Picture this: The subtle crunch of freshly cracked black pepper and the bright note of parsley provide a festive contrast to the velvety sauce, while the fettuccine, perfectly al dente, ensures a satisfying chewiness that invites you to slow down and savor every bite – sounds too good to be true?
What if I told you it was also incredibly easy and fast to make? It’s perfect for any time of the year, but especially for the holiday season – simply because it’s so easy to make.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time for the Sauce: 5-10 minutes
Pasta Cooking Time: Usually around 10-12 minutes for al dente
If you’re making everything concurrently, you can have your Alfredo sauce simmering as the pasta cooks to be done even faster.
Total Time: Approximately 25-35 minutes from start to finish for this festive dish.
How to Make Italian Christmas Fettuccine with Alfredo Sauce
Handful of simple Ingredients:
- 1 lb fettuccine pasta
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves (for color and garnish)
Optional for an extra festive crunch:
- Optional – 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts for crunch
- Optional – 1/2 cup dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds for a pop of festive color and sweetness
- Optional – Grilled chicken strips or sautéed shrimp for protein
- Pasta – Any long pasta like spaghetti, linguine, or gluten-free pasta
- Heavy Cream – Full-fat coconut milk, half-and-half, or mixture of milk and cream
- Butter – Salted butter, vegan butter, or ghee
- Parmesan Cheese – Asiago, Grana Padano, or for a vegan option nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan
- Garlic – Garlic powder
- Nutmeg – It can be omitted or replaced with a pinch of allspice
- Parsley – Fresh basil or dried parsley
- Pine Nuts or Walnuts – Toasted almonds, pecans, or even pumpkin seeds
- Dried Cranberries or Pomegranate Seeds – Chopped dried apricots or cherries.
- Protein – Pan-seared scallops, flaked smoked salmon or for a vegetarian option, try roasted chickpeas or sautéed mushrooms.
Step 1: Cook fresh fettuccine according to the package instructions in a large pot of boiling salted water (teaspoon of salt is enough) until al dente – then drain and set aside.
Tip: Make sure to save a little pasta water to thin the sauce, just in case.
Step 2: While the pasta cooks, heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat until the butter melts, then add the minced garlic and sauté for about 2-3 minutes until it’s fragrant but not browned (super important!)
Step 3: Pour in the heavy cream, and bring the mixture to a low simmer – here, I like to stir it first for a bit before just letting it simmer to make sure all the aroma of the garlic is well mixed.
Just be careful not to let it boil, otherwise you may have the dairy separating itself.
Step 4: Reduce the heat to low and gradually whisk in the grated Parmesan cheese until the sauce is smooth and creamy – scrape the bottom of the pan well here.
Tip: If the sauce is too thick, add a little of the pasta water that you saved until you reach your desired consistency.
Step 5: Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the parsley, and add the optional nuts and dried fruit at this step, if you’re using it – if you want something fresh to balance the richness of the sauce, add some lemon juice to it.
Step 6: Add the cooked fettuccine to the sauce, tossing gently with tongs until the pasta is well coated.
Step 7: If you’re adding chicken or shrimp, place the protein on top of the pasta before serving it.
Note: If you’re using any protein, I recommend cooking it separately first where you first marinate it to your liking and then fry it in a skillet until browned. Then add it to the finished dish or the sauce right before serving.
Serve this delicious dish hot and garnished with extra Parmesan cheese, nuts, and a sprinkle of the festive cranberries or pomegranate seeds on top to wow anyone – including yourself!
This recipe will turn out amazing on its own, however, you may want some of these tips to make your life easier when cooking it:
- Pasta water – As mentioned before, you always want to save some pasta water just in case you need to thin out your sauces more as the starchy water adjusts the consistency quickly.
- Parmesan – For the creamiest sauce, grate your Parmesan cheese finely and add it to the sauce off the heat – doing it yourself will get you the creaminess you’re looking for as pre shredded cheese often contains anti-caking agents that can make your sauce grainy.
- Low and slow, keep it steady – As with all Italian dishes, when cooking the sauce, keep the heat low and let it simmer for longer periods of time. High heat can cause the dairy to separate and the sauce to become oily. Don’t forget to stir continuously as it thickens and you may burn the pan!
- Flavors – For an aromatic touch, infuse the cream with herbs like thyme or rosemary by simmering them in the cream for a few minutes, then remove before adding the cheese (this is my personal favorite secret ingredient!).
Finally, serve the pasta on a warm plate to keep it hot longer and garnish with extra grated Parmesan – sprinkle some herbs for a festive presentation.
What to Serve this Dish With
Looking to make this a multi-course dish? No worries! Here are some of our favorite pairings.
- Bruschetta – Tomato and basil bruschetta can offer a light and fresh start before the rich main course.
- Antipasto Platter – A selection of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and marinated vegetables for guests to nibble on.
- Vegetable Sides – Roasted asparagus, sautéed green beans, or a light broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic can add a needed touch of brightness and texture contrast.
- Salads – A crisp green salad with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing to cut through the richness of the Alfredo sauce. Something like an arugula salad with a lemon-parmesan dressing could be perfect.
- Bread – Crusty Italian bread or garlic bread for sopping up any remaining sauce.
- Sorbet – A lemon or raspberry sorbet can cleanse the palate after a creamy pasta dish.
- Tiramisu – For a truly indulgent meal, a slice of tiramisu can round off the dining experience.
- White Wine – A crisp dry white wine like Pinot Grigio can complement the creamy sauce.
- Cocktail – Refresh yourself with a traditional aperol spritz that compliments the entire course.
- Sparkling Water – With a slice of lemon or lime, it offers a refreshing counterpoint to the rich main dish.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Got questions? We’ve got the answers!
Can I make Alfredo sauce in advance for Christmas dinner?
Yes! You can prep the Alfredo sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Once you’re ready to eat it just reheat gently on the stove, adding a little cream or milk if the sauce has thickened too much – enjoy!
How can I make my Alfredo sauce thicker?
The first best way to thicken your sauce is by using pasta water, however, if you don’t have any, you can also add more grated Parmesan cheese, which will naturally thicken the sauce as it melts.
For a dairy-free option, consider using cornstarch slurry.
Is it possible to make Fettuccine Alfredo sauce without cheese?
Yes! While the traditional sauce needs cheese, you can make a roux with flour and olive oil and then whisk in a dairy-free milk substitute like nutritional yeast or a vegan cheesePrint