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Authentic Fettuccine Alfredo

Three ingredients are all you need for authentic Fettuccine Alfredo. It’s a dish that just goes to show you can’t beat simplicity!

Three ingredients are all you need for authentic Fettuccine Alfredo. It's a dish that just goes to show you can't beat simplicity! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comFettuccine All’ Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is a dish that Americans think of in their list of “classic Italian dishes” right along with Spaghetti and Meatballs and Ravioli. But, the dish that is known to Americans is not quite the authentic Italian version.

Fettuccine Alfredo started off as the desperate attempt of Roman restaurant owner, Alfredo di Lelio, to find something that his pregnant wife, who had lost most of her appetite due to pregnancy, would be able to eat. So, he added some Parmesan cheese to an everyday Italian dish, fettuccine al burro (Fedduccine with Butter), and she couldn’t stop eating it!

(But, seriously. To put things into perspective, it’s like he made her buttered toast with a bit of cheese sprinkled on top…. And then the world went CRAZY over it!)

He introduced the dish onto his restaurant’s menu in 1914. In 1920, he served the dish to some famous American movie stars, who brought the idea back to Italian restaurants in the States.

Authentic Fettuccine Alfredo is SUPER Easy

Seriously, all you need is three ingredients.

No, not a jar of “Alfredo” sauce.

You need fresh, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, butter, and fettuccine.


There’s not a drop of cream in Alfredo’s original recipe. Just cheese, mixed with pasta, pasta water and butter, to create a creamy sauce without the cream!!

Three ingredients are all you need for authentic Fettuccine Alfredo. It's a dish that just goes to show you can't beat simplicity! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comHow Did We Get American Fettuccine Alfredo?

While you could chock it up to the fact that making things unnecessarily rich and bad for you is just what the American food market does, there might be a legitimate reason that we Americans added cream in this case.

You see, at the time that Fettuccine Alfredo was introduces in the States, the butter and Parmesan cheese that they had access to was nowhere near the quality of the cheese and butter in Italy. So, it is possible that cream was introduced to the dish in order to make up for the lack of richness in the other ingredients.

But, whatever the reason, now YOU know the REAL story.

And, now you can make authentic Fettuccine Alfredo to impress your family and friends!

Our Authentic Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

The really authentic Fettuccine Alfredo recipe from Alfredo di Lelio calls for 1/2 lb of butter and 1/2 lb of grated Parmesan cheese per 1 lb of fettuccine.

That may sound like a lot of butter and cheese, but when we got ready to make the recipe we realized just how MUCH butter and cheese it really is for that amount of pasta.

For our recipe below, we have reduced the amount of butter and cheese. Even though we cut them back from what is called for in the original recipe, and we still found our Fettuccine Alfred to be PLENTY rich and flavorful.

But, if you really want to go for it, feel free to use the full 1/2 lb of butter and 1/2 lb cheese with your pound of pasta.

You only live once, you know. And, the dairy industry will thank you.

Three ingredients is all you need for authentic Fettuccine Alfredo. It's a dish that just goes to show you can't beat simplicity! |
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4.56 from 79 votes

Authentic Fettuccine Alfredo

You haven't tasted Fettuccine Alfredo until you've tried the authentic version! 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere



  • Fill a large pot with water and heat it over high heat until boiling. Once the water boils, add a good dash of salt and the noodles. Cook only until al dente, 9-10 minutes.
  • While the pasta heats, gently melt the butter over medium heat in a large, non-stick skillet with high sides.
  • Drain the pasta (reserving the water) and transfer the pasta to the skillet with the melted butter.
  • Add a 1/2 tsp salt and toss the pasta with a tongs to combine (nonstick, silicone tongs work best).
  • Reduce the heat to medium low. Add a handful of grated cheese and a ladle of hot pasta water, tossing the pasta continuously with your tongs to incorporate the cheese.
  • Add more cheese, a little at a time, tossing between each addition, until all the cheese has been used.
  • Add more hot pasta water as needed to melt the cheese so that it coats the noodles. (But, be careful not to add too much. You don’t want a watery sauce.)
  • Taste the pasta and adjust the salt as necessary.
  • Serve immediately.


*Since there are so few ingredients in this dish it is IMPERATIVE that you get good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. So, go ahead and find your grocery store's specialty food section and buy a wedge that you can grate yourself. Expect to pay around $8-10 per pound for the cheese. (You only need 6 oz!) Your pasta will thank you!


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Sarah Ozimek

Sarah is co-owner of Curious Cuisiniere and the chief researcher and recipe developer for the site. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.

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Sunday 4th of April 2021

This was an amazing dish for the primi serving of my Italian inspired Easter meal celebration.

Sarah Ozimek

Monday 5th of April 2021

So glad you enjoyed it!


Thursday 1st of April 2021

I made this last week and it turned out great! I made it again this week and it turned out terrible. I'm not sure what I did wrong. The cheese is clumpy and stringy. I followed the directions. Used all of the same ingredients as I did last time. What did I do wrong?

Sarah Ozimek

Friday 2nd of April 2021

Hi Simone. This sauce can be a bit temperamental. If you add the cheese a bit to fast, it can tend to clump. Likely the second time you added the cheese a bit more quickly or in larger quantities than the first time.

Angela Wilson

Friday 5th of March 2021

I love this recipes. It is my go to now. Never liked all the reviews with heavy cream in them . This is much easier and tastes better. My family ❤️ It as well. Thank you for sharing with us

Sarah Ozimek

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

So glad you and you family enjoy it!

Johnny Baxter

Sunday 28th of February 2021

Whenever I look up Alfredo I end up on your page. Tonight will be about the half dozenth or so time I've made it this way and I'm really looking forward to cooking and eating dinner. I like it with some chili flakes sprinkled over it, and maybe a light green salad on the side. Thanks.

Sarah Ozimek

Thursday 4th of March 2021

So glad you enjoy it Johnny! Chili flakes sound like a wonderful addition!

Frank Schiavi

Saturday 12th of December 2020

My grandmother made it this way, with a little garlic and a touch of olive oil. I have made it this way since she taught me as a child.

Sarah Ozimek

Monday 14th of December 2020

What great memories!

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