Everything tastes better from scratch, I agree, but sometimes we need to cut corners. Cutting corners doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor, instead just look at it as customizing a base and there are so many ways to make jar alfredo sauce better!
Use one, two, even three of these fun variations to make your own unique creation for dinner. And you’ll never get bored because we did the math and there are approximately 422 different variations listed in this post alone. You could eat alfredo every single day of the year and never repeat the same recipe.
Even though I love alfredo sauce, I do not recommend this for multiple reasons.
The first step is to pick you base sauce. Because you will be adding more to it, I suggest starting with a fairly plain and basic sauce. Some of my favorites are Rao’s, Classico and Bertolli. You can also use my easy garlic alfredo sauce recipe as a base.
Here are our 7+ Best Ways to Make Alfredo Sauce Better!
1. Fresh Herbs & Dried Herbs
There is nothing more Italian than fresh herbs. Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley are all great ideas. Chopped them up and throw them in the sauce to simmer and infuse their flavor into the base recipe. About 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs should be enough to season a standard 15 ounce jar.
Dried herbs are also a great option for a quick weeknight meal. Open up your spice cabinet and grab some of these same dried herbs and add about 1 teaspoon.
Italian seasoning is another great idea that uses a carnival of flavors without opening multiple jars. As are other spice blends like Thai and blackened seasoning.
Crushed red pepper flakes and aleppo flakes are dried spices that add heat to make a spicy alfredo sauce.
I classify “add-ins” as anything with a little more substance than an herb and spice. These can be in addition to herbs and spices or used by their own. Add them with the jarred sauce so they can heat at the same rate.
- Green peas
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Cooked broccoli florets
- Roasted garlic
- Sliced mushrooms
- Roasted red peppers
- Chopped bell peppers
- Sliced onion & shallots
- Caramelized onions
- Cherry peppers
3. Pasta Type
In the United States, fettuccine is the typical pasta served with alfredo sauce, but it is a verstile sauce that can stick to and be used with nearly any type of pasta. Long stranded pasta works so well with this substantial sauce, but tubal pastas like ziti or rigatoni are also great. Stuffed pasta like ravioli and even lasagna are also great options.
The only pasta types I don’t recommend using with a hearty sauce like this are small, tiny varieties like couscous or dilatini.
Pasta alfredo is an excellent vegetarian pasta for dinner or meatless Monday, but you can also dress it up with protein.
Seafood is almost always my pick, although some Italians squeal at the idea of serving something from the sea with any sauce with cheese or dairy. But you know what, alfredo is also just referred to as “white sauce” or “bianco sauce” in Italy, so we are breaking all the rules anyhow.
Scallops, shrimp, a salmon fillet, even calamari jumbo lump crab meat or lobster meat are all delicate flavors. All should be cooked and then added to sauce or even just piled on top after being plated. You can even plop a crab cake or salmon croquette on top. Cooked clams, mussels and oysters also create a fruiti de mar.
Sliced beef (a nice sirloin, filet mignon or even london broil), chicken breast and pork are also great. Add some Cajun seasoning to the protein for a fun twist. All of these should also be fully cooked before being added.
Don’t forget the cured meats! Cooked and crumbled bacon or strips of prosciutto add salty little bits. Chopped pepperoni, salami or soppressata are also fun additions.
For a quick protein add, grab a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and add it as you shred it. It will reheat along with the sauce. many stores also have pre-cooked and frozen chicken strips.
5. Thick or Thin
Alfredo sauce can be thicker and really stick to your ribs or a lighter and thinner sauce. Simply add more or less milk or cream to the base sauce. Sometimes I also use skim milk or low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) for even more flavor, but a less intense sauce.
6. Acidity & Brightness
What does that even mean? I love adding citrus zest to pastas, either for garnish at the end or blended into the actual sauce. Lemon is my favorite and provides a fresh and true lemon flavor without being puckery.
Brightness can also be added by using just a small splash of wine, vinegar or citrus juice, but be mindful that you only want to use a small amount, about 1 tablespoon per 15 ounce jar of sauce, and right at the end.
They have the tendency to separate if they get too hot or sit too long and you’ll lose the zesty bite if it sits for too long.
7. Add More Sauce
Sauce blends can be an easy way to use up small amount of other sauce. Say you only have a 1/2 cup or even a tablespoon left of your favorite pesto sauce, mix it on in! Even a tomato based sauce like puttanesca or marinara can be added in small doses to make more of a pink sauce.
One tablespoon of harissa or chopped cherry peppers can make a base alfredo sauce super spicy. Or even think outside of the box and add a tablespoon of your favorite BBQ sauce.
Drizzle the top of your creation with a balsamic reduction sauce or cilantro sauce.