Pasta With Classic (No Cream!) Alfredo Sauce Recipe

Pasta with alfredo sauce is super-simple comfort food, basically a variant of mac and cheese with an Italian twist. As recipe developer Jennine Rye says, "You can never go wrong with a creamy cheesy pasta dish, and this one is no exception." Her version of the recipe, she says, "Removes the additional ingredients that Alfredo sauce has evolved to include over the years and takes the recipe back to its origins," noting that Alfredo Di Lelio's original Roman sauce was made with nothing more than butter, parmesan, and pasta water.

Rye says this sauce is "certainly lighter than the cream-based version" and believes it likely has less fat and fewer calories, as well, adding, "It probably is healthier — as healthy as pasta, butter and cheese can be." She says, though, that you shouldn't cut corners on the cheese, "Buy a block of parmesan and grate it freshly to really get that beautiful flavor."

Gather the ingredients for this classic no-cream alfredo sauce recipe

Actually, the sauce itself is made from just two ingredients: butter and parmesan cheese, plus a little of the leftover water from cooking the pasta. The other two ingredients are the pasta itself — something long and flat, like fettucine or tagliatelle — plus some black pepper for sprinkling over the top once the dish is done.

Cook the pasta

Boil a large pot of water, then cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Different brands or types may require slightly different cooking directions, plus the amount of time will vary depending on how mushy or al dente you like your pasta to be.

Right before the pasta is done cooking, dip out a cup or so of the pasta water. As an alternative, you can also put a bowl in the sink under the colander you're using to drain the noodles. However you want to save your pasta water, just make sure you have about 8 ounces or so as this should be more than enough for the sauce.

Make the alfredo sauce

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in ½ cup of the pasta water. Add the parmesan and stir until your sauce is well-combined.

Coat the pasta with the sauce

Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce and stir it up — Rye tells us the pasta should have "a nice silky layer of sauce coating it." If it looks a little dry, stir in a bit of the remaining pasta water. Once your pasta is sauced, sprinkle it with some pepper and maybe some extra parmesan, then check to see if you might want a little salt, as well. Rye says "I find the Parmesan adds enough saltiness, but it's a personal preference." She also suggests that you could use salted butter if you prefer a slightly saltier dish.

If you have any uneaten pasta alfredo, it can always be refrigerated and then reheated, but Rye also says, "You could definitely use any leftovers in a frittata."

Pasta With Classic (No Cream!) Alfredo Sauce Recipe
5 from 18 ratings
This classic Alfredo sauce hearkens back to the original recipe without cream or any other additional ingredients, making it tasty and easy to prepare.
Prep Time
Cook Time
alfredo-sauced pasta on plate
Total time: 17 minutes
  • 6 ounces fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Reserve a cup of cooking water as you drain the pasta.
  3. Melt the butter, then add ½ cup pasta water along with the parmesan, stirring to combine.
  4. Add the pasta to the pan, stirring to coat it with the sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary.
  5. Eat the pasta warm, sprinkling it with pepper and additional parmesan, if desired.
Calories per Serving 515
Total Fat 19.2 g
Saturated Fat 11.6 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 47.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 64.6 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 2.5 g
Sodium 347.8 mg
Protein 20.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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