Does chicken Alfredo have gluten in it?

The short answer is that traditional chicken Alfredo sauce does not contain gluten. Alfredo sauce is made from butter, cream, parmesan cheese, and spices – none of which contain gluten. However, some variations of chicken Alfredo served at restaurants or purchased pre-made can contain gluten. The main potential sources of gluten are thickeners added to the sauce, as well as pasta or breadcrumb toppings.

What is chicken Alfredo?

Chicken Alfredo is a classic Italian dish consisting of fettuccine pasta and a rich, creamy sauce made from butter, cream, and parmesan cheese. Pieces of chicken are often added to the pasta, creating chicken Alfredo. The sauce has a smooth, velvety texture and feels indulgent to eat. It was originally created in 1914 by Alfredo di Lelio in Rome. Since then, the dish has become popular worldwide.

The main ingredients in traditional Alfredo sauce are:

  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic (sometimes)

The sauce starts by melting butter in a pan and simmering it until it browns slightly. Cream is then added and heated gently. Finally, parmesan cheese is stirred in until melted and smooth. The sauce is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes garlic or nutmeg. Fettuccine pasta is often tossed with the finished sauce before serving. Sautéed chicken breast is a common addition to make it a complete chicken Alfredo dish.

Does traditional Alfredo sauce contain gluten?

No, an authentic Alfredo sauce made according to the original recipe does not contain any gluten. The main ingredients – butter, cream, parmesan cheese, and basic seasonings – are naturally gluten-free. As long as no thickening agents are added, the sauce has no sources of gluten in it.

Here are the reasons why traditional Alfredo sauce is gluten-free:

  • Butter is dairy and does not contain gluten.
  • Heavy cream is also dairy and gluten-free.
  • Parmesan cheese is grated hard cheese made from milk, and does not have gluten.
  • Salt and pepper contain no gluten.
  • Garlic is a vegetable with no gluten.

As long as no flour, breadcrumbs, pasta water, roux, or other gluten-containing ingredients are added, the sauce stays completely gluten-free. So if you make traditional Alfredo sauce according to the classic recipe, you can be assured it does not contain gluten and is safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Potential sources of gluten in chicken Alfredo

While a classic Alfredo sauce is gluten-free, some versions of chicken Alfredo served at restaurants or bought pre-made can contain sources of gluten:

  • Thickeners: Many cooks add flour or starch to thicken up Alfredo sauce. Flour contains gluten, while starch can sometimes be made from wheat. So thickened sauces may contain gluten even when traditional recipes don’t call for it.
  • Pasta: Chicken Alfredo is usually served over fettuccine pasta. While rice pasta or gluten-free pasta can be used, many restaurants use regular wheat pasta, which does contain gluten.
  • Breading: Some recipes bread chicken before sautéing it for Alfredo sauce. Breadcrumbs or flour are used to coat the chicken, adding gluten to the dish.
  • Garnishes: Alfredo sauce is sometimes garnished with breadcrumbs, croutons, or wheat-flour crusts to add crunch. These contain gluten even if the sauce itself doesn’t.
  • Preservatives: Store-bought Alfredo sauce may contain preservatives and anti-caking agents made from wheat. Always check the label when purchasing pre-made sauce.

So while Alfredo is traditionally a gluten-free dish, these tweaks and changes sometimes made to the original recipe can introduce sources of gluten. If you want to enjoy gluten-free chicken Alfredo, make sure to ask about the ingredients when dining out and read labels carefully on pre-made sauces.

Is Alfredo sauce naturally thick?

No, authentic Alfredo sauce made according to traditional Italian recipes has a thin, silky consistency. It relies on emulsification of the cheese and cream to create a smooth texture rather than using starches or flour to thicken it up.

Here’s why traditional Alfredo sauce isn’t designed to be thickened:

  • It’s made solely from dairy ingredients like butter, cream, and cheese. These create a thin, flowing sauce.
  • No flour, starches, or other thickeners are used in the original recipe.
  • The star ingredient – parmesan cheese – melts into a thin liquid rather than forming a thick base.
  • Alfredo is meant to cling lightly to pasta after tossing rather than heavily coating it.

The silky, lightweight texture is intended to complement the pasta rather than overpower it. So authentic Alfredo is not a thick, heavy, creamy sauce by nature. It has a thinner, more sauce-like consistency.

With that said, many modern recipes do add thickeners to make the sauce richer. Flour, cornstarch, potato starch, or pureed vegetables are sometimes used to create a thicker, more viscous Alfredo. So thicker versions are common, though not traditional.

How can you thicken Alfredo sauce?

If you want to make Alfredo sauce thicker, there are several options:

  • Flour: Whisking flour into the simmering sauce is one of the easiest ways to thicken it. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and add more if needed.
  • Cornstarch or arrowroot: These starches can also thicken Alfredo nicely. Whisk 1-2 tablespoons into the sauce towards the end of cooking.
  • Cream cheese: Softening a few ounces of cream cheese into the hot sauce creates thickness. Just stir over low heat until smooth.
  • Pureed vegetables: Blending cauliflower, potatoes, or white beans into the sauce adds body.
  • More cheese: Adding extra grated parmesan boosts the sauce’s thickness.
  • Reduce the sauce: Letting the Alfredo simmer until some liquid evaporates naturally concentrates it.

Start with small amounts of any thickener and add slowly until you reach the desired consistency. Too much starch or flour can make the sauce pasty or gluey. When in doubt, take a minimalist approach to retain the signature silkiness of Alfredo.

How to make gluten-free chicken Alfredo

Here is an easy recipe for gluten-free chicken Alfredo that avoids potential sources of gluten:


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season chicken
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz gluten-free fettuccine pasta
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Pour in the heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing it to reduce slightly.
  5. Add in the parmesan cheese. Whisk continuously until melted and smooth.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the gluten-free fettuccine according to package directions until al dente.
  7. Drain the pasta and toss with the Alfredo sauce. Top with the sautéed chicken and a sprinkle of parsley. Enjoy!

By using naturally gluten-free ingredients and avoiding thickeners or wheat-based pasta, this recipe keeps chicken Alfredo safe for gluten-free diets. The classic flavors of garlic, butter, cream and parmesan make it just as delicious!

Top 5 tips for gluten-free Alfredo sauce

Here are some top tips for keeping Alfredo sauce gluten-free if you are sensitive:

  1. Use a classically inspired recipe without added thickeners like flour or starch.
  2. Check all ingredients on the label if purchasing a pre-made sauce.
  3. Ask at restaurants if their Alfredo contains flour or if gluten-free pasta can be substituted.
  4. Avoid breadcrumb or flour coatings on chicken or pasta.
  5. Garnish with naturally gluten-free items like parsley instead of breadcrumbs or croutons.

With just a little care to avoid potential sources of gluten, you can still enjoy the rich, cheesy goodness of chicken Alfredo even with food sensitivities. A few small substitutions make the popular dish accessible for gluten-free living.

Common questions about Alfredo and gluten

Can I use cornstarch to thicken Alfredo sauce?

Yes, cornstarch is a good gluten-free substitute for flour to thicken Alfredo sauce. Start with 1-2 tablespoons stirred into the simmering sauce and add more if desired. Arrowroot starch can also be used in the same way. Just avoid regular wheat flour.

Is jarred Alfredo sauce gluten-free?

It depends. Some jarred Alfredo sauces are gluten-free, but you need to read the label carefully. Many contain flour or wheat thickeners. Brands like Bertolli do offer gluten-free options. But always check for the certified gluten-free label before using.

Can you use milk instead of cream?

Milk can be used but it won’t make an authentic Alfredo sauce. Cream has more fat, which contributes richness and body. Milk may need flour added to thicken it up since it’s thinner. For the most authentic, creamy flavor, use heavy cream.

Is Alfredo sauce keto?

Traditional Alfredo is keto-friendly since it’s low carb and made mostly from fats like butter and cream. Keep an eye on added thickeners like flour that can add carbs. And go light on starchy paste. Overall, a classic Alfredo pairs well with a low-carb ketogenic diet.

Is Alfredo Italian or American?

Alfredo sauce was originally created by Alfredo di Lelio in Italy in the early 1900s. The dish rose to popularity in the U.S. in the 1970s and many Americanized versions emerged. But the original Italian recipe remains the foundation for the sauce.


Chicken Alfredo is a pasta lover’s dream – unless you need to eat gluten-free. Traditional Alfredo sauce starts gluten-free, using just butter, cream, parmesan, and seasonings. But modern twists like thickeners, wheat noodles, and fried garnishes can introduce gluten. With care to avoid these pitfalls and use naturally gluten-free ingredients, anyone can enjoy this classic comfort food. A few simple modifications help bring Alfredo back to the table for gluten-free eaters.

Leave a Comment