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.

sliced pieces of cooked chicken in a pan of creamy pasta.
Table of Contents
  1. Why you’ll love this Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
  2. Chicken Alfredo Ingredients
  3. How to make Chicken Alfredo
  4. Best Chicken Alfredo Recipe Tips
  5. What goes with Chicken Alfredo?
  6. How to store Chicken Alfredo
  7. Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo FAQs
  8. More easy weeknight dinners you will love!
  9. 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?

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close up picture of sliced chicken in creamy Alfredo sauce.

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!)

creamy fettuccine in a pan being lifted with tongs.

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.

overhead picture of chicken alfredo in a pan.

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
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream (not coffee creamer, not half and half, but legit heavy whipping cream)
  • Fettuccine pasta
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 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:

  1. Slice your chicken horizontally into cutlets. Pat them dry.
  2. Season the cutlets with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  3. 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.

  1. First we need to sear our chicken. Start by slicing your chicken in half horizontally into cutlets, like this:
how to slice chicken breasts into cutlets.
Slice the chicken with a sharp knife and avoid sawing, which will shred your chicken; not what we want.
chicken cutlets patted dry with paper towels.
Once you have your chicken sliced into cutlets, pat each one thoroughly with a paper towel to get it completely dry.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
pan seared chicken cutlets.
  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
melting butter in a pan.
  1. 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!
smashing and mincing garlic.
Here’s how I like to smash each clove, peel, then mince.

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.

adding parmesan to Alfredo sauce.

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.

adding pasta in increments to fettuccine Alfredo.

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.

creamy fettuccine Alfredo in a pan from overhead.

Honestly we could just stop right here. Look at this beautiful fettuccine!

close up of sliced chicken on fettuccine Alfredo.

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.

And fresh bread is always a good idea, like this One Hour French Bread or The Best Garlic Bread of Your Life, to mop up all that Alfredo sauce!

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.

cooked chicken with Alfredo sauce and pasta.

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo FAQs

Is heavy cream or milk better for Alfredo?

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).

What is the difference between Chicken Alfredo and Fettuccine Alfredo?

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). 

Should alfredo sauce be thin or thick?

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). 

Is white sauce and Alfredo sauce the same thing?

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. 

Do you heat up Alfredo sauce before putting it on pasta?

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!

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Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

4.82 from 183 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
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!

Ingredients

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

  • water
  • 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

To garnish

  • extra parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • chopped parsley, to garnish

Instructions

  • 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!

Video

Notes

*Heavy cream is usually sold near the milk at the store. It is sometimes called whipping cream. The different names refer to different fat content levels. (Any type of cream will do for this recipe. The higher the fat content, the richer your sauce will be.) Heavy cream is not coffee creamer. It is the thick, rich part of milk that rises to the top when you milk a cow. Those of you who know what cream is think it is odd that I am explaining this, but it is one of my most-asked questions when I post a recipe involving cream!

Nutrition

Calories: 1419kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 105g | Saturated Fat: 59g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 32g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 435mg | Sodium: 4473mg | Potassium: 806mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3372IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 580mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 1419
Keyword: alfredo, chicken, fettuccine, homemade, pasta
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Karen,

    I have made this a couple times before and it was delicious!! The ultimate test was sharing it with friends who love d it so much as well thank you! By the way your stories are the best they make me laugh ever single time. I bet you hear that all the time right?? :) In my opinion you could totally take on a career as a comedian as well as a chef. Your batting a thousand as you have great food and are equally as funny good work! Have a great week ahead

    1. Hi Denise! No, you shouldn’t freeze this. Alfredo sauce will separate if you try to freeze it, even if it’s vacuum sealed. Fortunately this comes together quickly so you can just make it fresh. Enjoy!

  2. Wow! Such rave reviews! Going to try this tonight. A few bites of leftover smoked salmon in my fridge, so might add those to a separate bowl IN ADDITION to the chicken for true indulgence. Will be my first time making Alfredo sauce. Thx for the insp!

  3. 5 stars
    Today, I made this dish for the first time ever. At the table, my husband needed a minute alone with his bowl of pasta 🤣 and my autistic child loudly pronounced this had dethroned blue box mac ‘n’ cheese from the top of their list of favorite foods. Thank you so much for sharing such an awesome recipe!

    1. A moment alone!! Bahahaha!! And I’m so glad the blue box has been dethroned but also sad that dinner for your kid no longer takes 5 minutes 😂 thank you so much for commenting rachael!!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! I thought the sauce wouldn’t turn out as good as it did! But if you’re feeding a family of 5, double the recipe for more sauce! I give it a 10/10!

  5. 4 stars
    Seems a tad excessive compared to my recipe

    I leverage Penne for the surface area.

    French technique: Coconut oil roux, garlic, black pepper, then add pasta water slowly each time it seizes, and maybe 1/2c – 2/3c of coffee cream (18%)

    Then lots of fine grated parm reggiano

    Toss almost cooked penne in the sauce for a few minutes. Turn off heat. Plate and finish the pasta with some fleur del

    I often use a rotisserie chicken. Warm up if needed with a tiny bit of water and Lawry’s seasoning salt on skin & black pepper in a baking pan

    I broil/salamander the final warming time to ensure I get cracklin’ skin

    This is the key :) You cut up with shears the chicken and lay on plated Alfredo

    The skin cut in small cubes/chunks, more parm and black pepper used for topping

    You’ll love the texture and flavor hit that elevate this from a 4 to a 5

    And you won’t need much fat tbh… there’s so much flavor sel prior

    1. Sounds delish, but I’m missing a few things here.

      Could you walk me step-by-step through the French technique, all from how to make the coconut oil roux to when to add each ingredient to make the alfredo? How do you know how much water to add? And then you add the creamer after the water?

      Googled but couldn’t find fleur del. What’s that?

      Thx in advance, J.

      1. I heat a couple tablespoons of coconut oil till hot, then dust in maybe 3 TBSP of flour and let it cook for 3-5 min. Don’t burn, and you can do the roux to a dark blonde or darker for nuttier flav.

        Pasta water in splashes to eventually thin out a bit, cream at the very end

        Fleur de Sel is French sea (marsh) salt that’s used for finishing. Fairy pricy but used to sparingly

        💚

    1. Hi Krista! Alfredo sauce is best made fresh. It comes together in no time, so it usually isn’t too much trouble to make the same day. I do reheat leftovers, but I can’t promise you’ll have a perfect consistency. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Alyson! Pre-shredded Parmesan doesn’t work well in Alfredo sauce, because the shredded cheese is coated with an anti-clumping agent (nothing sinister, it’s like, potato starch) by the manufacturer. Get the block and shred your own–I promise you won’t regret it! The flavor is incredible. Enjoy!

        1. Parmigiana Reggiano and Parmesan are the same thing–except that by law, Parmigiana Reggiano can ONLY be made in Italy. Parmesan in the same cheese made outside of Italy. Both will work great in this recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    This is the best recipe for Alfredo I’ve found! My kids love it and they request it weekly! Thank you!

    1. Hi Scott! Heavy cream is the same as heavy whipping cream. You definitely want to use cream, not milk, to get the rich taste and texture of classic Alfredo sauce. Enjoy!

  7. Hi! This sounds delicious! I’m making it Christmas Eve for a crowd. How do I put everything together and keep it warm. I was thinking about a 9×13 dish. I’m making a pan of lasagna as well. Thank you!

    1. Hi Lynne! This sounds like a delicious Christmas Eve dinner. Keeping fettuccine Alfredo warm can be very tricky–nigh impossible. Now the lasagna on the other hand, that’s an easy one! I recommend that you prepare your lasagna, cover it with tinfoil, and keep it in a 200 degree oven while you prepare the chicken fettuccine Alfredo. Once it’s ready, call everybody in! The challenge is that the cream and butter in the Alfredo sauce can separate, which of course you don’t want. Your Christmas Eve crowd is lucky to have you cooking for them. I hope everything turns out wonderfully! Enjoy :-)

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