Sometimes, when the craving for a steamy, creamy bowl of pasta hits, nothing satisfies more than Alfredo. While you can certainly make your own white sauce at home (give this Buttery Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe a try!), there are plenty of store-bought Alfredo sauces that make for a quick and easy comfort dish.
But the key here is moderation. Alfredo sauce is generally high in total fat, saturated fat, and sodium, so you'll want to be mindful of the jar you buy. "I try to advise my clients that if they want to indulge in the authentic version of a less-healthy food, they should do so on occasion, in limited portions, and enjoy every bite," says Melissa Galich, RD, CD, a dietitian with Top Nutrition Coaching.
But if you're looking for an alternative to enjoy on a more regular basis—say, a sauce you can quickly toss with whole-grain noodles after those extra-long work days — you'll want to find a jar that fits certain criteria.
How to choose a healthier alfredo sauce:
- Limit saturated fat: Aim for less than 2 grams per serving, says Annette Snyder, RDN, a dietitian with Top Nutrition Coaching. Keep in mind that the typical serving size for alfredo sauce is ¼ cup, which is about the size of a golf ball, so it adds up quickly, Snyder says.
- Watch out for sodium: While it's ideal to choose a jar with less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving, it's probably more realistic to aim for under 400 milligrams. Alfredo sauce is inherently salty, so you'll be hard-pressed to find a low-sodium version that tastes like the real thing.
- Look out for processed cheeses: Snyder recommends reading your Alfredo sauce's ingredient list and avoiding brands with heavily processed cheeses, such as American cheese. Instead, opt for real aged cheeses, such as Parmesan, which stay true to the authentic recipe.
Ahead of your next pasta night, check out the best and worst jarred Alfredo sauces on supermarket shelves. After you've got your Alfredo fix, consider trying one of these 35+ Healthy Pasta Recipes for Weight Loss.
The 5 Healthiest Alfredo Sauces
Best: Primal Kitchen No Dairy Alfredo Sauce
For a vegan Alfredo that doesn't taste like it's missing the dairy, try Primal Kitchen's decadent sauce. Snyder gives this pick the green light because it's low in saturated fat and contains plant-based fats from avocados and pumpkin seeds, which are heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory. Not only that, but the ingredient list is fairly short and contains recognizable, whole-food ingredients, Snyder adds. Some of those good-for-you ingredients include roasted garlic for aromatics and nutritional yeast for that signature cheesy flavor (and protein).
Best: Classico Light Creamy Alfredo Spaghetti Pasta Sauce
This lightened-up Alfredo from Classico has about half the fat and calories of the traditional version, and it's not sky-high in sodium. Still, this sauce doesn't skip on rich flavor, which is always a win in our book. Galich says that this sauce can be A-OK for people trying to lose weight or follow a heart-healthy diet since it's not high in saturated fat or sodium. Couple it with whole-grain fettuccine for fiber and toss in some protein-rich grilled chicken for a balanced meal that only tastes like a cheat.
Best: Dr. Fuhrman Mushroom Alfredo
Snyder is a fan of this Alfredo because it's low in saturated fat and is instead packed with plant-based fats from cashews and flax seeds. The flavor comes from nutritional yeast, dried mushrooms, rice vinegar, onion and garlic powders, and lemon juice instead of added salt. A quarter-cup of this Alfredo sauce is very low in sodium, which helps keep conditions like high blood pressure in check, Snyder says. Plus, Dr. Fuhrman's sauce is free of added sugar, salt, oil, and artificial flavors or preservatives, and it boasts some of the highest protein content we've seen in vegan Alfredos.
Best: Simple Truth Plant-Based Alfredo Vegan Pasta Sauce
If Kroger is a supermarket you frequent, you'll want to grab a jar of this Simple Truth Vegan Alfredo on your next grocery run. It's especially great for people who are on plant-based or heart-healthy diets, or folks with lactose intolerance since it's vegan and low in unhealthy saturated and trans fats, Galich says. "Also, compared to other brands, it has a lower sodium content, which is beneficial for someone with high blood pressure, fluid retention issues, or [anyone on] a healthy diet," she says. Use it in a quick pasta bake or spread it over a pizza crust and top with mushrooms and onions for a delicious white pie.
Best: Wegmans Amore Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta Sauce
If you're looking for a sauce with quality traditional ingredients, this delivers. The cheese is locally sourced and aged, which adds lots of flavor, Snyder says. Plus, the sodium content is also reasonably low at 190 milligrams per serving. However, you'll want to keep moderation in mind here and stick to the quarter-cup serving as this sauce is higher in saturated fat than others on our list. Still, it's lower in calories and fat than most traditional white sauces and makes for a solid option if you're looking for a decadent dairy Alfredo.
The 5 Unhealthiest Alfredo Sauces
Worst: Land O Lakes Alfredo Sauce
This Land O Lakes sauce contains three times the recommended amount of saturated fat and double the recommended amount of sodium per serving, Snyder says. Eating too much saturated fat and sodium too often can take a hit on your heart health, contributing to high blood pressure and clogged arteries. "Between the sodium in a ¼-cup serving of this sauce, plus any sides to the meal like garlic bread, you could be consuming easily 50% or more of what's recommended for sodium in a single day at one meal," Snyder says.
Worst: Walden Farms Alfredo
With zeros across the board, you'd think this calorie-free Alfredo would earn a spot on our best list. "While this product may be free in most areas, it is not free to eat unlimited portions," Galich says. This pick's sodium content is the highest of all the Alfredos on our list, coming in at 550 milligrams per serving. And while this sauce is fat-free, "any product with decreased fat content will have a thinner consistency, and I suspect this will not be close to a classic Alfredo, given most of the ingredients are from processed sources," Galich says. That means, you'll likely end up using more than the quarter-cup serving size to make up for the lack of richness, which means you can easily take in more than half a day's worth of sodium in one sitting
Worst: Ragu Classic Alfredo
Despite its name, this Ragu sauce's recipe is far from classic. The first ingredient after water is soybean oil, which means that's what this sauce is most abundant in. Here's where the potential problem lies: Soybean oil is a refined oil high in omega-6 fats, which can be pro-inflammatory in high amounts, according to a 2021 study in the Journal of Lipids. And the average Western diet is significantly higher in omega-6s than omega-3s, anti-inflammatory fats that help balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Worst: Wegmans Amore Alfredo Pasta Sauce
While we love Wegmans' Amore Cauliflower Alfredo, this traditional sauce is sky-high in saturated fat and calories, surpassing every other sauce on our list. With a staggering 11 grams of saturated fat and 180 calories per serving, this sauce will easily hike up the caloric content of your dish—even more so if you use more than the quarter-cup serving. Not only that but "saturated fats promote cholesterol production and increase the risk of heart disease," Galich says.
Worst: Buiotoni Alfredo Refrigerated Pasta Sauce
This Buitoni Alfredo sauce doesn't have any preservatives and isn't shelf-stable, so its recipe is closest to the real thing. But Galich wouldn't consider it a particularly healthy choice due to its high calorie, total fat, and saturated fat contents. "One serving contains over half of the daily recommended saturated fat intake," she says.
- Source: Abeba Haile Mariamenatu, Emebet Mohammed Abdu, "Overconsumption of Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) versus Deficiency of Omega-3 PUFAs in Modern-Day Diets: The Disturbing Factor for Their “Balanced Antagonistic Metabolic Functions” in the Human Body", Journal of Lipids, vol. 2021, Article ID 8848161, 15 pages, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/8848161