Parmesan Cream Sauce

Here’s a quick and easy Parmesan cream sauce that makes pasta taste simply divine! It uses just a ingredients you might already have on hand.

Parmesan cream sauce

Want a quick and easy creamy sauce that works for pasta or seafood? Say hello to this easy Parmesan cream sauce! It’s lusciously silky and bursting with flavor from garlic and Parmesan cheese. This tastes like a sauce you’d get at a restaurant: but it takes only 10 minutes to make at home! All you need is a handful of ingredients you might already have on hand. We love making this as a pasta sauce for a quick and easy dinner recipe, but there are lots of other uses too. Ready to get started?

How to make a roux for Parmesan cream sauce

 The magic behind this Parmesan cream sauce? The roux. A “roux” is flour and butter cooked together and used to thicken sauces. It’s usually made from equal parts of flour and butter. If you’ve ever made homemade mac and cheese, you’ve made a roux.

A roux is not hard to make, but the cooking does go quickly and you’ll need to react fast. Here are some tips for how to make a roux: read these before you start!

  • Measure out all the ingredients first, and don’t leave the stove. The cooking process goes so fast, you’ll want to have everything measured in advance. Don’t get distracted when you’re making it: you’ll need to be by the stove the whole time.
  • Melt butter and saute the garlic 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook: you don’t want it to brown!
  • Add flour and whisk constantly. Important: the flour can overcook in an instant, turning a brown color. Whisk constantly and cook just until it’s a golden color.
  • Whisk in the milk gradually. Add a splash of milk and whisk constantly, then keep adding a few splashes at a time until the sauce is smooth. Simmer and the roux will thicken the sauce!
Parmesan cream sauce

Parmesan cream sauce ingredients (no cream!)

This Parmesan cream sauce uses only a few ingredients. And guess what? There’s no cream in it! Cream is more of a specialty ingredient that we usually don’t stock in our refrigerator. So this recipe is made with milk instead of cream! It comes out perfectly rich and creamy without it. The ingredients for Parmesan cream sauce are:

  • Salted butter
  • Garlic
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese
Parmesan cream sauce

The Parmesan cheese to use

You can use several types of Parmesan cheese for this recipe! Of course, the better the cheese, the better the flavor! Here’s what we recommend:

  • Block of aged Parmesan cheese: Using a high quality block of aged Parmesan makes it taste incredible! Shred it using a grater or microplane.
  • Packaged shredded Parmesan: This sauce still tastes great with the pre-shredded Parmesan cheese that comes shredded.

What not to use? That shaker can of grated Parmesan cheese! That types doesn’t work as well here.

It’s best freshly made (storage notes)

This Parmesan cream sauce is best freshly made. It takes only 10 minutes to make, so it’s not hard to whip up while your main dish is cooking. This is why we’ve made the recipe below for only 3/4 cup or enough for 8 ounces pasta: it’s best to not have leftovers.

If you do have leftovers, you can save them in the refrigerator. To reuse, heat the sauce on the stovetop and mix with additional milk until it comes back to a creamy consistency. You may need to add a few more pinches of salt too.

Parmesan cream sauce

Tips for serving Parmesan cream sauce with pasta

Want to serve this as an easy pasta sauce? Here are a few notes:

  • Serve with any type of pasta noodle. Long noodles like bucatini or short noodles like rigatoni and penne are our favorites. But you can use any type of pasta you like!
  • It makes enough for 8 ounces pasta. This is enough for 3 to 4 modest servings. Depending on what else you’re serving it with, you may want to increase to 12 or 16 ounces pasta.
  • Add few splashes of milk to the pasta and sauce. To get it perfectly creamy, add a few splashes of milk to the pasta to loosen the sauce and help it come to the right consistency.

More ways to use Parmesan cream sauce

You can also eat this sauce outside of pasta! There are lots of ways to use a Parmesan cream sauce, like:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free flour.

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Parmesan cream sauce

Easy Parmesan Cream Sauce (10 Minutes!)


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup or enough for 8 ounces pasta 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s a quick and easy Parmesan cream sauce that makes pasta taste simply divine! It uses just a ingredients you might already have on hand.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter* (double all ingredients to serve with 1 pound pasta)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Measure out all ingredients in advance; the cooking process happens fast! If serving with pasta, cook 8 ounces pasta while you make the sauce.
  2. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the grated garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned.
  3. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute to 90 seconds, until bubbly and golden. Do not overcook it: the flour can turn brown within a few seconds. Keep an eye on it!
  4. Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk and whisk them in until the entire quantity is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.
  5. Reduce the heat and whisk until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes like raw flour, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and Parmesan cheese. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if desired.
  6. If serving with pasta, drain the pasta, then add the sauce. Add a splash or two of milk to loosen the sauce and come to just the right creamy consistency. Taste and a few more pinches of salt, if necessary. (The sauce is best freshly made, so we don’t recommend making it in advance).

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Parmesan cream sauce

More Parmesan recipes

Parmesan makes everything better! Here are a few great recipes starring this tasty cheese:

  • Parmesan Broccoli We dare you not to take another bite of this crispy, crunchy Parmesan broccoli!
  • Parmesan Potatoes Imagine: roasted potatoes that are crispy outside, tender inside, and covered in crunchy Parmesan cheese.
  • Parmesan Truffle Fries Crispy potatoes, truffle oil, and Parmesan cheese: WOW! Bbaked in a hot oven until they’re crisp.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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