If you’re making an Alfredo sauce, then the last thing you are going to want is for it to go grainy. But sometimes, it just does. By why is this and are there ways to fix and restore it? Let’s find out!
So, why is my alfredo sauce grainy? Alfredo sauce will most likely become grainy if you use pre-shredded and packaged parmesan cheese, you cook your sauce on too high a heat, you use too much cheese, or add it too early.
The truth is, there are numerous reasons why your alfredo can become lumpy and separate.
But whatever the reason, you are going to want to salvage it.
So let us now look at how you can do so, before looking at some best practices to ensure this doesn’t happen again next time!
- 1 How To Fix Grainy Alfredo Sauce
- 2 How To Prevent Alfredo Sauce From Going Grainy
- 3 Finally
How To Fix Grainy Alfredo Sauce
There are generally four different ways to fix an Alfredo sauce; blend and strain, add a bechamel, add sodium citrate (the sodium salt of citric acid), or add additional cheeses.
Let us look at what to do for each one:
Blend and Strain
First and foremost, you can literally look to break up the lumps and then remove any remaining ones out.
To do this, gently warm up your sauce before transferring it to a blender or a food processor.
Be careful when you do so, the heat can cause the lid to come off as you blitz.
So perhaps work through a cup at a time.
Blitz the sauce for a few minutes.
Once done, pass the resulting sauce through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.
Make A Bechamel
A bechamel is a sauce traditionally made from a white roux (butter and flour) and a whole milk.
You’ll need to begin by creating a Bechamel, and you’ll finish up by slowly adding and stirring it into your Alfredo.
To do so, start by gently bringing 1-2 cups of whole milk to a boil in a saucepan.
Add 25-50 grams of butter to another saucepan, and a further 25-50 grams of plain flour. Cook these together on low heat and stir continuously until paste forms (this will be your roux).
From there, add the milk to the roux slowly, stirring as you go, until you get a smooth sauce.
This will become your Bechamel.
That Bechamel can then be added to your Alfredo, on low heat.
Once it’s added, if your flavor is not quite right (since the ratios have changed), you can add some freshly grated parmesan) a little bit at a time.
Once the cheese has been folded in your Alfredo should be restored!
Consider Sodium Citrate
Another alternative is to buy some Sodium Citrate. I purchase this one from Amazon.
All you need to do is add a small amount to your sauce, whisk it in, and gently simmer the sauce on low heat.
Sodium Citrate is an excellent, all-natural, and safe emulsifier that prevents curdling and sauces from breaking or going grainy.
Use Additional Cheeses
Another approach, that will alter the flavor somewhat mind you, is to add another cheese to your sauce.
Mascarpone or cream cheese are excellent options here.
Their creaminess will add depth to the texture and take away that grainy consistency.
How To Prevent Alfredo Sauce From Going Grainy
Preventing Alfredo sauce from going grainy, to begin with is much easier than trying to salvage one that has already gone!
So, let us look at some effective prevention strategies to use for next time!
Use Freshly Grated Parmesan
One of the most common causes of curdling Alfredo is using pre-shredded packaged cheese.
So, to avoid graininess, purchase fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and grate it yourself, just before you add it to your sauce.
Grate More Finely
Another effective approach is to ensure that your parmesan is grated very finely.
To do this, you can use a utensil known as a Microplane shredder.
With one of these, you can grate your Parmesan considerably more finely and break it up – minimizing the size of the cheese particles that can ultimately clump together.
Equally, you should find that the melting of the cheese is easier, and even at a lower temperature, as it’s much smaller.
It should now melt on contact with your sauce and you can add it much later.
Use Less Cheese
Another common mistake that ends up in curdling is using too much cheese!
Stick to the recipe closely and be sure to use less cheese next time!
The more cheese you have, naturally, the more that can ultimately separate.
Add Cheese Slowly
A good Alfredo sauce is one where the cheese has melted evenly.
So, do be sure to add your cheese slowly – a little at a time.
Add Cheese At The End
Parmesan should be added at the end of cooking an Alfredo, and not before.
It is best added once the sauce has been removed from the heat, while still warm.
The longer the cheese is warmed for, the hotter it gets, and the higher the likelihood it will coagulate.
Cook Low And Slow
At the same time, Alfredo is best cooked slowly and at a low, consistent temperature.
So, be sure not to overheat the sauce or bring it to a boil – particularly once you have added the cheese.
Otherwise, it could easily break and separate.
It’s essential to keep string your Alfredo, particularly when you start adding cheese.
Your arm should generally be quite tired from all the stirring.
You should also stir for the duration of time the recipe takes. Sometimes even a little longer if the sauce needs it.
If in doubt, stir more.
Use An Emulsifier
Adding an emulsifier is a great way to prevent it from going grainy.
Emulsifiers can come in many forms, although flour and mustard powder work particularly well for Alfredo.
The emulsifier will help the fats and proteins in the cheese evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
So, start your sauce with a light roux. That can then serve as the base and protect your sauce throughout the cooking process.
Alfredo sauce can become grainy for a few different reasons.
If you find yourself in the position where it has already done so, then try the fixes suggested above.
You should be able to save it, within reason.
Otherwise do take on the recommendations for making a silky smooth Alfredo. Besides, it’s much easier once you start from scratch.
And if you do, you should find that this inconvenient separation becomes a thing of the past.
Besides, nobody enjoys a grainy cheese sauce!
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.