Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo made with crispy Parmesan crusted chicken swaddled in luxuriously creamy parmesan sauce – it doesn’t get any better than this!
This Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo recipe looks and tastes gourmet (perfect for upcoming Mother’s Day or Father’s Day 😉) but is quick, easy and will have everyone head over heels in love! This recipe features golden, crispy, panko, Parmesan crusted chicken breasts (pan-fried, baked or air fried) and the dreamiest, creamiest Parmesan garlic Alfredo sauce. This dizzyingly delicious duo is comfort food at its most addictive, ready in just over 45 minutes! Serve this cozy Chicken Fettuccine with Caesar salad or roasted Parmesan broccoli along with some Parmesan breadsticks for a complete meal the whole family will adore!
Alfredo is one of life’s decadently delicious pleasures. If you love Alfredo as much as we do, don’t miss classic Fettuccine Alfredo, Blackened Chicken Alfredo, Lemon Garlic Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo, Million Dollar Chicken Alfredo Bake, and Cajun Chicken Alfredo. If you are looking for a lighter version, I created a low-fat fettuccine alfredo called healthy Alfredo HERE.
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Watch: How to make Chicken Alfredo
Ingredients for Chicken Alfredo Pasta
The Parmesan crusted chicken
The succulent crispy chicken makes this the BEST recipe in my opinion. Think of it as Chicken Parmigiana but served over fettuccine Alfredo instead. Here’s why this chicken is so epic:
This Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is made with easy-to-find, pantry friendly ingredients. For the chicken and breading you will need:
- Chicken breasts: Use two medium, boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half to create four cutlets. Thin cutlets cook more quickly and evenly so the chicken is cooked through by the time the outside is golden and crispy.
- Flour: The chicken is first lightly dredged in flour to give it a clingy surface for the eggs to bind to. I use all-purpose flour, but I’m sure gluten free flour, almond flour, etc. would also work.
- Eggs: Two eggs whisked together act as a sticky glue for all of the breadcrumbs to adhere to. When the egg proteins cook and solidify, the panko is secured onto the chicken.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store next to the other breadcrumbs. It is the secret behind extra crunchy chicken.
- Parmesan cheese: The grated cheese is added to the panko and melts into the breading as it cooks. Use freshly grated Parmesan grated on the finest hole of your grater so it becomes powdery.
- Seasonings: The chicken is seasoned with dried parsley, dried basil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper so it’s scrumptious all on its own.
- Olive oil: The oil is used to cook the chicken until crispy in the skillet or to coat the panko before toasting if baking.
- Butter: You don’t have to use butter but it does add a decadent finish. Use unsalted butter otherwise reduce the salt in the recipe.
The best ALFREDO SAUCE
The Alfredo sauce comes from my classic Fettuccine Alfredo recipe which leaves restaurant versions in the dust; store-bought Alfredo doesn’t even compare.
Most Alfredo sauces are made with only 3 ingredients which means they are lacking in both flavor and texture. This recipe includes extra seasonings, cream cheese and chicken broth to make it ultra-creamy without feeling as heavy – AKA more delicious. And the best part? It takes less than 15 minutes to make!
Alfredo Sauce Ingredients
- Butter: Use unsalted butter so you can salt to taste. If you only have salted butter, then use less salt and salt to taste after you add the pasta.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is sautéed over medium-low heat with the butter to infuse the sauce with garlicky goodness. I highly suggest fresh garlic as opposed to powder in this recipe. I use 6 cloves garlic for a real garlic kick, but use more or less depending on your garlic love. You may substitute with 1 teaspoon garlic powder – but the real stuff is so much better.
- Heavy cream: Also known as heavy whipping cream, is the signature ingredient in Alfredo sauce. It makes for an ultra-rich, creamy, decadent pasta.
- Chicken broth: Broth is more flavorful than just heavy cream and has less calories. In my classic Alfredo recipe, I use milk but because we’re combining it with chicken in this recipe, chicken broth is the more flavorful choice. Use reduced sodium chicken broth so we can control the salt.
- Cornstarch: This speedy thickening agent allows us to make the Chicken Alfredo “saucier” without adding more cups of cream. The cornstarch helps thicken the broth so the sauce maintains its coveted lusciously creamy consistency.
- Parmesan cheese: For optimal salty nuttiness, use real Parmigiano-Reggiano right off of the block and not any powdered or pre-shredded cheeses. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting completely, leaving your sauce grainy no matter how long you cook it. Plus, these cheeses don’t taste nearly as good! Parmigiano-Reggiano is Parmesan produced in Italy in one of the following areas: Bologna, Mantua, Modena, or Parma that has been aged for at least two years. In the U.S. you can still find tasty “Parmesan,” but it is not regulated, and typically only aged 10 months so it’s not as flavorful/complex.
- Cream cheese: This optional ingredient gives the Alfredo sauce extra body and makes the sauce extra smooth and creamy so it just melts in your mouth. I also love the slight tanginess it adds.
- Seasoning: Without seasonings, all you have is bland, creamy Chicken Fettuccine! Salt, pepper, onion powder, Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes really level up the recipe.
WHAT PAN SHOULD I USE FOR THIS RECIPE?
You will need a large nonstick saucepan for pan frying the chicken, otherwise the Parmesan in the coating can stick and burn because we’re not using a ton of oil. You can cook the sauce in the same pan or in a larger pan that will hold all of the sauce, pasta and chicken like I did here.
- Use a different pasta: Swap in any pasta, either long spaghetti, medium-short sturdy pastas such as penne, fusilli, rotini etc. or ravioli or tortellini. You can use classic pasta, whole-wheat pasta, gluten free pasta.
- Fresh pasta: If you really want an elevated dish, splurge on fresh fettuccine! Some grocery stores carry fresh pasta, but many do not. Whole Foods often has fresh fettuccine in the prepared foods section where you’ll see all the fresh pasta options available that day.
- Use different chicken: Swap the crispy chicken for plain chicken dredged in flour and the same seasonings but without the eggs and panko. You can also use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken or your favorite chicken recipe like blackened chicken, balsamic chicken, lemon basil chicken, lemon pepper chicken, etc.
- Use a heavy cream substitute: Swap the heavy cream for evaporated milk mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Just remember that fat equals flavor so the cream sauce won’t taste quite as decadent.
- Use lighter Alfredo: Use this lighter Alfredo sauce recipe that uses a roux instead of heavy cream.
- Add bacon: Cook the bacon, remove with a slotted spoon and use some of the bacon grease instead of oil if desired. Add the cooked and crumbled bacon at the end of cooking.
- Add seafood: Swap all or some of the chicken for sautéed shrimp, blackened shrimp, buttery salmon, or crab.
- Add sausage: Swap the chicken for ground Italian sausage or andouille sausage.
- Add cheese: Mix up the flavor profile by using half Parmesan and half Pecorino Romano (this is what they do at Olive Garden) add mozzarella, Gruyere, Gouda, or Asiago.
- Add flavorings: Add a splash of lemon juice or pesto.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes: Purchase the sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water, located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Rinse about ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, pat dry, chop and sauté with the garlic.
- Add fresh or fire roasted diced tomatoes: Sauté halved cherry tomatoes or chopped fresh Roma tomatoes with the garlic.
- Add veggies: Add any chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, cherry tomatoes, peas etc. and sauté them with the garlic. If using frozen peas, thaw and stir in with the Parmesan to warm through. If adding spinach, add to the sauce at the end of cooking; allow to wilt 1-2 minutes. Adding volume in vegetables means you need to decrease the chicken.
- Add mushrooms: Pan fry sliced baby Bella mushrooms, remove from the skillet then add back to the sauce at the end of cooking. Check out my mushroom chicken recipe to see exactly how I cook perfectly caramelized mushrooms.
- Spice it up: Add additional red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.
How to make Chicken Alfredo
Let’s take a closer look at how to make this Fettuccine Chicken Alfredo recipe with step-by-step photos or you can watch the HOW-TO VIDEO in the recipe card (full recipe measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post:
STEP 1: MAKE CHICKEN CUTLETS
Chicken cutlets are important because: 1) pounding the chicken makes it more tender by breaking up the tissues, 2) the pounded uniform thickness allows the chicken to cook evenly, 3) the thinner chicken cooks more quickly so the interior of the chicken is cooked by the time the exterior is golden. Here’s how to make the cutlets:
- Lay the chicken flat on a cutting board and hold it in place with the palm of your hand. Carefully slice through the center horizontally (parallel to the cutting board) to create two fillets. I find it easiest to start at the thin end and then work towards the thicker end. Repeat with the second chicken breasts to create four cutlets.
- Place the cutlets next to each other on a flat surface and top with plastic wrap.
- Gently pound the chicken to an even thickness using the smooth side of a mallet, rolling pin, or side of a can. We are looking for about ¼-½-inch thick.
STEP 2: bread the CHICKEN
- Line up 3 shallow dishes. In BOWL 1: add flour, BOWL 2: whisk eggs, BOWL 3: mix panko, Parmesan cheese and all Chicken seasonings. Note, if baking, you will toast the panko first in the oven.
- Working with one chicken fillet at a time, dip both sides of the chicken into the flour, followed by the egg (let excess drip off) followed by the panko. Press the panko firmly into the chicken so it’s evenly coated and breadcrumbs stick. Place finished chicken on parchment paper.
Step 3. How to cook chicken for Chicken Alfredo
You have three options for cooking the chicken:
- Shallow pan fry: will taste the most decadently delicious
- Bake: still delicious thanks to tossing the panko with olive oil and toasting first but not quite as crispy; it is the only option that cooks all the chicken at once
- Air fry: is the healthiest and crispier than baking but not quite as lux tasting as the other two options because it doesn’t have olive oil
Step 4. How to make Chicken Alfredo Sauce
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat then add the fresh garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
Whisk in the heavy cream, chicken broth whisked with cornstarch, cream cheese and all seasonings. Cook over medium-low until melted and smooth. This will take a few minutes for the cream cheese to melt completely.
Add the grated Parmesan cheese a handful at time in 4 batches, whisking until smooth in between each addition. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes or until it starts to thicken and the Parmesan is completely melted. If you’re using fresh garlic, don’t confuse the minced garlic for stubborn Parmesan.
STEP 5: combine
- Add fettuccine and toss until well coated in sauce, adding a little reserved pasta water if needed to reach desired consistency (for extra decadence, use heavy cream instead of pasta water).
- You can either add the chicken on top of the pasta in the pan or to individual servings. Garnish with parsley and dig in!
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo FAQs
This Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo is pretty straightforward, but below you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions to satisfy your curiosity and guarantee success:
Fettuccine Alfredo (Italian pronunciation: [fettut’tʃiːne alˈfreːdo]) or fettuccine al burro (“fettuccine with butter”) has come to mean fettuccine pasta tossed in a rich, smooth and creamy white sauce in the United States. In Italy, however, it means fresh fettuccine tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese without any heavy cream.
Fettuccine Alfredo is named after Alfredo di Lelio, who invented the dish in Rome in 1907. According to accounts, Alfredo added extra butter along with Parmesan to pasta in efforts to entice his wife to eat after giving birth. The dish was aptly named “fettuccine al triplo burro,” and later “fettuccine all’Alfredo” or “fettuccine Alfredo.” A few years later, in 1914, Alfredo opened his own restaurant, Alfredo alla Scrofa, then called “Alfredo”, which featured- you guessed it – fettuccine Alfredo!
No, you have to look to Italian versions made without any heavy cream for that! My recipe elevates Americanized versions with the addition of garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings. It also uses both heavy cream and milk whisked with cornstarch as well as a little cream cheese to create a rich, indulgent sauce that is slightly less naughty, but every bit as creamy. This homemade fettuccine Alfredo gets rave reviews whenever I make it!
Yes, pounding the chicken breaks down the muscle fibers and creates much more tender chicken. Pounding the chicken also ensures the chicken cooks evenly.
Heavy cream is a quintessential ingredient to the best homemade fettuccine Alfredo. But if you would like to cut some calories so you can enjoy Alfredo more often, I get it! To use all milk instead of part heavy cream, add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to the butter and cook for 2 minutes before whisking in 2 cups milk and the rest of the ingredients. You can also use 2 tablespoons cornstarch whisked into the 2 cups milk (in addition to the cornstarch already in the recipe) but this doesn’t create as rich of a sauce as flour. Keep in mind, that fat = flavor, so all milk won’t create quite as a flavorful, decadent, or creamy, melt in your mouth consistency.
Swap the 2 cups heavy cream with 2 cups half and half whisked with 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch into the half and half before adding to the saucepan.
You can absolutely make this recipe without cream cheese; you’ll just want to simmer the sauce a little longer to thicken it up more.
You can control the thickness of your Alfredo sauce by how long you simmer the sauce. The less time you simmer the sauce, the thinner it will be. The longer you simmer the sauce, the thicker it will be. If you would still like it thicker after simmering, then make a slurry by whisking 2 tablespoon milk with ½ tablespoon cornstarch, then slowly whisking the slurry into the sauce then simmering until thickened to your desired consistency. If your sauce still isn’t as thick as you’d like, then repeat the slurry.
If at any time the Alfredo sauce gets too thick, just add a little splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
The Alfredo sauce makes about 3 ½ cups, so it’s perfect to coat 16 ounces of cooked pasta. It is also easy to double. If not using the sauce right away, store it in an airtight container and reheat over medium heat, stirring in additional milk as needed to adjust consistency.
While Alfredo is rich and creamy, sometimes it can be a little bland. In addition to nutty Parmesan cheese, the recipe is seasoned with pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasonings and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Yes! If you would like to use fresh instead of dried herbs, use three times the amount and toss them in at the very end so they don’t lose potency.
Dried fettuccine pasta from the box takes typically takes 8-12 minutes to boil until al dente, but it varies by brand so make sure to test the pasta for doneness. Fresh fettuccine only takes 60-90 seconds to cook in salted, boiling water.
Cook the pasta according to package directions on the box, but test the past 1-2 minutes early. I remove a strand of pasta with a slotted spoon, rinse it in cool water and then taste. Don’t be tempted to bite into pasta straight from the boiling pot-you will burn your tongue!
A white sauce can be any white sauce whether made with a roux, heavy cream, milk or half and half. Traditionally, however, a white sauce is made by cooking flour with some butter to form a paste called a roux, then whisking in milk or cream until smooth. Alfredo, on the other hand, is not thickened by a roux, but instead is made with butter, cream and plenty of Parmesan for the signature nutty flavor.
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- 2 medium chicken breasts (about 24 ounces)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (grated into powder on smallest hole)
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- olive oil (if pan frying or baking)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
- 1 pound fettuccine
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (1 ½ TBS) (may sub 1 tsp ground)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 ounces cream cheese, very soft (optional for even thicker, creamier, or add 1 extra tsp cornstarch)
- 1 tsp EACH dried basil, dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (will not make it spicy)
- 1 1/2 cups FRESHLY grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano is best)
- Cook pasta: Cook fettuccine al dente in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain and toss pasta with a drizzle of olive oil if not immediately adding to the sauce (prevents it from clumping).
IF BAKING CHICKEN
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add panko to a large baking sheet and toss with ¼ cup olive oil until evenly moistened or spray with cooking spray (I suggest olive oil, see Notes). Spread panko into an even layer and bake at 425 degrees F for about 5-7 minutes, or until deeply golden, stirring half way through cooking. Keep an eye on the panko the last few minutes so it doesn’t burn. Transfer toasted panko to a shallow dish.
- Breading stations: Line up 3 shallow dishes. In BOWL 1: add flour, BOWL 2: whisk eggs, BOWL 3: mix panko, Parmesan cheese and all Chicken seasonings.
- Bread chicken: Working with one chicken cutlet at a time, dip both sides of the chicken into the flour, followed by the egg (let excess drip off) followed by the panko. Press the panko firmly into the chicken so it’s evenly coated and breadcrumbs stick. Place finished chicken on parchment paper.
COOK CHICKEN (Choose One)
- Pan Fry: Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add two chicken cutlets and reduce heat to medium. Cook until golden and crispy on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes, flip the chicken over, then add 1 tablespoon of butter (optional). Continue to cook another 3-4 minutes, until golden and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F on an instant read thermometer. Transfer chicken to paper towels. Wipe out skillet and repeat.
- To bake: Top a baking sheet with a wire rack and spray with cooking spray. Space the chicken evenly apart so they aren't touching. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes, turn each piece over, and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F on an instant read thermometer.
- Air fry: Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Working in batches, add the chicken to the basket and spray the chicken with cooking spray. Air fry at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes, flip, spray with cooking spray, and continue to cook an additional 5-7 minutes, until crispy and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F on an instant read thermometer.
- Note: You can make the Alfredo in the same pan as the chicken or I switched to a larger saucepan to also fit the pasta.
- Whisk the chicken broth with the cornstarch in a liquid measuring cup (or bowl) until completely smooth; set aside.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese a handful at time in 4 batches, whisking until smooth in between each addition. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes or until it starts to thicken and the Parmesan is completely melted. Keep in mind the sauce will continue to thicken once you add the starchy pasta and it's removed from heat.
- Add the fettuccine and toss to combine (if you're not serving immediately, wait to add the pasta). If at any time the Alfredo sauce gets too thick, just add a little splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
- Taste and season with additional freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste (we like pepper). Add sliced chicken to the pasta or individual servings. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and serve immediately.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store next to the other breadcrumbs. Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with regular breadcrumbs or you will be missing out on the gorgeous, satisfying CRUNCH that cannot be achieved with regular breadcrumbs.
- Gluten free: Use your favorite gluten free flour such as Bob Red’s Mill Baking Flour and gluten free panko which should be relatively easy to find. My favorite is Aleia’s Gluten-Free Panko made of rice and potato flour – it’s spectacularly crunchy!
- Parmesan: Use real Parmigiano-Reggiano right off of the block and not any powdered or pre-shredded cheeses. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting completely, leaving your sauce grainy no matter how long you cook it.
- Keep one hand clean to avoid a gummy mess.Use one “dry” hand when dredging the chicken in flour and panko. Use one “wet” hand to dip the chicken in the eggs. Wash your hands as needed if they start to get gummy.
- For baking, I prefer olive oil to nonstick cooking spray because it gives the panko a richer, more satisfying mouthfeel that tastes more like the chicken has been pan fried.
- If baking and you don’t have wire rack, line a baking sheet with lightly grease foil and place in the oven to get nice and hot while you bread the chicken. Take care when adding the chicken because your pan will be HOT!
- Recipe variations: See post for all sorts of ideas to mix up this recipe.
- Pasta: Cook the fettuccine al dente, drain, rinse and toss with oil to prevent it from clumping. Cool completely then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to toss with the warmed sauce.
- Bread chicken: Bread chicken and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
- Alfredo sauce: The sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to use, gently rewarm in a skillet, adding additional milk or broth as needed to thin.
How to store and reheat
- Storage: Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 five days. I do not recommend freezing the sauce because a cream, butter, and cheese-based sauce is destined to become grainy when thawed. You may freeze the chicken separately for up to three months.
- To reheat the pasta: Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or over medium-low on the stove, stirring frequently. You may want to add a splash of milk if the pasta seems dry.
- To reheat the chicken: Air fry in a single layer at 400 degrees for about 3 minutes or bake at 390 for 3-5 minutes.
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