This zippy and lightened up buffalo chicken alfredo pasta tastes as creamy and flavorful as the heavier version, thanks to the addition of blended cottage cheese. There’s no butter or cream necessary in this better-for-you comfort food dish.
Buffalo chicken alfredo is the dish that got me to willingly put cottage cheese on my shopping list after decades of actively avoiding anything to do with it. I like that it’s high in protein and calcium, but MAN I’m just not a fan of curds.
Realizing you could blend it and reap the nutritional benefits without any texture issues was a game-changer! It provides the perfect base to healthy alfredo sauce and my other frequent use, cottage cheese pancakes.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- This buffalo chicken fettuccine alfredo sauce has TONS of rich and creamy flavor made better-for-you without butter or cream. Instead blended cottage cheese sneaks into the sauce for a healthier addition.
- Cornstarch makes this sauce perfectly thick without complicated steps or fuss.
- This recipe has plenty of versatility for you to make it your own. It’s a great use of leftover chicken (or you can leave it out), you can switch up the type and quantity of buffalo sauce used, different pasta shapes, etc.
- Cottage cheese: 4% is my choice for this alfredo as it provides a boost of richness over 2%, which is welcome as there’s no cream or butter here. Either large or small curd size is fine as it all gets blended anyway. Cottage cheese is high in protein for a healthy addition to alfredo sauce.
- Milk: I usually use 2% milk for this recipe as that’s what I have on hand, but a different percentage should work just fine. While there’s another dairy ingredient here, non-dairy milk will work, too, as the thickness comes from cornstarch.
- Pasta: Fettuccine is a classic for alfredo but any long pasta shape will do, such as linguine, spaghetti, bucatini, etc.
- Chicken: Using leftover or rotisserie chicken is a nice shortcut, though instructions for cooking chicken breasts is included in the recipe below.
- Buffalo sauce: Use your favorite buffalo sauce here (mine is Frank’s Red Hot Wings – not sponsored!). In a pinch I’ve used regular hot sauce and that way tastes great, too. Two tablespoons brings a bit of heat without it being overwhelming.
- Start by cooking the chicken if you’re not using leftover/rotisserie. Cook it your preferred way (air fryer, grill, etc.) but for simple oven-baked chicken, preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C. Brush both sides of the chicken breast(s) with olive oil and season with seasoning of your choice. You can keep it simple with salt and pepper or use your favorite all-purpose blend.
- Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165°F. Set the cooked chicken aside while the rest of the recipe is prepared, chopping it into smaller pieces just before adding to the buffalo chicken alfredo.
- Add milk, cottage cheese, Parmesan, cornstarch, garlic, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. The one pictured has a seven-cup capacity and fits everything sufficiently.
- Process and blend the sauce until completely smooth, pausing as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl to integrate everything evenly. The sauce will be a bit thicker, but the real magic happens when it heats on the stove.
- Pour the sauce into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium-low heat and give it a stir.
- Whisk in the buffalo sauce and dried basil. Let the sauce cook for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened to your liking. Whisk/stir it often, especially as it starts to bubble.
- Set a large pot of water to boil and cook the fettuccine (or other pasta) according to the al dente package directions while the sauce is heating.
- Once done, drain the water and add the cooked fettuccine and chicken to the pot with the sauce, tossing to combine everything evenly. Adjust the seasonings if you like and garnish with fresh parsley for serving.
- Because buffalo chicken alfredo sauce features simple ingredients, quality matters! Freshly grated Parmesan (or pre-shredded found in the refrigerated deli department) provides the freshest flavor. Pecorino Romano also works well if that’s what you have.
- I’m a garlic head and use three or four cloves in this recipe. I gave it a range of two to four cloves to be more palatable for those who aren’t as nuts about garlic as I am. Use the amount of garlic that seems right for you, keeping in mind this recipe uses half a box of pasta and yields about four servings.
- The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. A little splash of hot pasta water can be whisked in to thin it out some if it becomes too thick in the fridge.
Well, I’m partial to buffalo sauce! Make sure to adjust the seasonings (salt and pepper) to taste and use enough fresh garlic. Also consider grating your own Parmesan cheese versus pre-shredded varieties.
A simple leafy green salad is a great pairing. If you’re looking for a more substantial side, this kale caesar salad dressing is also made better-for-you with Greek yogurt.
If leftover servings of buffalo chicken alfredo thicken up too much in the refrigerator, add a drizzle of milk to the pan while you’re reheating it to make it creamier. If you’ve made the sauce ahead of time, the same trick can be used to thin it out some while heating if needed.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Alfredo Pasta
- 1-2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 2-4 cloves garlic minced (use however many you like)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons buffalo sauce such as Frank's Red Hot Wings
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine or pasta shape of your choice
- If you already have cooked chicken breasts, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside for now. Skip down to the sauce section.
- Otherwise cook your chicken in your preferred manner (oven, air fryer, skillet, grill, etc.) To bake chicken, heat the oven to 425°F. Place chicken breasts a few inches apart from one another on a baking sheet and brush both sides of the chicken with olive oil. Season both sides with creole or cajun seasoning (or all-purpose or whatever you like).
- Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until the center of the thickest part registers 165°F and no pink remains. There's a range here because chicken breasts vary greatly in size and there's not one set time as to when they're cooked. I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer. Let cooked chicken breasts cool before slicing into bite-sized pieces.
- Add milk, cottage cheese, Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, cornstarch, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to a food processor and process until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides to incorporate everything as needed.
- Pour sauce into a small to medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Whisk in buffalo sauce and dried basil until evenly combined. Heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
- While sauce is heating, add 6 cups of water to a large pot and place over high heat until boiling. Salt the water generously and then add the fettuccine. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, about 11-12 minutes, stirring occasionally so the fettuccine doesn't stick together.
- Drain pasta and add it to the pot with the alfredo sauce. Add the cooked, sliced chicken and toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce. Serve immediately, garnishing with extra grated cheese, fresh parsley, etc.
- The buffalo chicken alfredo sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. If it becomes too thick in the fridge, add a small splash of pasta water to thin it out as needed.
- This recipe can be doubled to use a whole box of pasta. Just be mindful of the maximum liquid level of your food processor and consider making the sauce in batches. If there’s too much liquid it can spill out the top.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.
The pictures in this post were updated in February 2020 and August 2021 from the original publish date in April 2015. The recipe remains just about the same (I now use garlic cloves instead of garlic powder).
Alfredo sauce base adapted from food.com.