If you are a sucker for comfort food, then this chicken fettuccine alfredo recipe will be right up your alley. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner at home, and at a potluck party, it’s sure to be a swoon-worthy contribution. It’s luscious, filling, and has the most incredible flavor.
And no, we are not going to use any canned alfredo sauce to make this recipe. I’m going to teach you how to make homemade alfredo from scratch. Once you find out how easy it is to put together a delicious sauce, you’re going to skip the artificial, canned stuff. This chicken fettuccine alfredo recipe is just as good as the one you get at Olive Garden.
But first: what even is alfredo? Is it the same as carbonara?
Traditional Italian alfredo is a white, buttery sauce that is enriched with butter, flour, and cream (like half-and-half in this recipe). It is not to be confused with carbonara which is a sauce that includes eggs and guanciale (pork fat).
To make this dish, we’re going to marry three separate components: fettuccine pasta, sauteed chicken breasts, and alfredo sauce. Oh, bliss.
Are you ready to make the best fettuccine alfredo ever? Let’s get into it, then!
This chicken fettuccine alfredo recipe serves 4. These are the ingredients (they will be a breeze to find in grocery stores):
- Fettuccine pasta – Buy your favorite packet of fettuccine pasta. We will need ¾ lb (about 350 g). Fettuccine is a flat, long pasta that is thicker and works best for a heavy and creamy alfredo sauce. Easily make this a gluten-free recipe by going for gluten-free fettuccine.
- Chicken breasts – Buy 3 large chicken breasts (or 4 small to regular size), cut in half vertically then sliced horizontally into thin strips. Chicken breast, although leaner, offers something that other cuts of chicken don’t, which is the ease of cutting into even strips.
- Olive oil – Olive oil will be used to cook the chicken as well as to grease the cooked fettuccine.
- Sweet onion and garlic – Cook your meat with onion and garlic, always. It accentuates the flavor so much more.
- Salt and pepper – And don’t forget the salt and pepper. We’ll need lots of salt to cook the pasta, and just a bit to season the chicken.
You will need these ingredients to make the creamiest alfredo sauce:
- Salted butter – This recipe calls for 1 stick of salted butter, which makes me super excited, honestly. This sauce is going to be so buttery.
- All-purpose flour – All-purpose flour does a wonderful job at thickening alfredo sauce. If making a gluten-free version of this recipe, substitute wheat flour with cornstarch.
- Half-and-half – We will also need 3 cups of half-and-half to make the decadent, creamy base of the sauce. Half-and-half is the best choice for alfredo due to its texture and fat content. See the next section for alternatives to half-and-half.
- Parmesan cheese – Grate 1 ½ cups of parmesan cheese. We will lace the sauce with it, but also as a topping before serving.
- Salt and pepper – Finally, for seasoning, prepare 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Can I Substitute the Half and Half?
An important ingredient in perfecting the texture of alfredo sauce is half-and-half, which is essentially half whole milk and half heavy cream.
Let’s talk about milk fat (also called butterfat). It refers to the fat content in milk and is the main component of butter. For context, skim milk has 0% milk fat, whereas whole milk has 3.2% of milk fat.
Half-and-half has a fat content of 10%, making it very creamy (like coat-your-tongue creamy). There are alternatives to using half-and-half in alfredo sauce, such as:
- Heavy Whipping Cream – When preparing fettuccini alfredo, my choice between half and half and heavy whipping cream depends on what’s available in my refrigerator. Heavy whipping cream, with its elevated fat content creates a luxurious and creamy texture. The richness of the cream contributes a velvety smoothness to the sauce. For an exceptionally rich and creamy Alfredo, opt for heavy whipping cream and proceed to follow the recipe as usual.
- Whole milk – Substitute half-and-half with whole milk. Although your alfredo sauce will not turn out as thick due to the low percentage of fat, you can combine it with butter to get similar results.
- Canned evaporated milk – In evaporated milk, about 60% of the water content has been removed and therefore is thicker than whole milk. It can give body and thicken any sauce. It works even better when combined with butter.
The ratio for milk and butter: Combine ¾ cup of milk and ⅓ cup of butter to make the equivalent of 1 cup of half-and-half. Do this three times to get the same quantity of half-and-half in this recipe, which is 3 cups.
Step One: Boil the pasta.
Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of generously salted boiling water according to package instructions, or until al dente (tender but slightly firm). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta well. Toss with a splash of oil and set aside.
Step Two: Saute the chicken breasts.
Meanwhile, vertically slice each chicken breast in half. Then, slice horizontally into ¼-inch strips and season all over with salt and pepper.
Pour 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil into a large skillet over medium to high heat. Saute chopped onion, minced garlic, and chicken strips. Stir frequently for about 10 minutes until the chicken is soft and cooked through.
Transfer into a bowl or plate and cover to keep warm.
Step Three: Whip up the alfredo sauce.
Using the same pan, melt a stick of butter. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to deglaze any browned bits. This will add lots of flavor to your alfredo sauce.
Once the butter has melted, whisk in the all-purpose flour until mixed in thoroughly, making a roux. There should be no clumps of flour and be sure to cook it well because undercooked flour leaves a starchy flavor. Season with salt and pepper.
Gradually pour in the half-and-half, stirring constantly. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Pro Tip: The consistency of alfredo sauce should be pourable, not pasty. If the sauce gets too thick, simply add a splash of the hot pasta water to it.
Step Four: Assemble the dish.
Mix the grated parmesan into the sauce. Then, add the pasta and sauteed chicken, tossing until well combined. Cook for 2 minutes to warm.
Remove from heat and serve immediately topped with the desired amount of grated parmesan cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley if desired.
Expert Tips & Tricks
Shred your own cheese – Always shred your own block of parmesan cheese rather than getting the pre-shredded packs. If you shred it yourself, it will melt easier and yield better results for your sauce.
Reserve salted pasta water – Pasta water is one of my favorite cooking hacks. Be sure to save some of the salted pasta water. You can stir some of it into the sauce if it gets too thick for your liking (as it cooks or while it sits). Pasta water is also the best way to reheat any leftover pasta. Add in a little bit of the salted pasta water and reheat the fettuccine alfredo over the stove or in the microwave.
Splash some olive oil in your pasta – After you have cooked your fettuccine to al dente, toss some olive oil in it to prevent the strands from clumping together. This method helps me to have the pasta ready to go as soon as the alfredo sauce is cooked.
Did you like this recipe? Find more pasta recipes on my blog:
- Lemon Wine Pasta
- Creamy Avocado Zucchini Noodles
- Easy Pasta Bake (No Boiling Required!)
- Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
- 1 box (approx 410 grams) fettuccine
- splash olive oil
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large chicken breasts cut in half vertically then sliced horizontally into thin strips
- 1 sweet onion finely chopped
- 12 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper or more to taste
- 1/2 pound salted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream room temperature
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese grated
- extra parmesan cheese to garnish
- Cook fettuccine in a large pot of generously salted water, according to package instructions or until al dente (tender but slightly firm). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta well, toss with a splash of oil and set aside.
- Meanwhile, slice each chicken breast in half vertically, then slice horizontally into ¼ inch strips and season all over with salt and pepper.
- In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium/high heat and add finely chopped onion, minced garlic and chicken, stirring frequently for about 12 minutes until chicken is cooked through and browned.
- Remove onion, garlic and chicken mixture from the pan and cover to keep warm.
- In the same pan add butter. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to release any browned bits.
- Once melted, whisk in flour for 1 minute until mixed in thoroughly. Add salt and pepper.
- Slowly pour in cream, stirring constantly until cream is fully added.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium high heat and cook for 8-10 minutes, until slightly thickened (the consistency you are wanting is pourable not pasty). If at any point the sauce gets too thick, simply add a splash of the hot pasta water to it.
- Stir in grated parmesan, then toss in the pasta and chicken until well combined. Cook for 2 minutes to warm.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately topped with desired amount of grated parmesan cheese.