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A Low-Calorie Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

Our version brings all the classic flavors without the heavy cream or excess butter.
A Low-Calorie Fettuccine Alfredo RecipeMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Alfredo di Lelio invented this iconic dish at his trattoria in Rome in 1914. Back then, the dish was nothing more than hot fettuccine tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese. Eventually, fettuccine Alfredo made its way across the Atlantic, picking up a sea of heavy cream along the way. Now it’s a staple on chain restaurant menus everywhere, not least of all because it costs next to nothing to load a bowl with 1,200 calories’ worth of fat and refined carbohydrates. To dampen the Alfredo impact, we turn to our old friend béchamel, which creates a thick, creamy sauce without the calories of heavy cream and excess butter.

Nutrition: 460 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated), 480 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

1 1⁄2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 1⁄2 cups low-fat milk
2 Tbsp Neufchâtel (This low-cal cream cheese gives this sauce that perfect Alfredo creaminess.)
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Salt to taste
1 package (12 oz) fresh fettuccine

How to Make It

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown.
  3. Add the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps from forming.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  5. Stir in the Neufchâtel, Parmesan, lemon zest, and salt. Keep warm.
  6. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to package instructions (remember, fresh pasta cooks in a fraction of the time it takes to cook dried pasta).
  7. Drain and add directly to the saucepan. Toss until the pasta is thoroughly coated, then divide among 4 warm pasta bowls.
  8. Serve with more grated Parmesan, if you like.

Eat This Tip

Nutritional Upgrade

Alfredo isn’t plagued by just the punishing calorie count, but also by the fact that it offers little in the way of protein, fiber, or anything resembling real nutrition. That’s why we like to supplement our bowl with as many healthy add-ons as possible. Starting with this recipe as the base, add any combination of the following to the sauce just before tossing with the pasta: grilled chicken or shrimp, steamed broccoli rabe, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed spinach, sautéed kale, roasted asparagus, cherry tomatoes.

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

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