Salmon alfredo is a creamy and flavorful meal that's easy enough to make on a busy weeknight! Fettuccine pasta and flaked salmon are tossed in a homemade alfredo sauce.
If you're looking for a restaurant quality dish that is sure to impress dinner guests - give this salmon alfredo a try. While it's quick enough to make for a weeknight meal, it can easily pass for a fancy dinner entrée!
Fettuccine pasta is tossed in a creamy and flavorful homemade alfredo sauce and tender baked salmon. The addition of starchy pasta water makes the sauce extra creamy without feeling too heavy or rich.
Ingredients and substitutions
For this recipe, you can use dried fettuccine or fresh homemade pasta. 8 ounces of dried pasta equals about 12 ounces of fresh pasta.
Heavy cream is a must - it gives your sauce a rich, thick, and smooth texture without the need for thickening agents like flour or cornstarch.
Parmesan cheese is another must, and it needs to be freshly grated. This part is so important that I dedicated an entire section to cheese grating below!
If you don't have garlic cloves on hand, they can be substituted with garlic powder (added with your other seasonings). However, fresh garlic adds exceptional flavor to your sauce that you won't get from garlic powder.
Italian seasoning can be store bought or homemade seasoning. If you don't have Italian seasoning, substitute with equal parts of any dried Italian herbs you have on hand, like oregano, basil, sage, marjoram, rosemary, or thyme.
Freshly grated cheese
Freshly grated parmesan cheese is a must for a creamy and smooth alfredo sauce. You may be asking - why?
Pre-shredded cheeses (or green canisters of cheese) are coated in anti-clumping powders. When melted, these powders will make your sauce grainy.
To prevent a grainy or clumpy sauce, grate your cheese yourself. It only takes a minute, but makes a major difference in the texture of your sauce.
Parmesan cheese can be grated with a variety of kitchen cools, like a microplane, a box grater, or a handheld grater. If you're feeling fancy, invest in a rotary cheese grater!
- Microplane Classic Fine Grater/Zester on Amazon
- Cuisinart Boxed Grater on Amazon
- OXO Good Grips Handheld Grater on Amazon
- Classic Rotary Cheese Grater-NSF Restaurant Certified on Amazon
Reserving pasta water
If you've never reserved pasta water before, you may be thinking - why? And how is reserved pasta water different than regular water?
Once your pasta has finished cooking, your boiling water will look slightly cloudy. This pasta water contains starches that have been released from the pasta while it cooks.
Adding this reserved pasta water to your alfredo sauce later will make it rich, thick, and creamy, but not heavy.
Did you forget to reserve pasta water before your drained your pasta? That's okay - it happens to us all! To substitute 1 cup of pasta water, add ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch to a cup of water and whisk until dissolved.
Side dishes to serve with alfredo
A few easy side dishes that pair well with salmon alfredo:
- Freezer garlic bread
- Garlic bread cheese balls
- Roasted zucchini and squash
- Strawberry spinach salad
- Italian chopped salad
- Parmesan asparagus with lemon butter
Alfredo sauce generally does not keep well as a leftover. Cream based sauces do not freeze well, and alfredo sauce in particular does not reheat well.
When reheated, the sauce separates - one part is gloppy/cheesy and the other part is pure butter. Not very appetizing!
Why does this happen? In short, the emulsion breaks. An emulsion is formed between the liquids and the fats during the cooking process. That emulsion breaks when reheated in a microwave or stove top.
I do not recommend making extras of this recipe to reheat later. If needed, cut this recipe in half by hovering over the servings number below and sliding the bar to your desired serving size.
- 12 ounces salmon fillets
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces dry fettuccine
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place salmon fillets, skin side down, onto baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until salmon flakes apart easily in the center with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before flaking salmon apart with a fork. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. Cook fettuccine according to package directions for al dente pasta. Before draining, ladle out 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and return stock pot to the stove.
- Over medium heat, add butter to the stock pot. Once melted and bubbling, add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add heavy cream, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly. Add parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
- Reduce heat to low. Add your cooked fettuccine and ½ to ¾ cup of reserved pasta water to the pot and stir to incorporate (add more reserved pasta water as needed to achieved desired sauce consistency). Add flaked salmon and toss to coat just before serving.
- This recipe makes just enough sauce to lightly coat your pasta and salmon. If you love lots of sauce, I recommend doubling the sauce portion of the recipe.
- Forget to reserve some of your pasta water? Add ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch to 1 cup of water and whisk until completely dissolved.
- Alfredo sauce does not do well as a leftover - sauce will separate (the emulsion breaks) when reheated in the microwave or on the stove top.
- Substituting heavy cream with half & half or milk will make your sauce very thin and less creamy - I do not recommend using any dairy other than heavy cream for this recipe.
- Pre-shredded cheeses contain anti-clumping powders that when melted, will make your sauce grainy. I do not recommend using pre-shredded cheese.