How To Thicken Alfredo Without Affecting The Flavor (Updated)
Many of us are Fettuccine Alfredo big fans, and the biggest problem of making this dish at home is always about the sauce. There are thousands of recipes for how to thicken Alfredo sauce. However, it seems to me that they just make the sauce has milky consistency and gets cold. So, what we want is a creamy sauce serving with the piping hot pasta. This writing will thus offer 5 simple and proven ways to thicken the Alfredo sauce. And the best part is, they do not have any alteration to the taste.
The Basic Alfredo
What you need (for 1 pound pasta)
- 2 cups of Parmesan cheese (freshly grated one)
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 stick butter
- Salt and ground pepper
How to thicken Alfredo sauce
- First, mix the butter and the cream, and pour them into the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and warm the mixture.
- Now as the mixture starts to melt, place half of the Parmesan cheese into a large bowl and pour the mixture of cream and butter over the top.
- However, the key to making a thick sauce here is that you can use the pasta itself as a thickening agent. So make sure that you drain the pasta before and pour it into the mixing bowl while the mixture is still hot.
- Also, you can stir the pasta with the mixture on medium flame to ensure the final result is served hot. Finally, pour the pasta into serving dishes and serve immediately as the main course.
The Power Of Cornstarch
You all may know that pasta cooked water contains starch. Thus, this liquid is normally used to thin the Alfredo sauce. Meanwhile, the starch helps to maintain the flavor and thicken the sauce when it cools down.
Since different cooking method will result in different amount of pasta cooking water, using powdered cornstarch is more advisable. So, what you need is just a teaspoon of powdered cornstarch then add slowly it right when the sauce is simmering.
A tip to ensure the starch will not curdle in your sauce is to mix it with a little bit of water or unsweetened milk. Then, add this mix to the sauce and stir constantly.
More than anything, this starch is very likely to clump when exposed to hot liquid. Remember that stirring is essential for this method because it avoids the formation of lumps.
Tapioca Powder – Less Common But More Effective
Tapioca is somehow like starch, but it is derived from cassava plants’ roots. To thicken Alfredo sauce with Tapioca, the powder form should be in use, as it dissolves more quickly than the granules. However, Tapioca is not easy to find as cornstarch. You can usually find it in the health-food stores.
Contrast to cornstarch, which may cause a translucent shimmer to the sauce; Tapioca fillings are crystal clear. But if you use instant Tapioca Granules, they don’t completely dissolves and thus linger in pie fillings. As compared to cornstarch, tapioca power has stronger thickening power.
Specifically, Tapioca can hold the liquid; thus, the sauce will not weep when frozen or reheated. However, Tapioca cannot withstand a lot of stirring and boiling. As a result, the sauce thickened with Tapioca should be served immediately as the main course.
- For best result, you should mix the Tapioca powder with the mixture of butter and cream before heating them.
Either, you can mix the powder with a tablespoon of water before pouring it into the sauce. Consequently, it will make the sauce’ texture creamier without any lump.
Flour – The Traditional Thickener
Flour is cheap, but more importantly, it has no taste that goes along the way. Thus, adding flour will not only thicken the sauce but also remain the original taste of the dish. In fact, most restaurants use wheat flour heavily for these purposes.
Also, flour is versatile, and it seems to be always on hand in most kitchens. However, as compared to cornstarch, flour just has half of the thickening power. Even though it is a weaker thickener, flour does not contain as high protein as cornstarch.
And for those who want to apply this method, go for the all-purpose flour.
Also, please note that adding flour and starch requires the emulsion temperature to reach the boiling point. At this level, the starch and flour molecules will expand and absorb the watery liquid.
As a result, it will take effect in thickening the sauce. It is advisable to use a teaspoon of starch/flour with a tablespoon of water/unsweetened milk.
To obtain the full thickening power and remove the raw taste of it, the flour-water mixture should be boiled for 3 minutes. Then, let the mixture rest for about another 3 minutes before pouring it into the sauce. Eventually, this will help you to have the ideal consistency.
Egg Yolk – The Traditional Italian Way
It is the answer of most Italian casual restaurants for “How to thicken the Alfredo sauce”. For a pound of noodle, you just need one or one and a half egg yolk. In fact, this additional ingredient has an amazingly strong thickening power. Also, it does not require you to compromise the flavor to the texture of the sauce.
This method has 2 huge advantages over using powder and flour. First, it eliminates the need to bring the sauce up to boil to determine how much powder/flour you need. Second, it does not require you to cook out any raw starch flavor while still achieve the desirable quality standard.
The easiest way to do it is to mix up the sauce with 1 egg yolk before heating it. Remember that you don’t want to overuse this ingredient because the ultimate goal is definitely not making the scrambled egg.
While heating it with medium flame, whisk the mixture all along the way. If you see any floating bits of the egg yolk, strain them using a fine wire strainer.
Finally, slowly whisk back the yolk into the Alfredo sauce until you have the desired texture of it.
Tips On How To Thicken Alfredo Sauce And Cling The Sauce With The Noodles
- Toss your pasta in olive oil after heating it up. This helps the pasta get clumpy and congealed with the sauce. In fact, this tip works with every sauce. So if you want the mixture to be clingy while ensuring the noodles do not stick together, do this step before tossing the noodles into the sauce.
- Add the cream and butter slowly while mixing the sauce. Also, add seasoning slowly when the mixture is ready. When the cream and butter get hot, they will thicken themselves. And by adding them by small portion continuously, you can change the consistency of the sauce without having to add a roux.
- Adding more cheese will help to thicken the sauce in an easy and fast way. But please note that this way is not really recommendable. The cheese will to some extent modify the taste of the Alfredo sauce, making the dish greasier.
- Also, the Alfredo pasta itself is well known for its rich properties in fat. Thus, overusing cheese will make this recipe no longer healthy.
Thickening Alfredo sauce should be an easy task in making the pasta. And I strongly hope that with these methods and tips, you will definitely know how to thicken Alfredo sauce to fit your taste.
As these methods will not affect the flavor of the sauce, you can combine them. But note that the appropriateness of each ingredient’s portion is a must. You are free to create the sauce in your own way, just remember not to break the proper proportion. Enjoy cooking.