Many of you have asked how I make my basic cream sauce. After reading all the entries for the pasta maker giveaway it is clear you all love your cream sauce. The truth is I never use a recipe for my cream based sauces, I always make it “to taste.”
A basic cream sauce is very easy to make, and is really only a few ingredients. However you can make an amazing cream sauce with some of my favorite additions.
Ingredients for Basic Cream Sauce
I use heavy cream in almost every cream sauce. The only reason I don’t use it is because there isn’t any in the fridge.
You can use a little or a lot depending on how much sauce you like. I use about a half a pint for one pound of pasta. If you don’t have heavy cream you can substitute with half and half or sour cream.
Mmmmm, don’t you just LOVE butter? I do, and I use it in every cream sauce I make.
Once again, depending on how much exercise you want to do after dinner you can add a little or a lot. (A little meaning 1 Tablespoon, a lot meaning throw in the whole stick)
I’ve never substituted margarine for butter in cream sauce, so if you’ve tried it let me know how it works!
If you want to lighten up your sauce (calories, not taste) use less heavy cream and substitute with light sour cream.
You won’t be able to tell the difference. Sour cream is also cheaper (sales and coupons) than heavy cream, so use it when you want to stretch your pennies.
I’ve started replacing most of my heavy cream in recipes with the low fat cream cheese. I think it brings a better flavor to the sauce and a slight tang to it.
This gives your sauce a little chicken flavor without actually buying meat. I use it when I include chicken in the pasta too, it is just a habit.
Most restaurants use chicken base in their sauces which is why if you aren’t using it your sauce might not taste like the kind you get in a restaurant.
You can also use chicken broth, but I like the chicken paste better because it’s cheaper and you can use it to make your own broth if you don’t have any on hand.
You can’t have sauce without garlic. You can use fresh, minced, crushed, or in a pinch, garlic powder. I prefer fresh, but I usually use minced garlic.
Costco sells giant jars of minced garlic which are a perfect for a quick substitute for fresh garlic.
I don’t use a lot of salt in my sauce, but a little goes a long way. One or two teaspoons does the trick. I like using kosher salt, but it is truly a personal preference.
Like salt, a little cheese really livens up your sauce. I prefer asiago, but will use parmesan or romano too.
I buy it in the triangle wedges and finely shred the cheese. 1/4 a cup for a pound of pasta is sufficient, but if you are from Wisconsin add the entire wedge.
Cream of chicken soup
I try to avoid canned soups in recipes if possible. I don’t use this often, but it tastes really good in my chicken tetrazinni recipe. It makes your sauce really creamy. For a pound of pasta I use about a half a can. Do not dilute, just spoon it right from the can into your sauce pan.
Extras: I add these ingredients if I have them in my fridge or pantry, they add a lot of flavor to the sauce but aren’t necessary.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Tomato Sauce (for pink pasta)
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Green Onions
- Red Onions
- Emeril’s Essence
- Italian Seasonings
- Fresh Spinach
Full disclosure- I follow this recipe exactly. I always add garlic, cheese, chicken base, etc. But if you need a basic cream sauce to add to something else, use the recipe below.
Basic Cream Sauce
- Wok or sauce pan
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teasp salt
- 1 teasp pepper
- 1 Tbs flour
- Melt butter in sauce pan
- Mix heavy cream and flour with fork
- Add heavy cream and flour mixture to the melted butter
- Stir constantly until mixed together
- Add salt and pepper
How to make cream sauce
I don’t have a photo tutorial for making the sauce because it goes too quickly to stop and take photos. I usually have my pasta either already cooked or almost done when I start the sauce because it only takes about 5 minutes.
To make your cream sauce heat a saucepan to a medium high heat. I use a wok to make my cream sauces because I like the high sides for tossing the pasta.
Add butter. As the butter is melting add garlic (I usually add 1 to 2 Tablespoons). Once your house is smelling like an Italian restaurant add salt and any extra ingredients from the above list, plus cooked meat (optional).
Turn the heat down and add your creams – heavy cream, sour cream, and/or cream cheese. You can skip the sour cream and cream cheese, but don’t skip the heavy cream. I use about a half pint per pound of pasta if I am not using the other creams.
REMEMBER TO TURN DOWN THE HEAT!
If you dump your cream into a really hot pan it can curdle and you don’t want that! Also if you are using cream cheese (which I highly recommend that you do) cut it in to small chunks before adding to the ban. This makes melting it so much easier.
Once the sauce has come to a boil, turn down the heat and add the cooked pasta to the sauce. I use tongs to mix in the pasta.
Once the pasta is coated in sauce, mix in the shredded cheese.
Try this delicious cream sauce with my homemade pasta recipe!