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Fettuccine Alfredo

4 to 6 Servings

30 minutes

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Made the Italian way, fettuccine Alfredo bears little resemblance to the unctuous, cream-based pasta dish that’s popular in the U.S. We scoured Rome for the best versions, and our favorite was prepared by home cook Francesca Guccione, who resides in Castelnuovo di Porto, just outside of Rome. Rich, luxurious and elegant but neither heavy nor cloying, Guccione’s fettuccine Alfredo, like other Roman recipes for the dish, consists of only fresh pasta, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, butter and salt. The secret lies in using high-quality ingredients and combining them in just the right way, and in just the right volumes. We adapted her winning formula but incorporated a technique we saw employed at a couple restaurants of putting softened butter (rather than melted) into the bowl in which the hot pasta will be tossed. Of utmost importance is the cheese. Purchase a hefty chunk of true Parmigiano Reggiano—not the pre-shredded stuff—trim off the rind (save it for simmering into soups and stews), cut 6 ounces into rough ½-inch pieces and whir them in a food processor until very finely ground. This helps ensure the cheese melts readily. High-fat butter also is key. In Europe, butter typically has a fat content of around 85 percent; standard American butter is only about 80 fat. That 5 percent difference has a big impact on the flavor and consistency of the finished dish. At the grocery store, some types of high-fat butter are labeled “European-style.” Plugrá and Kerrygold are two widely available brands. If the butter also happens to be cultured, all the better, but this is not essential. We learned from Guccione that patience also is an important ingredient. Tossing the pasta with the cheese in small additions and while gradually adding some starchy pasta-cooking water takes time but yields a sauce that is velvety-smooth. We highly recommend serving the pasta in individual bowls that have been gently warmed.

4 to 6



Don’t use more than 2 quarts water to cook the pasta. It’s a small amount by intention, as the starchy liquid is used as an ingredient in the sauce. Also, don’t drain the pasta in a colander. Use tongs to lift the noodles out of the water and drop them, with ample water clinging to them, into the bowl lined with the butter slices. You may need some pasta cooking water to adjust the consistency of the sauce just before serving, so don’t prematurely discard it.

30 minutes


  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted European-style butter (see headnote), sliced about ½-inch thick

  • 6

    ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (without rind), cut into rough ½-inch chunks


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Matt R.
April 7, 2024
Never going back
Been making the Americanized version of Alfredo all my adult life. Actually learned to make it as a waiter completing it tableside at a restaurant in Boston. Made this last night. Even with dried, Italian made pasta (not American) the dish was a knock out! Must used Euro butter. That extra 5% makes a difference. Save the pasta water to reheat leftovers.
Lyla K.
December 28, 2023
A Staple in the Lineup
This is a recipe that I make at least twice a month. Once you make it, it will become a staple in your lineup. I cut the recipe in half because there is only my husband and myself and it comes out perfectly every time.
Judy H.
December 28, 2023
So sumptuous, satisfying and delicious! Family loved! Great and simple to use recipe! Will make again and again!
Jane V.
June 4, 2023
This is so elegant and satisfying.
Kathleen B.
April 8, 2023
Simple and lovely
We saw this made in a TV episode and tried it. It was easy to make and fantastic. Will make it again. The flavors are wonderful — surprising there is no garlic and cream.
Gary S.

MAKE THIS. It's all of the delicious. First bite, my husband said "mmmmmmm this is good." He was right. We like to make our own pasta, and 2 quarts water seemed shallow, but YES. You will love this.

Edith B.

I was wondering about making this for two as the leftovers aren't as good. Should I half the cooking water for the pasta or is that too little water? The rest seems easy to half.

Lynn C.

Hi Edith -

Since this recipe requires a very delicate balance of water to pasta to properly cook the pasta and build the sauce we can't recommend modifications since we haven't tested it. So sorry we can't be more helpful!

The Milk Street Team

Paul J.

This is outstanding! Made it exactly as directed and it turned out great! I wouldn’t make any changes to the recipe. It will be my “go to”recipe for fettuccine Alfredo. I also like the Milk Street recipe for Pasta with Parmesan Cream but the fettuccine Alfredo recipe has awesome flavor without the cream. Excellent recipe!

Mike M.

My package of pasta says to cook for 7 minutes. However, the recipe here says to cook 2 minutes? Is there a happy medium?

Lynn C.

Hi Mike -

Are you sure you are using *fresh* fettuccine, not dried? This recipe was developed using fresh pasta which should only take a few minutes to cook. Unfortunately, we did not test the recipe using dried pasta since all of the versions we had in Italy used fresh (homemade, actually) pasta.

The Milk Street Team

Francesco C.

If you want to see a really wonderful video that talks about the origin of this dish, as well as showing the proper technique for tossing the pasta (as described in this recipe), go to YouTube and search for the "Pasta Grammar" channel and their video labeled: Is Fettuccine Alfredo ACTUALLY Italian?

Wendy G.

Vincenzo's Plate actually does a nice video, too

Margaret Z.

My cheese clumped, not sure why. It was still really good!

Steven R.

I see that the question of using dried fettuccine, as opposed to fresh fettuccine, was brought up in an earlier email (dated 2 July 2021). However, since many home cooks have a supply of dried pastas; but, do not have a source for reliable fresh pasta, and, sadly do not have the time to make their own fresh pastas, have you researched the question of adapting the recipe to use good quality dried pasta? I have recently read the article, and recipe in July -- August 2021 issue of "Milk Street" and am interested in adapting it to be made with dried pasta. Would you think I would be on the right track to increase the amount of water slightly (probably by no more than an additional one-quarter to one-half of a cup) to allow for loss by evaporation while cooking the pasta for the longer time required for dried pasta?

Lynn C.

Hi Steven -

Many supermarkets now carry fresh pasta in their deli refrigerated section - Buitoni is a widely-available brand, so we recommend looking there for fresh fettuccine. You can certainly try to make the recipe using dried pasta but, as you mentioned, the amount of water may need to be increased in order to cook the pasta through. The pasta water itself may also be more starchy, since it will be more concentrated, so you may find you need to add more to loosen the sauce. Good luck!

The Milk Street Team

Tracy S.

Made this for dinner last night and WOW! Great taste and so easy after a busy day at work. Definitely going into the rotation!

Jessica G.

I tried this recipe with gluten-free fresh fettucine and it came out great (it felt perhaps like a little too much sauce which makes sense - gluten-free pasta isn't able to soak up as much). I also made 1/2 recipe....I used the same amount of water (2qt) but only 9oz of pasta. I halved the butter and parmigiano reggiano. Anyway, absolutely delicious!

Jennifer B.

I used regular old store-bought fettuccine and cooked it according to the package directions. It turned out great, though of course the fresh fettuccine would have been even more delicious.