grilled chicken with fettuccine alfredo pasta

If you’re a fettuccine Alfredo lover (and who isn’t?), leftovers present a conundrum ‒ the pasta never tastes the same as it did fresh out of the saucepan. It’s either dry, or the sauce splits, or the pasta gets tough after a round or two in the microwave. A bit of science goes into the reheating of a cream sauce, and it all has to do with the emulsion that’s the sauce itself. But without getting too scientific-y on you, let’s just say that when cream sauce cools, the oils and fats in the cream separate out. When reheating, you have to bring them back together as closely as they were when the Alfredo was fresh. You won’t get that “creamy, yummy, out of the pan” velvet taste of the Alfredo sauce, but you can come close.

So Who Is Alfredo Anyway?

Before we get to the second time around, let’s explore Alfredo sauce as it was originally prepared. And that means with just butter and Parmesan-Reggiano cheese. Nothing else. Chef Alfredo di Lelio started preparing his namesake dish in Rome in 1914. When film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks swooned over his dish, they took the recipe back to Hollywood with them.

Unfortunately, American butter and cheese just didn’t cut it in the creamy department. Toying with the recipe, cream was added for richness, and that’s how the American version of fettuccine Alfredo evolved.

Alfredo the Second Time Around

We all love and appreciate fettuccine Alfredo fresh out of the saucepan. But finishing a healthy portion is seldom accomplished, and the remainder goes into a “doggie bag” that never quite gets to the doggie. Heating your leftovers the next day or so is possible, but rarely does it turn out like the original.

Reheating Alfredo to Taste Good

If you’re in a rush and just want a quick bite of what you remembered as a luscious dinner of fettuccine Alfredo last night, a passable way to reheat the pasta and sauce is in the microwave. Put the leftovers in a glass dish and sprinkle a few drops of water on top. Cover with plastic wrap and slit the top once or twice to let the steam escape.

Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and stir. Add another splash of water if needed. Recover and place back in the microwave for another 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat until the fettuccine Alfredo is heated through and the noodles separate easily.

Reheating Alfredo to Taste Better

If you have a bit of time and want to treat your Alfredo with loving care, heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put it into a glass baking dish, add a few drops of water, and then cover it with foil. Heat for 10 minutes. Stir. Heat for another 10 minutes. Test. If needed, add more water to keep the fettuccine moist. Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of chopped parsley before serving.

Reheating Alfredo to Taste Best

There are two suggested reheating methods, and both come close to giving you Alfredo like it was the day before.

  1. Put the leftover Alfredo in a glass bowl and place the bowl in a water bath, or a pot with water coming halfway up the sides of the bowl. Heat the water and gently stir the fettuccine as it warms. This slow method allows the fat and the oil to come together again.
  2. In a saucepan, gently heat heavy cream. You won’t need a lot; just eyeball it for the amount of pasta you’re reheating. When the cream is warm, add the fettuccine and gently reheat it, mixing as it warms. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan, and you’ll have a lovely second meal from your fettuccine Alfredo.