Lightened-Up Fettuccine Alfredo

by Amy on 9 November 2012

as children, my brother + i were lucky that our parents took us out to lots of different restaurants, exposing us to all sorts of foods. cleverly, i foiled their attempts to get me to try new + exciting foods, wanting only one thing whenever we dined out: fettuccine alfredo. i mean, it’s a kid’s perfect meal: pasta, butter, + cheese. who can blame me for ordering it every single time we were at a restaurant?

as an adult, my tastes have changed + i’m much more adventurous at restaurants than i was as a kiddo. however, i still have a love for good ol’ fettuccine alfredo. so, the other night, i decided to whip up a healthier version at home. how was it? oh my goodness, heavenly! while i won’t go so far as to call this “diet food,” it is a significantly lower-calorie, lower-fat version, with about 500 calories + 15 grams of fat per generous serving. the best part? it certainly doesn’t taste healthified, as it still has all the delightful cheesy, creamy goodness that we love about fettuccine alfredo. so, if you’re looking for a healthier twist on a favorite comfort food, look no further – this recipe is fantastic!

Lightened-Up Fettuccine Alfredo

serves 4, adapted from


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
kosher salt
2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces fresh fettuccine
freshly ground pepper


make the sauce: melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. add the garlic + lemon zest + cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, 1 minute. whisk in the milk + 1 teaspoon salt + cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. add the cream cheese or neufchatel + parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. stir in the chopped parsley (optional – i like to just sprinkle my parsley on top, instead). taste + add salt/pepper to taste.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. add the fettuccine + cook until al dente, according to package directions. reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta + return to the pot.

add the sauce + 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta + gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water if needed to loosen + achieve your desired thickness. season with additional salt + pepper to taste, if needed.

divide among bowls + top with more parmesan to taste.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche November 9, 2012 at 6:24 am

This looks absolutely gorgeous! We don’t really have ‘alfredo’ as such in the UK, it’s either macaroni cheese or nothing (not that I’m complaining!) so I’ll definitely have to try this :)

2 amy November 9, 2012 at 6:25 am

Oooh, you definitely will, then you’ll have to report back. maybe you can make fettuccine alfredo the next big thing in the UK! =)

3 Renee November 9, 2012 at 6:28 am

okay…you read my mind. There I was just the other day thinking how much I wanted fettuccine alfredo but didn’t want to splurge. Along comes Amy to the rescue!!! I can’t wait to try this lightened up version. I know it will be good because it is from you.

4 amy November 9, 2012 at 7:54 am

Aww, you are the sweetest, Renee! Hope you try this + love it. =)

5 danielle November 9, 2012 at 8:19 am

I love that you were able to lighten this up -I try to stay away from alfredo even though I love it because its so fattening – I may need to give your recipe a try. Your pics are great!

6 sarah k @ the pajama chef November 9, 2012 at 10:36 am

amy, these photos are beautiful! i’d love a bowlful right now :)

7 amy November 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

awww, thank you for your kind words on the pictures – i’m trying to improve my photography, so that means so much to me! =)

8 Beth November 9, 2012 at 11:36 am

We were on a cruise a couple of years ago, and my then-13-year old had fettuccine alfredo at every second meal. Your lightened up version looks great, and I can’t wait to try it!

9 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious November 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Fettuccini alfredo was the only thing I ordered too whenever we went to olive garden! I haven’t made this in ages and now I’m totally craving it! I love that it’s lightened up too! This may just be my dinner tonight – I’ve been eating cereal and muffins for this entire week!

10 Kathryn November 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Love how rich and creamy this looks and yet it isn’t! so delicious.

11 Choc Chip Uru November 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Lightened up but still looks rich and delish :)

Choc Chip Uru

12 jackie @ Domestic Fits November 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I think I had the opposite childhood from you! I didn’t even have Alfredo until I was 17. Then I became obsessed with trying new foods because all I ever had was defrosted frozen entrees.
Oh, and I LOVE this skinny version

13 Cassie | Bake Your Day November 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I am always looking for a lighter version…i love alfredo but rarely eat it because it’s so bad for you. i love this amy!

14 Tiffany November 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I loooooooove this! Fettucini alfredo is one of my faves, but it is really rich and fattening, so this is great. And I am loving your pics recently! Good work!!!

15 Kristen @ notsodomesticated November 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I need to try this! I tried making a healthier fettuccini alfredo before, and it didn’t go so well!! :/

16 amy November 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

this one was fantastic, so you’ll definitely have to give it a try! =)

17 Kiran @ November 10, 2012 at 1:48 am

I LOVE FETTUCCINE ALFREDO — but the calories often gave me a run for my appetite.

This is what I need to make up for all the time I had to say no to it 😀

18 claire @ the realistic nutritionist November 10, 2012 at 6:21 am

You are a woman after my own heart with this recipe!! Love it :)

19 amy November 10, 2012 at 8:08 am

I totally thought of you when i made it, too! if there’s anyone who loves lightened-up comfort food more than me? it’s you. =)

20 angela @ anotherbiteplease November 10, 2012 at 8:09 am

oooo…I can’t wait to to try this…we love alfredo but don’t like always having all that cream and cream and more cream lol – thanks for sharing.

21 Ashley - Baker by Nature November 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

I could eat this every night – beautifully done, Amy! Hope you’re having fun in Chicago!

22 The Squishy Monster November 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

This is so smart! I love when you can have the best of both worlds =)

23 Chandra@The Plaid and Paisley Kitchen November 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

It is so unfair how many calories and fat grams this classic dish has! But I will say I am going to try this one as the full fat version is over 1300 cal and 25 grams of fat! Way to go on lightening this up!!

24 Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen November 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm

MMM your fettuccine alfredo looks soo good. I love that you lightened it up for less guilt 😀

25 LeAndra November 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

As a kid, I always ordered fettuccine alfredo too. I can’t recall that I have ever made it for myself as an adult, so now I have no excuse not to try it out. Gorgeous photos by the way!

26 Erin @ Texanerin Baking November 11, 2012 at 5:28 am

I had fettuccine alfredo for the first time this year and it was a lightened version. I love it so I’m sure I’d love this! I do wonder what it’s “supposed” to taste like, though. :) I guess just heavier. And I had the same deal with restaurants except I was the chicken tender girl. Still am and always will be!

27 amy November 11, 2012 at 7:05 am

the traditional version is definitely significantly heavier, creamier, + butterier than the lightened version you probably had. honestly, sometimes the traditional version can be *too* heavy for me, so i almost like the lighter version better. =)

28 Tracey November 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Ooooh, yum! I’m excited to try this and compare to the lighter version I found from Cook’s Illustrated a few months ago. It’s one of the meals in our regular rotation these days, always so cheesy and comforting!

29 amy November 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Ooh, i’ll have to look up the Cook’s Illustrated version + give it a try, too!

30 Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings November 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

Hi, Amy! Did you just say this lightened version has 500 calories??? I wonder how much the original one has! Thank god for this lower-fat version, because I still need to lose my baby weight!

31 amy November 12, 2012 at 10:09 am

traditional fettuccine alfredo can have upwards of 1200+ calories per serving. EEK, right?!

32 Nancy/SpicieFoodie November 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I think fettuccine alfredo is one of those meals everyone love. Yours not only looks mouthwatering but also sounds amazing. Great recipe!

33 sally @ sallys baking addiction November 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I’m thinking you made this alfredo for me, no?? :) I’ve had a lightened up version before that was only so-so. I didn’t make it, but now I think I need to try your version because it just sounds and LOOKS so much better Amy!

34 amy November 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

You’ve gotta try this then, Sally! Or, just bring your bad self to Nashville + i’ll make it for you. =)

35 Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations November 13, 2012 at 6:37 am

Oh Amy, you have no idea how much your pictures and recipe made me crave Italian pasta now. I think I might have had a little too much rice and Asian noodles recently 😉

36 Jessica@AKitchenAddiction November 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I love this lightened up version, Amy! Fettuccine alfredo is a favorite!

37 Nicole @ Lapetitebaker November 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I love fettuccine but always feel so guilty eating it! Now thanks to you that wont be a problem. I cant wait to make this!

38 Katie B. of November 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Wow this looks good! I love fettuccine alfredo, too. It’s such a great comfort food!

39 Amy (Savory Moments) November 14, 2012 at 5:45 am

I love alfredo sauce on any pasta! This version looks wonderful with the cream cheese. Yummy!

40 Jed Gray (sportsglutton) November 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Simple and to the point….delish to be sure. :-)

41 ea-the spicy rd November 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

After mac and cheese, this is one of my daughter’s favorite pasta dishes {although spaghetti w/ meatballs ranks high too!} I have made a very yummy lightened version from The Meal Makeover Moms website, but I would love to try your recipe too :-)

42 amy November 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm

ooh, i’ll have to look up that recipe, too!

43 sherri @ The Kitchen Prescription November 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Amy, i love trying out new pasta recipes, and it’s even better if they are low fat! I am pinning this and I can’t wait to try it. Might be as soon as tomorrow! Pasta is so versatile and the sauce combinations are virtually limitless. Pasta is probably the ONE food I could never give up. I have a love affair with it.

44 amy November 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I hope you love it, Sherri! Do report back once you try it. =)

45 Erin @ Texanerin Baking February 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I don’t know but… I can’t think of a pasta dish I’d rather have than this one! It’s AMAZING! But aww. That amazing will be lower case, won’t it? Anyway, the husband just told me I should open an Italian restaurant. Based off of this recipe. Haha. And he’s told me several times today how much he liked it. So. Yeah. It’s a winner! And me? I love it as well! Oh and I cheated and used garlic powder. I was too lazy for real garlic.

46 amy February 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm

HOORAY! I’m so glad you + your husband liked this dish. And now I’m craving it for dinner tonight! =)

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