This lemony fettuccine alfredo from renowned Southern cookbook author Nathalie Dupree is a slight twist on the classic made with fresh pasta, white wine, cream, and Parmesan. Fast and easy enough to make on a weeknight yet impressive enough for company.
When you discover how easy it is to make fettuccine alfredo from scratch, you’ll forever swear off that gloppy white sauce from a jar. This luxuriously creamy and lemony version, made with items you may already have on hand including white wine, lemon, and Parmesan, is impressive enough for company yet completely doable on a weeknight. The citrus perfectly detracts from and complements the richness of the creamy white wine alfredo sauce.–Angie Zoobkoff
Lemony Fettuccine Alfredo FAQs
Why is my alfredo sauce lumpy and how do I fix it?
Notice how we told you to reserve some pasta water in the instructions below? There’s a reason for that—the warm, ultra-starchy water loosens up sauces without diluting it too much and also helps it adhere to the noodles. If you’re finding that your sauce is gritty or lumpy, you need to just keep stirring. A whisk works well here, adding a bit of warm pasta water at a time and whisking the heck out of that sauce.
What type of white wine should I use for the lemony alfredo sauce?
Use a dry white wine here, like a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc.
Can I substitute half and half for the heavy cream?
We don’t recommend it, as half and half will curdle when mixed with the lemon juice.
What should I serve with this?
Our testers found that this worked best as a side dish, and paired perfectly with sautéed shrimp, chicken thighs, or pan-seared fish.
- 1 pound store-bought or homemade fettuccine preferably fresh
- Sea salt
- 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 3/4 cup heavy cream or to taste
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter cut into small chunks
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.
- Meanwhile, using a knife, vegetable peeler, or grater, remove the zest from the lemon, avoiding any underlying white pith. If you used a knife or peeler, slice the peel into very thin strips. Juice the lemon, strain, and reserve.
- In a large nonreactive saucepan over high heat, combine the lemon zest with the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, pour in about 1/4 cup of the cream, and stir. Then pour in the remaining cream and stir to combine.
- Return to high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer until thickened and reduced slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- When the pasta is cooked to the desired doneness, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
- Return the pot to stove. Pour in the cream sauce, butter, and lemon juice, stir, and then add the drained pasta and a few tablespoons of cooking water. Immediately toss and add the cheese in 3 or 4 additions, tossing each to meld with sauce. Add more cooking water, if necessary, to make a smooth sauce that evenly coats the pasta.
- Ladle the pasta onto plates and, if desired, drizzle each portion with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This fettuccine Alfredo was really delicious. I love the technique of cooking the lemon peel in wine and cream, it created the most wonderfully vibrant lemon flavor and a little texture with the softened rind. It was a simple, impressive pasta that one could easily throw together with pantry ingredients, and it tastes like summer.
I felt like this was more of a side dish. I think this would really pair well with a piece of grilled fish or some braised chicken thighs. It made 4 very generous servings.
I could celebrate citrus every night of the week with this lemony fettuccine Alfredo dish. Whether on its own or paired with a protein, we couldn’t stop eating this pasta. I didn’t make my own pasta, but that would’ve elevated the dish even more.
This is one of those dishes I’d order at a restaurant and fear that I couldn’t replicate at home, but much to my delight it was quite simple and now I’ll make it every day. Or every other day. At least once a week.
I was skeptical of adding lemon rind matchsticks directly into the alredo sauce, but have no fear, as long as you avoid the white pith and only use the bright yellow rind the flavors remain delightfully aromatic and not bitter. The lemon reduced beautifully in the white wine to form a sweet syrup.
The white wine alfredo sauce was so simple to make but packed so much flavor. The dance of the bright lemon, salty Parmesan cheese, and fresh cracked pepper was somehow rich and light at the same time.
We prepared a quick sauté of garlic shrimp and an Italian parley garnish with this pasta. The dish can absolutely stand alone or provide a perfect base for the addition of nearly any protein or veg. I love that it can be made with ingredients most people probably have on hand.
After my pasta was cooked to al dente, I tossed it in a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking while I finished my lemon alfredo sauce. I finished the dish with a drizzle of olive oil and highly recommend doing that.
Originally published December 11, 2019
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
We loved this lemon fettuccine alfredo. It was creamy and delicious with an undertone of citrus. I thought before making it that it might be too lemon heavy, but the cream and cheese balanced it out enough that the lemon alfredo sauce flavor was more subtle than I expected.
Next time I think I’ll use a Microplane on the lemon as the cooked matchsticks of lemon peel still seemed a bit large when taken in with a bite of pasta.
I used a crisp, medium-bodied Pecorino wine that is a favorite of mine and drank more alongside the pasta. The wine (Saladini Pilastri Offida Pecorino 2015) also has some citrus-y notes, which was a good match for this lemony fettuccine Alfredo dish. The rest of the meal included toasted Pugilese bread, baked chicken breasts, roasted squash, and broccolini.