The soft, creamy texture of Alfredo sauce melting in your tongue, followed by a perfect aftertaste of parmesan. Just thinking about it now makes me hungry! But, whenever I’ve bought Alfredo sauce from the supermarket it just doesn’t quite have the thickness I’d want.
Making Alfredo sauce at home, too, it’s quite a struggle to make it have the right consistency.
However, there’s a few solutions to this problem that I’ve found me and my kids enjoy. In this article I’ll show you several ways to make your Alfredo sauce thicker for you to experiment with.
- 1 About Alfredo Sauce
- 2 The Italian Method
- 3 The First Shortcut to Thicker Alfredo Sauce: Cornstarch
- 4 The Second Shortcut to Thicker Alfredo Sauce: Flour
- 5 The French Method: Make it as a Bechamel
- 6 The American Way to Make Alfredo Sauce Thicker
- 7 My Favorite Method to Make Alfredo Sauce Thicker
About Alfredo Sauce
To understand why Alfredo sauce should be thick, it’s worth taking a quick look at where it comes from.
The royal flavor of this deliciousness comes, as you might have guessed, from a man called Alfredo. Alfredo di Lelio, to be exact.
He’s said to have become famous in the first two decades of the 19th century for a pasta dish he made for his wife when she’d lost her appetite after giving birth to their first son, Armando.
The dish Alfredo created was nothing less than a most romantic fettuccine with triple(!) butter. After opening a restaurant in Rome with his son, the dish gained incredible fame. This fame attracted American soldiers in the 1940s and 50s.
As Alfredo sauce travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States, it took on new characteristics.
Stock and butter were exchanged for butter and double cream. It’s now common to see it with all sorts of additions including broccoli, parsley, garlic, chicken and turkey.
In our kitchens today, the main issue that occurs is that it just isn’t thick enough. Achieving a really creamy texture is a challenge that many people struggle with.
Have no fear, there are myriad ways to thicken your Alfredo sauce which I’ll now show you.
The Italian Method
When cooked in traditional Italian style, all you need for Alfredo sauce is fettuccine, stock, butter and parmesan. The fettuccine can be homemade or bought fresh. You know those packs you find in the fridge in the supermarket that go off in a few days? Grab one of those!
The trick is to use a young parmesan, aged less than 5 months, and to cook the pasta in fresh chicken stock rather than in water. You can add a few drops of olive oil to the stock, too.
When the pasta is al dente, pour the water off and add a big chunk of butter.
Whilst the butter is melting in the hot pasta, grate the parmesan into it while stirring.
I’ve found that if you want to make sure it thickens up you can add a shot of soda water. The soda, butter and grated parmesan combine into a thick paste that gives you that creamy Alfredo texture you’re after.
This method is the hardest one, but gives the most fresh-tasting result.
It might take you a few tries (I know it did for me). But once you get the right speed of mixing the sauce and the pasta, you’ll have the ideal, light, fresh Alfredo sauce.
The First Shortcut to Thicker Alfredo Sauce: Cornstarch
This method works best if you’ve got store-bought Alfredo sauce that just needs to be thickened.
If you’ve already made your own Alfredo sauce, you can use this method too, but the second shortcut below might be a better option unless you’re avoiding gluten. In which case, of course, you’ll want to use gluten-free pasta, too.
Using a whisk and a jug, combine cold water with cornstarch.
You’ll need about three tablespoons of corn starch for 200 ml of water. You don’t need to measure too carefully here – just make sure you whisk it until there are no clumps left at all.
Pour your Alfredo sauce in a sauce pan on medium heat. When it’s warm, slowly whisk in the cornstarch-water mixture. It takes a while to thicken, so be careful with how much you pour in. Start with a little at a time.
You’ll also want to make sure that the cornstarch has fully dissolved and is cooked. Make sure it goes up to the boil.
This method is the most foolproof and the most time-efficient, so if you’re short on time and your pasta’s already getting cold – use this!
The Second Shortcut to Thicker Alfredo Sauce: Flour
This method works equally well for your homemade Alfredo as for the store-bought one. It’s what I would suggest for homemade sauce.
You have two ways of doing this. You can use the same technique as with the first shortcut by whisking flour and into cold water and then whisk into the sauce and turn up the heat while continuing to whisk. The second way is to use a combination of butter and flour.
The second way takes a bit longer, but it’s easier to make sure that you’ve cooked the flour taste out.
For this method, keep your Alfredo sauce on a low heat, and put another sauce pan on the hob on medium-low heat.
Put some butter in the second pan with half as much flour, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon.
It should become a kind of thick paste, but be careful that it doesn’t burn here. When it smells of biscuits, it’s done and ready for the Alfredo.
Slowly pour the warm Alfredo sauce in half a cup at a time. Mix into the paste quickly with a whisk, making sure that you don’t have any clumps.
When you’ve reached the consistency you’re after, serve with the pasta and add-ons of your choice.
The French Method: Make it as a Bechamel
Bechamel is one of the five cornerstone sauces in French cuisine, and although it’s far from the traditional Italian way, it’s a very wholesome method to make Alfredo sauce where you can control it’s thickness easily.
It’s also (in my opinion) the best way to make the sauce for mac ’n’ cheese, even if it’s not the traditional way of American or Italian cooking. Hey, we’re not trying to be strict here, we’re just trying to have a creamy, delicious pasta, right?
Start by putting butter in a sauce pan on medium-low heat. Add flour spoon by spoon, all whilst mixing with a wooden spoon.
As the butter melts and combines with the flour, keep mixing and cooking it until it smells of biscuits, just like in the method above.
Now, slowly add milk a cup at a time while whisking quickly to combine the paste in the sauce pan with the milk.
It takes a while to thicken up for every cup you pour in, so just stop when you’ve reached your ideal texture.
A rule of thumb is 50g of butter for half a liter of milk, but it’s best measured by eye.
When you have the texture you want, turn down the heat. Add a little bit of garlic powder, seasoning, salt, pepper, grated parmesan and maybe even another grated cheese, too.
Keep on the heat until the cheese has melted.
If you’d like to add something else to your Alfredo sauce, like chicken or turkey, cook these separately and add to the sauce at the very end, when your cheese has melted.
The American Way to Make Alfredo Sauce Thicker
In the United States, Alfredo sauce is made by combining butter, double/whipping cream, and cream cheese.
Cook on medium heat and whisk until melted, add your seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, and grated parmesan.
You can also find dozens of different ready-bought Alfredo sauces both in powder form and liquid.
It’s with this method that it’s often hardest to get that right creamy, thick texture.
You can either use any of the two shortcuts above, or one of the following:
Add some more heavy cream to your finished sauce, bring to the simmer while whisking. Works best if you just want to thicken it a notch.
Add some grated cheese and whisk on low heat until it melts.
Add some more parmesan and whisk on low heat until it melts.
Add a few cubes of cream cheese and whisk on a low heat until smooth.
My Favorite Method to Make Alfredo Sauce Thicker
When I make Alfredo sauce, I use a combination of the methods above, trying to go back to the roots of Italian American cuisine.
I start off by whisking together butter, whipped cream, a dash of chicken stock, a shot of soda water and cream cheese in a sauce pan on medium heat until everything is melted.
Having seasoned the sauce, I put in some parmesan crust, whole.
The crust is high in protein which acts as a binder, so when it melts, it binds the sauce together. Having let it simmer for a few minutes, I grate in some fresh parmesan (just as Alfredo said, if the parmesan has been aged for less than five months it works better!).
I make sure to fish out the crust before serving, and if it still needs some thickening, I follow the second shortcut above, using some flour and butter.
If I’m using a store-bought Alfredo sauce, I cook it with a shot of stock and soda water, before adding my own parmesan and parmesan crust.
Whichever method you follow, I hope you enjoy your pasta!