Healthy Alfredo Sauce made without any butter, heavy cream or cream cheese!
This Healthy Alfredo Sauce is luxuriously creamy and tastes decadently rich but without all the extra fat or guilt! It’s made with olive oil, skim milk, chicken broth and a roux for a significantly lightened up version. The sauce is seasoned to perfection and uses both Parmesan and mozzarella for an dynamic dimension of flavor. This Healthy Alfredo Sauce is completely customizable – serve it plain over your favorite pasta or zoodles or add chicken or shrimp and any of your favorite veggies. Healthy never tasted so rich!
Is there a healthy Alfredo sauce?
If you’re like me and crave smooth, creamy, luscious Alfredo Sauce that effortlessly blankets pasta and slurps down with ease but bemoan the fact that it’s laden with calories, then I have the solution! You CAN have rich and creamy Fettuccine Alfredo – and in your pajamas too – with this Healthy Alfredo Sauce!
This luscious Healthy Alfredo Sauce tastes like pure decadence, the same decadence as Alfredos with mounds and mounds of butter, heavy cream and even cream cheese. You would never know this Alfredo doesn’t have any of those caloric ingredients! Instead it has only 2 tablespoons of olive oil – a healthier kind of fat and that covers a whole pound of pasta!
The pairing of both Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese in this Healthy Alfredo Sauce add a depth of flavor while complimented by garlic, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes — no bland fettuccine here! I would never give you bland!
This Healthy Alfredo Sauce with fettuccine can be on the table in less than 30 minutes (probably more like 20), perfect for busy nights or for any other day you are simply craving creamy, smooth, flavorful healthier Fettuccine Alfredo. YUM!
What can you substitute for heavy cream in Alfredo sauce?
Instead of using heavy cream in this Healthier Alfredo Sauce, we create a roux with olive oil and flour then add milk and chicken broth. When you simmer all of these ingredients together, you achieve a rich, thick sauce WITHOUT any heavy cream! I use this method in all of my creamy sauces like in my Roasted Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, Sun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine Alfredo, Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese, etc. – there is simply no need to just use heavy cream when the same results can be achieved with a fraction of the calories.
What Ingredients do I need for Healthy Alfredo Sauce?
- olive oil: a healthier type of fat – you can substitute butter if you prefer
- garlic cloves: infuses garlicky goodness for flavor – use more or less depending on your garlic love
- all-purpose flour: thickens the sauce beautifully – I’m sure gluten free flours would work great in this recipe as well
- low sodium chicken broth: more flavorful than just milk, you can also substitute vegetable stock; make sure you use low sodium so your Alfredo Sauce isn’t too salty
- lowfat milk: you can use whatever milk you have on hand
- onion powder, dried basil, dried parsley: you can taste your Healthy Alfredo Sauce at the end of cooking and add more seasonings to taste
- salt and pepper: add more or less to taste
- red pepper flakes: they give a nice kick but won’t make your sauce spicy
- Parmesan cheese: use ONLY freshly grated Parmesan cheese or else it will not melt well at all, freshy grated Parmesan cheese is also much more flavorful
- mozzarella cheese: use freshly grated mozzarella for its superior melting abilities and taste
These ingredients are for the skinniest version. If you want to add a little decadence with this primarily healthy base, then feel free to add more cheese, cream cheese or 1/4 cup or so of heavy cream. I do this in my Lemon Garlic Shrimp Fettuccine where I start with a roux for a base to do most of the thickening then add 1/2 cup heavy cream.
how to make alfredo sauce
- Saute garlic. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. This blooms the aromatic garlic and infuses our entire sauce with flavor. Take care not to burn the garlic – or that will also flavor the entire sauce!
- Make a roux. A roux is a simple combination of fat, either butter, olive oil, bacon drippings, etc. combined with flour to thicken sauces. It is less fattening than just using heavy cream. In this case, we are using healthier olive oil as the fat. To make the roux, sprinkle flour over the olive oil/garlic and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes, or until raw flour smell is gone.
- Make sauce. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in chicken broth, followed by milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Turn heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in spices and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Add cheese. Reduce heat to low and stir in Parmesan cheese until melted, followed by mozzarella cheese until melted. As soon as cheese is melted, remove from heat.
- Add pasta. Combine with your favorite pasta, zoodles or spaghetti squash and dinner is served in less than 20 MINUTES!
TIPS FOR HEALTHY ALFREDO SAUCE
- Fresh Parmesan. Use ONLY freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It is much more flavorful and melts into silky oblivion unlike powdered or pre-shredded cheese.
- Use additional Parmesan. Parmesan adds fantastic flavor and should not only be added to the sauce but use plenty as a garnish as well.
- Cook flour for two minutes. When making the roux, cook flour for a full two minutes. Two minutes can seem like a long time but don’t cut it short – you want to make sure to cook out the raw flour taste. Cooking the flour longer also makes for a smoother sauce.
- Thin sauce if needed. Alfredo Sauce can become too thick if its simmered at too high of heat or for too long. But don’t worry, it’s SO easy to fix! Simply stir in a little milk or chicken broth until it reaches desired consistency.
- Garlic substitution. If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, you may substitute it with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and add it directly to the sauce.
- Don’t overcook pasta! Nothing ruins dinner faster than soft or mushy pasta. I recommend always testing your pasta 2 or 3 minutes before the box recommends – pasta should be al dente– meaning it should still be a little firm in the center/ have a “bite” to it.
- Salt pasta water. You should always salt your pasta water – it is the one chance you have for the flavor to penetrate the pasta and enhance the flavor – you can taste the difference. Use 1 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts of water.
- Stop pasta from cooking. Strain and rinse your pasta with cold water to prevent it from continuing to cook.
- Prevent pasta from clumping. If you’re not using the cooked pasta right away, toss it with a little olive oil. This will prevent it from sticking together.
healthy Alfredo sauce recipe variations
- Add chicken. Healthy Alfredo sauce and chicken belong together! You can add leftover chicken, shredded rotisserie chicken, simple baked or poached chicken or get gourmet with my lemon basil chicken – SO good!
- Add sausage: mild or hot ground Italian sausage would be amazing. You could also use turkey sausage or chicken sausage just make sure to season with Italian seasonings – every element should be independently seasoned. You can also use Italian seasoned sliced, fully cooked chicken sausage.
- Add shrimp: roasted shrimp or butter garlic shrimp would be fabulous.
- Pasta primavera with bacon: sizzle up thick-cut bacon and use the drippings to sauté the vegetables in. Add chopped bacon to the pasta at the very end of cooking.
- Substitute cheeses. Parmesan is the signature flavor in Alfredo sauce but you can also combine it with other cheeses for additional flavor. You can also make a a completely different sauce/different flavor profile by swapping the Parmesan for another melting cheese such as mozzarella, Asiago, Gouda, smoked cheddar, Monterrey, etc. – the possibilities are endless!
- Add veggies. This healthy Alfredo sauce is just a a springboard! You can add in any veggies your heart desires such as petite peas, bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, etc. To add veggies, saute them with some olive oil until crisp-tender then add the garlic and continue with the recipe.
- Add roasted vegetables: Instead of sautéing the veggies, you can use your favorite roasted veggies such as roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower, roasted asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes: purchase sun-dried tomatoes in oil, not water. They are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Use the oil in the jar instead of the olive oil. Rinse the tomatoes, pat dry, chop and sauté for 2 minutes before adding the garlic.
- Make it gluten-free. To make this healthy Alfredo sauce gluten free, use your favorite gluten free pasta and gluten free flour.
- Add fresh herbs. Swap the dried herbs for your favorite fresh herbs, you will need 3X fresh herbs to 1X dried. Fresh basil, parsley, oregano and thyme would all be fantastic.
- Make it spicy: amp up the heat with additional red pepper flakes. I always add at least 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes but if you really like a kick, add 1/2 teaspoon. You can also add additional red pepper flakes to individual servings to keep the pasta family friendly.
HOW LONG IS HEALTHY ALFREDO SAUCE GOOD FOR?
The healthy Alfredo sauce can be stored on its own or combined with pasta. If you are making ahead, then keep the pasta and sauce separately for best results. Store sauce and/or pasta combined with sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
How to reheat healthy Alfredo Sauce
It is best to reheat just the Alfredo sauce on the stove and not the microwave so it can reheat more evenly without getting scorched.
Stove: transfer Alfredo sauce to a heavy bottom saucepan and heat over medium-low, stirring frequently until the sauce is warmed through. You may need to add a splash of milk to thin the sauce as it will have thickened in the refrigerator.
Alfredo Sauce with Pasta:
- Microwave: transfer a small portion to a microwave safe dish and add splash of milk or water. Microwave for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
- Stove: for larger portions, reheat pasta on the stove over medium-low, stirring frequently until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of milk to thin the sauce as it will have thickened in the refrigerator.
HOW TO MAKE AHEAD:
This healthy Alfredo sauce is best when combined with freshly cooked pasta, but you can make both the sauce and pasta ahead of time for a lunch or dinner that comes together in minutes:
HOW TO MAKE SAUCE IN ADVANCE:
- You can make the Alfredo sauce up to 3 days in advance.
- Refrigerate it in an airtight container.
- Gently heat in a large skillet before using, adding additional milk as needed to thin to desired consistency.
HOW TO MAKE PASTA IN ADVANCE:
- You can cook the pasta al dente up to 5 days ahead of time.
- Rinse pasta with cool water.
- Toss with a drizzle of oil to prevent it from sticking together.
- Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
CAN I FREEZE HEALTHY ALFREDO SAUCE?
I do not recommend freezing this healthy Alfredo sauce recipe because the creamy sauce can break and become a funny texture. If you want to try freezing, use evaporated milk instead of milk and omit the cheeses. When you reheat the sauce, stir in the cheeses over low heat.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH HEALTHY ALFREDO?
We love this healthy Alfredo recipe with a big green salad, crusty bread and/or any of the following:
- Protein: healthy Alfredo pasta can be a main dish win or serve it alongside grilled chicken, lemon basil chicken, Greek chicken, marinated flank steak or lemon garlic salmon.
- Bread: is a must to mop up the exrta sauce! We love it with garlic bread, dinner rolls, garlic Parmesan butter breadsticks or pesto pull apart bread.
- Salad: a fresh, crunchy salad pairs beautifully with this healthy Alfredo such as wedge salad, apple Salad, pear salad, or strawberry salad.
- Fruit: bright, fresh fruit is a must either in the form of fresh grapes, melon, etc. or in fruit salad form. We love fruit salad with honey lime vinaigrette, watermelon salad, pina colada fruit salad and berry salad in honey mascarpone.
What Readers are Saying about this Healthy Alfredo Sauce:
I can’t believe how delicious this is, especially considering its one of the easiest things to make AND its tons less fat than the mega fatty version. Thanks for making it skinny! – Linda
This recipe is AMAZING… I had to comment on this one because it was just THAT GOOD. Thank you so much for posting such great recipes and I can’t wait to try more of them! – Abby
Wow. I just made this tonight for my husband and we were both totally blown away- we couldn’t believe this is “skinny”! It is deiciously amaaaazing!
Thank you for your story and blog, Jenn! – MLK
I don’t think I have EVER left a recipe review or comment before, but I just had to. This was amazing!!!! I was NOT expecting it to blow me away, being “skinny” and all, but wow!! Seriously so so so good!! – Candace
Just got done making this and am eating it as I type! It is crazy easy, crazy flavorful, and crazy good. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe- I’ll definitely be making it again! – Jen
Looking for more easy Italian pasta recipes?
- Best Lasagna
- Cheesy Bolognese Pasta Bake
- Million Dollar Baked Penne
- Baked Italian Meatballs (and Spaghetti)
- One Skillet Cheesy Meaty Penne
- Parmesan Meatballs and Orzo
- Spaghetti Bolognese
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