If you love all things cheesy, creamy, and pasta, then you’re in the right place.
Oh, and garlic. Always and forever, garlic.
I think of fettuccine alfredo as kind of the grown-up version of macaroni and cheese. I mean, nothing could be better than that. It’s just elevated with salty parmesan cheese, cream, and in this case, garlic. The best kind of vegetarian dinner I can think of!
It’s everything beautiful and delicious, and now you can make it right at home for you and your honey (even if that honey is yourself) and indulge away in the land of cheesy noodles.
Fettuccine Ingredients for Two
Technically it says this recipe is for two, but I need you to know that if you are living the glorious single life doing what you want, when you want, eating whatever the heck you want because there’s no one else to consider, never fear, that this can quickly turn into fettuccine for one.
Either halve the ingredients or, if you’re like me, simply make it and eat it all because you have a never-ending love for pasta and cheese.
And if you need to make more? Go ahead and double the recipe. The versatility is a glorious thing!
Now that that’s out of the way… the beauty of this recipe is just how simple it is. Simple ingredients, simple steps, and not much time at all (like, really, under 20 minutes!).
Here’s what you need for this small-batch recipe:
- Fettuccine noodles: you know I’m always going to tout high-quality noodles, but it’s especially important in simple recipes like this one because the noodles SHINE. Looking to really up the game? Give homemade pasta noodles a try.
- Butter: I use a little extra butter in this recipe to make it extra luscious. Go with unsalted so you can adjust the salt levels yourself because parm is also going to add a lot of salt to the pasta.
- Half-and-half: a little untraditional, we’re using half-and-half as opposed to heavy cream in this recipe. Why? Because 1. extra butter. 2. I find it’s so much more versatile to have on hand anyway (i.e. in my coffee, too). and 3. you can absolutely use heavy cream if you want a thicker cream sauce here. It’s a beauty how you can really substitute ingredients for this one. Heck, even use whole milk if it’s what you have (although it will result in a thinner sauce).
- Grated Parmesan: Similar to my Creamy Garlic Pasta, I suggest using grated parmesan as opposed to shredded because it will melt into the sauce better.
- Use those fine pokey dots (technical term) on the box grater to grate the parmesan or buy freshly grated. Your second-best option is to finely shred fresh parmesan (especially don’t buy the pre-shredded for this recipe, but I highly recommend fresh over pre-shredded 100% of the time).
- Be sure you’re using vegetarian parmesan cheese if needed. Belgioiso and Whole Foods 365 both make vegetarian versions.
- Garlic: did you know not every fettuccine alfredo recipe has garlic? I think that’s blasphemy, personally. Every pasta should always have garlic. So it’s here. Don’t like it? Leave. Just kidding… leave the garlic out of the sauce, it’ll be fine.
- Pasta water: now, while technically not anything you need to prepare, do not drain your pasta and put the pure liquid gold down the drain! Pasta water is going to go into our sauce; the starches from the pasta in the liquid help the sauce stick to the noodles and creates the creamy, dreamy texture we’re going for.
How to Make Alfredo for Two
Cook your fettuccine noodles first. Now, this will differ depending on the kind you use (fresh vs dried) because the cook times will vary.
The important things to note about cooking the pasta:
- Salt your water. Do not, do not, oil it! The oil will prevent the sauce from sticking to the noodles.
- Cook it just under al dente because the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce and we do not want it overdone. Keep this in mind!
- The sauce won’t take long to come together. If using dried pasta, I start the sauce after I put the noodles in the boiling water, and cook them for about 8 minutes (reduced from package directions that say 11-14 minutes).
As the noodles cook, it’s time to start the sauce.
First, melt part of the butter over low heat, then add the garlic. Low heat is very important here (like, very, very) because we don’t want the butter or the garlic to burn. Cook the garlic for a few minutes until fragrant, and, you guessed it, keep it on low heat!!!
Next, in goes the half-and-half (or heavy cream if so choose!).
Make sure your cream is room temperature or lukewarm (you can zap it for 20ish seconds in the microwave if needed); this prevents it from shocking up.
Then it simmers away for a minute or two. Then add in the liquid gold pasta water. I literally take a glass measuring cup, dip it in my boiling pasta (that has been going for at least 5-6 minutes), and add it in. Whisk until combined and let simmer to thicken.
Then, the grated parmesan is added and whisked until smooth. The rest of the butter goes in for a silky, creamy sauce. As I mentioned, using grated parmesan will help the cheese incorporate into the sauce with a more smooth consistency.
Then the noodles! Add the noodles directly to the sauce, toss to combine, and let it all cook together for a minute or two until the noodles are al dente and everything has come together. You can add more pasta water if needed at this point.
Then, serve with more parmesan, chopped parsley for garnish, and a glass of wine! Easy as pie – well, homemade fettuccine pasta, really – and in under 20 minutes you’ve got an elegant, delicious dinner!
There are so many versions you can take with this recipe:
- Shrimp Alfredo: cook the shrimp with the garlic until it’s almost done, remove it and continue on with the pasta, then add it back in at the end with the noodles to heat back up.
- Chicken Alfredo: Similar to shrimp, you can cook the chicken beforehand. I would recommend cooking it before the butter and garlic stage, as it takes much longer for the chicken to cook. You can also bake the chicken, slice it, and add it on top. Or make life really easy and go with a rotisserie chicken, shredded, and added in.
- With broccoli: I personally love this pasta with roasted broccolini. You can also add florets (frozen or fresh) with the pasta water for the final few minutes to cook, and then toss it with the noodles and sauce as directed.
What should I serve with it?
Try one of these sides or add-ons to make dinner feel more complete (just don’t forget the wine!).
- Veggies – roasted broccolini or asparagus, a caesar salad, or a bright green spring vegetable salad.
- Seafood – seared scallops or firecracker shrimp would be delicious. Or, really up your game and try lobster with it.
- Meat – if you’re a meat eater or have one in your life, fettuccine would be great paired with a seared steak, sous vide chicken, or sous vide pork chops.
- Garlic bread or breadsticks – because let’s be honest, what isn’t better with garlic bread?
- Wine – I know I already mentioned it, but I figured I should throw some suggestions out there. Because this is a creamy, slightly “heavier” pasta dish, I recommend pairing it most with a crisp, slightly acidic white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc. You could go Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay too. And because above all, I say enjoy yourself, go with what feels right.
More Easy Date Night Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Garlic Pasta with Seared Scallops
- Creamy Red Wine Spaghetti
- Shrimp Scampi for Two
- Salmon Pesto Pasta with Corn
- 5 Ingredient Blistered Tomato Pasta
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Fettuccine Alfredo for Two
- 8 oz. (236 g) fettuccine noodles, high quality recommended
- 5 Tablespoon (74 g) unsalted butter, divided
- 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup (119 g) half-and-half, room temperature*
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more or less to taste
- ¼-½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup reserved pasta water, more depending on the sauce
- ½ cup (47 g) grated parmesan cheese*
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
- Fill a large stockpot with water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add fettuccine noodles, cooking a few minutes under package directions.8 oz. fettuccine noodles
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons (41g) of the butter on low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. Keep the heat low!6-8 garlic cloves
- Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half-and-half; add half of the salt and pepper. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, then add ½ cup of the pasta water. Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes until slightly reduced.½ cup half-and-half
- Add the grated parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, whisking until smooth and combined. Test the sauce for salt levels, adding more as needed.½ cup grated parmesan cheese*
- Add the pasta into the sauce and toss to combine. Let the pasta simmer for 1-2 minutes until al dente. If the sauce is too thick (which may be the case especially if you used heavy cream), add additional pasta water 1-2 tablespoons at a time to loosen, stirring between each addition.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley as desired.
- Cold half-and-half? Put it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. You want it to be lukewarm/room temperature so it doesn’t shock up when you put it in the skillet.
- Reheating? I don’t recommend it, but if you need to, I recommend reserving a bit of the pasta water and reheating it with 2-4 tablespoons of the pasta water on the stove over low-medium heat until heated through and the sauce has loosened.
- Possible add-ins: chicken, shrimp, or broccoli. See the blog post for more ideas!
- *Look for cheese specifically labeled vegetarian, if needed.