Why buy a jar from the store when making a homemade Alfredo sauce with cream cheese is this easy?? Just 5 ingredients from your pantry make the real thing taste so much better. You can use fat-free dairy products to help make a lighter Alfredo sauce for your family.
I first started making this recipe out of a Friday night desperate pantry raid.
We were trying to avoid meat because of Lent and I needed an easy dinner for the kids.
I remembered my friend Michelle mentioning an awesome Alfredo sauce she made that involved cream cheese. That sounded like such a fantastic trick to making a thick rich Alfredo sauce, I had to try it too.
My daughter and I literally devoured this dish.
It is by far the absolute best homemade Alfredo sauce I have ever had. The cream cheese makes it a touch tangier than restaurant versions, but this is pure comfort food heaven.
Since that first experiment so many years ago, this has become a dinnertime staple.
Why This is the Best Recipe
This beats store-bought packaged sauce by miles and miles with just a fraction of the sodium and preservatives and only takes a few minutes to make.
I toned down the fat content by using fat-free cream cheese and milk, so I honestly don't even feel very guilty about this dish overall, especially when compared to traditional Alfredo sauce made with heavy cream.
For growing peanuts out there, especially ones who don't like to drink a lot of milk straight from a glass, it is a fantastic way to get extra calcium into them.
Once picky eaters discover this, the alfredo sauce is perfect for coating green veggies like peas or chopped broccoli.
As long as you have fresh milk, most of the ingredients can be kept on hand for a quick dinner fix:
- Cream cheese
- Grated parmesan
- Garlic salt
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce
Set a large sauce pot over medium-high heat and add the butter to the pot to begin to melt.
Meanwhile, prep the milk and cream cheese.
To help the cream cheese melt more smoothly, I cut the brick into smaller squares and set it by the stove for easy grabbing.
Pour and measure the milk and set it by the stove, too.
Once the butter has completely melted, add the squares of cream cheese to the pot and gently stir with a whisk.
As the cream cheese melts, the butter will make it look a bit curdled, don't panic. (See step 3 in the photo above.)
Just keep mixing and whisking and the butter and cream cheese will come together. (Step 4.)
Sprinkle in the garlic salt and pour in the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Continue to cook until the sauce begins to thicken slightly, about 5 - 7 minutes.
Finally, add the grated parmesan and whisk until smooth. This will help to thicken the sauce quite a bit.
Hint: If your alfredo sauce gets too thick, you can add a splash of milk to thin it out.
Freshly cooked pasta will soak up the sauce quickly. I like to toss the pasta with the sauce and let it sit for a brief minute and then spoon a little more sauce over the top just before serving.
My kids absolutely love when I serve this homemade alfredo pasta just as is, on its own. It's a classic family dinner, especially during the meatless Fridays in Lent.
However, there are so many ways you could mix and match the ingredients you toss into alfredo pasta to create all new dishes from just one sauce.
1. Vegetarian Alfredo Pasta
Add in your favorite combination of any of these vegetables for a meatless, vegetarian-friendly pasta dish:
- roasted broccoli and carrots (my primavera veggie mix is a top pick!)
- roasted cherry tomatoes
- roasted or steamed asparagus
- roasted bell peppers
- frozen green peas
2. Chicken Alfredo Pasta
Italian Herb Chicken Alfredo - Broil chicken tenderloins or bake chicken breasts that have been tossed with olive oil and your favorite Italian herb blend.
Cajun Chicken Alfredo - Season your chicken with a simple Cajun or homemade blackening seasoning blend. Toss in roasted bell peppers an onions with the pasta and alfredo sauce.
3. Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
4. Alfredo with Ham and Peas
Use leftover ham from a holiday roast like my Crockpot spiral ham, dice it up, and add it to alfredo pasta with peas.
My kids love my creamy alfredo with ham and peas so much, I've even bought deli ham sliced extra thick to use in the recipe!
Store any leftover sauce in the fridge for 3 - 4 days in an airtight container.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing and could easily separate and be unappealing once frozen.
More Alfredo Sauce Recipes
This easy recipe makes a very generous portion of Alfredo sauce but uses the entire brick of cream cheese.
Even if you don't think you need all the sauce for one meal, go ahead and make the full recipe.
You can use leftover alfredo sauce in:
Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce
- 8 tablespoon (1 stick) butter
- 1 (8 oz) brick of cream cheese (I used fat-free)
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups milk I used fat-free
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Sprinkle of ground black pepper
- Melt the butter in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the cream cheese and garlic powder, stirring them together with a wire whisk until smooth.
- Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out any large lumps.
- Cook, whisking occasionally until the mixture slightly thickens, about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Be careful: the sauce will thicken rapidly, if necessary you can thin it with a splash more milk if it has cooked too long and gotten too thick.
- Stir in the grated parmesan and pepper and whisk until smooth.
- Toss with hot pasta to serve.
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