This is how to make a One Pot Chicken Alfredo Pasta with al dente pasta and a silky creamy sauce. The secret? Simple. Add the cream and parmesan at the end to avoid gluggy sauce and unevenly cooked pasta. Watch the video and see how easy this is!
This is not meant to be an authentic Italian pasta. It’s a quick mid-week meal that you can get on the table in just over 15 minutes and is stellar for effort vs output.
I don’t want to offend pasta-purists (or the entire nation of Italy for that matter!), and to be honest, I never thought I would ever share a (long-strand) one-pot-pasta recipe. I’ve previously declared on multiple occasions that I’m not a fan. I tried a couple of recipes, ended up with unevenly cooked pasta and a gluey sauce. Once it was so gluey that I was able to make fritters without using egg to bind them.😳
So I gave up, and stuck to the classic way of making Alfredo. It wasn’t until a friend (who’s a huge fan of all things one pot) bluntly asked me “have you tried to fix it?” that it even occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, there was a better way to make a creamy long-strand pasta in one pot.
And so I experimented. And fixed it. 😊
For fellow food nerds out there, here was my thinking: With the classic way of cooking pasta, the sauce and just-under-cooked pasta is tossed in the same pan with a splash of the pasta cooking water. What happens is that the oil in the sauce and starch in the pasta cooking water transforms into a glossy sauce that clings to every strand of pasta (it’s called emulsification). So when you serve it, there is no watery pool of sauce on the bottom of the bowl, it’s all in your mouth via the pasta!
If you dump cream with milk/broth/water into a large pot / skillet with the pasta, the reason you end up with a gluey rather than silky sauce at the end is because you’ve been emulsifying the sauce for the entire pasta cooking time (i.e. fat in cream, starch in pasta). Plus, the cream makes the cooking liquid thicker which makes the pasta cook unevenly.
Solution: Cook the pasta in just milk + chicken broth, add cream at the end.
End result: Near perfectly* cooked al dente pasta + silky sauce.
* I say “near perfect” because the fact is, pasta cooks more evenly in a large pot of boiling water than in a skillet with the sauce. Just being honest!
I was so paranoid about ensuring this One Pot Chicken Alfredo Pasta delivers on my promises, I made it four times last week to quadruple check that it works as I’m describing. I filmed it three times – once making a plain Alfredo, once using cubes of chicken and once searing whole chicken then slicing it.
I was contemplating sharing the version with bite size pieces of chicken that stays in the sauce while the pasta cooks. And that’s an even easier variation, but you’ll end up with slightly overcooked chicken with far less caramelisation. So I opted for my favourite way which is to sear chicken until golden brown, rest it for optimum juiciness before slicing and tossing through the pasta.
I know there are many people out there who are thinking “how hard is it to cook pasta in a separate pot??”. And sure, it sounds easy. But you know those crazy days when your household is in chaos and you’re trying to get dinner on the table for your family? When you’ve just had an awful day at work, you hate your boss, you’re tired and tempted to order a greasy pizza?
This is for those days. I know boiling a pot of water and cooking pasta isn’t a big deal. But when you can cook it all one pot, it’s just one less thing to think about, one less pot to wash.
And know this is easy – and it works as promised. Watch the video below! – Nagi xx
PS Just to clarify, I’ve always been a fan of one pot short pastas – risoni, penne/ziti, macaroni etc because the shape makes them easy to stir and cook evenly in a sauce. Try my stovetop Mac N Cheese that just happens to be made in one pot! Or this Italian Chicken & Risoni/Orzo. 😀
- 200 g / 7oz chicken breast, cut in half horizontally
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250 g / 8 oz fettuccine
- 2 cups milk, any fat %
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock / broth
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup thickened / heavy cream (Note 1)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (Note 2)
- Parsley, for garnish
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Use a skillet large enough to fit the pasta.
Heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Remove onto plate and rest for 5 minutes, then slice while pasta is cooking.
Reduce heat to medium high. Add milk, chicken broth and garlic. Bring to simmer then add pasta.
Move pasta around every 30 seconds or so until it is softened (around 3 minutes) so it doesn't stick. Once pasta is softened, reduce heat to medium and stir every couple of minutes.
At about 9 - 10 minutes, the pasta should be almost cooked but there should still be liquid covering the base of the skillet. Add cream and parmesan and mix.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for ~2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and pasta is cooked. If you cook it too long and the sauce goes gluggy, add a splash of hot tap water - will go back to silky with a few tosses.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, garnished with freshly grated parmesan and parsley!
1. This recipe does actually work with any type of cream, even light cream. It just affects the richness of the sauce.
2. Using fresh grated parmesan ensures it melts into the sauce. You can use store bought but it tends to be larger grains so some of it may not melt into the sauce completely. Reduce to 1/2 cup (because that equates to about 3/4 cup freshly grated).
3. The key to this recipe is taking it off the stove while it's still quite saucy because the sauce evaporates quite quickly as you toss a bit, adjusting the salt and pepper, getting plates out, serving etc. See video and photos for amount of sauce in the finished dish.
4. COOKING WITH CHICKEN: You could dice the chicken, brown just the outside then leave it in the pan to cook with the pasta. But cooking the chicken separately yields a juicier chicken + prettier because it's golden brown.
5. If you have large brown bits stuck on the pan (e.g. if it's not non stick), scrape off the larger bits if you want a pretty white sauce. Also, the whiteness of the sauce is affected by how clear the chicken stock is. Better value brands can be a bit cloudy. I use Campbells.
6. This recipe is very forgiving. If the sauce gets too gluggy / thick, add a splash of hot water. I like my pasta al dente, but if the pasta is still not tender enough for your taste, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup hot tap water and keep cooking.
One Pot Chicken Alfredo recipe video!
One Pot Chicken Alfredo nutrition per serving.
LIFE OF DOZER
It was one of those days when I just couldn’t deal with a soaking wet dog at the end of a long, tiring day. So I popped a rain jacket on him before taking him out to the dog park, intent on keeping him on the grassy area and out of the water.
Honestly, I don’t know why I bothered.