You know the jars white stuff you see at the store called “Alfredo sauce?”  There’s no such thing as Alfredo “sauce” in Italy.  Instead, they consider it to be a way of dressing the pasta, so that it clings deliciously to each tender bite of carb-laden goodness.  Nyam nyam nyaaaaaam.  Which one sounds better to you?  Dumping or dressing?  Wait...don’t answer that.

Anyway, good news: the real thing* is incredibly easy, a real comfort food, and just as fast as making boxed mac and cheese.  Plus it only takes a few ingredients that you probably already have.

This is my go-to when life gets hectic and I realize - at 5:45 pm - that I forgot to take the salmon out of the freezer, soak the beans, etc.  

The kids love it and would eat the whole pot in one sitting if it were up to them.


1 pound of pasta - spaghetti, fettuccine, or fusilli all work great

1 c grated parmigiano regiano

4 TBS unsalted butter (or less, if butter scares you)

Reserved pasta cooking water or whole milk

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Salt your water and bring it to boil; cook your pasta al dente (check box for time).

  2. Drain pasta and return to pot - you may need to keep the heat on low as you finish the remaining steps

  3. Add butter to pasta and let it melt, then stir to coat

  4. Add 2 - 4 tablespoons reserved cooking water or milk; stir

  5. Add parmigiano a little at a time, stirring continuously

  6. Grind pepper on top, if your littles will tolerate it, then add a bit of parmigiano as well

  7. Mangia, mangia!

If you have pasta, parmigiano + butter, you have dinner.

If you have pasta, parmigiano + butter, you have dinner.

I usually serve this with some steamed broccoli, and any leftover meat dish I might have on hand. 

*Alfredo is so-called because of the Roman restaurateur - Alfredo di Lelio - who invented it for his pregnant wife who had morning sickness.  Isn’t that sweet? The authentic original was made with fettuccine, but butter and cheese tastes good on just about any kind of pasta, amiright?  

Want a downloadable, printable version of this recipe?  You got it!

Show us those cute, messy little pasta Alfredo faces!  Take a pic and post on Instagram with #hwlalfredo so we can love on them.

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