If you search for the best way to reheat Alfredo sauce leftovers, you've come to the right place. Alfredo sauce is one of the pasta sauces that you can reheat in your microwave without losing its smooth, rich, velvety consistency, providing you know the process.
Once you've finished reading this article, you will know the best way to go about it to end up with a great sauce you can pair with any pasta you choose.
I must warn you, though, that reheating Alfredo sauce in your microwave can be problematic if you don't know the best way of going about it. If you're not careful, you can end up with the sauce separating or becoming lumpy.
But if you follow the instructions correctly, you can enjoy a lovely, reheated sauce with a subtle hint of garlic (optional) and the unmistakable taste of Parmesan cheese.
Add the pasta, a little drizzle of olive oil, and a touch of seasoning, and you will have a plate of gorgeousness that your family will love.
However, reheating Alfredo sauce is not quite as easy as it sounds. If you reheat it at too high a temperature, it's likely to split on account of the molecules of the dairy proteins losing their structure.
Greasy fat will accumulate on the surface, and the sauce will become lumpy. Gone is that lovely velvety creaminess, along with some of its amazing flavor. It will still be edible, but nowhere near as good as it could be.
Please, let me help you to avoid such a catastrophe.
How to heat up Alfredo sauce in the microwave
To reheat a single portion of this great sauce, start by transferring it into a microwave-safe bowl.
To help prevent it from separating, add a tablespoon of milk or water and mix well to make sure all the pasta is moistened.
Stretch a piece of plastic clingfilm or food wrap across the top of the bowl, make a couple of holes allowing steam to escape. Or alternatively, a you can put a sheet of damp paper kitchen towel.
Adjust the power setting of the microwave to 50% and nuke for 30 seconds.
Take the bowl out of the microwave, remove the film or paper towel from the top and give the pasta a good stir.
Return to the microwave and nuke for another 30 seconds.
Continue this procedure until the Alfredo sauce is reheated to your liking.
- You can store any leftover sauce in your fridge or freezer if you wish to keep it longer.
- It would be best to defrost frozen Alfredo sauce before reheating. I prefer to leave my frozen sauce in the fridge overnight to defrost, but if you've forgotten or you are in a rush, you can always try thawing it in your microwave on the defrost setting.
- Proper defrosting helps to ensure the sauce reheats evenly and that it doesn't separate.
I'll give you some more tips as you read on. Towards the end of this article, I've listed some frequently asked questions that you will find helpful, but please carry on reading in the meantime.
The origin of Alfredo sauce
The origin of Alfredo sauce goes back to 1914 when Alfredo Di Lelio first created his Fettuccine Alfredo. Four years earlier, Alfredo had opened a restaurant in Rome, called Alfredo's, on the Via Della Scrofa.
Alfredo's son, Armando, had just been born, and the tired mother was left with no appetite. He tried several things, but the one thing that worked was when he created some fresh fettuccine swirled with Parmigiano and butter. She loved it and polished off the plate in quick double time.
The story goes that in 1920 Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Mary Pickford, who was honeymooning in Rome, dined at Alfredo's restaurant and fell in love with this fettuccine dish.
So much that they dined there every day and later returned to the restaurant to present Alfredo with a gold-plated spoon on which was inscribed, "to Alfredo the Noodle King, July 1927."
Is reheating Alfredo sauce in your microwave safe?
Reheating Alfredo sauce in your microwave is perfectly safe as long as you follow these instructions.
However, before you reheat any leftover sauce, check it to ensure it doesn't have a sour or tangy odor. If it does, it is a clear sign that it has spoiled and should dispose of it accordingly.
If you carry on and consume pasta with spoiled Alfredo sauce, it could give you food poisoning.
However, when stored correctly and not beyond the recommended time, your leftover sauce should be perfect for reheating in your microwave.
How to reheat pasta with cream sauce in your microwave
If you've already combined pasta with Alfredo sauce or a cheese sauce, you should approach the microwave reheating process in a slightly different way to that of reheating sauce on its own.
When you microwave anything, you should use a microwave-safe bowl.
If it looks a little dry when transferring the pasta combined with the sauce, you can add a tablespoon of milk or water and give it a good stir.
Cover the bowl with plastic cling film or a sheet of damp paper kitchen towel to prevent the pasta from drying up. If using cling film, pierce it a couple of times to allow any steam out.
Microwave in 30-second bursts stirring in between each session to ensure the pasta is heated evenly and prevent any hotspots from building up.
Making homemade Alfredo sauce
When Alfredo Di Lelio first made his famous sauce back in 1914, the Parmagiano cheese he used was cut from the core of a whole wheel of cheese.
In addition, the butter he used was a triple cream variety, the richest available in those days and something that you can't get today. Those were the only ingredients.
Today, here in America, unless you have a local cheese specialist store, you're not likely to be able to get a piece of Parmesan cut from the core of a wheel.
Instead, you just need to make sure you buy the best Parmesan you can.
Some people find it difficult to melt Parmesan and use Dutch Gruyere cheese instead. You can use any cheese you like, but for me, Parmesan imparts the best flavor.
Also, because you won't have access to Alfredo's triple cream butter, you will need to use an ordinary good quality, full-fat butter with a little bit of heavy cream.
Alfredo was a purist and didn't add anything else to his original sauce, maybe because his wife was in a somewhat delicate position.
Today, however, it is not uncommon to add some chopped parsley, a clove of garlic, a little bit of salt (Parmesan cheese is already quite salty), and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.
- One-quarter of a cup of butter
- One cup of heavy cream
- One clove of garlic (crushed)
- 1 ½ cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- One-quarter of a cup of chopped parsley
- Italian seasoning (optional)
Add the butter to a heavy-based pan and gently warm on your stovetop.
Add the heavy cream and continue to gently warm, giving it an occasional stir. Allow the sauce to simmer, but make sure it doesn't boil, or it will split.
Add the crushed garlic, a little salt, and some freshly ground black pepper, plus a sprinkling of Italian herbs (optional).
Gently whisk the sauce as it simmers for approximately one minute to take the raw edge of the garlic.
Finally, add the Parmesan cheese and continue to stir until it has completely melted and combined, giving you a smooth, velvety sauce.
How to store Alfredo sauce
As the Alfredo sauce contains dairy products, you must be careful not to leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours. If you do, bacteria will be encouraged to grow.
- Allow the sauce to cool, then transfer into a shallow container.
- If the container has a lid, seal it in place, and transfer it into your fridge, where you can keep it for between four and seven days.
- If you want to keep it for longer, you will have to freeze it. As before, allow it to cool, then transfer to a shallow dish or a resealable Ziploc freezer bag, evacuate as much air as you can, seal and place it in the freezer where you can keep it for up to 3 months.
Evacuating the air will help to prevent freezer burn.
How to prevent Alfredo sauce from curdling
If you cook or reheat Alfredo sauce at too high a temperature, the butter will separate from the rest of the sauce. The only way to prevent this from happening is to heat it gently and not let it come to the boil - instead, you should just allow it to simmer.
#1 Curdled egg sauces
The same sort of thing can happen with sauces that contain eggs. When these are heated too aggressively, you will, in effect, end up with scrambled eggs.
You can control the heat by using a cooking thermometer. As you gently heat the sauce, the temperature you're looking for is between 160°F and 180°F.
#2 Tempering a sauce
Some recipes suggest tempering a sauce. To do this, you must heat the cream or milk in a saucepan on its own, allowing it to simmer but not come to a boil.
While doing this, whisk eggs into a bowl and then pour the gently heated liquid onto the egg yolks in the bowl in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while.
This allows the eggs to warm through gently without scrambling.
Once you've mixed a little of the liquid with the egg yolks, you can then pour it back into the saucepan containing the rest of the cream or milk and continue to stir until it thickens.
Ideally, the source should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
#3 Curdling produces curds and whey.
You've probably heard the children's nursery rhyme, Little Miss Muffet.
She was the young lady who sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey, which are produced when milk coagulates.
Coagulation happens when you add an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar to a dairy product. It is the increase in acidity that makes the milk proteins get tangled into a solid mass. It leaves a leftover liquid which is called whey.
As mentioned earlier, heating dairy products, particularly low-fat products, at too high a temperature can also cause them to curdle.
The fact of the matter is that you can typically boil heavy cream without any problem, but low-fat milk, on the other hand, has more of a tendency to curdle. This can also happen to half and half.
Curdled sauces are still edible, but the look and texture are unappetizing.
Another way of preventing a sauce from curdling, other than heating it gently, is to add cornstarch to the milk while it is still cold.
It helps to stabilize it, which means that curdling is a lot less likely.
Making a buttermilk at home
There may come a time when you want a dairy compound to curdle and separate, for example, if you are trying to make a buttermilk at home. You can do this quite easily by adding a little vinegar to the liquid.
As noted above, an acidic substance will start the curdling process, and the separated liquid (whey) you are left with can be used as your buttermilk substitute once you've strained off the curds.
How to fix curdled sauces
To avoid confusion, I will separate the sauces into two types - egg-based and dairy-based sauces.
Fixing curdled egg-based sauces
The easiest way of fixing a curdled egg-based sauce is to pass it through a sieve or, alternatively, to whisk it vigorously to smooth out the scrambled egg.
This will work if you catch the sauce in time before it has completely curdled.
Fixing dairy-based sauce
This tends to be a little trickier. Here's what you can try:
- Heat a small quantity of cream or milk in a saucepan on your stovetop.
- Slowly add the curdled sauce whisking all the time and allowing it to heat gently. What usually happens is that the fat in the milk tempers the sauce and helps to restore it.
- You can also try positioning the sauce over and an ice bath or adding an ice cube to it.
- Another fix is to mix a little cornstarch with a few drops of water and combine it into a slurry, which you can stir gently into the curdled sauce. If that doesn't fix it, you will, unfortunately, have to start from scratch.
The utensils you use can also cause reheated Alfredo sauce to curdle.
Believe it or not, the utensils you use when reheating your Alfredo sauce can contribute to its curdling.
People often use spatulas or spoons to stir the sauce while reheating the sauce. You will stand a much better chance of avoiding it curdling if you stir it with a whisk.
Another thing that can cause your Alfredo sauce to curdle when reheating is the type of pan you're using, especially if it's a thin-bottomed pan. You are much better off using a deep, heavy-bottomed pan or even one made from cast iron.
Another alternative is to reheat it in your microwave, as discussed earlier.
Frequently asked questions
Why is it that my Alfredo sauce keeps breaking?
When a sauce's ingredients separate, it is said to be broken. The white base often stays on the bottom of the pan, and the buttery liquid separates and floats on top of it. The most likely causes are:
- You used to high a temperature and allowed the source to boil.
- Another possibility is that you added heavy cream while it was still cold. Adding a cold liquid to a warm one can cause the two to separate. You should slightly warm the cream before adding.
How can I fix broken Alfredo sauce
There are several ways of going about this.
- Heat half a cup of heavy cream until you've reduced it to one-third of its volume.
- Slowly pour the warm, concentrated cream into the sauce, whisking as you go. With any luck, this will bring the consistency back to its lovely creamy normality.
It helps if you can catch it early, as soon as you notice it begins to separate. When you spot this happening, you can add a little liquid. Milk works well. Start off by whisking in one or two teaspoons and add more if necessary.
If your Alfredo sauce has completely broken, you can mix one egg yolk together with a tablespoon of the source, blending it. Pour it into the Alfredo sauce and gently whisk to thicken.
As butter is an emulsion, it can separate when it gets hot. Another potential fix is to melt some cold butter in warm water and then add the warm milk or cream, gently whisking as you do so.
Why isn't my Alfredo sauce nice and creamy?
If your Alfredo sauce has turned lumpy or gritty, it's probably because the ingredients you used are not high-fat. It's important to use the best quality high-fat ingredients to get a nice smooth finish to your sauce.
You may also find that your Alfredo sauce is somewhat stringy. If that happens, you can repair it by sprinkling a little lemon juice over the grated cheese before adding it to the sauce.
Can I freeze my Alfredo sauce?
Yes, you can. As soon as it has cooled down to room temperature, transfer it into a shallow container or freezer-safe Ziploc bag, evacuate as much air as you can, and store it in your freezer.
Reducing the amount of air inside the container or bag helps to prevent freezer burn. Make sure you allow a little room inside the container or bag to allow for expansion. Label and date, and its job done.
For how long can I keep my Alfredo sauce?
It depends on how you intend to store it. If you're going to keep it in your fridge, it will be okay for between four to seven days.
If you're going to freeze it, you can keep it in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Whichever method you prefer to follow, remember not to leave the sauce out at room temperature for more than two hours before you refrigerate or freeze it.