I remember the first time my oldest daughter ate Olive Garden’s chicken alfredo. It became the gold standard for alfredo sauce in her mind. Whenever she eats fettuccine alfredo now, she says how good (or bad) it is relative to Olive Garden’s alfredo sauce. So, loving a good challenge, I’ve cooked, combined and tweaked many different recipes to come up with the ultimate copycat Olive Garden chicken alfredo recipe. My kids say this is actually BETTER than Olive Garden’s alfredo sauce *gasp*!!!
Many of the awesome members in our Facebook Group (which you need to join, if you haven’t yet!) asked for this one pot, easy chicken alfredo recipe, after seeing the photo. And y’all know I keep my promises! The full recipe is at the bottom of the post, BUT if you want the hints and tips to make it come out creamy and delicious (versus grainy and clumpy) then read all of the details first! Not only will it help this recipe come out perfectly, but you might learn a thing or two about how to cook chicken breast on the stove or fun add-ins and substitutions!
Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo Recipe – Hints & Substitutions
Before we get started, here are some pro tips, tweaks and substitution options!
1. Don’t use grated Parmesan in Alfredo Sauce
Just like I said in our Piccadilly Macaroni and Cheese Recipe, you do not want to buy grated cheese, if you can avoid it. When I say grated cheese, I mean this kind of Parmesan cheese. If your local grocery sells grated Parmesan that they have grated from a big block of cheese, that is totally fine! The reason that you want to avoid cheese that is grated is because they add anti-caking ingredients to keep the cheese clump-free. However, those same additives prevent the cheese from melting nicely, so you don’t end up with a smooth creamy sauce. Nobody wants a grainy or lumpy Alfredo sauce!!!
2. Grate your cheese, don’t shred it
Ideally, you will buy beautiful chunks of Parmesan and Romano cheese. Then, you will finely grate it. You do not want shredded cheese, because it will not melt as quickly or as nicely as grated cheese. The absolute BEST grater for Parmesan cheese (as well as zesting citrus fruits and other hard cheeses) is this Microplane Fine Grater.
3. The best cheese to use in Alfredo sauce
Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce is made using a combination of Parmesan and Romano cheeses. However, you can substitute the Romano cheese with extra Parmesan cheese. You can even use mozzarella, gouda or gruyere in a pinch (though it will taste vastly different, but still delicious!)
4. Best pasta for this Easy Chicken Alfredo Recipe
You can use other shapes of pasta if you prefer, but then you may have to cook it separately. I love using fettuccine or spaghetti, because then you only have one pan to clean afterwards!
5. Don’t be scared to add vegetables
I usually add in vegetables at the end (around the same time that I add the heavy cream.) This makes the dish well-balanced, gets extra veggies into my kids and I love the bright colors that pop through! Some of our favorite vegetables to add are broccoli, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and even bell peppers (red, green and yellow look so pretty!)
6. Cut the time in half by using cooked chicken
Do you have leftover chicken breast from dinner last night? Or a rotisserie chicken that you grabbed at the grocery store? You can make the recipe even faster by using shredded or diced cooked chicken. That will cut the cooking time in half!
1. How to Cook Chicken Breast on the Stove
The first step in making this Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo Recipe is to cook the chicken breast. I prefer slicing cooked chicken (versus dicing it up while it is raw). All I do is remove the chicken breasts from the packaging. Pat them dry. Heat a skillet over medium heat, melt butter in it, and add the chicken breasts.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, get one! You can thank me later!
I’m going to let you in on a major secret! Do you see how beautiful golden the chicken breast is in the photo below? If you want your chicken to come out perfectly golden on the outside and juicy on the inside, you NEED a cast iron pan. It took me years to finally get one, but I will NEVER go back!!! While you are picking up the cast iron pan, also grab a skillet lid and the ringer (this thing is AMAZING for cleaning not only cast iron pans, but also the inside of water bottles!)
How long should you cook chicken breast on the stove?
You are going to cook the chicken breast for 8 minutes on each side. Keep a lid on top of your skillet (except for when you are flipping the chicken breast) to make sure it gets cooked throughout and stays juicy. Don’t forget to season each side of your chicken breast with salt and pepper as well.
How long should you let the chicken breast rest before cutting it?
After your chicken breasts have cooked for 8 minutes on each side, make sure that the inside of the chicken breast is 165 degrees F using a meat thermometer (I LOVE this one!!!) Then, put the chicken on a cutting board to cool down for 10 minutes. You do NOT want to cut chicken straight out of the pan, because all of the juices will run out and you will be left with a dry piece of chicken.
2. Copycat Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce
While you are waiting for the chicken breast to cool down, so that you can slice it, let’s get started on the Copycat Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce!
Lower the heat, and add the garlic to your pan. You only need to cook the minced garlic for 30 seconds, just so that it is light brown. Garlic can burn fast, so be careful! If you are in doubt, it is better to add the liquids too early than too late!
Add the milk and broth to your skillet. Season with salt and pepper. I love to add a few sprinkles of this onion salt (once you try it you will NEVER use any other brand!!!) and this mushroom umami seasoning. Those two spices really kick your recipes up a notch, but it will still turn out great with just salt and pepper.
Yes, you cook the pasta IN the Alfredo sauce!
Bring the heat up to medium-low and let everything start to simmer. Once you see tiny bubbles of simmering action, throw in your fettuccine or spaghetti. Stir often, so the pasta won’t stick to the bottom of your pan, and cook it until the pasta is al dente (around 10-11 minutes, depending on your pasta.)
If your sauce is super thin, you can remove the pasta with some tongs and cook the sauce down a little bit (for about 5 minutes). You don’t want to overcook the pasta while the sauce cooks down, otherwise you will have mushy pasta!
Add the heavy cream to the sauce and cook for another few minutes, so that the sauce thickens up again. If you want to add broccoli or any vegetables, now is the time!
How to make Alfredo sauce creamy
Finally, add in your Parmesan cheese and cook over low heat until the cheese is melted. You do not want to overcook Parmesan cheese sauce! There are two big culprits of lumpy and grainy alfredo sauce.
- Using this kind of Parmesan cheese
- Cooking the sauce for too long or at too high of a temperature
If your Alfredo sauce looks thinner than you expect, do not worry! It will thicken as it cools down AND adding the pasta back to the sauce thickens it even more!
Add your pasta back to the skillet and toss it in the sauce. Place your sliced chicken breast on top of the pasta. Sprinkle your chopped parsley all over. Bon Appetit! You are about to eat the best chicken alfredo recipe!!!
Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo Recipe (Easy, One Pot Meal!)Print Recipe
- 2 TB butter
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1.5 cups whole milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2-3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 8 oz fettuccine or spaghetti
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best!)
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese (freshly grated is best here too!)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- chopped parsley (garnish)
- black pepper
- Warm a large pan over medium heat. After the pan is warm, add the butter and tilt the pan so that the butter is distributed all over the bottom of the pan.
- Add your chicken breasts. Season the top of the chicken with salt and pepper. If you have thick pieces of chicken breast, put a lid on the pan to help the middle get cooked through. Cook the chicken for 8 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Remove the cooked chicken breast from the pan. Place the chicken on a cutting board, so that you can slice it after it has rested for 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the skillet for around 30 seconds. You want the garlic to be light brown in color but not burn!
- Pour the whole milk and chicken broth into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, based on your preference. Let the sauce warm up to a simmer.
- Add the spaghetti or fettuccine to your pan, and continue stirring until it is al dente (around 10-11 minutes, depending on the type of pasta.)
- If your sauce is still thin at this point, remove the pasta with cooking tongs. That way the sauce can continue to thicken and cook down, without your pasta getting overcooked!
- Once the sauce has thickened a little (about 3-5 minutes usually), add in your heavy cream. Continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened again (another 5 minutes or so).
- Add in the Parmesan cheese and cook it over medium-low heat just until the cheese is melted. Do not overcook it!
- Toss the pasta back into the pan and mix it with the sauce. Add your sliced chicken on top.
- Garnish by sprinkling chopped parsley on top and serve!
What Side Goes with Chicken Alfredo?
In addition to adding vegetables to this dish, I love to serve it with a big side salad tossed in a garlic vinaigrette. It helps to balance out the richness of the chicken alfredo!
Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo Recipe (Easy, One Pot Meal!)
Don’t forget to let me know how the recipe turns out for you by posting a comment below or in our Facebook Group. I’d love to see a photo of your easy, Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo!!!