How to Whip up a Creamy Alla Panna Sauce From Scratch

Take a trip to Italy & whip up a creamy, delicious alla panna sauce that will impress your guests.

Updated December 1, 2023
pasta with cream sauce

If you find yourself reaching for the jar of creamy pasta sauce instead of the red one, then join the club. There's something about a bowl of fettuccine alfredo or carbonara that warms our bellies in the most satisfying way. And we have the perfect recipe for a homemade alla panna sauce for your next pasta dish. In Italian, alla panna translates to "cream," and we have an easy and versatile recipe that will surely impress your guests. 

Homemade Alla Panna Sauce 

Save yourself a trip to the grocery store and whip up a creamy sauce from scratch. This recipe makes 4-6 servings mixed with 16 ounces of pasta. We love our pasta on the saucy side, so it's 4 servings for us. 


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 minced garlic cloves 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil


  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Sauté the garlic until it becomes brown. 
  2. Whisk in the cream until the sauce is heated but not boiling. 
  3. Gradually add cheese until the sauce thickens. 
  4. Add optional parsley, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until the sauce is velvety smooth.
Need to Know

While Alfredo sauce is a specific type of alla panna sauce, alla panna includes other ingredients like garlic, shallots, parsley, and other spices. The sauce is used as a base for many dishes. 

Serving Variations 

The beauty of alla panna is that it's a versatile cream base that can be used for more than just pasta. While the sauce is commonly poured over stuffed Tortellini, it's just as tasty in a risotto or over chicken, seafood, or fresh veggies. If you're up for some heat, throw in some spicy seasoning.  

Helpful Hack

Pasta Type: We love using Tortellini, Fettuccine, and Angel Hair with this cream sauce.

Recommended Add-Ins

Cook up a tasty protein and toss it with your pasta and sauce or stir in other ingredients. Some delicious ones that go with alla panna sauce include:

  • Diced ham or pancetta
  • Grilled chicken
  • Shrimp 
  • Scallops 
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Peas

How to Store and Reheat Your Alla Panna Sauce 

The last thing you want to do is waste a batch of freshly made sauce. This is the time to pull out your mason jars and pack your alla panna sauce to use later (or for your guests to take home). It needs to be refrigerated. It's ideal to use your sauce within three days or freeze for up to two months. 

When reheating your sauce, slow and steady does the trick. Bring your sauce to room temperature before throwing it into a saucepan. Heat the sauce gradually to keep it from separating. Stir in a pat of butter and a dash of cream if you need to thin it out a bit.

Win Your Guests Over With a Homemade Alla Panna Sauce 

Impress your family and friends with a homemade cream sauce that will give them a taste of Italy without leaving their seats. Making alla panna sauce is easy, and you can use it for dishes beyond just pasta. Talk about easy weeknight dinners. 

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How to Whip up a Creamy Alla Panna Sauce From Scratch