A Pinch Of This Spice Is The Key To The Best Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is perhaps one of the most classic pasta dishes, a dream of creamy sauce draped over a bed of noodles. Whether you're adding protein or vegetables, this dish doesn't disappoint — but only if you nail the sauce. Creating the right sauce can come down to the little touches, and the little touch your Alfredo has been missing is a pinch of nutmeg.

We've all had the experience of a sauce that drowns the meal, and not in a good way. It's too dense, and the flavor isn't dynamic enough, which is the worst with fettuccine Alfredo when you want the thick cream to hold your ingredients together. Adding a pinch of nutmeg to your Alfredo cuts through the richness of the cheese and cream and will round out the heavier flavors with some warmth for a perfect light bite that's still packed full of taste. Tried and tested in many recipes, a dash of nutmeg in your Alfredo sauce is the answer you've been looking for to liven up your pasta night. 

Why is nutmeg the answer to a dreamy fettuccine Alfredo?

Nutmeg is a spice known for its warm and nutty flavor that is simultaneously sweet and a tad bitter. You may be used to baking with nutmeg, but its unique flavor makes it perfect for savory cooking as well. In the case of your fettuccine Alfredo, adding nutmeg gives your cheese sauce some depth while not overwhelming the cheese flavor. It helps keep the dish from being too sweet in a creamy sense without adding excess salt.

When making Alfredo sauce from scratch, you'll often start by creating a roux — a combination of fats and flour that help thicken the sauce. You'll want to add your nutmeg into the sauce after the roux is ready so it doesn't get lost among your cheese and heavy cream. Note that most recipes suggest only using a pinch of nutmeg to not overpower your Alfredo, but give it just enough kick to keep it from being too bogged down. This will depend on the size of your portions, so follow your recipe carefully.

More tips for the best fettuccine Alfredo

Nutmeg is only a small addition to your sauce, and while it is a game changer, a lot more goes into your fettuccine Alfredo. The base of the dish is, of course, the pasta itself, and your pasta shape matters more than you think. With a thick creamy sauce like Alfredo, long and flat fettuccine is the perfect match. But if you don't have fettuccine, then linguini or other long kinds of pasta are a good substitute — but stay away from rotini or other complicated shapes that won't properly pick up your sauce.

As for the Alfredo sauce, be sure to use the traditional parmesan cheese, and bonus points for grating a fresh block yourself. You can upgrade your Alfredo in plenty of other ways, too, including roasted black garlic instead of a regular garlic clove. Its umami flavor also has a hint of sweetness that pairs well with the nutmeg, enhancing the spices in your cream.

Finally, proteins like chicken or shrimp are a common addition to this classic dish. You'll want to prepare the chicken separately, but you can either add it as a crispy-fried topping to your creamy chicken Alfredo pasta or mix it in with your sauce. Pancetta or prosciutto are other proteins that need less preparation, and they can be a great garnish without adding too much extra fatty taste.