Chicken Alfredo Recipe

4.86 from 383 votes
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This classic chicken alfredo recipe features a creamy white sauce, tender protein, and long strands of pasta—It’s a reader favorite, with hundreds of rave reviews!

Chicken alfredo in a pan garnished with parsley.

Recipe Science

  • Cook chicken breasts evenly on the stovetop by slicing them into thinner cutlets to prevent raw or dried-out spots.
  • Simmering cream in the alfredo sauce thickens it naturally, concentrating the fat and proteins into a creamy, velvety texture.
  • Incorporate pasta water to enhance the alfredo sauce; its starches add viscosity, while the additional salt boosts the flavor profile.

Why It Works

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook chicken alfredo, you’re in the right place! This is an easy Italian dinner with gourmet results. Whenever I serve this pasta dish to my family, there are never any leftovers. It’s hard to resist the many wonderful flavors and textures that come together.

The creamy sauce uses simple ingredients, so you can skip buying the goopy jarred stuff. The garlic and cheese mixture is reduced on the stovetop until it is creamy, with just the right consistency to cling to fettuccine. Pan-seared chicken breasts can be tricky because of their odd shape and uneven thickness. To solve this problem, I cut the pieces into thin cutlets to ensure uniform cooking.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to make this chicken alfredo recipe.
  • Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The lean white meat cooks quickly on the stovetop. I season the surface with paprika, salt, and pepper to enhance the flavor.
  • Oil: Fruity olive oil is used to pan-sear the chicken breast.
  • Pasta: Chicken fettuccine alfredo is my top pairing. The long, flat pasta provides more surface area for the creamy cheese sauce to adhere to
  • Sauce: The alfredo sauce consists of butter, minced garlic, nutmeg, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. It’s so simple! Use heavy cream (also called heavy whipping cream) that contains at least 36% milk fat.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Chicken Substitutes: If you prefer dark meat, use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This recipe is great for using shredded leftover roasted chicken.
  • Pasta Options: Linguine is an alternative if you don’t like wide pasta. Other types of pastalike bucatini, penne, or cavatappi make delicious pairings. The holes in the center can trap the sauce inside for flavorful bites.
  • Cream Swaps: For a lighter sauce, use half-and-half or whipping cream. Alternatively, dilute some of the heavy cream with whole milk.
  • Cheese: Instead of parmesan, use Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
  • Seasoning: Add additional dried spices like onion or garlic powder for an allium flavor. Add my cajun seasoning to make it bold and spicy.
  • Herbs: Dried oregano or Italian seasoning adds herbaceous notes to the chicken. Garnish the dish with fresh basil.

How to Make Chicken Alfredo

Chicken breast slice in half into cutlets.

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

A quick slice lengthwise through the center of the chicken breast saves time and provides uniform pieces for even cooking.

Pro Tip: You can also flatten the chicken to about ½-inch thickness with a mallet or rolling pin. This technique can sometimes create a huge piece, so I recommend cutting it in half afterward to make it easier to cook.

Salt, pepper, and paprika mixed together in a white bowl.

Step 2: Season the Chicken

I keep the seasonings simple with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and sweet paprika.

Raw chicken cutlets with seasoning on their surface.

Season both sides of the chicken with the spice mixture evenly. A small amount of red spice creates a gorgeous golden-brown hue on the surface.

Experimentation Encouraged: Concentrated alliums like dried onion or garlic powder are excellent additions. For a stronger herbaceous note, sprinkle on dried Italian seasonings like oregano, thyme, and basil.

Pan searing chicken breasts in a skillet.

Step 3: Cook the Chicken

I use a quick pan-searing technique for the most flavorful and juicy chicken. I prefer a stainless steel pan which gives a nice sear, however, nonstick or cast iron will work. Cook over medium heat in hot olive oil. Don’t move it! Let it sit undisturbed until a flavorful brown crust forms on the surface. The process takes about 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Tips For Perfect Execution: The chicken is ready when it’s no longer pink and the center reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on an instant-read thermometer. Keep it covered to stay warm while you prepare the pasta and sauce. Slice it up right before serving.

Cooked fettuccine pasta being lifted out of a pot of water with metal tongs.

Step 4: Cook the Pasta

Boil the dried fettuccine noodles in a large pot of salted water. The agitation ensures that they cook evenly with minimal sticking. The noodles should be al dente in texture, cooking pasta with a slight chew in the center. If too much starch is released, the pasta will become mushy. It will also absorb too much sauce rather than just being coated by it.

Pro Tip: Drain, but save the pasta water! Use the salty, starchy water from boiling the fettuccine to thicken the sauce, enhance its savory flavor, and adjust its consistency for a lighter coating on the noodles. Start with 1 tablespoon, toss with the pasta, and add more if needed.

Minced garlic sauteing in a pan with chicken fond.

Step 5: Make the Alfredo Sauce

To make the homemade alfredo sauce, start by sauteing the minced garlic in melted butter.

A pan of heavy cream and seasonings being mixed with a spoon.

Add heavy cream with at least 36% milkfat and bring to a simmer with salt and pepper. In 10 minutes, the cream reduces to a velvety richness infused with garlic.

Metal spoon lifting creamy alfredo sauce from a pan.

Ingredient Chemistry: When about a third of the dairy liquid evaporates, the milk fat concentrates, allowing it to better cling to the noodles. The sauce will thicken further as it cools, with the fat globules firming up.

Grated parmesan cheese and nutmeg added to a pan of alfredo sauce.

Step 6: Add the Cheese

Add the cheese at the end to melt it in the cream mixture and prevent clumping. I highly recommend freshly grating it, which will dissolve quickly into the sauce. Stir in the nutmeg to add a sweet, spiced aroma.

I use hard, dry-aged Parmesan cheese to add a nutty, salty flavor to the cream sauce. The older the age, the more granular and pungent the taste.

Tongs mixing fettuccine with a creamy white sauce.

Step 7: Garnish and Serve

Add the fettuccini to the pan of alfredo sauce, tossing to coat the pasta evenly.

Slices of chicken served on top of fettuccine and alfredo sauce.

Slice the chicken and serve it on top. Garnish with chopped parsley as a finishing touch.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I add to chicken alfredo to make it taste better?

I keep the seasonings simple for the chicken—kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and sweet paprika for a golden hue. I add dried onion, garlic powder, and a sprinkle of robust Italian herbs like oregano, thyme, and basil for extra flavor. I use nutmeg to enhance the creamy taste of the sauce. The sweet spice balances the savory cheese.

Can I use other cuts of chicken?

You can use chicken thighs in the recipe if you prefer dark meat. You need not flatten or cut them in half—just season, pan-sear, and slice.

What is the best pasta to use for chicken alfredo?

Flat noodles have the most surface area for the cream sauce to stick to. Fettuccine is the most popular choice, but linguine works well. Tubular pasta like penne, cavatappi, or bucatini is nice for switching things up.

Is chicken alfredo healthy?

The chicken and cheese add a hearty amount of protein compared to just fettucini alfredo pasta to balance the dish. However, the cream is high in fat. Using whipping cream or half-and-half in the pasta recipe can provide a lighter-calorie sauce.

How do I make the sauce lighter?

Use whipping cream instead of heavy cream. It contains between 30 to 36% milkfat compared to at least 36% milkfat in heavy cream. It will give the alfredo sauce richness without being as heavy. Half-and-half will provide an even lighter sauce at around 12% fat, but keep an eye out for curdling as it contains more protein. I do not recommend using only whole milk unless adding in a roux to thicken, as there is not enough fat to thicken.

Serve This With

If you tried this Chicken Alfredo recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Chicken Alfredo

I love making chicken alfredo because it's a rich and indulgent Italian dish that never fails to impress.
4.86 from 383 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 quarts water
  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Chicken – Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise to create two cutlets. There should be four pieces in total.
  • Season the Chicken – In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and paprika. Evenly season both sides of the chicken with the mixture.
  • Cook the Chicken – Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until the surface is browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on a thermometer, about 5 to 7 minutes.
    Transfer to a clean plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove any burnt bits and save the pan to make the alfredo sauce.
  • Cook the Pasta – In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and stir to dissolve. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's directions. Use tongs to transfer to a colander. Reserve the starchy pasta water. While the pasta cooks, make the alfredo sauce.
  • Make the Alfredo Sauce – Heat the skillet used to cook the chicken over medium-low heat. Add butter. Once melted, add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Do not brown the butter or garlic.
    Add the heavy cream, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper, and stir to combine. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, frequently stirring, scraping the sides and bottom to make sure the cream does not curdle. Reduce the sauce to about 1 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. It should be lightly thickened, coating a spoon.
  • Add the Cheese and Nutmeg – Turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and nutmeg. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To Serve – Add the pasta to the alfredo sauce, gently tossing to combine. Slice the chicken against the grain into ½-inch thick pieces. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with sliced chicken and chopped parsley.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Make a Larger Batch: Double the sauce and noodle ingredients for four larger entree-sized portions. Reduce the sauce to 2 cups.
  • Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals and stir until hot. If needed, add some water to loosen the sauce.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 848kcal (42%)Carbohydrates 45g (15%)Protein 44g (88%)Fat 55g (85%)Saturated Fat 30g (150%)Polyunsaturated Fat 3gMonounsaturated Fat 17gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 280mg (93%)Sodium 1469mg (61%)Potassium 678mg (19%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 1920IU (38%)Vitamin C 4mg (5%)Calcium 390mg (39%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

Recipe Resources

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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65 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Irene Jacob says

    My husband and I loved this recipe. I added a little more pasta and cream and added steamed broccoli florets. I now have leftovers for a couple of more meals. Great flavor and your instructions were so easy to follow!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      So happy to here that you and your husband enjoyed the pasta recipe! I love that you added some broccoli, what a great idea!

  2. Pam says

    I made this recipe and it was great. The only thing I did different was to use salt substitute. I am a retired nurse and I gave up salt when I worked CCU. I want to say that I really appreciate how you tell why something will look that way or turn out that way – like it so much I ordered your cookbook on Amazon today! I usually look for cookbooks by registered dieticians but your background goes further into food which I found interesting. I only eat chicken, fish, seafood, and plant based meat substitutes and I have been finding good recipes on your site.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe and find the science resources helpful. I appreciate your support in purchasing my cookbook!

  3. Shauntelle says

    LOVED this recipe! Made it easy enough for my first time making Alfredo from scratch. I’m just a little confused on the portion sizing since it’s not really clear on the Nutrition Facts what a single serving is amount wise. But other than that I appreciate the recipe 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback! One serving is 4 ounces chicken, 2 ounces of cooked pasta, and 1/4 cup of the sauce.

  4. Gillian Waddleton says

    A little bit too salty but maybe because I needed to add quite a bit of pasta water. Otherwise it was absolutely delicious and I’ll definitely make it again!

  5. Brianna says

    Fantastic! The best Alfredo I’ve made and maybe even beats my favorite restaurant. This is my first recipe from your blog and now I need to check out everything else you have. Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great job, Brianna! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the alfredo recipe. Let me know what you decide to make next!

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