianno which has some

  39. says

    Thank you for this incredible recipe! I have made many alfredos and none of them come close to this!! I have made it several times ( I do add garlic to mine) and shared it with a number of people. Headed off to the kitchen to prepare it again, right now!

  40. Stephanie says

    Oh my… I made this tonight with some peccorino and romano cheese. I made my own pasta, added garlic,and fresh basil… My husband who is a self proclaimed alfredo snob lapped it up… Never again will I make another version… Thank you…

  41. Gina Maria says

    This is the only way I make my fettuccine Alfredo. I remember going to EPCOTS world showcase and eating at Alfredo’s in the Italy pavilion. For years this was a must do for my family’s Disney World vacations. I have the recipe from an old “Cooking with Mickey” cookbook. Glad to see others enjoy it as much as I do. :)

  42. Anibanani says

    I learned the recipe for this dish 25 – 30 years ago, when it first “came out” in the US — my pasta maker told me to use a lb. of fresh fettucine, 1/4 cup of med. cream, 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of best quality freshly grated parmesan. That was it. I LOVE the idea of pasta water instead, much healthier!!! If you want to live on the edge, I’d add some finely chopped italian parsley as a garnish, plus a little cracked black pepper… either way, no rue, no béchamel, much less fat and SO easier, can’t wait to try this version!!

  43. Nicole says

    Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    Cooked this tonight, it was SO DELICIOUS!!! I’m never going to be able to really enjoy an alfredo dish if it is not this one! Simple yet divine!

    It is also a great base if you want an amped up alfredo dish, say, a roasted tomato and basil alfredo? Served with gnocchi and chicken. It was so good :)

  44. GoogleUser says

    I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it tonight. FABULOUS! I tossed in some asparagus tips and shrimp, it was divine. Thank you for a great recipe.

  45. says

    it’s always nice to have a good alfredo recipe. thanks.

  46. hitana says

    Please, the world outside America measures ingredients by weight, not arbitrary amounts such as a “stick”. What is a “stick” please, other than something I throw for my dog? cheers.


  1. […] The Ultimate Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe So please be so kind as to take a moment to meet the real Alfredo. You’ll never think of this dish the same way again. But you may find you eat a lot more of it. Summary : The original recipe for what might just be the perfect pasta dish. (Adapted from a recipe in Saveur magazine, may 2009) […]

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