Rigatoni Alfredo is a quick and easy pasta recipe perfect any night of the week. With a creamy, cheesy alfredo sauce and chewy al dente pasta the whole family will love the simplicity of this comfort food. This rigatoni alfredo recipe requires minimal effort yet delivers maximum deliciousness!
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Simple ingredients: everything you need to make the recipe will be readily available at your local grocery store. There is no need to drive all over town or visit speciality shops for this dish 👌👏!
- Comfort food: with cream, butter and pasta in the recipe, you know it will be the type of dish where your eyes will roll back in the back of your head when you taste the creamy, cheesy sauce. (Yum!!) It is simple yet full of flavour.
- Minimal effort: there is not a lot of steps that go into the rigatoni with alfredo sauce yet there is maximum yum involved! We keep it super simple!
- Versatile: this is a basic creamy pasta recipe that works. You can however, added some vegetables, sliced chicken or crispy bacon to diversify and spruce it up if you want to. Or make it a shrimp rigatoni alfredo with some juicy succulent cooked shrimp!
- Budget friendly: this alfredo rigatoni won't break the bank! You can purchase a home brand pasta which costs next to nothing, same for the cream, butter and I am guessing you already have salt and pepper in the pantry. The cheese will be the most expensive ingredient. For that you won't use the whole block and can keep it for other recipes saving a dollar or two!!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Rigatoni: this is a wide tubular pasta that is readily available in grocery stores in the pasta aisle.
- Cream: heavy pouring cream is best. This forms the basis of the creamy pasta sauce.
- Parmesan cheese: finely grated using a micro plane zester.
- Butter: unsalted, as we directly add salt to the alfredo sauce.
- Garlic: chunky minced or fresh cloves finely chopped.
- Garnish (optional): black pepper, parsley and parmesan cheese.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by making the alfredo sauce. You will need a large heavy based sauté pan, skillet or fry pan and wooden spoon.
- Melt butter (Photo 1)
- Add garlic and salt (Photo 2)
- Pour in cream (Photo 3)
- Add parmesan cheese (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Rigatoni Alfredo
We start by making the creamy alfredo sauce. To do so place a large sauté pan on the stove and turn the heat to high. Add the butter and allow it to melt.
Once the butter has melted add the garlic and salt and cook them for 1 minute. You can use a wooden spoon to stir them around in the butter during this time.
Next pour in the heavy cream and reduce the heat to low. Then sprinkle the parmesan cheese to the middle of the pan. Give it a stir every now and then as this melts and mixes with the cream.
- Stir to combine (Photo 5)
- Reserve pasta water (Photo 6)
- Add cooked rigatoni to sauce (Photo 7)
- Pour in reserved pasta water (Photo 8)
Gently stir the sauce so that it is thoroughly mixed together.
Then place a medium sauce pan on another element and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Moments before it is ready use a heatproof jug to scoop out and reserve 1 to 2 cups of the starchy pasta water.
Then use a colander to drain the remaining pasta and discard the water.
Add the cooked, drained rigatoni to the alfredo sauce, pour in ½ cup (125ml) of the pasta water and gently stir and toss to combine.
- Garnish the dish (Photo 9)
Once combined, you can give the pasta a generous sprinkling of black pepper, grate some parmesan cheese over the top and then scatter some finely chopped parsley to finish it off.
Grab some bowls, forks and spoons and you will be ready to get this on the table!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Of course, we want to be liberal as we garnish the dish with our faithful trio of black pepper, parmesan cheese and parsley. You can see how this works in the photo below.
Now you are ready to dive on in!!
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the creamy alfredo rigatoni on a plate with cling wrap or in sealed, airtight containers in the fridge. They will last up to 3 days.
How to Freeze
Allow the dish to fully cool. Then portion into zip lock bags that you squeeze the air out of and then lay flat in the freezer. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat
Thaw frozen rigatoni alfredo in the fridge overnight as you will get the best results if you reheat from frozen and not try and defrost using the microwave. Once the alfredo is thawed, you can add it to a sauce pan on the stove and use medium heat to stir till heated through. It will take between 4 to 5 mins. Or you can reheat the leftovers in the microwave, this will only take about 2 to 3 minutes on high.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can use another pasta type if you wish. Your favorite pasta, fettuccine, linguine or bucatini are all good options.
- You can use pecorino romano in place of the parmesan cheese. It is made from sheep's milk, not cow's like parmesan and has a delightfully sweet taste.
- Want veggies in the mix 😍? Add some steamed broccolini, spinach or rocket leaves.
- Or you can cook 1 cup of frozen peas in the microwave and add them to the dish when combining the rigatoni, alfredo and starchy pasta water.
- For additional texture crush some toasted walnuts and sprinkle them through the pasta.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- The garlic needs to be cooked in the butter. So once you have added it to the pan, allow it to cook with the salt before pouring in the cream.
- Cook the pasta till al dente. This means it is still a little bit chewy. Not mushy and likely to fall apart.
- When tossing the sauce and rigatoni be a little bit gentle so as to not force the pasta tubes to burst open.
- If you see the sauce start to bubble, reduce the heat.
- It is handy to stir the sauce reasonably frequently so that the texture stays consistently combined. Otherwise it will become more 'cream' and 'cheese'.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
Why is alfredo pasta so good?
Alfredo pasta is so good as it is simple to make, using a combination of ingredients that deliver maximum flavour.
What sauces go with rigatoni?
There is a wide variety of sauces that go with rigatoni. Some popular options are pesto, alfredo, carbonara, marinara, bolognese or gorgonzola sauces.
Is rigatoni thicker than penne?
Yes rigatoni is thicker than penne. The tubular hole is approximately twice the size of penne pasta.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Variety! Not only is it the spice of life, it is the thing that will allow us to cook an array of dinner recipes that are not 'same, same'. Here are some options with taste, texture, cook time and methods chosen for their diversity:
- Meatball Pesto Pasta
- Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs
- Crumbed Lamb Cutlets
- Garlic Pepper Beef
- Mexican Ribs
- Crumbed Mushrooms
- Mongolian Beef Noodles
- Italian Short Ribs
- Sticky Pork Ribs
- Tuna Pesto Pasta
- 1 Micro plane zester
- 1 Large saute pan
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Medium sauce pan
- 1 Heatproof jug
- 1 Colander
- 3 tablespoons/40 grams butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon garlic chunky, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup/250 ml heavy cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated using a micro plane zester
- ½ cup/125 ml reserved pasta water
- 500 grams/16 oz rigatoni pasta
- black pepper
- parmesan cheese
- Butter: place a large sauté pan on the stove, turn the heat to high and add the butter. Allow this to melt and then add the garlic and salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring as the garlic softens and turns golden brown.
- Cream and cheese: pour in the heavy cream and stir. Then turn the heat to low and add the cheese to the centre of the pan. Stir occasionally as the cheese melts.
- Rigatoni: place a medium sauce pan on the stove, fill with water and a pinch of salt and bring it to the boil. Read and follow the instructions on the package to cook the pasta. Moments before it is ready, use a heatproof jug to scoop out some of the pasta water. The use a colander to drain the remaining pasta and discard the water.
- Combine: add the cooked pasta to the creamy alfredo sauce, then measure ½ cup (125ml) of the pasta water and add that to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to toss and combine the pasta, sauce and starchy pasta water.
- Garnish: generously garnish the dish with a combination of black pepper, parmesan cheese and parsley.
- Note 1 - Reserved pasta water: we scoop this out of the saucepan moments before draining the pasta. This starchy pasta water helps bind the pasta and sauce together. Measure ½ cup (125ml) and then add this to the pan.
- Serving size: you can decrease the portion size and serve more people using the pasta as a side to mains if you wish to.