An easy spaghetti with alfredo sauce recipe with seasoned chicken breast that is perfect for two people!
This is such a great creamy pasta recipe for two people! I use spaghetti for the noodles, but you can swap spaghetti for any long noodle (like fettuccine noodles) that you love. The creamy alfredo sauce is best when it coats long pasta noodles, so I recommend sticking with that.
This is one of our personal favorites for a cozy, decadent pasta night at home. It makes two servings, but can easily be doubled if needed. This classic dish comes together in just 20 minutes, too! I like to make it with chicken, but you can omit that part if you like. 🙂
Ingredients for Spaghetti with Alfredo Sauce (with Chicken!)
- 6 oz. dry Spaghetti
- 8 oz. Chicken Breast*
- pinch each of Salt + Black Pepper
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 1 clove fresh Garlic (minced)
- 1/3 cup Heavy Cream (heavy whipping cream)**
- 2 tbsp. Whipped Cream Cheese (OR 1 oz. cream cheese, room temperature)
- 1 cup Reserved Pasta Water***
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan****
- finely chopped fresh Parsley (for garnish)
*If you happen to have two small chicken breasts for this recipe, that’s great! If you’re working with one large chicken breast (which most of us are), you can cut it in half lengthwise to create two thin chicken breasts. Check out the photos in this blog post to see what I mean! Cutting it in half creates twice as much surface area that gets seasoned and cooked, which directly translates to more flavor.
**Heavy whipping cream tends to work best in this recipe for the best results. I’ve also used half and half, but it tends to separate easier than heavy cream does. I don’t recommend using milk, as it doesn’t have the fat content needed to keep this sauce creamy. If you choose to use half and half, that does work, but stir it constantly to avoid any separation in the sauce. You will also need to reserve ample pasta water to make the sauce stay together!
***Save the pasta water after the noodles are done boiling. This creates a starchy, salty ingredient that will be stirred into the creamy sauce before serving it!
****Good, fresh parmesan cheese will make a difference in this recipe. If you can find a little wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano at the store, grab it. You can also look for parmesan cheese that is grated in the store and packaged in containers, which also works perfectly here.
Can I make this without Chicken?
YES! If you’d rather have a pasta alfredo recipe without chicken, that totally works. Just leave out the olive oil and chicken. When you melt the butter in the pan, add an extra tablespoon, so you’ll melt two total tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning when you stir in the garlic.
Why do I need Pasta Water?
The creamy texture is key for this garlic alfredo sauce, and I want to make sure you make it perfect every time. If you experience the sauce “breaking” (or separating) at all, stir in some of the starchy pasta water to bring it back together. A little bit of pasta water will do wonders to reunite the water and fat molecules in this rich sauce! Typically a separated sauce indicates that the fats and water molecules aren’t getting along very well, so I find that a little time, patience, constant stirring, and pasta water help them get along.
Additionally, pasta water carries starches and salty goodness that add a hit of flavor to the pasta without adding more ingredients to the list.
How to Make Spaghetti with Alfredo Sauce (with Chicken)
- Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Cook chicken breasts until browned on each side and cooked through (about 2-3 minutes per side for 4 oz. chicken breasts; 4-5 minutes per side for larger chicken breasts until browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 F.) Transfer chicken to a cutting board and tent with foil.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add dry spaghetti and cook according to package directions, minus about one minute, until the spaghetti is al dente. (Note: the pasta should be done cooking around the same time as the Alfredo sauce; if it is done earlier, reserve one cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and set both aside).
- While the pasta is boiling, return the pan the chicken was cooked in to medium-low heat.
- For a recipe without chicken, start with this step, and use two tablespoons of butter! Melt butter in the pan, then stir in the minced garlic. Scrape any browned bits from the pan into the melted butter. (If you are not using chicken in this recipe, melt two tablespoons of butter in the pan over medium-low heat, stir in the minced garlic, a pinch each of salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and continue. Be sure to have the pasta boiling, too!) Cook the garlic in the melted butter until fragrant and softened (about 1 minute.)
- Stir in heavy cream. Simmer on low heat until slightly thickened (about 2-3 minutes.)
- Slowly stir in cream cheese until melted and fully combined.
- Use tongs to transfer the pasta directly from its pot of water into the pan of Alfredo sauce. Toss to mix it in with the alfredo sauce.
- Turn the heat off from under the pan. Sprinkle in parmesan cheese and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and toss until well combined. Add a little pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and toss until the sauce is smooth and the consistency is to your liking. (You definitely don’t have to use all of the pasta water.) Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice the chicken breast into thin strips and serve on top of the pasta. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley (if desired).
How to Customize this Recipe
There are so many ways to customize this easy dinner idea, too. I personally love chicken alfredo, hence why I use chicken breasts with this recipe. You could also make shrimp alfredo, or use vegetables like fresh spinach or steamed broccoli!
If you decide to use shrimp, use 8 ounces. Season them all with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning (just a large pinch of each will work), then cook them in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes per side until cooked through.
If you’re adding fresh spinach or steamed broccoli, I would stir either one of them into the sauce about 3 minutes before serving it. (Note: Be sure the broccoli is cooked [steamed] before stirring it in! Otherwise it will be incredibly tough and not pleasant to eat.)
I’ve also used red pepper flakes in this alfredo pasta recipe, and it’s SO good if you like a little spice! Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes when you stir in the garlic for an extra kick.
However you customize it, this recipe makes such a delicious garlicky alfredo sauce that is so much better than the jarred variety. 🙂
This is such a popular recipe at our house, and I really hope you love it, too! It was actually featured during Week Three of my “Thursday Night Pasta Series” that I featured on Instagram recently, and it was such a huge hit. It’s a great recipe that epitomizes comfort food, and it’s just SO much better than jarred alfredo sauce. Plus, you actually know what’s in it, unlike the jarred version!
What to Serve with Spaghetti Alfredo
Wine Pairings for Spaghetti with Alfredo Sauce
- dry Rosé
- Sangiovese (Chianti)
If you make this recipe and you love it, a comment and rating below would be amazing! Tag me on Instagram if you post a photo to social media, too. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions!
Spaghetti with Alfredo Sauce and Chicken
- 6 oz. dry Spaghetti
- 8 oz. boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
- pinch each Salt & Black Pepper
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 1 clove Garlic minced
- 1/3 cup Heavy Cream*
- 2 tbsp. Whipped Cream Cheese**
- 1 cup reserved Pasta Water
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese
- finely chopped Parlsey for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat.
- Season the chicken on all sides with a pinch of salt, pepper, and the Italian seasoning.
- Cook the seasoned chicken breast until browned and cooked through. (About 2-3 minutes per side for small chicken breasts, or 4-5 minutes per side for one large chicken breast. The internal temperature of the chicken needs to reach 165 F.) Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the chicken to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions, minus one minute (for al dente pasta – it will finish cooking in the alfredo sauce.)
- While the pasta boils, place the same pan the chicken was cooked in over medium-low heat, and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in the minced garlic and cook for one minute, stirring any browned bits from the pan into the butter and garlic as it cooks.
- Stir in the heavy cream until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly stir in the cream cheese until fully combined.
- The spaghetti should be al dente at this point. Turn the heat off from underneath the pot of pasta, and use tongs to carefully transfer the cooked spaghetti noodles directly from their pot of salted water into the Alfredo sauce, then toss to coat the noodles in sauce.
- Turn the heat off from underneath the pan. Sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper over the noodles, then toss again.
- Add reserved pasta water, two tablespoons at a time, tossing constantly as it is added. Continue adding more pasta water until the consistency of the sauce is creamy and to your liking. Divide the pasta between two warm bowls.***
- Slice the chicken breast into thin strips and serve on top of the pasta. Garnish with parsley, and serve hot!