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Mealtime with Meredith: Making alfredo from scratch

Perkins shares her chicken alfredo recipe that she developed from her mom.
Perkins shares her chicken alfredo recipe that she developed from her mom.

It’s no secret that it is easier to eat out than it is to make a home-cooked meal. 

When you go to your favorite Italian restaurant, all you have to do is sit at a table and sip on your drink of choice as a chef prepares a chicken alfredo dish. 

However, this convenience comes with a catch: you’re going to overpay for that chicken alfredo.

The average restaurant markup is 300%, as chefs and staff need to be fairly compensated for their labor, and restaurant owners seek to maximize profits from each dish. 

For dishes that have many, hard-to-find ingredients, it can be cheaper to order a dish at a restaurant than to buy every single ingredient. 

Or, for something like McDonald’s french fries, something like a $2 side dish isn’t going to break the bank, and the price of convenience is worth it.

However, for chicken alfredo — my favorite Italian-inspired dish — the restaurant markup is often absurd for a meal that is, in my opinion, quite simple to replicate at home. 

At Olive Garden, a four to six portion catering pan of chicken alfredo costs a whopping $62 before tip. While I agree a night out to the Olive Garden is a classic midwestern American experience, I feel there is no reason to drop $70 on a chicken alfredo dinner when you can make a better-tasting version at home for less than a third of the cost — especially when you’re on a college student budget.

Thus, I prefer to make my better, cheaper version of chicken alfredo, without having to leave the comfort of my apartment.

My chicken alfredo recipe comes from my mother, who taught me how to make alfredo sauce from scratch.

This recipe uses flavorful, fresh, yet simple ingredients to make irresistible servings of grilled chicken and pasta that cost me $2.27 a serving: quite the bargain when compared to restaurant prices.

I enjoy making chicken alfredo when I want a hearty, home-cooked meal that can feed a large group of people (i.e. the roommates who regularly test my food column meals) or when I’m craving some of Mom’s cooking.

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For this recipe, the choice of ingredients matters. While you can use any type of chicken and any type of fettuccine pasta, using high-quality butter like Kerrygold and freshly-grated parmesan is imperative for a good tasting sauce. For best results, splurge on the good stuff. After all, you’re already saving money by not buying this from Olive Garden.

The first step is boiling your fettuccine noodles. Do not forget this step like I often do, or you will disappoint yourself after making a delicious sauce and realizing you must wait 15 minutes to enjoy it.

To start the sauce, melt one stick of butter in a pot on medium low heat. Then, once melted, mix in three cloves of minced garlic. There’s no such thing as too much garlic in this recipe, so measure more to your heart’s content if you feel inclined.

After the garlic is added, stir in the 1 ½ cups of heavy whipping cream and whisk occasionally until the sauce emulsifies. This might take a couple of minutes.

While the sauce emulsifies, put your salted raw chicken breast on a pan of neutral oil and begin cooking it. 

Cook the chicken on each side until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees, then turn off the heat. The chicken will continue to cook internally to the recommended 165 degrees for food safety.

While the chicken cooks, stir in the 1 ½ cups of grated parmesan cheese. If you don’t have a cheese grater in your kitchen space, you can use a knife to slice the cheese into thin pieces (it’s going to melt anyways) or buy pre-shredded cheese. 

After the sauce’s ingredients are melted together, add 2 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper. Strain the cooked pasta noodles and fold them into the pot with the fettuccine, stirring until each noodle is coated.

Then, serve the chicken breast on the side or cut into strips and combine into the fettuccine mixture.

Now, you are ready to eat a bowl of chicken alfredo so good, you’ll never want to spend $20 on a plate of Olive Garden alfredo again.



  • 1 ½ cups of parmesan reggiano cheese

  • 1 16 oz container of fettuccine noodles

  • 1 stick of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

  • Chicken breast

  • 1 ½ cups of Great Value heavy whipping cream

  • 3 cloves of minced garlic

Cooking instructions:

  1. Salt water and begin boiling one 16 oz box of fettuccine noodles until al dente, or about 10 minutes.

  2. Melt 1 stick of Kerrygold butter over medium low heat in a pot.

  3. Add 3 garlic cloves and 1 ½ cups of heavy whipping cream. Whisk until emulsified.

  4. Heat neutral oil over high heat and add chicken breast. Season with preferred blend (I used lemon pepper!).

  5. Mix in 1 ½ cups of grated parmesan cheese and stir until melted.

  6. Add drained fettuccine noodles into the sauce. Use leftover starchy pasta water to thin out the sauce if needed.

  7. Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored 3-5 days in the fridge, but are best within 48 hours.

    Photo by Meredith Perkins | The Miami Student
    This recipe offers an affordable way to make Chicken Alfredo.