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Homemade Alfredo Sauce with Milk

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Looking for a light Alfredo sauce that doesn’t skimp on flavor? Then make this delicious Homemade Alfredo Sauce With Milk! The sauce is perfectly cheesy and creamy and requires no heavy cream at all!

Pasta in alfredo sauce on a fork.

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Everyone loves alfredo sauce! A simple fettucini alfredo is such a delicious dish that even the pickiest of eaters will gobble up. But sometimes it sits a little heavy and it can be a bit rich for the kiddos. That’s why this version works. It gives you a flavorful and super creamy pasta sauce but without the heavy cream weighing you down. Instead, this sauce uses whole milk as part of a flour roux to get that thick creaminess we love in American Alfredo.

Did you know that creator Alfredo di Lelio (yes, there was a real Alfredo!) did not use cream, milk, or flour in his original 1908 recipe?  The real Alfredo sauce was a simple buttery sauce and fresh parmesan cheese! Cream, milk, and flour are completely American additions.
My goal was to create a simple recipe for a lighter, but still creamy alfredo sauce that tasted better than the store-bought jar versions. Not only does this recipe deliver all the deliciousness of a traditional alfredo, but it stores and reheats beautifully too.  It’s a cheesy, creamy sauce that you’ll make again and again for more than just fettuccine. 

A plate of fettuccine alfredo on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Homemade Alfredo Sauce

  • An easy dinner idea and comes together in less than 15 minutes.
  • It’s lighter than traditional Alfredo sauce but with all the same great flavor.
  • The sauce is smooth, creamy, cheesy, and reheats perfectly!

Inspired by the classic Italian sauce, this easy recipe is just as flavorful, and made without any heavy whipping cream! It’s perfect for anything from a simple weeknight meal to a fancy date night dish.

Ingredients for Alfredo Sauce with Milk

This easy Alfredo sauce recipe uses simple ingredients to achieve the best results.

Ingredients for Alfredo Sauce.
  • Unsalted Butter – If all you have is salted butter, decrease the amount of salt in the recipe
  • All Purpose Flour – The flour combined with the butter thickens the milk into a luscious and creamy white sauce.
  • Whole Milk – Warmed, to decrease the risk of separation in the sauce. 
  • Minced Fresh Garlic Cloves – For added flavor and to help cut the richness of the cheese and milk. 
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese – Shred the parmesan yourself. I use a flat cheese grater for this job. The pre-grated cheese doesn’t melt as well.
  • Salt and black pepper 

Step-By-Step Instructions

Flour added to butter and garlic in a black pan.

Step 1

Add the butter and minced garlic to a 2 quart or larger saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour to make a roux.

Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly to cook out the flavor of raw flour.

Cooking a roux in a black pan.

Step 2

Slowly add the milk in three additions. 

Tip: At first, when the milk hits the roux, it will ball up like dough, that’s what you want.

milk added to the roux in a black pan with a whisk.

As you add more milk, the mixture will turn into a paste, and then with the last addition of milk, turn into a thin smooth, and silky sauce.

Black pot filled with sauce, with whisk.

Whisk continuously making sure the sauce is smooth after each addition of milk. 

Alfredo sauce in a black pot with a whisk.

Step 3 

Turn the burner up to medium-high heat and bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously to prevent scorching. Adjust the heat if necessary. Gently simmer for 45-60 seconds until the sauce is slightly thickened, Add in the salt and pepper.

Parmesan cheese sauce in a black pot with a whisk.

Step 4

Remove the white sauce from the heat. Add the parmesan in two batches. Whisk the first batch in slowly and let it completely melt before adding the second batch of cheese. 

Close up of alfredo sauce in a pot with a whisk.

Step 5

Give a final whisk to make sure the sauce is completely smooth. The sauce will have thickened quite a bit, but will still be pourable (you can add a little more milk if the cheese sauce is too thick to pour).

Noodles in an alfredo sauce in a black pot.

Step 6

Give the cheese sauce a taste and season with more salt, pepper, and garlic powder if needed.

Substitutions 

  • Milk: 2% milk or almond milk also works in this recipe. They will make the sauce a little thinner.
  • Parmesan: Swap some of the parmesan cheese for Romano cheese or asiago cheese to give the sauce a bold and peppery flavor.
  • Garlic: If you don’t have fresh or minced garlic on hand, omit the garlic altogether or swap the garlic cloves for a teaspoon of garlic powder.

Variations

  • Fold in 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic cloves for extra flavor.
  • Stir in diced tomatoes for a burst of freshness.
  • Add a little Italian seasoning or fresh herbs for an addition of color and flavor.
Pasta in a sauce in a black pot.

Tips & Tricks for the Best Alfredo Sauce

Follow these simple instructions to ensure the best homemade Alfredo sauce recipe results.

  • The milk should be added in 3 portions. This helps prevent lumps and makes for a creamier sauce.
  • The parmesan needs to be freshly shredded off the block for this recipe. Pre-shredded or grated cheese doesn’t give you a smooth and creamy texture like fresh parmesan will.
  • Add the cheese off the heat and in portioned additions. This will keep the sauce from splitting during the cooking process and the cheese will melt in smoothly.
  • Warming the milk first is optional, but it does make the sauce cook faster!

Serving Suggestions

Tongs holding up fettuccine alfredo over a plate.

The classic choice for this delicious Alfredo sauce is to toss it with some fettucini until it’s well coated and serve with some garlic bread and a fresh salad. But here are some other great suggestions you and the family will love:

TIP: Add grilled chicken, lobster, or shrimp to your homemade fettuccine Alfredo for a great protein option.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight, well-sealed container. Stored properly, leftover sauce should be at its best for 3-4 days

You can freeze leftover sauce as well. Place completely cooled sauce in a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen Alfredo will be good for up to 2 months. 

Alfredo sauce in a jar with basil and garlic around.

How to Reheat

Reheat leftover Alfredo sauce on the stove in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat stirring constantly as it warms. Add a little splash of milk sparingly if it needs to be thinned out a little.

You can also reheat sauce in the microwave on 75% power for 2-3 minutes until completely warmed through. Stir well before serving.

Hint: the sauce will be very thick after chilling, but will thin out as it reheats.

FAQs

How do you thicken alfredo sauce with milk?

To thicken Alfredo sauce with regular milk, combine it with the melted butter and some flour to create a roux that will thicken your Alfredo sauce.

Is Alfredo sauce made of milk?

Authentic Italian Alfredo sauce doesn’t use milk or cream. In America, Alfredo sauce is usually made with heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and butter. Whole milk is often used as a substitute ingredient for the heavy cream.

What can I add to Alfredo sauce to make it better?

Flavorful additions to Alfredo sauce include basil and oregano, fresh cracked black pepper, minced garlic or garlic powder, or even a little infused olive oil or pesto whisked in as the sauce thickens.

Is Alfredo sauce made from a roux?

Traditional Alfredo sauce is not made with a roux, but it has become one of the main ingredients in American Alfredo to thicken the sauce easily without sacrificing flavor.

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Tongs holding up fettuccine alfredo over a plate.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce Without Heavy Cream

Yield: 3 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 21 minutes

Creamy and flavorful homemade Alfredo sauce made without heavy cream! This recipe is made with milk and a roux for a smooth and creamy texture and full of nutty parmesan for authentic flavor!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 6 oz parmesan cheese, freshly shredded*
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. In a 2 quart or larger saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat with the minced garlic.
  2. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. This will help cook out the taste of raw flour.
  3. Slowly add the milk in 3 additions. Whisk continuously making sure the sauce is smooth after each addition of milk.
    Tip: When the milk first hits the roux, it will ball up like dough, that's what you want. As you add more milk, the mixture will turn into a paste, and then with the last addition of milk, turn into a thin smooth sauce.
  4. Turn the burner up to medium-high heat and bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Turn the heat down if necessary to prevent burning. Gently simmer for 45-60 seconds until slightly thickened, Add in the salt and pepper. 
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat. Working in two batches, add in the shredded parmesan. Whisk the cheese in slowly allowing the first batch to melt completely before adding the second batch.
  6. Whisk until the sauce is completely smooth. The sauce will have thickened quite a bit, but will still be pourable (you can add a little more milk if the cheese sauce is too thick to pour).
  7. Give the Alfredo sauce a taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Notes

*Shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded or grated cheese. It will melt better and give you a smoother sauce.

**See the blog post for storage and reheating instructions.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 7 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 576mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 11g

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