This healthy alfredo sauce recipe is truly a comfort food game changer. Made without heavy cream or butter, cottage cheese helps provide a silky smooth and luxuriously thick alfredo sauce made much better for you.
I’ve been working my way through old (old, old) recipe posts to suss out which ones are most in need of updated pictures.
Please just take my word for it and don’t scroll allllll the way back. With an almost six-and-a-half year old blog, there are a LOT of them.
I like this project for a few reasons. One being the opportunity to discover old favorites that just aren’t top of my mind anymore when it comes to menu planning. And the second being neither you or I benefit from online recipes with less-than-stellar photos you probably wouldn’t give two looks to when scrolling on Pinterest or Google.
After checking lightened up buffalo chicken alfredo pasta off my list recently, I kept thinking about that seriously delicious base healthy alfredo sauce.
Worthy of its own post? I think so!
Alfredo sauce — real deal alfredo sauce — has just a few ingredients. Comprised mostly of heavy cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese and then served over pasta, it’s hard to find a healthy ingredient in the mix.
Probably just the fresh parsley for garnish. 🙂
But while it won’t win points for Italian authenticity, this healthy alfredo sauce recipe reliably produces a sauce that’s just as thick and creamy as the original, with lighter real-food ingredients.
How to make healthy homemade alfredo sauce
This healthy homemade alfredo sauce consists of seven ingredients:
- cottage cheese
- minced garlic
- Parmesan cheese
Cottage cheese and cornstarch are the biggest outliers when compared to classic alfredo. You might be wondering how this healthy alfredo sauce gets so thick and creamy with cottage cheese in the mix, and the answer to that is the food processor.
We’re blending everything up! This means that all the curds are obliterated if you’re texture-phobic in that way (like me).
Blending cottage cheese into the sauce helps thicken it a little bit, but the main thickening happens from the cornstarch as the sauce heats on the stovetop.
Once all of the ingredients get whizzed in the food processor, you’ll pour out everything into a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat and cook until the sauce is thick to your liking. Easy as that.
Most of the time I serve this sauce over fettuccine (too #basic?), so I’ll set a big pot up to boil once the sauce begins heating. Once the fettuccine is done, drain it and toss in the sauce. Add cooked chicken if you have it for chicken alfredo, and there you go.
What makes this healthy alfredo sauce?
Well for one thing, we’re not using heavy cream or butter.
The bulk of this sauce is made up of milk and cottage cheese. I like to use 1% or 2% milk, and regular cottage cheese, which has about 4% milkfat.
Something to note when it comes to the healthier recipes on my blog is that my definition of healthy/healthier isn’t necessary low calorie. They can be better for you in ways such as whole grain, no refined sugars, less fat/different types of fats, etc.
One big thing to note when compared to classic alfredo is that this healthy alfredo sauce features a great deal less fat, and thus calories.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call it low-calorie as it’s not as low as some other ‘skinny alfredo’ recipes that include ingredients such as pureed cauliflower, I don’t think 99 calories for a generous 4-oz serving size of sauce is bad at all. Especially for a sauce that truly doesn’t taste far off from the creamy, rich original.
How to store homemade alfredo sauce
Leftover sauce (if you have any) can stay in the refrigerator for several days. I’ve done this when I’ve made half a box of pasta and have not noticed any issues with the sauce separating or otherwise getting weird.
Gently reheat the sauce before using on pasta, pizza, or however you like. If it thickens up too much for your liking, you can stir in a splash of hot pasta water to thin it as needed.
If you’re into better-for-you Italian sauces, my lightened up vodka sauce recipe is another that might interest you!
- You’ll want to use a large food processor here as there’s quite a bit of liquid in this sauce. I held down on the lid of my six-cup processor to prevent excess liquid from dripping out when it got going. Only lost a few drops. 🙂
- The batch of fettuccine alfredo you see in these photos uses half of the sauce (for eight ounces of pasta). Leftover sauce, if not being used, can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for several days.
Healthy Alfredo Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups milk (I use 1% or 2%)
- 1 cup cottage cheese (I use 4%)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- Add all ingredients to the bowl of a large food processor. Process until smooth and creamy.
- Pour out sauce into a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring/whisking occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to your liking. You don't want the sauce to boil.
- Cook the pasta (if using) while the sauce is heating. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
- Drain pasta and add it back to the pot. Pour in thickened alfredo sauce and toss to combine evenly. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.