Light Alfredo Sauce & Cheesy Garlic Ciabatta

Jump to Recipe
Pan of our Healthy Alfredo Sauce alongside a baking sheet with slices of garlic bread

While some long to slide out of their shoes and too-tight work pants when they get home from a day at the office, I long to get in the kitchen. Busy evenings are my muse, along with pancakes, ice cream, and freshly-washed strawberries. Other topics for other days, I suppose.

Big pan of Shrimp Alfredo Pasta made with healthy homemade Alfredo Sauce

So upon returning from a particularly busy day at the office, I checked the “dinner menu” hanging on the fridge as it were, and saw I’d written “shrimp pasta” on Tuesday. And who am I to go back on my word? Pasta it was.

Big pan of Healthy Alfredo Pasta with Shrimp

Confession: I’ve used jarred sauces on my pasta before. Cue: shrill cries, eye rolls and stone throwing. Yada yada yada. But you have to admit, on occasion convenience wins over quality, just like every morning in high school when a pack of chocolate donut gems won over eggs and toast. Time, is, money.

Until I perfected this recipe, I went the convenience route when it came to my pasta. But once you’ve tasted homemade, you’ll never go back. In addition to this version taking only 15 minutes or less to throw together, it also requires no butter, no cream and packs a ton of delicious and zesty flavor from parmesan cheese, garlic, pesto and a pinch of red pepper flake.

Baking sheet with slices of our Cheesy Garlic Ciabatta bread recipe

Light Alfredo Sauce & Cheesy Garlic Ciabatta

A light and simple alfredo sauce that’s butter- and cream-free, and packs a ton of flavor thanks to fresh garlic, parmesan cheese and a spoonful of pesto. A ciabatta roll makes the perfect companion to this dish with its light and fluffy texture – but feel free to substitute baguette or another style of bread if you don’t have it on hand.
Author Minimalist Baker
Pan of Light Alfredo Pasta and baking sheet of Cheesy Garlic Bread
4.84 from 12 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Course Sauce, Side
Cuisine Vegetarian
Freezer Friendly 1-2 Weeks
Does it keep? 3-5 Days



  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth (DIY or store-bought)
  • 2-4 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp pesto (I used basil)
  • 1 healthy pinch red pepper flake (optional)
  • 10-12 ounces pasta (boiled)


  • 1 ciabatta bread roll
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh garlic)
  • 1 sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C).
  • Heat medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and garlic, stirring quickly to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Next, add milk and veggie broth and stir.
  • Then, begin adding 1 Tbsp of flour at a time, stirring with a whisk to reduce clumps. I recommend starting with 2-3 Tbsp (as original recipe is written) and adding more later if needed. You can also thicken with extra parmesan cheese. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flake, pesto, cheese and stir.
  • Bring a pot to a boil and cook pasta at this time. Drain and set aside.
  • Reduce heat on sauce slightly and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you notice the sauce is too thin, add a little more flour. If too thick, add a little more milk.
  • In the meantime, split your ciabatta roll in half and butter lightly. Slice it into thick strips, add the parmesan, garlic powder and mozzarella and place in the oven on a baking sheet.
  • Watch closely – it should only take 5 minutes to toast up. Remove from oven when lightly browned and cheese is melted.
  • If you have clumps in your sauce at this point (I usually have a few), pour mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Then return to saucepan, add your favorite pasta, toss and serve immediately.


*Questions about substitutions, equipment, or troubleshooting? Check out our Recipe FAQ page.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with pasta.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 495 Carbohydrates: 62.8 g Protein: 19.5 g Fat: 18.2 g Saturated Fat: 7.1 g Sodium: 483 mg Fiber: 1.2 g Sugar: 3.6 g
Healthy Alfredo Sauce & Cheesy Garlic Ciabatta #minimalistbaker

I crave this recipe at least once a week, and for good reason. It’s creamy, flavorful, cheesy and surprisingly healthy. My favorite pastas to serve it with are penne and linguini, but it really could go with just about any shape. Of course, meat is optional, but I find chicken or shrimp the perfect additions to this dish to add a bit more protein.

Healthy Alfredo Sauce & Cheesy Garlic Ciabatta #minimalistbaker


Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @minimalistbaker on Instagram and hashtag it #minimalistbaker so we can see all the deliciousness!

If you love this recipe...

Get Our Fan Favorites eBook Here!

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating!

Have a question? Use ctrl+f or ⌘+f on your computer or the "find on page" function on your phone browser to search existing comments! Need help? Check out this tutorial!

My Rating:

  1. Jael says

    Easy, quick, delicious and filling! We didn’t have any pesto, so I threw in a couple shakes of dried basil. My daughter also loves edamame so that went in too! We will be adding this recipe into our rotation.

  2. Lauren says

    I made this for dinner tonight and was amazed by the pesto + alfredo combination. I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it sooner! It’s brilliant! This sauce is going to be a new regular in the dinner rotation. Thank you for sharing.

    A few additions – I added chopped artichoke in with the garlic and sauteed it for a few minutes, then followed the rest of the recipe as is. I also boiled broccoli in the pasta water (separate from the pasta) and added the cooked broccoli into the sauce. Lastly, I mixed in some nutritional yeast for added cheesy flavor.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Charlotte. We are so glad you and your friends enjoy it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  3. Marti says

    Very delicious! The only modifications I made were to add shrimp I fried up and eyeballing the cheese rather than measuring it.

  4. Julie Desautels says

    Hi Dana! This looks awesome! Which plant based milk would give the best results? (almond, cashew, soy?)
    Thanks so so much! Also your vegan Parm recipe is the best :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Julie, We haven’t made this recipe with non-dairy milk and aren’t sure how it would turn out. But we would say unsweetened plain almond milk would be the best choice. Though you may prefer this recipe. Hope that helps!

  5. Kayla says

    Hi there!
    I was wondering what would constitute as “1 serving”
    I am currently counting my macros and was able to import the recipe into MyFitnessPal, but it does not state what a serving is.
    Thank you :)

  6. Jean B. says

    I love this recipe! I have made it many times over the last few years and it is always a hit. It tastes awesome, without being too rich like traditional alfredo sauce.

    I usually sift the flour as I’m adding it to the liquids to help avoid clumping. I have had the milk curdle on me if I have the temp too high, so watch for that! And I put the parmesan in before the flour so I can more easily control the consistency.

    I am not a vegetarian so I usually use chicken broth instead of veggie broth (have it on hand more often), and we also add chicken to it.

  7. Mandy says

    I just recently found out that I inherited a thick heart muscle from mom’s side of the family. Now I’m afraid to eat anything really. I know the basics; nuts, berries, greens, fish. I’m no chef, but when I do eat, of course I want something thats tasty and flavorful as well as healthy now and it has to appeal to picky family members as well. This recipe looks too good to be true. Is it healthy for people with heart conditions? I’ve been searching and while I do love Mexican food, which seems to be the best style for people with heart issues: between ground turkey and beans…My grandmother can’t stand Mexican style food or anything spicy which is where the pickyness comes into play. I need healthy things that everyone can enjoy. Please let me know if you or anyone has any suggestions. Thank you

  8. Lauren H says

    This is fantastic! Made it with almond milk. It’s everything I want Alfredo sauce to be and more.

  9. Ssoh says

    Do you know how long does it keep in the fridge or freezer? I make this on a weekly basis and I’ve made a double batch for next week. Thank you

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi! It should last 3-5 days in the fridge and a couple of weeks in the freezer! I recommend keeping the sauce and pasta separated in both cases for storage!

  10. Katy says

    This turned out so good! I only made one minor change and that was due to being out of pesto. I swapped it for roasted red pepper hummus. It was so good! Definitely going to be making this again!

  11. Danielle says

    Instead of spinning the sauce in a blender to reduce clumps, I combined the milk and flour in a mason jar, shook it up real good, and then added it to the broth and garlic. Potential for less dirty dishes this way.

  12. Kate says

    I made this tonight and it was wonderful! I don’t even like restaurant Alfredo sauce but my fiancé was craving Alfredo so I tried this lighter version and it was delicious! I used basil and fresh parsley instead of pesto…there were no leftovers! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Kristen says

    I made it and it was so delicious! My husband loved it. I also added mushrooms which are my favorite food. So delicious and quick to make in my opinion.

  14. Anonymous says

    made this today.. Yum!!! I added spinach in mine also, and used basil instead of pesto. I used a gluten free all purpose and gluten free brown rice pasta. Delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Kalesha says

    I’ve had such a craving for fettuccine Alfredo but all the cream and butter stopped me as I’m watching my weight. I tend to get scared of trying the “healthy” alternatives to my favorites. In fact when I told my husband I was trying out a healthy Alfredo sauce his response was simple, “ewwww” but as we took the first bites, we realized just how wrong we were. This is a delicious alternative and I will be using this recipe when I feel an Alfredo craving coming from now on. Thank you!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      haha, I know! “healthy” sauce have a bad rap. But I’m glad you both enjoyed this!

  16. Jennifer says

    Delicious. Used cornstarch as I weirdly was out of flour and it worked perfect. Adding peas and homemade bacon.

  17. FT says

    While you don’t say at what point you add the shrimp, would love to make this vegetarian but with another protein source. Any ideas?

  18. Lauren De Steno says

    This is so simple to cook. But i have an query can i use Knorr Alfredo Sauce mix because at present this sauce mix is available. Here you can get the product information.
    Kindly let me know.

      • Lauren De Steno says

        @Dana Shultz : Thanks! Alfredo Sauce mix is available at.
        Hope this will help for you to suggest me. if not i will follow yours complete ingredients.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yes! Plain unsweetened. I just made it that way the other night and it was delicious. I also subbed vegan parm for the cheese and it was awesome! Best of luck!

  19. Kristin says

    This was so easy! I subbed a firm balsamic cheese for the parmesan and it was the perfect savory complement to our turkey, broccoli and fusilli pasta night!

  20. Maria says

    Such an easy recipe and tastes amazing! I was so glad I found a way to have alfredo without all the fat! I wanted chicken alfredo so I sautéed some chicken and onions, steamed some broccoli and replaced the noodles with quinoa.

  21. Kimmy says

    This looks delicious! Unfortunately, my son is allergic to dairy so I was hoping to try it with soy milk instead.. Is the Parmesan a must to thicken the sauce or is it possible to leave it out?

  22. Lauren says

    I love the idea of a no butter, no cream alfredo sauce! I’m feeling a pasta craving coming and this will be the perfect sauce with it (woohoo healthy pasta!)

    • Mikki says

      Hi Lauren! I love your recipes!! I was just scrolling looking at this delish sauce to make tonight and was shocked to see you commented! Hiii! Haha

  23. Janelle says

    Just made this for supper, to accompany mushroom-lentil “meat”balls. Had some homemade mushroom stock in the freezer so I used that to tie in the mushroomyness. It was delicious. Hubby was walking around saying he didn’t want to stop eating. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I think it could be made in advance and frozen. Although I do think it might lose a bit of its freshness. Give it a try though and let me know how it turns out!

  24. Allyson Kelly says

    5-6 tablespoons of flour seems like too much for 1 1/2 cups of liquid. A typical “cream” sauce calls for tbls butter to 1 cup milk. I tried this recipe, changing the method, adding flour to the garlic and oil, creating a roux. Also, I added a tablespoon of my homemade basil pesto…. and scooped out at least half, as it was about to turn the sauce too green! I like the look of the dots of green basil among the white sauce. The flavor is wonderful! Also, I omitted the salt, as Parm cheese is quite salty enough.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Allyson, sounds like you made this recipe your own – that’s great! I use a higher flour-to-liquid ratio because it’s the way I prefer it, and achieves the best consistency for me, personally. But feel free to make any tweaks that you prefer – glad it still came out well!

  25. Heidi @ Food Doodles says

    Oooh, this looks delicious. Actually, this looks like dinner tonight, haha. Maybe I’ll sneak some veggies in to it too. Yummy!