Tips You Need To Spice Up Your Jarred Alfredo Sauce

Let's face it, even those who love cooking don't always feel like cooking. After a busy day, making dinner can be a daunting task. So what do you do? You reach for a jar of Alfredo sauce and a bag of pasta to put dinner on the table. Of course, a creamy homemade Alfredo sauce is the best way to enjoy this rich, buttery sauce, but sometimes you don't have time or energy to make it, so a jarred Alfredo sauce will have to do. Luckily there are a few ways to spice up that boring jarred Alfredo sauce to give it some new life.

Home chefs know that adding a few extras here and there to store-bought staples can level up many foods, and Alfredo sauce is no different. With a few simple steps, you can upgrade your Alfredo and create a new version of this classic white sauce. You probably already have everything you need in your pantry to spice up that jarred sauce to make a delicious dinner in no time.


You don't have to look far to upgrade a basic jarred Alfredo sauce; just look in your spice cabinet for nutmeg. A pinch of nutmeg is the perfect way to take your jarred Alfredo sauce to another level.

You are probably used to using nutmeg in sweet foods as it's a staple in many holiday desserts, but in Italy, it's used in both sweet and savory foods. The creamy Italian bechamel sauce is known to have a pinch of nutmeg to bring the flavors together, so a bit of this all-purpose spice can help its cousin sauce, the Italian-American Alfredo sauce. The key here is to keep it to a pinch or two, so it doesn't overpower the entire dish.

If you have both ground and whole nutmeg in your spice cabinet, the best choice here is to use whole nutmeg and grate it yourself. Freshly ground nutmeg has a strong flavor, and a little goes a long way. If you only have ground nutmeg, that will work too. You just may need to use a bit more since ground nutmeg isn't as strong as fresh (via SPICEography).

Cream cheese

If you love the convenience of a jarred Alfredo sauce but find it isn't creamy enough for you, that's an easy fix; just reach for the cream cheese. Adding cream cheese to a jarred Alfredo sauce adds a silky, velvety texture. Cream cheese has a high-fat content, so it melts effortlessly into the Alfredo sauce. Don't worry about the flavor of cream cheese overpowering the sauce — it simply adds another layer to the flavor with a mild sweet tanginess that complements the buttery sauce.

When choosing which cream cheese to add, you should opt for the original plain full-fat cream cheese. If you are worried about calories and fat, you could use low-fat cream cheese without affecting the flavor and consistency too much. Low-fat cream cheese has half the fat of regular cream cheese and fewer calories (via Calorie King). However, you will want to steer clear of nonfat cream cheese because, without the fat, cream cheese has a plastic-like texture that will ruin your Alfredo.


Adding more greens is an easy way to make any dish healthier. And with a high-fat, high-carb dish like pasta Alfredo, adding greens gives a nice balance and adds extra flavor and texture.

Try adding greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard to your store-bought Alfredo sauce for a pop of color and taste. Just be careful not to overcook the greens before adding them to the sauce. Overcooking greens into a mushy pile is a common mistake that plagues many home chefs. And a soft pile of overcooked greens is not going to make your Alfredo better. But lightly sautéed greens that cook down but still maintain their texture will contrast the sauce's creaminess and add something healthy to this decadent sauce.

If leafy greens aren't your favorite, you can add broccoli, asparagus, or Brussel sprouts to the sauce. To make the most of these firm greens, try roasting them in olive oil before adding them to your pasta Alfredo. Oven roasting crunchy vegetables is the best way to release their natural sweetness and compliments the buttery sauce.


If you want to really wow your dinner guests with a jarred Alfredo sauce, then you need to amp up the fat and flavor with pancetta. Pancetta, just like bacon, makes every dish better. Adding pancetta to Alfredo sauce will give your sauce a savory flavor, and the extra fat will add to the creamy texture creating an even richer sauce. Most supermarkets sell pre-chopped pancetta, so adding it to your dish is easy. If you can't find it in your supermarket, check an Italian deli or your local butcher for pancetta. If you are in a pinch, you can always substitute pancetta with bacon.

Bacon and pancetta are commonly mistaken for one another. While you can use them interchangeably for certain dishes, the two types of cured meats are different. They are cured meats from the same part of the pig, the belly. The curing process is a bit different for each rendering two distinct but similar types of meat that can add something special to Alfredo sauce.

Red pepper flakes

Those that like it hot know the power of red pepper flakes to perk up any dish, including Alfredo sauce. You have probably seen shakers of red pepper flakes in your favorite pizzeria and are familiar with the heat these tiny red seeds add to a piping hot slice of pizza. But they aren't just for pizza; you can add them to a lot of other dishes too. So reach for the red pepper flakes when you want to add something extra and transform a bland sauce like a store-bought Alfredo into a fiery feast.

If you want to add a kick to your sauce but are worried about overpowering your sauce, try sifting your red pepper flakes to distribute the heat more evenly. Even those that love their spicy foods don't enjoy a mouthful of spice.

Crushed red pepper flakes are commonly made with cayenne peppers, which contain capsaicin, the component responsible for setting your face on fire. The cool thing about capsaicin is it has been shown to kick your metabolism into gear and aid in weight loss (via Healthline). So think about that as you are indulging in a creamy plate of pasta Alfredo and you will be inspired to add some crushed red pepper (for your health, of course).

Fresh herbs

Another simple way to spice up a boring jar of Alfredo sauce is fresh herbs. Adding fresh herbs to a dish makes it brighter and adds another dimension to a tired sauce. Add basil, parsley, oregano, or rosemary to add life to the sauce. The first three herbs are classic for many Italian dishes, and rosemary is a common addition to creamy potato dishes, so adding them to a jarred Alfredo sauce makes sense. The key to cooking with fresh herbs is to add them when the dish is almost done to take advantage of the fresh flavor. 

Another way to dress up an Alfredo is to sprinkle a handful of freshly chopped chives on the finished dish. Adding fresh chives adds an effortless elegance that transforms the most basic Alfredo.

If you can't get your hands on some fresh herbs, you can substitute with dry as long as you follow the basic general rule for subbing dry herbs for fresh, which is to use less because dry herbs are more concentrated than fresh.

Infused oils

Dress up a dull jar of Alfredo with a drizzle of infused oil. Infused oils are olive oils that have been mixed with fresh ingredients and allowed to marinate together to create an aromatic oil. Fresh herbs are commonly infused in olive oil, and garlic and spicy chilies also work well. Garlic or herbed oils would naturally go well with an Alfredo sauce. If you prefer a bit of a bite, use olive oil infused with habanero or cayenne peppers. 

Look for infused oils in the specialty section of your local supermarket, or make your own. You will be surprised just how easy it is to make your own infused oil at home. Marinate your favorite high-quality extra virgin olive oil with your choice of enhancements to create a personalized infused oil.

Don't worry about adding more unhealthy ingredients to your already rich Alfredo sauce. According to Healthline, olive oil is actually healthy and has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a healthy way to add something extra to a jar of Alfredo sauce.

White wine deglaze

Every home chef should know how to deglaze a pan. Deglazing grabs all the last flavorful bits so that nothing is wasted in cooking. Deglazing a pan is as simple as simmering a pan in stock or wine and stirring the stuck-on bits into the sauce. According to the BBC, if you're using wine to deglaze, let it simmer for several minutes to ensure the alcohol cooks off.

So if you are cooking a protein like chicken or shrimp to add to your Alfredo sauce, use white wine to deglaze the pan when you are finished to add that extra goodness to your jar of Alfredo.

According to Total Wine, the best white wine for a cream sauce is a dry white like a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. So choose carefully which wine to use to deglaze your pan to ensure it matches the type of dish. While you are cooking, enjoy a glass to reward yourself for learning a new cooking technique.


You'd be surprised by how much a squeeze of lemon adds to a jarred Alfredo sauce. Adding a touch of acid to a dish is the perfect way to liven up the flavor without being too overpowering. Just make sure to add the splash of citrus after your jarred sauce has been heated to keep the acid's intensity.

Using a hearty squeeze of lemon to finish a dish is perfect, but what happens if you have too much acid in your sauce? According to the Washington Post, the best way to fix a dish with too much acid is to rebalance it with a splash of cream, milk, or butter.

Lemons work on so many levels, from sweet desserts to savory dishes. They are an excellent fruit to keep stocked in your kitchen. According to Slate, to get the longest life out of your fresh lemons, you should store them in the crisper drawer. Of course, chilled lemons aren't as easy to squeeze, but that's an easy fix. Prior to squeezing, roll them between your hands to warm them up or zap them in the microwave for a few seconds.


Surprisingly a traditional Alfredo sauce doesn't contain garlic. An Alfredo purist would argue that a true Alfredo sauce has only heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and butter (via Forbes). Most jarred brands of Alfredo sauce have bucked traditions and contain some garlic in the form of garlic salt, but for garlic lovers, a pinch of garlic salt in a store-bought sauce is not enough. Adding extra garlic to your jarred Alfredo sauce will pick up the energy and give the sauce some much-needed zing.

The best way to add extra garlic to a jar of Alfredo sauce is to roast it until it has a soft, buttery consistency. But if you are short on time, you can mince it and sauté it for a couple of minutes in butter before adding it to your Alfredo. Be sure to keep the heat low, so you don't make the mistake of burning it. Garlic cooks fast, and once it's burnt, there is no saving.

If you love garlic, but find peeling it to be a tedious task, try soaking the cloves in warm water to make the peeling process more accessible. Don't forget to keep some breath mints handy to avoid eye-watering garlic breath. If you don't have any mints, eat an apple slice or drink a cup of green tea to neutralize the strong garlic smell (via Healthline).

White balsamic vinegar

Yes, white balsamic vinegar is a thing, and if you aren't familiar with it, you are missing out on all the ways it can transform a dish. You have probably tried regular balsamic vinegar, with its dark syrupy goodness, maybe drizzled over a Caprese salad. But you may not be familiar with the other type of balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar. The two kinds of vinegar are made from Trebbiano grapes, but white balsamic isn't aged nearly as long and isn't caramelized to a deep dark color (via Old Town Olive).

Besides the color, the main difference between the two is that white balsamic vinegar has a milder taste; think of it as balsamic light. It's perfect for adding more flair but without being overwhelming. It works well with salad dressings, vegetables, chicken, fish, and, you guessed it, to liven up a jar of Alfredo sauce. Add a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar to a plated pasta Alfredo for a nice tangy finish.

Sautéed mushrooms

If you are looking for a way to bulk up a boring Alfredo and make it a more full-bodied sauce, add sautéed mushrooms. Mushrooms are versatile vegetables often used to substitute meat in vegetarian versions of classic dishes. Of course, mushrooms are fungi, but they are classified as a vegetable (via Fruits and Veggies). They have a rich earthy umami taste and complex texture, adding another dimension of flavor and texture to any dish.

When you sauté mushrooms in a little butter on medium heat, you can draw out the moisture and flavor hiding in these little gems. However, for maximum flavor, remember to keep the heat low and the pace slow to get the best flavor. While there are many mushrooms to choose from, the best options to boost a store-bought Alfredo sauce are button or cremini mushrooms, adding a perfect meaty texture to a smooth, silky Alfredo.

Cajun spices

Those living north of the Mason-Dixon line may not be familiar with Cajun spices or know how to use them. This unique spice blend varies in the south, but the foundation is white and black pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder. In some Cajun blends, cumin and chipotle are added for a fuller flavor (via MasterClass). Cajun spices are commonly used with seafood and other savory dishes and would work well blended into a creamy jar of Alfredo. Adding Cajun seasonings to a shrimp Alfredo will give the dish a smoky heat that the buttery cream sauce will balance out.

If you think Cajun spices and Creole spices are interchangeable, you may be surprised to learn they are not. While the two spice blends are similar, they have some key differences. According to PepperScale, Creole and Cajun spices have the same base, but Creole spices lack the smoky heat that is a signature of Cajun cooking. Creole spice blends replace the heat with oregano, basil, and thyme, giving it an earthy herbal taste. So, if you love the taste of Cajun spices but are sensitive to spice, you could add Creole spices to your jar of Alfredo to get the same flavor minus the heat.

Anchovy paste

Anchovies, these salty little fish, are polarizing among diners. Some go to great lengths to avoid them, and others look for ways to get more of them into their diet. In Italy, cooks do not shy away from utilizing this salty treat in red and white sauces. Adding a little anchovy flavor to a buttery Alfredo will add a unique richness to this mild sauce. Of course, you want to avoid using whole anchovies and instead opt for anchovy paste. Anchovy paste is all the best anchovy parts in tube form. For some chefs, it's their secret weapon, and they use it in many dishes.

According to MasterClass, these small briny fish add a salty flavor with an earthy umami finish. Don't be afraid to try it in your jarred Alfredo sauce; the salt balances the dairy perfectly. You will be surprised at how much you like it, without ever even noticing it is there.

Blue cheese

Blue cheese is a colorful cheese with an intense flavor that will liven up your jar of Alfredo sauce. It's a complex cheese with an origin story straight from a fairy tale (via Forbes). Many know it as a popular salad dressing, but this unique cheese has more to offer diners and can dress up any jarred sauce. The best way to add blue cheese to a jar of Alfredo sauce is to break pieces apart and slowly add them while it's heating up. You will love how this pungent cheese adds a tanginess to a creamy Alfredo sauce.

There are wide varieties of blue cheese, which range in quality and price. So if you are looking for one to add to a charcuterie board, you should ignore your budget in favor of high-quality blue cheese. But if you are adding blue cheese to a jar of Alfredo sauce, you don't need the highest quality or most expensive blue cheese.


If you really want to use your store-bought Alfredo to make an impressive dish, use truffles to transform it. Mixing the rich earthy umami flavor of truffles in a decadent Alfredo sauce is not a new idea. In fact, several popular food brands market jarred Alfredo sauce with black truffles, so you know it must be good.

You can make your own truffle Alfredo sauce by adding shaved or sliced truffles directly to the sauce or adding truffle butter. Truffle butter blends smoothly into the silky sauce while adding the complexity that truffles bring to a dish.

Truffles are a delicacy, and their high price reflects the culinary obsession with them. If you are on a tight budget but still want to experience the irresistible flavor of truffles, you can add truffle oil to get a taste of their heady aroma. Of course, truffle oil is controversial in the food scene as it doesn't actually contain any truffles. But truffle oil is perfect for those who want to elevate Alfredo sauce without breaking the bank.