Alfredo pasta is a highly customizable pasta dish that can be paired with many types of vegetables.
If you are looking to expand the horizons of flavor and texture in your go-to Alfredo recipe, then you are at the right place.
What vegetables go with chicken alfredo? We recommend going with peas, carrots, broccoli, chopped asparagus, and more. Try experimenting with soft and firm vegetables to get varying textures and flavors. You can even steam or roast the vegetables to add complexity to any boring Alfredo recipe!
Read below to learn more about how to elevate any Alfredo recipe, which vegetables you should use, and some tips on how to get the most out of the vegetables!
Alfredo seems like an ingredient-heavy dish, right? But you would be surprised to know that the classic and traditional recipe of alfredo only requires three ingredients!
That’s right, all you need is butter, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and fettuccini to make classic Italian alfredo. The three ingredients are added together and then simply seasoned with salt!
So, where did “chicken alfredo with veggies and tons of other ingredients” come from?
Well, we will need to fly out of the beautiful landscape of Italy to answer that — because interestingly, the modern alfredo recipe is an American invention!
The classic recipe was originally amended to compensate for the lack of flavor and richness that only authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Italy can provide.
Back then, access to authentic cheeses was a rarity but people (mostly enthusiasts and Italian immigrants) wanted to get that same level of complexity using the ingredients at hand.
This is why umami-laden condiments and ingredients like mushrooms and other vegetables were added to the recipe.
Somehow, that alfredo sauce made from mushrooms, dairy, and spices/herbs was able to reach or exceed the original recipe in terms of depth and flavor, despite the quality of cheese — which is why it quickly became such a big hit in the US!
Chicken Alfredo offers a creamy texture thanks to its oh-so-rich sauce — and the balance of marinated chicken with vegetables truly ties together the entire pasta dish!
It didn’t take long for restaurants to quickly adopt this new recipe either, simply because it didn’t rely on extremely high-quality (and costly) ingredients.
Role Of Vegetables In Chicken Alfredo
As you can imagine, vegetables play a huge role in Chicken Alfredo. They aren’t just there to add flavor, but they add to the texture and volume of the dish too!
But before we dive into vegetable ideas, let’s first take a look at the classic assortment of veggies in any alfredo recipe.
Most Chicken Alfredo recipes call for a vegetable combination of:
- Chopped Onions
These ingredients add flavor to the sauce and also make up for the lack of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
The chopped onions are first sautéed until they caramelize, which adds a sugary and smoky flavor to the sauce.
Meanwhile, the white mushrooms add volume and umami flavors to the sauce as it cooks with the rest of the ingredients.
Garlic plays a pivotal role in flavoring the sauce too, and is perhaps the most impactful ingredient in any alfredo recipe!
Best Vegetables For Chicken Alfredo
So, how do you take the flavor of the sauce forward from here?
It turns out that there are quite a lot of ingredients that you can add to alfredo to further improve its flavor and texture!
Here are a few of our favorite vegetables to add to chicken alfredo.
1. Green Peas
Green peas are perhaps the most underrated vegetable, especially when it comes to classic Italian pasta recipes.
Peas are rarely used in creamy sauces, but you would be surprised by just how much texture and flavor the peas can add to the sauce!
We highly recommend using green peas when dealing with a bit of extra heat. The sweetness in the peas can easily balance out the spicy flavors in the sauce —their soft, mushy texture can also increase the overall mouthfeel of the pasta too!
Peas can be added either fresh, or you could also lightly sauté them before tossing them in the sauce.
Sautéed peas have a slightly different texture but they take on a deeper flavor. For the best experience, try using the peas “as is” and adjust their presence as per your preference!
Not only is broccoli an extremely healthy addition to an otherwise “heavy” sauce recipe, but it can also add a lot of texture and flavor too!
Broccoli can be either chopped or halved. We recommend adding it after cooking the chicken so that the vegetable can take on all the juices released from the meat.
You don’t even have to adjust the cooking time when using broccoli either. Just continue cooking the recipe as per the instructions and the vegetables should become tender enough by the time you dish out the final pasta dish.
Continuing with the theme of healthy additions for chicken alfredo, we suggest trying spinach with a classic alfredo sauce. Hear us out!
The reason why spinach would make such a great ingredient to any alfredo dish is that it will lend both flavor and texture that will work with the creamy ingredients!
The best way to cook spinach is with the alfredo sauce. Since spinach will cook quicker than the chicken, just add it to the sauce — or you can even cut and add it as a garnish at the very end.
Spinach will also add a bit of presentation to the dish. Not to mention, it’s one of the easiest ways to improve the nutritional profile of any chicken alfredo recipe too.
Asparagus is our favorite addition to chicken alfredo.
It’s the best way to add a crunchy texture to the recipe and it will play off of the tender textures from the pasta and chicken.
We think asparagus is an underutilized vegetable since it can be prepared in many ways. We recommend frying the asparagus with the chicken before adding it to the sauce for the best crunch and flavor.
You can also chop the asparagus to create bite-sized pieces that can be enjoyed with every bite of the pasta!
Tomatoes are a no-brainer when it comes to virtually any type of chicken alfredo recipe.
They’re loaded with umami flavors and can add a distinct sweetness, sharpness, and tomato-y flavor to an otherwise cream-heavy sauce.
We know, we know — using tomatoes in a white sauce may not seem appropriate, but trust us, once you add them, they will certainly elevate the flavor and look of the dish!
Don’t want to use large sliced tomatoes? Even better! Go for cherry tomatoes and use them to decorate the dish along with a garnish of cheese!
Julienned carrots are delicious and can also work in the same way as chopped asparagus.
They add a deliciously sweet and earthy flavor and can elevate the overall textural profile of any chicken alfredo recipe too.
We recommend cooking the carrots with the chicken to tenderize them. This way they will also be able to cook with the flavor of the chicken, especially when you use a simple salt and pepper marinade!
7. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent way to add flavor, presentation, and texture to chicken alfredo.
You can go with yellow, red, or green bell peppers to increase the appearance of the dish.
Remember: Chicken Alfredo is just a mono-colored recipe, meaning that you can work with the ingredients to increase its appeal by introducing contrasting colors!
How To Prepare Vegetables For Chicken Alfredo
Here’s a great hack for people who are looking for something extra!
If you want to add a deeper flavor or a more pronounced bite to your Chicken Alfredo recipe, then we highly recommend that you either steam, boil, or roast the vegetable before folding them into the sauce!
Boiling and steaming are the best methods for increasing the overall texture of the recipe while maintaining a natural flavor of all the ingredients.
But if you want to amp up the flavors, then you can go ahead and roast the vegetables!
Roasting adds caramelization and an appealing flavor to the ingredients, which means that you can enhance the overall flavor of your go-to chicken alfredo recipe just by preparing the vegetables beforehand.
A great example of this is roasted portobello mushrooms. When roasted, these mushrooms will add a meaty texture and a pronounced umami-laden flavor to the sauce.
Try roasting mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, and red peppers to begin with, and then experiment with other vegetables as per your preference!
Here are a few great related questions regarding vegetable combos with chicken alfredo.
Can you use frozen vegetables with chicken alfredo?
We recommend going with fresh vegetables, but if you don’t have the time, then you can easily substitute fresh with frozen vegetables.
Try to cook the vegetables separately and then fold them into the sauce at the end. You can also alternatively cook them with the chicken and then follow the recipe as indicated.
Can you add boiled or steamed potatoes to chicken alfredo?
To get the most out of the texture and flavor of steamed/boiled potatoes, we suggest cooking creamy and delicious sides like potato gratin or a simple potato salad instead of using the potatoes directly with the pasta.