Olive Garden perfectly exemplifies the americanization of European foods. I’m fairly certain that any self-respecting Italian who stepped foot in Olive Garden would be appalled, and would say something along the lines of “Those American morons did it it again” in Italian. In fact, I’ve even heard a ton of U.S. citizens complain about how Olive Garden isn’t real Italian food.
Did OG ever once peg themselves as 100% authentic Italian food? Of course not. They put an American twist on their Italian-inspired dishes, because this is America after all. Just because OG’s food doesn’t perfectly replicate that of an Italian cucina doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
So, I’m sorry, but I love Olive Garden. It’s self-indulgent American fare at its finest. But I love authentic Italian too. It just depends what you’re in the mood for. Sometimes, I turn to my classic and traditional Fettuccine Alfredo recipe, which is pasta perfection. Or, when I need a little twist, I’ll go for my Roasted Garlic Alfredo. Other times, however, I want that super rich, super decadent American twist on the Italian classic. And that, my friends, is my Copycat Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo.
Ever since I was a kid, I have adored OG’s Alfredo. Say what you want about how it’s unauthentic and calorie-laden, but that stuff is gut-bustin’ good. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that I actually tried ordering something else off the menu; I just loved the Alfredo too much to get anything else.
For a while, I wondered how OG got their sauce so thick and rich. I knew from experience that it was simply impossible to make a sauce with that viscosity using only butter & cream. When I finally figured out their secret, I felt like a fool for not realizing it sooner: they used a roux!
A roux is a thickening agent consisting of equal parts butter & flour. It is almost always the base for mac & cheeses, bechamel sauce, and cream-based soups, hence why they’re so darn thick. Roux is not a traditional component in classic Alfredo; normally, it’s just butter, cream, and parmesan. But of course, Olive Garden added that indulgent American touch. And I have figured out exactly how to not only make an OG replica at home, but make it even better.
The result is the richest, most indulgent Alfredo you’ve ever had, so thick, creamy, garlicky, and bursting with tangy, cheesy Parmesan goodness. It’s the most sinful plate of pasta you’ll ever experience, decadent in all the best ways. Is it traditional Italian? No. But you can taste those Italian roots in there, along with that American richness we all love so much.
Dare I say this is the best Alfredo sauce ever? Yes, I do.
I so just went there.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Fresh garlic is essential to making this amazing. Not to mention, it’s cheaper than the jarred minced stuff.
- I highly recommend serving the fettuccine with broccoli. I always stir fresh broccoli into my alfredo. It’s delicious, adds nutritional benefits, and bulks up the meal so you don’t need as much pasta.
- You could also serve with chicken, pancetta, or bacon for more protein.
- There’s no excuse to not choose whole wheat or whole grain pasta. It’s delicious, and so much better for you.
Copycat Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo
By The Smart Cookie Cook
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 lb. fettuccine, I recommend whole wheat or whole grain
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- kosher salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 3/4 – 2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, not grated
- fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
- In a large pot of salted boiling water over high heat, cook the pasta according to boxed directions. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and let cook until translucent and aromatic, about 2 minutes. If you can smell the garlic, you’re good to go.
- Whisk in the flour until free of lumps. Cook for another 2 minutes, continuing to whisk the entire time. Whisk in the cream until free of lumps. Cover and let cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not boil.
- Whisk in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Continue whisking until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Taste test and decide if you would like more cheese or seasonings and add more to taste.
- Whisk in the milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until sauce reaches your desired thickness. More milk means a thinner consistency. Keep in mind, it will thicken slightly as it cools.
- Spoon fettuccine into bowls and top with sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.