This easy, creamy corn fettuccine is perfect for summer! Grill a few ears of fresh sweet corn, then toss the kernels in a light parmesan sauce with plenty of fresh cilantro and some al dente pasta.
This corn pasta is the ultimate summer comfort food.
Grilled sweet corn and fresh cilantro are the stars of the show here, but we're cozying things up by adding a lil' one-two punch of our BFF (carbs) and our other BFF (cheese). The result is a hearty, fettuccine alfredo inspired pasta that packs a ton of summertime flavor.
The most time consuming step to this recipe is grilling the sweet corn (and if you're short on time, you can skip the grilling step and just use fresh or frozen corn kernels). Once that's done, this pasta comes together in about 30 minutes!
Scroll to the recipe card below for a full ingredients list with exact quantities.
This corn pasta is pretty straightforward, but we want to highlight a few things before you jump in:
- Use leftover grilled corn (one of my favorite things to meal prep on summer weekends!) or grill up a few ears specifically for this recipe. Use a sharp knife to remove the grilled kernels from the corn cobs.
- Get a block of real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and shred or grate it yourself: Store-bought shredded or grated parmesan is often coated with preservatives and anti-caking agents that prevent it from melting smoothly.
- Fettuccine noodles are our go-to for this recipe, but you can use any type of pasta you like! Rigatoni, shells, cavatappi, and tagliatelle are all good here (you can also use this sauce with fresh ravioli!)
- We'll give two garlic cloves a smash and remove the skins, then sauté the whole cloves in butter before removing and discarding them. This gives us just a hint of garlic flavor, which balances the sauce without overpowering the corn and cilantro.
Our Secret Weapon: Reserved Pasta Water
Use a glass measuring cup to scoop some starchy pasta water out of the pot once the fettuccine is cooked! We'll toss a bit of this reserved pasta water into the fettuccine at the very end of cooking: It gives the sauce a silky smooth texture, and the starch helps the sauce cling to the noodles.
Variations and Substitutions
This pasta is a great blank canvas: It's easy to customize with whatever you have on hand! A few of our favorite riffs:
- Add protein. Add chicken (Rotisserie chicken, meal prep shredded chicken, or sliced grilled chicken) to turn this into an easy chicken alfredo recipe. Shrimp, bacon, steak, and salmon are also great with this pasta.
- Mix up the vegetables. Add broccoli, peas, spinach, onion or shallots, mushrooms, tomatoes, or bell peppers to this pasta to make it a bit heartier. You can also swap zucchini noodles for some or all of the fettuccine, or add a sautéed veggie mix (similar to what we do in our summer gnocchi!)
- Add a splash of dry white wine to this sauce when you add the cream for another layer of flavor.
- Swap the cilantro for fresh basil, chives, tarragon, fresh thyme leaves, or a mix of your favorite herbs!
- For a bit of spice, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to this sauce.
- For extra brightness, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
- No time to grill corn? No worries! Grab a bag of frozen corn, or just slice the raw, fresh corn kernels off an ear of sweet corn. You'll lose a little bit of depth of flavor if you skip grilling the corn, but this pasta will still be excellent.
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil (you'll use this to cook the fettuccine!) While the water comes to a boil, start building your sauce in a separate, large skillet.
Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the smashed garlic cloves (Image 1, above) and let them cook for a minute or two until the butter is fragrant and the garlic is soft.
Use a slotted spoon to pull the garlic pieces out of the skillet; discard or compost them (Image 2).
Why remove the garlic? We want just enough garlic flavor to bring some depth and balance to our sauce. If we leave garlic pieces in the sauce, it competes with the other delicate flavors a little too much. That said, the "right" amount of garlic in a recipe is completely subjective: You can absolutely mince the garlic and leave it in the sauce if you prefer (like we do in our simple white sauce!)
Slowly pour the heavy cream into the skillet with your garlicky melted butter (Image 3), then give everything a stir and bring it to a low simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cream is thick and bubbly.
While the sauce is thickening, cook the fettuccine! (Image 4) Our goal is for the noodles and the sauce to be ready at about the same time, which makes assembly a breeze.
Don't forget: Use a measuring cup to reserve a bit of the starchy pasta water before you drain the cooked fettuccine!
Add parmesan, corn, and cilantro to the thickened sauce along with a dash of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper (Image 5, above).
Stir everything together until the parmesan has completely melted and you have a thick, smooth mixture (Image 6).
Pro Tip: Save a handful of grilled corn kernels and a few sprigs of cilantro to use as a garnish when you serve the pasta!
Add cooked fettuccine to the pan with your cream sauce (Image 7, above). Use a pair of tongs to toss everything together until the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.
Drizzle a bit of reserved pasta water into the fettuccine - just a Tablespoon or two at a time - and toss well between each addition. Repeat this process until you have a smooth, silky finish to your corn fettuccine (Image 8). Give the pasta a taste, add extra salt and pepper as needed, and serve!
Pro Tip: Add just enough pasta water to bring the sauce together (you likely won't need it all!)
A Few FAQs
Yes! You can use half and half in place of the heavy cream in this sauce if you like (it will just take a bit longer to thicken). If you'd like to use milk, parmesan stock, or chicken stock in place of the heavy cream, you'll need to add a roux in order for this sauce to thicken properly: We recommend following the instructions for our easy white sauce. You can also use a few scoops of our favorite cauliflower cream sauce (or our instant pot cauliflower sauce) in place of the heavy cream!
This summer corn fettuccine is best eaten the day that it's made, but you can certainly save the leftovers for later if you don't get through it all! If you have leftovers, let them cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat pasta in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water, chicken stock, or heavy cream. It's essential to add some extra liquid when reheating this pasta (otherwise, the sauce can break and won't be as creamy). We also recommend adding some new veggies to this pasta when you reheat it, to stretch it out a bit and help it feel fresh (toss some halved cherry tomatoes, frozen peas, or fresh herbs in with the pasta after it's hot). We don't love reheating this pasta in the microwave, as the sauce can separate and become grainy.
If this corn alfredo sauce is broken, curdled, or clumpy, it's usually a result of the cheese that's used: Pre-shredded cheese from the store is often coated with preservatives that prevent it from melting smoothly, and some cheeses labeled "parmesan" aren't actually true Parmigiano Reggiano (different off-brands of parmesan often don't melt as well as the real thing). If you aren't sure whether your parmesan cheese will melt smoothly, we recommend adding the cheese to the sauce on its own (without the corn and cilantro) at first: If it doesn't melt smoothly, you can zap the sauce a few times with an immersion blender to smooth it out before adding the corn and cilantro. If you've already added the corn and cilantro and are noticing a broken sauce, use a slotted spoon to pull out as much of the corn as you can: Transfer the corn to a small bowl, blend the remaining sauce with an immersion blender until smooth, then stir the corn back into the sauce.
Absolutely! Pour your favorite jarred alfredo sauce into a large skillet, heat over medium-high heat until it's bubbling, then add the corn and cilantro and proceed normally. If you use a jarred alfredo sauce, you can omit the butter, garlic, cream, and parmesan in this recipe (just stir the veggies and cooked pasta into your pre-made sauce!)
Yes - Use our vegan cauliflower cream sauce in place of the butter, cream, and parmesan. You can stir in some nutritional yeast or non-dairy cheese if you like! (See our cauliflower fettuccine alfredo or cauliflower mac and cheese recipes for some guidance on how our cauliflower sauce works.)
Like many cheeses, parmesan is typically made with animal rennet, which many vegetarians do not consume. Strict vegetarians should look for a parmesan cheese made without rennet to keep this creamy corn pasta recipe truly vegetarian!
More Summer Pasta Recipes
This easy, creamy pasta features summer sweet corn and fresh cilantro in a quick parmesan sauce!
- ½ pound fettuccine
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 3 ears sweet corn, grilled, with kernels removed (about 3 cups)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook fettuccine in very salty water until al dente. Reserve ⅔ cup of pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add smashed garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until garlic is soft and butter is fragrant. Remove and discard garlic cloves.
- Slowly add cream to butter, stirring constantly to incorporate. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cream has thickened and is at a low simmer, about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in parmesan, corn kernels, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
- Add drained fettuccine noodles to sauce and toss to combine. Add pasta water a few Tablespoons at a time, tossing well between each addition, until you have a smooth, silky sauce (you may not need all the pasta water here!)
- Taste pasta and add extra salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately; top with extra cilantro and corn for garnish.
Use true Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) cheese here, and shred it yourself for best results: store-bought shredded cheese is often coated with preservatives and anti-caking agents that prevent it from melting smoothly into a sauce.
Additions and Substitutions. Add cooked protein (chicken, shrimp, bacon, salmon) or extra veggies (shallot, broccoli, peas, spinach, mushrooms) to this pasta if you like. Swap the heavy cream for half and half (it may need an extra few minutes to thicken) or use a few scoops of our cauliflower cream sauce in place of the heavy cream. Add a splash of white wine, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a pinch of red pepper flakes for extra flavor.
Strict vegetarians should look for parmesan cheese made without rennet.
- Serving Size: 4 servings
- Calories: 497
- Sugar: 9.2 g
- Sodium: 917.9 mg
- Fat: 20.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 64.4 g
- Protein: 17.5 g
- Cholesterol: 51.5 mg
Keywords: pasta, alfredo, fettuccine, summer