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Cookery: Butterless Alfredo Sauce

Ah… this is a nostalgic recipe. It takes me all the way back to one of my very first kitchen experiments.

As a young child, I was always very much an Italian at heart (although I have none in my family history). I used to follow Emeril Lagasse’s Alfredo recipe almost to the tee. But at some point, I must have gotten fed up with the shallot… or the obnoxious amount of butter. I decided to do something practically unheard of: I decided to make Alfredo without butter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How can this be? Alfredo without butter? You’re absurd!” On the contrary, I find Butterless Alfredo to be quite delectable. A friend who had tried both recipes said it was better than Emeril’s, but taste is quite an individual thing. This slightly healthier Alfredo sauce does not separate in the microwave thanks to my ingenious use of olive oil, which is liquid at room temperature (as opposed to butter, which is solid).

This has been my greatest secret for several years, and here I go publishing it on the internet. It’s too good to keep to myself, and it is positively better than anything I have had from a jar. It’s not rocket science, people… quit putting paste on your pasta!

I’ve put the “economy sized” batch up (serves 2-3 people), but doubling the recipe works better for larger groups.


2 tbsp. olive oil

1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic (or 2-3 cloves)

1/8 cup flour

1/8 cup olive oil

1 cup half and half (or heavy cream, if you prefer)

4 oz grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup milk


  1. In a sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and garlic. Cook for five minutes or until garlic starts turning golden.
  2. Add the remaining oil and flour to make a roux. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until flour turns golden.
  3. Whisk in half and half. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Whisk in Parmesan cheese gradually (I usually split it into 3-4 smaller portions) until sauce becomes creamy.
  5. If necessary, and only if necessary, add some milk to thin the sauce out to a more (for lack of a better word) saucy consistency.
  6. Serve over the pasta of your choice. I personally like whole-wheat linguini, but penne is also good (because the ridges hold the sauce).

This is a pretty versatile sauce in my opinion. It is possible to add some white wine instead of milk to do the thinning. I’ve also done this recipe with chicken and mushrooms, and it was delicious. Fresh parsley is a nice garnish, as is more Parmesan, and if it isn’t salty enough, then it can be salted and peppered to taste.


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