Fettuccine Alfredo

This fettuccine Alfredo recipe is perfect for any and all occasions, from busy weeknights to romantic dinners. It's simple, elegant, and totally delicious.

Fettuccine alfredo

Traditional fettuccine Alfredo contains 5 basic ingredients: pasta, butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ve probably guessed that this fettuccine Alfredo recipe isn’t totally traditional. You’re right!

See, I love creamy pasta, but when I order it at restaurants, it’s almost always too rich for me to enjoy for more than a few bites. Earlier this winter, I was craving comfort food, and I got the idea to make a fettuccine Alfredo recipe that would let me have my cake and eat it too. It would be every bit as creamy and comforting as the classic pasta, but also light enough for me to savor an entire bowlful and still go back for seconds.

Since that day, we’ve had this fettuccine Alfredo recipe on repeat in our house. The sauce is rich and nutty, and its creamy texture is irresistible over tangles of fresh pasta. Made with just 10 pantry ingredients, it’s quick and easy to make. As a result, we’ve eaten it time and time again – on busy weeknights, snowy Saturdays, and even date nights in. I hope you find a place for it in your regular rotation too!

Fettuccine Alfredo recipe ingredients

A Lightened-Up Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

To make a lightened up fettuccine Alfredo recipe that would taste just as good as the traditional pasta, I used these key ingredients:

  • Cauliflower – I’ve turned to cauliflower time and time again to make lighter versions of creamy classics, and it works wonders here. Boiled and blended with the other ingredients, it makes an Alfredo sauce that’s just as delicious as – but so much lighter than – the traditional version.
  • Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and garlic – They add bright, tangy depth of flavor to the creamy sauce.
  • Parmesan cheese and butter – They’re classic fettuccine Alfredo ingredients for a reason! Parmesan adds nutty umami flavor and thickens the sauce, while the butter makes it silky smooth.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Because I use just a small amount of butter in this recipe, I add olive oil for extra richness. I love its robust flavor here!
  • Pasta water – In traditional fettuccine Alfredo, hot, starchy pasta water is what turns the Parmesan and butter into a creamy sauce. It’s a key ingredient in my recipe too, helping the cauliflower blend into a luscious puree.

Parmesan cheese and cauliflower in a blender

How to Make Fettuccine Alfredo

Making this recipe is quick and easy! Here’s what you need to do:

  • First, cook the cauliflower. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower. Cook until it’s tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Then, drain it and transfer it to a blender along with the Parmesan cheese, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, butter, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Next, cook the pasta until al dente in a large pot of salted water. Before you drain it, set aside 1 1/2 cups of the starchy pasta water.
  • Then, make the sauce. Add 1 cup of the pasta water to the blender, and blend to form a smooth puree.
  • Finally, toss it all together! Add the pasta to a large skillet or bowl and toss it with the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Creamy sauce in a blender

What to Serve with Fettuccine Alfredo

Serve this fettuccine Alfredo recipe with minced Italian parsley and lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy it as a meal on its own, or pair it with your favorite protein for a heartier dinner. It would also be fantastic with roasted veggies like Brussels sprouts or broccoli or a classic Caesar salad. Mop up any leftover sauce with homemade focaccia or good crusty bread, and don’t forget the wine to drink!

Fettuccine Alfredo

More Favorite Pasta Recipes

If you love this fettuccine Alfredo recipe, try one of these favorite pasta recipes next:

Fettuccine Alfredo

rate this recipe:
5 from 21 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves 4 to 6
This lightened-up fettuccine Alfredo recipe is simple, elegant, and comforting. The sauce is a creamy, rich blend of Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, butter, and a secret ingredient - cauliflower!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces cauliflower florets, (1 small cauliflower)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces fettuccine pasta
  • 1 to 1½ cups reserved pasta cooking water
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and boil until the cauliflower is fork tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place the cauliflower in a blender. Add the Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, mustard, butter, lemon juice, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions or until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1½ cups of the starchy pasta water. Add 1 cup of the pasta water to the blender and blend the sauce until creamy.
  • Transfer the pasta to a large bowl or skillet. Add the sauce and toss to coat. If you prefer a looser sauce, add the remaining ½ cup pasta water and toss again.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and season to taste. Serve with grated cheese on the side.

Notes

For a vegan alfredo sauce, make the fettuccine recipe on page 65 of The Love & Lemons Cookbook.

23 comments

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  1. mary
    02.03.2020

    5 stars
    This was AWESOMe. Hwever I boiled the califlowers in organic chicken stock and a lot of garlic (to make it sweet) so I can avoid excessive salting of parmesean cheese. Tastes better! One can use veggie stock.

    Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.03.2020

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  2. Beth
    02.03.2020

    5 stars
    Yum! I like regular alfredo sauce, but often feel kinda blah after eating it. This one tasted great and I felt great afterwards! Came together quickly as well.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.04.2020

      Yay! I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Lorissa
    02.04.2020

    Do you think I can use a food processor for this instead of a blender??
    This looks amazing … but my blender broke 🙁

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.04.2020

      Aww! I think it could work (with a large enough food processor) since the cauliflower is pretty soft. I’m not sure if it’ll get as creamy.

  4. Orsdia blogger
    02.04.2020

    5 stars
    This is so delicious meal and health, I will try for myself.

  5. Lisa Frank
    02.04.2020

    I’m eating low carb and would love to try this sauce over spaghetti squash. What could I substitute for the starchy pasta water? Thanks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.04.2020

      you could use the cooking water from the cauliflower or some (good tasting) vegetable broth.

  6. LezizYemeklerim
    02.04.2020

    5 stars
    Looks great, how about calories?

  7. Lucy
    02.05.2020

    5 stars
    I tried a variation of this last night, I didn’t have any cauliflower but I had some turnip (rutabaga I think in the US?) left over from my veg box so I used that instead and it was absolutely delicious!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.07.2020

      Hi Lucy, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Alison L
    02.05.2020

    Excited to make this! I have a bag of frozen cauliflower florets. About how many cups do you think I should use? I don’t have a food scale.

    Side note- I never used to cook meals, I only baked! Your cookbooks and blog have been teaching me cooking skills and I love that most recipes are things I already have in the kitchen!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.05.2020

      Hi Alison, I haven’t tested it with frozen cauliflower so I can’t guarantee the results but it should work since it’s all getting blended anyway. I’d use the whole bag (assuming it’s in the range of a 12 to 16 ounce bag).

      I’d start with less pasta water in the blender (1/2 cup) and add more, as needed, if it’s too thick.

      Hope that helps! So glad you’ve been enjoying the recipes!

      • Alison L
        02.11.2020

        5 stars
        Finally made this, it was delicious! Fresh and light. Will make it again! My hubby (a meatatarian) loved it too.

  9. Sophie
    02.06.2020

    Honestly, I loved the recipe even while reading it. I have been looking for a creamy pasta sauce recipe that isn’t too heavy and never thought cauliflower could do that. This goes in my recipe book. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.07.2020

      Hi Sophie, I’m so glad you loved it!

  10. Sheila
    02.10.2020

    5 stars
    AMAZING!!! Even my cauliflower hating teenager could not get enough of it, so so good, thank you for an awesome and healthy recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2020

      Yay!! I’m so glad you all loved it 🙂

  11. Christine Whittington
    02.11.2020

    I also thought this was awesome! I don’t usually like “light” versions of recipes with a lot of substitutions, but this was great! I followed the recipe exactly. I did think the Alfredo sauce was a little frothy/foamy, so will probably stick with a lower blender setting next time. I am not usually fond of traditional Fettucine Alfredo–too heavy and rich–but this was exquisite–light and fresh!

    • Christine Whittington
      02.11.2020

      5 stars
      Whoops–forgot the stars–*****

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        02.15.2020

        Hi Christine, I’m so glad you loved it!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.