Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo: What To Know Before Ordering

Many might claim that Olive Garden defines Italian-American restaurants. Serving classic dishes like Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Marsala, Stuffed Shells, and Lasagna, the eatery is known for its bustling yet relaxed atmosphere and the free breadsticks that come with every entrée order, per Olive Garden. One of the restaurant's signature dishes — the Chicken Alfredo – helped put this chain on the map and propels loyal customers to keep coming back for more. Plainly put, the dish contains just three main components: Alfredo sauce, chicken, and fettuccine pasta. Despite its simplicity, it's still made today from a decades-old recipe (via PopSugar).

At the Olive Garden Times Square, New York City location, the dish will set you back $23.79; you can also add broccoli or mushrooms for an additional $4.49 or shrimp for an additional $5.49, according to the restaurant's menu. You can also select other varieties, like traditional Fettuccine Alfredo without protein, Shrimp Alfredo, and Seafood Alfredo, the latter of which is topped with shrimp and scallops. The price tag varies depending on where you are, and expect to find the dish with a much more affordable price tag of $14.99 as a lunch deal or $18.99 as a dinner entrée across the U.S., per olivegarden.com.

What is Chicken Alfredo?

Chicken Alfredo is a dish filled with creamy, cheesy goodness mixed with fettuccine and topped with chicken and parsley. If you're looking to make Italian Alfredo sauce, the recipe calls for a mixture of butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese, Matador Network reports. The creamy, rich, Americanized version of Alfredo sauce that we know and love to devour is a bit of an alteration to the Italian version with the addition of cream or milk. According to CBS, Olive Garden makes their Alfredo sauce with the creamy Americanized version. 

Olive Garden's website describes their Chicken Alfredo as consisting of a sauce made from butter, cream, and parmesan cheese poured over fettuccine pasta, topped with sliced chicken, and garnished with parsley. The chain claims the sauce is made fresh from scratch daily, and, according to the restaurant's spokesperson who spoke with PopSugar, also contains about three to four cloves of minced garlic as well as Romano cheese, in addition to the ingredients Olive Garden lists on its website.

According to PopSugar, the dish has been a customer favorite since the restaurant opened in 1982 and is a permanent staple on the menu. In fact, the item has been so successful, the recipe has remained unchanged since it appeared on menus and is considered the most popular dish at the restaurant chain.

How does Olive Garden's Chicken Alfredo taste?

There are numerous online reviews of Olive Garden's Chicken Alfredo raving about the dish. TripAdvisor reviewer Rick K. says, "The Chicken Alfredo was the best I've had, anywhere" and TripAdvisor's Eric Z  wrote, "Olive Garden, to me, is the only place I can get my Chicken Alfredo the way I like it, creamy and tasty. Nobody else makes it like they do." Similarly, Yelp's Kimberly Q. wrote, "Today I had Chicken Alfredo and finished all of it even though the portion was big because it was so delicious."

This signature pasta may have won so many diners over because of its complementary blend of ingredients. According to PopSugar, fettuccine is the best noodle for Alfredo sauce because the width of the noodles allows for the rich sauce to adhere well to the pasta. They also note that chicken is one of the best toppings for fettuccine Alfredo because the light meat contrasts well with the heaviness and thickness of the sauce.

How is Olive Garden's Chicken Alfredo made and what are some twists on the dish?

While the Alfredo sauce may draw diners in, the dish wouldn't be what it is without fettuccine. Interestingly, the pasta isn't prepared in the same way you might make it in your own kitchen. According to Business Insider, Olive Garden cooks do not salt the water they cook the noodles in, due to the fact that salting the pots could risk voiding the cookware's warranties. One investor was vehemently opposed to this practice, stating, "The first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water." Eater reports that the restaurant does not cook its pasta al dente either, instead, opting to cook it until it is soft in order to please customers. 

If you're looking to ditch the fettuccine, you can look to a former Olive Garden take on the dish — the Chicken Alfredo Pizza Bowl. Delish reported this item was added to the lunch menu in 2019 and featured the same grilled chicken and Alfredo sauce you know and love served on top of a pizza crust. Sadly, it no longer graces the chain's menu, per the company's website.

Chicken Alfredo's nutritional information

Olive Garden's Chicken Alfredo contains a ton of calories. According to Eat This, Not That!, the dish contains 1,570 calories, 95 grams of fat, 2,290 milligrams of sodium, 96 grams of carbs, and 81 grams of protein. The FDA recommends consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium in one day, while Healthgrades states a person should consume an average of 2,000 calories per day. The chain recognizes the latter statistic, stating at the bottom of its Amazing Alfredos section of the menu, "2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary," (via Olive Garden's website).

That being said, you wouldn't want to eat Chicken Alfredo for every meal every day, but you can't go wrong with it as a treat every once in a while. With a winning combination like this, the Italian-American chain found a lasting menu item that has kept diners coming back for more.