Fettuccine Alfredo’s lighter cousin

A dish of fettuccine pasta with a lighter version of Alfredo sauce
Not quite Fettuccine Alfredo, but still very good

This recipe is similar to Fettuccine Alfredo, but is a much lighter version, without all of the butter and cream of the original.

I am always reluctant to call my pasta dishes by their popular names, because by the time I have finished messing with them, they are so far removed from the original that no self-respecting Italian would recognise them as such. So my version of Spaghetti Carbonara is never called such, because I usually add cream and mushrooms to the basic egg/cheese/bacon mix.

This version of Fettuccine Alfredo is in search of a new name as we speak. The original is a high fat, high calorie delight, full of butter, cream and cheese. It’s delicious, and fine as an occasional treat but not really the sort of thing you’d want to feed to your family on a regular basis.

My version is much lighter, and on its own would be fine to use as a quick lunch. If you want to boost the protein content, then you could serve some chicken alongside – I like to simply steam some chicken breasts but roast or griddled chicken would work as well.

If you wanted to make it even lighter, you could use low-fat greek yoghurt rather than creme fraiche, but remember to remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for a minute or two before you add the yoghurt. This should prevent the yoghurt from curdling, which can happen if you add it to hot liquid.

I’ve used fettuccine pasta here, because it’s the traditional shape of pasta for the original recipe. But I’m sure that Alfredo wouldn’t mind you using tagliatelle, linguine, pappardelle – any of the flat ribbon pasta. After all, what’s one more alteration to the recipe?

Updated 05/11/13 – After I published this post on 04/11/13, I received a comment from Ines di Lelio, whose grandfather invented the original dish. The comment is published below, and includes some of the history of Fettucine Alfredo, which is still served at ‘Il Vero Alfredo’ in Rome.


Fettuccine Alfredo’s lighter cousin (serves 4)

250g fettuccine or other ribbon pasta
1 tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
150ml hot chicken stock (I use Knorr Touch of Taste)
75g grated Parmesan cheese
250ml low fat creme fraiche
Salt and black pepper
Handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and cook your pasta according to its instructions.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and add the butter. This is just a small amount, but does add a buttery flavour to the dish. If you prefer, you could substitute olive or rapeseed oil.

When the butter has melted, add the crushed garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Pour in the hot chicken stock and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the cheese and stir into the stock until melted, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche.

Return the pan to the heat and stir for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the cooking water first, and then toss with the sauce. If it looks like the sauce needs a little loosening, use a small amount of the cooking water.

Serve with flat leaf parsley and an extra grating of Parmesan, if you wish.

2 thoughts on “Fettuccine Alfredo’s lighter cousin

  1. Ines Di Lelio says:


    With reference of your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “fettuccine all’Alfredo” in 1908 in restaurant run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome, after leaving the restaurant of his mother Angelina.
    In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by his nephew Ines, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo” http://www.ilveroalfredo.it, which also contains information on franchising.
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong to the family tradition of “Il Vero Alfredo” in Rome.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    • Sally Akins says:

      Hi Ines, thanks for your comment. It’s interesting to read some of the history of the original dish, and I will update the article shortly to include a link to ‘Il Vero Alfredo’. I have never visited Rome, but if I do, I will try and pay the restaurant a visit!

      Thanks again for commenting, Sally

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