Garlic Cream Sauce (Garlic Alfredo Sauce)

5 from 15 votes
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This 5-ingredient garlic cream sauce (garlic alfredo sauce) is rich, creamy, dreamy, and made with a simple combination of parmesan, butter, garlic, and cream at its base (with several flavor variations!). Perfect for making creamy garlic pasta, pouring over seafood and meat, veggies, and more!

A saucepan with garlic cream sauce

When you’re struggling for a last-minute quick and simple meal, one of my go-to’s is pasta. I often have some homemade pesto or homemade tomato sauce to hand in the fridge/freezer and often turn to practically effortless dishes like Italian-inspired pasta aglio e olio (garlic and olive oil) and pasta al Limone (garlic-lemon). However, when you crave comfort, this ultra-creamy garlic cream sauce (aka garlic alfredo sauce) is my go-to for super comforting creamy garlic pasta or even to use over proteins and veggies!

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What is Alfredo sauce?

Traditionally, alfredo sauce is a simple white/parmesan cream sauce made with a combination of butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese – using the latter as a natural thickener. For this version, though, I also added sauteed garlic and thickened the sauce with a flour roux (gluten-free option available), as I love to dilute the sauce with pasta water for a lighter (yet still decadent and creamy) garlic alfredo sauce.

A serving of pasta with garlic cream sauce

This creamy garlic butter sauce is ready in just 10 minutes, made with kitchen/pantry staples (with the option of cream or milk depending on what’s available), and is super versatile – both with optional mix-ins and the way you serve it. Not to mention it’s freezer-friendly for up to 3 months!

Want more simple sauce inspiration? You might also enjoy creamy roasted red pepper sauce, bechamel sauce, and/or avocado pasta sauce!

The ingredients

This creamy garlic sauce requires just 5 base ingredients plus salt and pepper!

  • Butter: use high-quality store-bought or homemade unsalted butter.
  • Cream: I used double/heavy cream for the richest results. Check the FAQs below for alternatives/lighter options.
  • Parmesan: use fresh parmesan that you can grate yourself. Pre-shredded won’t disperse into the parmesan cream sauce as smoothly.
  • Flour: this will make the roux and thicken the sauce. I use regular all-purpose flour. However, for a gluten-free creamy garlic sauce recipe, you could use King Arthur’s gluten-free AP flour or turn to starches, like arrowroot or cornstarch.
  • Garlic: I use fresh garlic cloves for a more robust flavor in this creamy garlic sauce recipe. However, roasted garlic should also work, or even garlic powder (in a pinch only). Adjust the amount to taste.
  • Salt & Pepper: added to taste.
Ingredients for garlic cream sauce

Optional add-ins

The simplicity of the creamy garlic butter sauce means there are several ways that it can be adapted. Here are just a few of my favorite options:

  • Lemon: a creamy lemon garlic sauce is one of my favorite go-to’s. Add some lemon zest at the same time as the parmesan. Finish it with lemon juice to taste (or serve the dish with lemon slices/wedges).
  • White wine: use a generous splash of white wine (2-3 Tbsp) to create a white wine garlic cream sauce. Add it at the same time as the cream.
  • Mushrooms: easily adapt this to garlic mushroom cream sauce with plenty of chopped mushrooms. Sauté them in the pan until browned before adding the garlic and then continue with the recipe as written.
  • Fresh Herbs: several herbs pair with this garlic butter cream sauce, including finely chopped fresh parsley, dill, chives, thyme, etc. Add towards the end.
  • Dried herbs: alternatively, you can rely on dried herbs and seasonings like Italian seasoning, oregano, thyme, etc., for additional flavor.
  • Broth: instead of diluting the sauce with pasta water, you could use vegetable stock or chicken broth.
  • Bouillon/stock powder: instead of salt, you can add a pinch of chicken/veg stock powder for tons of added depth.
  • Spice: a pinch of red pepper flakes or chili/cayenne pepper will add some heat to the creamy garlic butter sauce.
  • Mustard powder: adding a large pinch of mustard powder will add wonderful depth to the sauce. Alternatively, a small amount of Dijon mustard (½-1 tsp) could work.
  • Pesto: a spoonful or two of pesto is a must-try addition. Like this traditional Italian pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto, or vegan pistachio pesto.
  • Spinach: for extra nutrients, stir a handful (or two) of baby spinach into the creamy garlic sauce right at the end (the residual heat will cauce it to wilt).

How to make garlic cream sauce

First, grate/mince the garlic and grate the parmesan (using the small holes on a grater/microplane). Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Grated parmesan and garlic

Once melted, add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often, so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Then, add the flour, stirring constantly for about a minute until golden.

To use cornstarch, create a cornstarch slurry by mixing it with a few spoonfuls of milk instead of making a roux. Then add it to the sauce after all the cream is incorporated. Note that the amount needed will differ from flour.

Slowly start incorporating the cream, little by little, stirring constantly. Then, season it with salt and pepper.

Allow the creamy garlic butter sauce to simmer and thicken (usually 2-3 minutes).

Finally, add the parmesan, stir well, and remove the sauce from the heat.

Steps for preparing garlic cream sauce

You can now either use the sauce as is. However, when using this for creamy garlic pasta, I always dilute it with some starchy pasta water, allowing it to simmer and thicken slightly to my desired consistency.

How to serve

Along with being a delicious creamy garlic pasta sauce (which is enough of a reason to make it!), there are several ways to enjoy this garlic cream sauce!

  • Pasta: I use this primarily as a creamy garlic pasta sauce. Whether to make a garlic shrimp alfredo, fettuccine, or turn to any other type of pasta: general pasta, noodles, ravioli, gnocchi, and more. Pair the pasta with chicken, mushrooms, or seafood (shrimp, salmon, lobster, etc.).

You can also use this sauce as the white sauce in a lasagna!

  • Seafood: this creamy garlic butter sauce makes for a delicious all-purpose fish sauce, as well as for shrimp, lobster, etc.
  • Meat: enjoy this sauce to make creamy garlic parmesan chicken, steak, etc.
  • Vegetables: pour over roasted/grilled veggies for a creamy, dreamy treat! I particularly like it with broccoli and asparagus.
  • Pizza: drizzle the garlic sauce over your pizza of choice. i.e., this Neapolitan pizza or sweet potato crust pizza.

If you enjoy it another way, let me know in the comments!

Mixing garlic cream sauce with pasta

How to store and reheat

Store: store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. It can become thick/gummy but will loosen up upon reheating and whisking.

Freeze: allow the garlic alfredo sauce to cool and then transfer to airtight container/s (jars or containers) with a little headspace OR reusable Ziplock bags (I like to portion mine). Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Upon thawing, the consistency can seem a little odd, but whisk it well when reheating, and it should sort itself out.

Reheat: you can reheat the garlic cream sauce gently on the stovetop or in the microwave until piping hot (or at least 165ºF/74ºC). You may need an extra splash of cream or milk to bring it back to your desired consistency.

Pasta with garlic cream sauce topped with parsley

FAQs

Can I use milk instead of cream?

As this is a roux-based sauce, using whole milk instead of cream will work but won’t be as rich. You could even use whole plant-based milk (plus vegan butter). If preferred, you could also use half and half or make your own 50/50 milk and cream combo.

Do I need to use flour/a thickener?

Technically, you could create this creamy garlic sauce with no kind of thickener, as the parmesan will naturally thicken it. However, when adding extra pasta sauce to it (as I do), the roux helps to creamy it creamy and luxurious.

Why does the sauce taste floury?

This usually happens if you didn’t cook it for the full minute before adding the cream. It needs to reach a golden color to reduce that “raw flour” taste (but not more).

Can I use salted butter?

Technically, you could. I prefer not to, though, as I’m then able to season it to taste.

A saucepan and a bowl with garlic cream sauce pasta

Recipe tips

  • Adjust the garlic to taste: in fact, you can adjust the amount of garlic and parmesan to taste.
  • Don’t burn the garlic: when sautéing it, it can turn lightly golden but shouldn’t brown, or it can make the whole sauce have a burned taste.
  • Whisk constantly: when adding the flour and slowly pouring in the cream, it’s important to whisk constantly. Not only to avoid burn but also for a super-smooth, lump-free sauce.
  • To thicken without flour/starch: you can rely on the parmesan cheese (adding more if preferred) and starches in the pasta water to thicken the sauce. Allowing it to simmer for longer to thicken and reduce will also work.
  • To use roasted garlic: the flavor is far more mellow, so you may want to use up to an entire head for roasted garlic cream sauce.

More simple garlic recipes

If you try this simple garlic cream sauce (garlic alfredo sauce) recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Garlic Cream Sauce (Garlic Alfredo Sauce)

5 from 15 votes
By: Samira
This 5-ingredient garlic cream sauce (garlic alfredo sauce) is rich, creamy, dreamy, and made with a simple combination of parmesan, butter, garlic, and cream at its base (with several flavor variations!). Perfect for making creamy garlic pasta, pouring over seafood and meat, veggies, and more!
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 oz butter unsalted
  • 3.5 oz parmesan cheese (1 cup freshly grated)
  • 3 garlic cloves adjust to taste; roasted garlic would also work (increase amount to taste up to a whole head)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour or King Arthur's gluten-free AP flour OR cornstarch/arrowroot
  • 1/2 cup cream double/heavy; check the notes section on the blog for substitutes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Grate/mince the garlic and grate the parmesan (using the small holes on a grater/microplane).
  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often, so the garlic doesn't burn.
  • Add the flour, stirring constantly for about a minute until golden.
    To use cornstarch, create a cornstarch slurry by mixing it with a few spoonfuls of milk instead of making a roux. Then add it to the sauce after all the cream is incorporated. Note that the amount needed will differ from flour.
  • Slowly start incorporating the cream, little by little, stirring constantly. Then, season it with salt and pepper.
  • Allow the creamy garlic butter sauce to simmer and thicken (usually 2-3 minutes).
  • Add the parmesan, stir well, and remove the sauce from the heat.
  • You can now either use the sauce as is. However, when using this for creamy garlic pasta, I always dilute it with some starchy pasta water, allowing it to simmer and thicken slightly to my desired consistency.

Storage Instructions

  • Store: store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. It can become thick/gummy but will loosen up upon reheating and whisking.
    Freeze: allow the garlic alfredo sauce to cool and then transfer to airtight container/s (jars or containers) with a little headspace OR Ziplock bags (I like to portion mine). Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
    Upon thawing, the consistency can seem a little odd, but whisk it well when reheating, and it should sort itself out.
    Reheat: you can reheat the garlic cream sauce gently on the stovetop or in the microwave until piping hot (or at least 165ºF/74ºC). You may need an extra splash of cream or milk to bring it back to your desired consistency.

Notes

  • Adjust the garlic to taste: in fact, you can adjust the amount of garlic and parmesan to taste.
  • Don’t burn the garlic: when sautéing it, it can turn lightly golden but shouldn’t brown, or it can make the whole sauce have a burned taste.
  • Whisk constantly: when adding the flour and slowly pouring in the cream, it’s important to whisk constantly. Not only to avoid burn but also for a super-smooth, lump-free sauce.
  • To thicken without flour/starch: you can rely on the parmesan cheese (adding more if preferred) and starches in the pasta water to thicken the sauce. Allowing it to simmer for longer to thicken and reduce will also work.
  • To use roasted garlic: the flavor is far more mellow, so you may want to use up to an entire head for roasted garlic cream sauce.
FAQs:
  • Can I use milk instead of cream? As this is a roux-based sauce, using whole milk instead of cream will work but won’t be as rich. You could even use whole plant-based milk (plus vegan butter). If preferred, you could also use half and half or make your own 50/50 milk and cream combo.
  • Do I need to use flour/a thickener? Technically, you could create this creamy garlic sauce with no kind of thickener, as the parmesan will naturally thicken it. However, when adding extra pasta sauce to it (as I do), the roux helps to creamy it creamy and luxurious.
  • Why does the sauce taste floury? This usually happens if you didn’t cook it for the full minute before adding the cream. It needs to reach a golden color to reduce that “raw flour” taste (but not more).
  • Can I use salted butter? Technically, you could. I prefer not to, though, as I’m then able to season it to taste.
Check the blog post for more ingredient notes, optional add-ins, and serving recommendations!
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 5 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 343kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 88mg, Sodium: 801mg, Potassium: 72mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 987IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 323mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 15 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. LeAnne says:

    5 stars
    Easy and tastes great. I added shallots, mushrooms, spinach, fresh parsley and Patagonian scallops. Tastes like the frozen garlic scallops that Publix sells. Cheaper and better tasting though.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, LeAnne!

  2. Kyleigh says:

    5 stars
    This recipe alone was amazing! I was trying to make a copycat of a popular restaurant in Florida. I used this recipe but added Old Bay, Slap yo mama seasoning, and parsley! ‍

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Your version sounds delicious, Kyleigh. Glad you liked it!