If you have never had homemade Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, you haven’t lived! Real, creamy, from-scratch Alfredo sauce is truly one of the most delicious things; store bought Alfredo pales in comparison. Pair your delicious creamy sauce with pasta and perfectly seared, juicy chicken for a decadent and easy dinner recipe, done in about 30 minutes! Originally published August 29, 2020.
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
- Chicken Alfredo Ingredients
- How to make Chicken Alfredo
- Best Chicken Alfredo Recipe Tips
- What goes with Chicken Alfredo?
- How to store Chicken Alfredo
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo FAQs
- More easy weeknight dinners you will love!
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
Big news you guys! California just opened up salons for hair cuts again! I’m pretty sure we are the only state that still had them shut down. Eric has been saying that he needs a haircut for weeks now. We are definitely salon people. If you are a guy, do you cut your own hair?
My mom cuts my dad’s hair, and he loves to calculate all the money that he’s saved over the years. I tried to cut Eric’s hair once, in the early days. “This will be fun! Just like my parents! 40 years from now we can count the thousands of dollars we’ll have saved!” The haircut took 3 hours and then we didn’t speak for a few days after that, so we decided if we wanted to hang onto our marriage we should cough up the money for real haircuts. (and I’m totally joking, the fight wasn’t that bad!)
Has everyone started school yet? We started two weeks ago, but missed the first week because we were on vacation. But distance learning hardly counts as school anyway, right, so no net loss? Kidding, kidding!
We drove up to Seattle to see our friends Sarah and Brian, who just moved there after 3 years in Japan (Brian’s in the military). It was so fun! We have 9 kids between us, so anywhere we went you could see people counting. I told people they were all Sarah’s. (Why would I claim these rapscallion children as mine??) The kids had tons of fun, we had tons of fun, and I even got to experience my first Dungeons and Dragons session. Nerd alert! I go by Nerwenye now, by the way.
Who here loves a good Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo? I told Eric that I wanted to make it, and to tell the story about Michael from the Office “carbo-loading” right before running a 5k, but he told me not to, it would gross people out. So I will refrain, but go watch that episode if you haven’t already. Also it’s the first episode where Jim and Pam hold hands, so I mean that’s worth it right there. (The Office is only available on Netflix until January! Cue the tears! What will we watch now when nothing else sounds good??)
Why you’ll love this Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
This Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo only takes 30 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it compromises on flavor, texture, or quality. If you’ve only ever had Alfredo sauce from a jar, hoooo boy are you in for a delightful surprise. This recipe uses heavy cream, butter, and parmesan for a rich sauce flavored with garlic, cayenne, and nutmeg. The sauce is served over a bed of pasta with perfectly seared chicken on top. It’s comforting, it’s filling, and yet it’s somehow fancy at the same time. Fettuccine Alfredo is fast enough for a Tuesday night family meal, but indulgent enough to make for your Valentine’s day dinner date. So versatile!
What is Chicken Alfredo?
Chicken Alfredo is an Italian restaurant classic: fettuccine noodles, creamy Alfredo sauce, and pan-seared chicken sliced on top. It’s definitely an American dish, though it is inspired by an Italian one. It’s rich, decadent, creamy, and savory. If you love Parmesan cheese, garlic, cream, and pasta, it’s hard not to love Chicken Alfredo.
Chicken Alfredo Ingredients
Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!
- Chicken breasts
- Smoked paprika
- Heavy cream (not coffee creamer, not half and half, but legit heavy whipping cream)
- Fettuccine pasta
- Cayenne pepper
- Parmesan cheese (grated from a block of cheese, not that dusty stuff in the green shaker)
- Parsley (optional garnish)
What pasta is best for Alfredo?
Fettuccine is traditionally served with Alfredo sauce, but any long pasta, like spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair, works just great. You can also serve it over farfalle (bow tie pasta), penne, rotini, or other short pastas. It’s really hard to go wrong with a sauce that is this life changing.
Chicken Alfredo Recipe Substitutions
I’ve tested this Chicken Alfredo quite a few times. I don’t recommend making changes to the Alfredo sauce; the ingredients and proportions create a perfectly smooth and creamy, rich-tasting sauce that doesn’t bear substitutions well.
However, the chicken is totally interchangeable with other ingredients! Here are a few ideas to make this dish your own (and feel free to mix and match, adding more than one):
- Saute some shrimp with the same seasonings as the chicken (but expect a MUCH shorter cooking time–shrimp only needs to turn light pink all over, and it’s done).
- Saute scallops in place of the chicken (again, watch the cooking time!).
- Steam broccoli until crisp-tender, then lightly toss with salt and pepper before adding.
- Roast asparagus spears and roughly chop before adding to your dish.
- Saute mushrooms (button or baby bella) in butter, salt, and pepper/.
- Ask your butcher for beef medallions to saute (now THIS is getting fancy).
How to make Chicken Alfredo
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that such an iconic dish like chicken fettuccine Alfredo could be so fast and easy. But it really only takes about 30 minutes, maybe 40 minutes the first time you try it. Or if you have children who like to torment each other in the background, that will definitely slow you down.
How to cook chicken for Chicken Alfredo
I’ll give you more details below (with photos!) on the whole chicken-cooking process, but here are the basic steps:
- Slice your chicken horizontally into cutlets. Pat them dry.
- Season the cutlets with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Sear the chicken in super hot oil and add a little butter for flavor.
How to season chicken for Alfredo
Since Alfredo sauce has so much rich flavor from garlic, butter, cream, and Parmesan, we’re keeping the seasonings simple. All you really need is salt and pepper, but I like adding some paprika too for its flavor and beautiful color.
Here are step-by-step instructions to make this easy weeknight meal.
- First we need to sear our chicken. Start by slicing your chicken in half horizontally into cutlets, like this:
- Rub it with salt, pepper, and a bit of smoked paprika. You don’t have to add the paprika, but I love the subtle flavor it adds! It also adds nice color to the chicken.
- Sear your chicken in super hot oil. Do not move it once it’s in the pan! This is how you get a nice brown sear.
- When you flip the chicken, add in a little butter. This adds flavor to the chicken and helps it brown. (If you cook the chicken in all butter instead of oil, the butter will get too brown and smokey.)
- Remove the chicken and make the sauce in the same pan. Add in a whole lotta butter. This is not an apology. I mean, if you are on a diet, you probably just shouldn’t make chicken Alfredo.
- Add in 5 cloves of garlic. You can add less if you are a wimp. Just kidding. But do not underestimate the power of garlic! Don’t be afraid of it!
Best Chicken Alfredo Recipe Tips
How do you thicken Alfredo sauce?
The answer is cream. If you are using real, thick cream, that’s all you need to get the perfect texture for your sauce. We are using 2 cups of cream. Yes, 2 cups. Don’t offend me by trying to make this healthy. Eat chicken Alfredo and skip dessert.
The other thickener is parmesan. Shred your own parmesan cheese. Don’t buy pre-shredded cheese, and for heaven’s sake don’t use the powdered stuff. They add anti-caking ingredients to the pre-shredded parmesan that makes it not clump up for packaging and shipping, but if you add it to your Alfredo, it inhibits melting and your sauce won’t be quite as smooth.
Slowly stir in the parmesan cheese. Don’t add it all at once. This will help it melt. In the photo above you can see how much I sprinkle in at a time.
How do I add flavor to Alfredo sauce?
Parmesan cheese is your main squeeze for a flavorful Alfredo sauce! Also garlic. Tonssss of garlic. The only other spices are salt, pepper, and a smidge each of nutmeg and cayenne. The nutmeg adds a beautiful warmth; the small amount of cayenne adds great flavor but no heat.
Add the pasta in increments so that it is easier to stir in and get it all coated. It kind of tends to clump on you if you dump it in all at once.
Honestly we could just stop right here. Look at this beautiful fettuccine!
But how can we say no to this sear. YUMMMM. Bring on the chicken.
What goes with Chicken Alfredo?
Something green. You need something green to stand up to all these carbs! Salad, broccoli, asparagus, sautéed zucchini, roasted Brussels spouts, green beans, spinach salad, anything green. Or you could try carrots or cauliflower. You could even add some cooked broccoli straight into the pasta.
How to store Chicken Alfredo
Chicken Alfredo should be refrigerated in an airtight container. It will stay fresh in the fridge for a few days.
The only challenge is reheating it without causing the sauce to separate. I am good friends with my microwave, but it will give you noodles in a weird pile of greasy butter if you use it to reheat fettuccine Alfredo. Instead, heat up your desired portion in a saucepan or pot on low to medium heat, stirring gently, until it’s warm.
Do NOT try to freeze fettuccine Alfredo. Nothing good will come of it. The sauce will separate and you will not be able to preserve the sauce’s consistency.
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo FAQs
Look guys. I’m not going to lie to you. This is not a kale salad. This is Fettuccine Alfredo. Use heavy cream, skip dessert if you want, but don’t try to lighten it up by using milk. You will have a very thin and runny sauce that tastes NOTHING like Alfredo sauce should. If you want something lighter, and you like cauliflower, you can totally try my cauliflower version of Alfredo sauce. It’s delicious and has a lot less fat (again, it’s not Alfredo, but you probably will live longer).
Fettuccine Alfredo is just two things: fettuccine pasta and Alfredo sauce. Chicken Alfredo is three things: fettuccine pasta, Alfredo sauce, and pan-seared chicken. One can be eaten by vegetarians, one cannot. One is for the cheese lovers, the other is for the cheese AND meat lovers. The great thing about Fettuccine Alfredo is that it’s amazing with pretty much anything–so feel free to switch it up and make Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, or Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo, or Bacon Fettuccine Alfredo (health fanatics, just pretend you didn’t read that last one).
Alfredo sauce should be creamy and pourable, neither too thin nor too thick. If you dip a spoon into the sauce and it coats the back, it’s perfect. That means it will also coat your noodles instead of pooling at the bottom of your pan. This desired consistency is why we’re using heavy cream instead of something lighter (well, that and the fact that it tastes delicious).
That depends on who’s talking. Many people refer to Alfredo as “white sauce” but technically white sauce refers to a béchamel, which is a simple French sauce base made with butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper. A béchamel is often used as a base to create other sauces, like the cheese sauce in many macaroni and cheese recipes. Alfredo sauce does not include flour and is a finished sauce rather than a base.
If you’re pouring out a jar of Alfredo sauce from the grocery store, it will definitely be better warmed. If you’re making homemade Alfredo sauce (as in this recipe), you’ll be cooking it before you serve it over pasta, so it will already be heated.
More easy weeknight dinners you will love!
- Caulifredo Sauce (Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce) << this is a really delicious healthy alternative to today’s recipe!
- The Best Baked Ziti (Postpartum Ziti) << this is my favorite dish to bring to new moms! It’s SO good. Check the reviews!
- Greek Pasta with Chicken << a fun pasta dish with those Greek flavors you love!
- Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff << this white sauce is made with cream cheese. It’s delicious!
- 20 Minute Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet << this is one of my most popular recipes! Easy and delish.
- 30 Minute Pesto Penne with Chicken << Who doesn’t love a little chicken and pesto?
- White Lasagna with Chicken and Pesto << the only thing that competes with regular lasagna is white lasagna!
- Lemon Pasta with Ricotta and Fresh Peas << this one is very unique and flavorful!
- Caprese Pasta Salad from Created by Diane
- Creamy Shrimp Fettuccine from Diethood
- One Pot Creamy Beef Pasta from Butter Be Ready
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
For the chicken
- 2 large chicken breasts, (1.5 pounds)
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons oil, vegetable, canola, or light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the fettuccine
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for pasta water
- 12 ounces fettuccine
For the Alfredo sauce
- 3/4 cup butter, (1 and 1/2 sticks)
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- 2 cups heavy cream*
- 1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, adds flavor not heat
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 & 1/2 cups FINELY shredded block Parmesan cheese
- extra parmesan cheese, to garnish
- chopped parsley, to garnish
- Prepare the chicken. Use a sharp knife to slice each chicken breast in half horizontally, to create a thin cutlet. Start at the thick edge of the chicken breast. See photos. You should end up with 4 thin pieces of chicken that are the same shape as a chicken breast, just thinner.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Pat the chicken with paper towels on both sides until it is very dry. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the chicken on both sides, and rub in.
- Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium high heat for at least 3 minutes. When it is hot, add 2 tablespoons oil. Swirl to coat. The oil should shimmer right away.
- Carefully place the chicken in the pan. Once it touches the pan you can’t move it, so arrange accordingly. Do not crowd the chicken. If your pan isn’t big enough, do it in batches. Do not touch, poke, or move the chicken at all. It needs to stay put to get a nice sear.
- Once all the chicken is in the pan, lower the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes. If you try to flip the chicken and it sticks to the pan, it’s not ready to turn.
- Use tongs to flip each piece of chicken, swirling the pan as necessary to coat with oil. Immediately add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and swirl the pan as it melts. (The butter helps the chicken to brown, and brings flavor.) Cook the chicken on the second side for about 2 minutes, until the other side is a deep golden brown and a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Leave all juices in the pan. (Turn the heat off if you’re not ready to make the sauce yet)
- Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine. Fill a 3 quart pot with water. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. When it is at a rolling boil, add 12 ounces of fettuccine. Stir occasionally so the noodles don’t stick to each other. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are al dente (don’t over cook!) Drain the noodles, but be sure to save about a cup of the pasta water. Set it aside in a small bowl. Then add a drizzle of olive oil to the noodles and stir so that they don’t stick to each other. Set aside.
- Make the alfredo sauce. In the same pan that you cooked the chicken in, add 3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) over medium heat. Let it melt and bubble a bit (don’t let it brown), then add 5 cloves of smashed and minced garlic. Saute the garlic for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Slowly add 2 cups of cream while stirring. Take your time. Add 1 and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.
- Let the cream mixture cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until you see gentle bubbles on the side of the pan. Do not bring to a full boil; your sauce will break (meaning it will look curdled instead of smooth). Lower the heat to medium low.
- Finely shred 1 and 1/2 cups parmesan cheese using the finest grater. I do not recommend using pre shredded parmesan (and definitely not the powdered stuff). Pre-grated cheese will not melt as well, and your sauce will be clumpy.
- Add the cheese to the sauce just a few tablespoons at a time. Sprinkle some in and stir for a bit to help it melt, then add a bit more cheese, stir, etc. This will help the cheese to melt more thoroughly, making a smooth sauce.
- Once all the cheese is added in, taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as you like.
- Add the noodles in batches so that it all gets coated well in sauce. Add in about 1/3, stir to coat, the next 1/3, and so on.
- Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the chicken into strips against the grain. You can either plate the pasta and arrange the chicken on top to serve, or add the chicken to the pasta in the pan and stir it all together.
- If you have a wait a few minutes before serving, keep the heat on low and cover. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits, so to loosen it just before serving, add the reserved pasta water a couple tablespoons at a time, stirring well.
- Top each serving with extra parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of parsley!