Chicken Alfredo

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Chicken Alfredo combines tender bowtie noodles, succulent seasoned chicken, and the most amazing (lightened-up!) Alfredo sauce. We swap a few ingredients to bring you all the Alfredo flavors you know and love, with a fraction of the calories!

Overhead image of the chicken Alfredo on a plate, with a fork on the side.

Chicken Alfredo

There are few dishes I think of as more comforting than a big plate of Chicken Alfredo. And when the comfort food cravings hit, this is the dish I prepare. Since comfort food cravings hit frequently, it’s great to have a lightened-up Chicken Alfredo recipe, which is what I’m sharing today.

We swap a few ingredients in the sauce to lighten it up a bit without sacrificing flavors. While a typical Alfredo sauce can have loads more butter, cream cheese, and heavy cream, we replace all of those ingredients for lighter alternatives. Trust me, you won’t miss them! 

Process shots-- images of the chicken being prepped, seasoned, and cooked.

Lightened Alfredo sauce ingredients

  • Olive oil and butter: Just a little of each gets the sauce started and sautés the garlic. If you’d really prefer to shy away from the butter, add 1 additional tablespoon olive oil.
  • Minced garlic: Freshly minced garlic lends maximum flavor, but jarred garlic works in a pinch.
  • Flour: This ingredient is responsible for thickening up the sauce.
  • Chicken broth: Instead of using heavy cream, we substitute milk and chicken broth; this cuts tons of calories and infuses the sauce with additional flavor that complements the sautéed chicken nicely.
  • 1% milk: This is the lowest-fat milk I found to work in this sauce; 2% or whole milk will also work. I don’t recommend skim milk or milk alternatives like soy, almond, or oat milk. These milks don’t thicken well and change the overall flavor substantially.
  • Seasonings: Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt, pepper, and a dash of red pepper flakes give depth to the sauce. Feel free to increase any of these seasonings to personal preference, making sure to add the salt slowly so you don’t end up with an overly salted Chicken Alfredo (remember the chicken, pasta water, and chicken broth are all salted).
  • Neufchâtel cheese: Neufchâtel is sometimes labeled “1/3 less fat than cream cheese.” Cream cheese and Neufchâtel cheese are extremely similar, but the Neufchâtel keeps this sauce on the lighter side.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese: Good Parmesan makes a big difference to overall flavor. Avoid canned Parmesans and go for the blocks of cheese to freshly grate. We love Parmigiano Reggiano best in this Alfredo. If you’re a cheese lover, I highly recommend this cheese. (While a bit spendy, a little goes a long way, it lasts a good amount of time, plus it is so good!) When grating the cheese for this dish, use the small holes of your cheese grater.

Process shots-- images of the Alfredo sauce being made: heat olive oil, butter and garlic; add flour and cook; gradually add chicken broth; whisk in milk; whisk until smooth and thickened.

Chicken Alfredo tips and variations

  • Tailor the sauce to your preference. If the sauce tastes too heavy, cut through it with some fresh herbs (such as Italian parsley or thyme) or a drizzle of fresh lemon juice. For some heat, I recommend adding in some extra red pepper flakes. For additional flavor, I recommend a sprinkle of a this garlic herb seasoning blend.
  • Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. This helps to ensure quick and even cooking.
  • Season the chicken. Salt and pepper add a lot, but I like to add a seasoning blend as well. My favorite with Chicken Alfredo is this garlic herb seasoning blend, as well as a sprinkle of paprika. Any Mrs. Dash® chicken seasoning blends will also work great, and if you don’t have a seasoning blend, use some Italian seasoning.
  • Add some veggies. If you want to add in some veggies, I’d recommend some roasted broccoli or roasted asparagus on the side (or mixed into the dish). A few handfuls of baby spinach could also be stirred into the Chicken Alfredo.
  • Add some crunch. Toast some panko breadcrumbs in a skillet with butter (or olive oil) and garnish individual plates with a handful of the toasted breadcrumbs. These chicken parm stuffed shells describe how to make this crunchy topping in more detail.
  • Swap the pasta. Really, whatever pasta you have on hand will work. Penne, linguine, spaghetti and fettuccini are all great choices.

Overhead image of pasta, chicken, and fresh parsley over the Alfredo sauce, about to be mixed together.

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to season the water with plenty of salt before adding in the pasta; otherwise this entire Chicken Alfredo will taste under-seasoned. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt per 4 cups of water.

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Chicken Alfredo

5 from 2 votes
Chicken Alfredo combines tender bowtie noodles, succulent seasoned chicken, and the most amazing (lightened-up!) Alfredo sauce. We swap a few ingredients to bring you all the Alfredo flavors you know and love, but with a fraction of the calories!
Print Recipe

Chicken Alfredo

5 from 2 votes
Chicken Alfredo combines tender bowtie noodles, succulent seasoned chicken, and the most amazing (lightened-up!) Alfredo sauce. We swap a few ingredients to bring you all the Alfredo flavors you know and love, but with a fraction of the calories!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken alfredo
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 643kcal
Cost $4.56

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (315g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt, pepper, and chicken seasoning blend (See Note 1)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon (2 cloves) minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup (30g) white flour
  • 1 cup (235g) chicken broth
  • 1 cup (230g) 1% milk (2% or whole will work, but not skim)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH chicken bouillon powder, pepper, fine sea salt
  • 4 cups (225g) bowtie pasta (measured when uncooked)
  • 2 ounces (45g) reduced-fat cream cheese (or full fat)
  • 3/4 cup (56g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: fresh parsley, fresh lemon, red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • PREP CHICKEN: Dab chicken breasts with paper towel. Remove any fat from the chicken and cut into bite-sized (1-inch) pieces. Sprinkle all sides of the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and a chicken seasoning blend.
  • COOK CHICKEN: In a large (12-inch) non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add in the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken until cooked through (6-10 minutes; chicken juices should run clear or read 165 degrees F on a thermometer). Once cooked through, transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil. No need to wipe out the skillet; there will be bits of flavor left by the chicken! Proceed with preparing the Alfredo sauce in the same pan.
  • PASTA: While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil. Once water is boiling, generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon salt to every 4 cups of water). Add in the bowtie pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • ALFREDO: In the skillet used to cook the chicken, heat 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add in the garlic and sautee until fragrant. Stir in the flour and briskly whisk until a thick dough forms. Cook for about 1 minute over medium heat. Slowly and gradually pour in the chicken broth, while vigorously whisking. Whisk until completely smooth.
  • SAUCE CONT.: Slowly add in milk, whisking constantly. Whisk until mixture is slightly thickened. Add seasonings: the Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper (adjust salt to personal preference; chicken will be salted, chicken broth is salted, and pasta water is salted). Add in the softened cream cheese and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Reduce the heat to medium low. Stir until cream cheese is smooth and Parmesan is melted. Taste and adjust sauce to taste preference, adding in any additional seasonings if desired. If the sauce tastes too heavy, add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • FINISHING: Return the chicken to the pan and stir. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a little touch of heat. Enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I like McCormick's® garlic and herb chicken grilling seasoning blend; any chicken seasoning blend will work here. I also like to add a sprinkle of paprika to the chicken.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 643kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 32.6g | Fat: 20.7g | Cholesterol: 70.5mg | Sodium: 595.8mg | Fiber: 3.1g | Sugar: 8.1g

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6 Comments

  1. I love this recipe — lightened up versions of favorites are the way to go! I love to eat my favorite foods without all the guilt 🙂

  2. Wonderful texture and flavor without velveeta. Reheats smooth. This was delicious and so easy to make. Makes a bigger batch than I was expecting.

  3. I just found your website and all of your recipes look amazing! I have a question– I’ve seen “chicken seasoning” in a number of your recipes, but I’m unsure what that is. Can you help me out on where to find it? Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much Barbara! Chicken seasoning (also called poultry seasoning) can be found with all other spices/herbs in the grocery store. It is essentially just a blend of herbs that compliment chicken. Enjoy!

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