Fettuccine Alfredo Original Recipe


Did you know that the original Fettuccine Alfredo recipe contains no cream? Neither did I. It turns out that the original recipe is made with just three ingredients: Fettuccine, butter, and Parmesan cheese.

Legend has it that the recipe was created by Alfredo Di Lelio in 1908. Alfredo was a restaurateur who was concerned about his wife’s well being after she gave birth to their firstborn son. He tried all sorts of dishes to help her regain her strength. One of these was flat noodles mixed with butter and cheese. His wife Ines ate the dish with gusto and recovered, then suggested he add the dish to the family restaurant's menu.

The dish was a hit at the restaurant. The fame of fettuccine all’Alfredo spread first locally and then to the rest of the gastronomical world. With his wild mustache he himself became a celebrity, as famous as the stars he posed with for photos, always holding a handful of fettuccine trying to stuff the face of his famous victims.

For some reason, when this recipe was imported to America, it was changed to a cream sauce from the original butter sauce. This is more bechamel sauce than Alfredo’s butter sauce. I am not sure why that happened but I recently tried the original recipe and I like it a lot. You should give it a try sometime. Paired with a green salad it makes a perfect weeknight meal.

Fettuccine Alfredo - Original Recipe


  • 1 lb. dried fettuccine

  • 1⁄2 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)

  • 1⁄2 lb. finely grated Parmesan (about 3 1⁄4 cup)


Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut butter into thin pats and transfer to a large, warmed platter. Drain pasta, reserving 3⁄4 cup pasta water, and place the pasta over the butter on the platter.

Sprinkle some of the grated Parmesan over the pasta and drizzle with 1⁄4 cup of the reserved pasta water.

Using a large spoon and fork, gently toss the pasta with the butter and cheese, lifting and swirling the noodles and adding more pasta water as necessary. (The pasta water will help create a smooth sauce.) Work in any melted butter and cheese that pools around the edges of the platter. Add more cheese a handful at a time and continue to mix the pasta until the cheese and butter have fully melted and the noodles are coated, about 3 minutes.

Serve the fettuccine immediately on warmed plates.

NOTE: This may seem like a lot of butter. You can cut down on the butter if you wish (try it with 1 stick instead of 2). But I made this as directed and did not think it was over the top.

recipesMichael Liss