I make a simple alfredo sauce that is absolutely delicious.

It´s as easy as melting butter in a pan (about 2 or 3 tablespoons), adding a glass of 18% cream, and then shredding parmesan into it.

The problem is that after 10 minutes, while the food is on the plate and being consumed, the cheese hardens and sticks to the pasta I poured it on. How do I make it maintain that smooth, silky consistency? Is it possible? Could it just be a matter or adding more cream and /or butter?

I hope some of you with more scientific cooking knowledge can help me with this.

  • 2
    When you say the cheese hardens and sticks, do you mean the cheese hardens separately from the cream and butter, or that the whole sauce sticks? Also, what about the sauce sticking to the pasta is bad? Do you mean the whole thing solidifies into a lump? Either way, I’d try adding a little of the pasta water to help the cheese emulsify.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 7:53

2 Answers 2


This is almost certainly due to cooling. Serving on heated plates will buy you some time. If (at home) you use microwave plate warmers you can place them under the plates after you've used them and the residual heat will keep the plates hot. You need to strike a balance as you don't want it to cook too much after serving.

Cream thickens on cooking (unlike butter which solidifies as it cools). So cooking the sauce for a shorter time might help as well. In fact the recipe I've got for this cautions against overcooking the cream (without saying why).

You don't say how much parmesan you add in proportion to the other ingredients, but you may be onto something with reducing it. Unfortunately this will reduce the flavour, and it's not like you can replace it with a much tastier cheese.

The other thing that's commonly done is adding a little pasta water to the sauce. If you're stirring it together, this can simply be a matter of not draining the pasta too much (this also depends on the shape). If you're spooning it over the top, taking a little of the starchy water just before you drain the pasta, and adding it to the sauce, could be worth a try. Again I don't know your exact quantities (like how big your glass is) but anyway it's a matter for experimenting. A tablespoon or two might be a good place to start. You probably need to put it in slowly while stirring.


Why not make the standard bechamel sauce? Pretty much as easy, add flour to the butter cook a minute, (at this point, I like a little garlic - saute a minute) then cream/milk, stir, then cheeses. As it cools it thickens, the degree depends on how much liquid was added. Put in a little bacon and you have added carbonara to your skills.

  • 5
    Technically, carbonara (real carbonara) is not a bechamel-based sauce, it's made of egg.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 21:36
  • And Alfredo is not made with bechamel ; I have made them that way for so long I forgot the originals. I think bechamel is easier to handle . Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 23:24
  • Carbonara does not contain flour, butter, garlic, cream, or milk, so it'd be quite a stretch to call it that.
    – Agos
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:19

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