Lightened Up Spaghetti Alfredo

This Lightened Up Spaghetti Alfredo with broccoli is creamy, cheesy and decadent but much healthier than the original so you can feel good about eating it.

*This post was originally published on 2/28/2012. The pictures and recipe have been updated but the text below remains original. This Lightened Up Spaghetti Alfredo is restaurant quality without the guilt (or stupidly high price you’re stuck paying for pasta dishes when you eat out!). It’s ready in just 20 minutes and sure to be a comfort food crowd pleaser. Hope you enjoy!

This lightened up spaghetti alfredo with broccoli is creamy, cheesy and decadent but much healthier than the original so you can feel good about eating it.

This looks like a creamy heart attack on a plate doesn’t it? Oh, but it’s soooo not. Which means you can shovel forkful after forkful of delicious pasta into your mouth without that nagging feeling in the back of your mind about how bad of a decision it is.

Alfredo sauce is that restaurant dish that haunts you. It’s the thing you know is absolutely horrible for you when you’re staring at the menu but your brain refuses to let go of the idea of the delicious creamy sauce. So, you throw caution to the wind, order the butter and cream laden dish and then before you know it you’re shoving half the contents of the bread basket down your throat and ordering tiramisu for dessert since you’ve completely thrown any attempts of healthy eating out the window for the night anyway.

More decadent but healthy pasta recipes: creamy tomato farfalle with peas and prosciutto, creamy butternut squash pasta with sage and mushrooms or pasta checca with burrata.

This healthier take on spaghetti alfredo is filled with broccoli and won't bust your diet.

It happens. Right?

Please say it’s not just me?

The alfredo bug bit me hard yesterday and before I knew it, things were coming out of the pantry and fridge and I was determined to show the sauce who’s boss with this lightened up spaghetti alfredo.

This lightened up spaghetti alfredo comes together in under just 20 minutes for an easy, healthy dinner.

See that measly 1 tablespoon of butter? That’s it for the “bad stuff” in this recipe. Total creaminess achieved and barely a dent in my butter stash. Good for the wallet and for your heart.

The rest of the creaminess comes from a combination of low fat milk, cream cheese and parmesan. Needing heavy cream or half and half for that alfredo taste is a total myth, don’t be fooled!

From prep to roux to finished product this whole thing takes under 20 minutes.

Creamy, cheesy and super decadent, you'll never know this lightened up spaghetti alfredo is a healthier spin on the classic pasta dish.

Beats the restaurant wait and there’s no bread basket or dessert menu to tempt you.

Yield: 2-3 servings

Lightened Up Spaghetti Alfredo

This Lightened Up Spaghetti Alfredo with broccoli is creamy, cheesy and decadent but much healthier than the original so you can feel good about eating it.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, or similar noodle
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel
  • 2.5 cups broccoli florets

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook until 2 minutes before al dente.
  2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet with raised sides over medium heat.
  3. Add shallots and garlic once butter is melted and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened.
  4. Add flour and whisk together, cook about 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.
  6. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and continue to whisk until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Once thickened, add cheeses and stir until melted and incorporated.
  8. At this point (2 minutes before pasta is done cooking), add broccoli to the pot with the pasta and cook for remaining 2 minutes.
  9. Drain pasta and broccoli in a colander and pour into skillet with alfredo sauce.
  10. Toss to fully coat pasta with sauce and garnish with additional parmesan, parsley, red pepper flakes and/or toasted panko breadcrumbs.

Notes

*Use gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free.

filed in: Main Dishes
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45 Comments

  1. Laura

    You are absolutely not alone in indulging once in awhile. :) Your alfredo looks amazing… I usually prefer tomato, but my husband is a fan of alredo sauce so we’ll have to try this!

    Reply
  2. Julie @ Table for Two

    too funny — i have a post going on Monday that’s definitely NOT the lightened up version of alfredo. the pictures here are gorgeous and it looks absolutely creamy and delicious even if it’s healthy! that means I can eat more of it! :)

    Reply
  3. katie @KatieDid

    We serve a dreamy alfredo sauce where I work and every time I’m wrapping up leftovers for someone the temptation to sneak a bite (or 10) kills me. Obviously I’d never do that but its so decadent looking. This sounds wonderful!

    Reply
    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      I thought about going crazy with all vegan substitutions but decided to keep it simple this time :) I’ve always wanted to try the cashew cream thing though…next time :)

      Reply
  4. Margarita

    This is my kind of spaghetti… creamed with low fat milk and cream cheese and full of broccoli! I would eat a plateful and more without feeling guilty. Hope the foot is feeling better.

    Reply
  5. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    I’m bookmarking this to try – soon! You are totally not the only one, I can’t get that alfredo sauce out of my head once it’s in there and this looks awesome. And the fact that you added broccoli makes me want to try this even more, I’m a huge fan of mixing veggies into my mac and cheese and other creamy noodley dishes :)

    Reply
  6. channing [channingosity]

    yum, looks seriously amazing. not a super huge broccoli fan, but would love to throw some thick marinated, grilled garlic portobello mushrooms on here. thanks!

    on your note on cashew cream above: you must try it!! it’s ridiculously rich, creamy and has such a subtle sweet flavor. i made it in this *skinny + rich delicata squash bisque*. it literally looks like custard. it’s pretty magical stuff. http://channingosity.com/2011/10/29/delicata-squash-bisque/

    Reply
    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Love portobello mushrooms, they would be sooo good! Definitely going to check out your cashew sauce. Thanks!

      Reply
  7. Paige @ Healthy Hits the Spot

    You post some of the best recipes! I didn’t really ever use recipes until stumbling upon your blog. Now I want to try them all! I am not much of a spaghetti person, as it’s not my favorite… but when I do get the rare craving for spaghetti, I will be sure to make this recipe my go-to! Thank you :)

    Reply
  8. Deanna

    I love alfredo too but I never order it because I know how bad it is for me when I make it at home…it can only be worse in a restaurant. Besides my throwing calories out the window pasta dish is carbonara. Thinking about it makes me drool.

    Reply
    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Oh, how I love carbonara! I came ridiculously close to adding bacon to this ala carbonara :)

      Reply
  9. Noelle

    The newest issue of Rachael Ray (I know, I know, everyone either loves her or hates her, but mag has some good recipes!), and they had a lightened up Alfredo that didn’t have any butter, just a few tablespoons of olive oil and flour to makes a roux and then 2% milk (I used skim), chicken stock, and fresh Parmesan cheese to make the sauce. It was creamy and delicious and I totally had my family fooled!

    And wow, I’m completely stealing your thunder on an awesome recipe you developed! Your Alfredo looks so yummy, and I love the addition of shallots and broccoli, they must be such a yummy flavor boost. Plus, there’s cream cheese in this, and, duh, I’ll eat that stuff all by itself. I’m gonna try this one next and see what the fam thinks!

    Reply
    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      haha no worries. I used to get her magazine but stopped it b/c I was too overwhelmed with all the recipes and things I ended up dog earring! can’t stand her or her voice but love her mag :) I’m glad you told me about that version b/c I’d love to try one without any butter!

      Reply
  10. Ali

    Oh it’s totally not just you. Every Saturday night is my cheat meal night and when I actually allow myself to shove stuff like this down my throat and then dessert, too. Awwww yeah.

    Anyway. This looks seriously delicious and I love that there’s broccoli in it, too– fav veggie! Need to try this delectable wonder. :D

    Reply
  11. Kat

    I’m so going to make this next week – we found out P is kinda allergic to tomatoes (hopefully she will grow out of it asap) – and she LOVES spaghetti with sauce on it.

    Reply
  12. Nadia

    Does anyone know the nutrition facts on this recipe? It looks absolutely amazing and I cannot wait to try it but just want to log into myfitnesspal too!

    Reply
    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      You can import the recipe into MFP by copying the url to calculate the nutrition facts yourself if you’d like.

      Reply

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