Chicken Alfredo

By Ann Fulton

Lighter than the traditional Alfredo but equally irresistible, this easy recipe offers the option to add favorite vegetables and vary the protein.
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Lighter than the traditional Alfredo but equally irresistible, this flavorful pasta dish comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus, there are options to add favorite vegetables and vary the protein.


Welcome to Fountain Avenue Kids! Joey is back with his fabulous energy and enthusiasm to demonstrate a new-and-improved chicken Alfredo. Among other upgrades, we included three veggies. Joey chose one, I chose another, and we agreed on the third. And the results took Joey by surprise. If you didn’t see Joey’s first video, check out Chicken in Parchment, an easy recipe that I use often!


Before setting out to create the following recipe, Joey had told me countless times that chicken Alfredo is his favorite dish. He really wanted to learn how to make it.

The traditional Italian Alfredo dish consists of fresh fettuccine tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese. As the cheese melts, it combines with the melted butter to form a smooth and rich cheese sauce that coats the pasta. American versions of the recipe add heavy cream to the mix and has evolved to include chicken.

Joey was accustomed to the jarred sauce and wanted to make Alfredo from scratch. Initially, I hesitated because of the copious amounts of cream, butter, and cheese that make the dish taste so good.

I suggested a few alternatives – but Joey always returned to chicken Alfredo.


Though my desire for the kids cooking series is to present wholesome fare, it is equally important that no ingredient be considered off-limits or taboo (aside from allergies and specific health restrictions, of course). For a love of cooking to take root, it also helps if the kids are really excited about what they are cooking.

So, I set out to develop a recipe that fulfilled Joey’s wish while simultaneously introducing some healthful changes – and, importantly, without sacrificing traditional flavor. Ease and options, as always, were factors as well.

As such, the new-and-improved cream sauce is a simple combination of whipped herbed cream cheese (I use Boursin) and chicken broth with a judicious amount of Parmesan cheese stirred in. Chicken broth and a little pasta water thins the sauce while keeping it lusciously flavorful. The finished sauce will look thin at first but will thicken as it coats the pasta. 

Chicken is added for satiating protein, and we used a fabulous, hands-off cooking technique—Chicken in Parchment—which ensures tender, juicy meat every time. (No cleanup either!) Alternatively, leftover grilled, sauteed, or even rotisserie chicken may be used. My family enjoys the pasta with shrimp as well.

Finally, remembering a creamy pasta dish my grandmother used to make, which included a colorful array of vegetables, I suggested we add some. Joey initially balked, and then said he’d include mushrooms.

I recommended we add three—he could choose one vegetable, I’d choose another, and then we’d agree on a third. I highlighted the visual appeal of the colors as well as how the variety could add interest to every bite.

He had made his choice—mushrooms. We agreed on peppers. When I said my pick was broccoli and he said “YUCK!”, I said if he really didn’t like it, he could pick it out and never include this veggie again.

So, what did Joey think? He lit up after the first bite. And who would have guessed—he loved the broccoli, both for its taste and the vibrant pops of green.

Our conversation was a helpful reminder that making a variety of foods available, without forcing them, can have a positive outcome. It also reinforced to me how important it is to listen to kids if we want them to be active participants in their overall health and well-being as well as day-to-day meal preparation, whether that involves actual cooking or simply choosing their own snacks. 

Just like Joey feared the broccoli would detract from his much-loved meal, I feared the traditional meal would be a cholesterol bomb, heavy and devoid of more redeeming nutrients. But thanks to Joey’s persistence, I got to work and discovered delicious possibilities that made everyone truly happy and satisfied.

Joey and I have made the Alfredo recipe several times since, and his enthusiasm hasn’t dulled. In fact, when we made it for the recent video shoot, he proclaimed it to be the best plateful yet…and he requested the broccoli!

Did you know?

Fettuccini Alfredo was named after Alfredo di Lelio, who featured the dish at his restaurant in Rome, Italy in the early to mid-1900s. Adding to its wide appeal was the restaurant’s practice of preparing it tableside.

Kids in the Kitchen with Joey making his favorite chicken Alfredo

Where the chicken is concerned, you could use leftover grilled, sauteed, or rotisserie chicken. We like the hands-off approach of Chicken in Parchment, which cooks the meat to tender, juicy perfection and virtually eliminates cleanup.
When cooking in parchment, simply sprinkle salt, pepper, and dried oregano over the breasts before sealing the packets. For extra flavor, I add the natural juices that cook out to the Alfredo sauce when adding the pasta water.

Kids in the kitchen with Joey!

Joey loves soccer and would love a piano. For now, he plays a mean keyboard!

Lighter than the traditional Alfredo but equally irresistible, this flavorful pasta dish comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus, there are options to add favorite vegetables and vary the protein.

The veggie possibilities are many, from mushrooms and broccoli to snap peas, sweet peas, and asparagus. For the peppers, we like to use the mini bell peppers, which are sold in a bag of assorted colors and can be easily sliced with very little deseeding needed. Kids (and adults) often enjoy the sweet, two-bite peppers for general snacking too, whether used with a dip like hummus or ranch or eaten as is. 

Chicken Alfredo
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Lighter than the traditional Alfredo but equally irresistible, this flavorful pasta dish comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus, there are options to add favorite vegetables and vary the protein.
For the chicken:
  • 2 medium chicken breasts (about 12-14 ounces total)
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt, black pepper, and dried oregano (or Italian seasoning)
For the pasta:
  • 8 ounces fettuccine (or pasta of choice like penne or cavatappi)
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetables like thinly sliced bell pepper, onions, snap peas, thinly sliced carrots, roughly chopped spinach, bite-size broccoli florets, green beans, frozen peas, and/or asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • ¾ cup (180ml) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (5.2-ounce) package Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese
  • ¼ cup (20g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional for serving: Additional Parmesan cheese for sprinkling; a handful of halved cherry tomatoes; chopped fresh parsley; lemon wedge for squeezing; freshly ground pepper to taste

For the chicken: (Note: You may cook the chicken according to a different method – sautéed and grilled chicken work well – or make use of leftover or rotisserie chicken.)  Preheat the oven to 350℉ and place a long piece of parchment paper in front of you. Fold it in half like a book, creasing at the fold. (Eyeball a piece that is long enough to hold the chicken breasts, side by side, with extra room for crimping.)

Unfold the parchment and place the chicken on one side with a little space in between. Sprinkle the chicken all over with the salt, pepper, and oregano.

Fold the parchment paper back over. Then, starting at one end of the parchment, fold the edges over, working your way along all the sides until the packet is completely sealed.
Place the parchment packet on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before opening—be careful of the hot steam. When cool enough to handle, chop or slice. Prep-ahead tip: The chicken may be prepared in advance; refrigerate after cooling. It will stay fresh for about 5 days.

For the pasta: Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid before draining. 

For the veggies: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables of choice, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes. Peas will take a minute or two, so they can be added last. If using, add the garlic in the final 30 seconds. This will prevent it from burning. As an option, firmer vegetables like broccoli, green beans, and carrots may be added to the pasta water in the last 3-5 minutes of cooking, depending on how crisp or tender you like them.

Add the chicken broth to the veggies in the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the Boursin cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.

Add the chicken and drained pasta to the skillet. Sprinkle the Parmesan over top and toss well. At this point, pour in enough of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency. (Helpful hint: The sauce will thicken slightly as it cools, so it’s ok to make it just a little thinner than you ultimately want—and keep the rest to add to any leftovers.)

Serve: Top with an additional dusting of Parmesan cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, parsley, pepper, or a squeeze of lemon, if desired.


Instead of chicken, you could use cooked shrimp or crumbled bacon. For a meat-free variation, try adding chickpeas or shelled edamame.

Mix up the veggies: Green beans, cauliflower, carrots, snap peas, sweet peas, and spinach are just a handful of worthy alternatives. Halved cherry or grape tomatoes are a nice addition as well. When using, I like to stir them in at the end rather than cooking with the other vegetables. You could even stir in leftover roasted or grilled vegetables.

For gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan: Gluten-free pasta may be used, and Boursin has a vegan cheese. If seeking out a meat-free recipe, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the chicken or substitute chickpeas or shelled edamame. For a meatless option with added staying power, you could try a legume-based pasta like Banza, which supplies more protein and fiber than traditional pastas and tastes much the same. Jovial and Barilla offer excellent, widely available, gluten-free pastas as well.

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A fun nutrition fact from our dietitian Emily:
A pasta dish, especially a notoriously decadent one such as chicken Alfredo, can feel or sound off-limits, especially for those with diabetes who are managing carbohydrate intake. But a dish like this one, when broken into its components, is actually quite balanced and extremely satiating. Per serving, each person would have about 2 ounces pasta (1/2 serving of carbohydrate exchange), about 1.5 ounces cheese, and the rest is non-starchy vegetables and protein.

For those who are curious…
The reason we don’t list nutritional breakdowns next to each recipe is because the numbers can change significantly depending on brands people buy and how exact the measuring is. In saying that, if you email me separately, I can provide you with my best estimations on the nutrients you would like to know more about in this recipe. I’m happy to help! 

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  1. Ines Di Lelio


    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo Di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1948 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    The brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma” is present in Mexico with a restaurant in Mexico City and a trattoria in Cozumel on the basis of franchising relationships with the Group Hotel Presidente Intercontinental Mexico.
    The restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the Registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence – section on Historical Activities of Excellence” of the Municipality of Roma Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    1. Ann Post author

      Ines, Thank you very much for sharing this piece of history. It’s fascinating to read, and I’m sure many others will enjoy the backstory on the famed dish as well!

  2. Trudy Eby

    I made this tonight and it was delicious. I used large slices of sautéed portabella mushrooms instead of meat, with onions and broccoli for veggies, YUM!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Trudy, Slices of portabellas would be wonderful in place of the meat. Thank you for mentioning and I’m delighted you enjoyed!