Gochujang Chicken Alfredo

published Aug 23, 2023
Gochujang Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Gochujang, Korean red pepper paste, give the classic pasta dinner a special twist.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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gochujang chicken alfredo pasta in a skillet with some twirled around a pair of tongs for serving
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

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I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with classic chicken Alfredo. While I love the creamy, buttery taste of Alfredo sauce, it’s too rich for me after a few bites, and always leaves me wanting something spicy and acidic like kimchi. Plus, the chicken that comes with it is — in my opinion — often dry, flavorless, and unpleasantly chewy. Even though I haven’t always had the best luck finding a satisfying chicken Alfredo, the idea of enjoying chicken with a creamy sauce over pasta excites me. 

I often experiment with creamy-spicy flavors by mixing spicy ingredients with creamy elements, such as mixing kimchi into my carbonara or adding cream to my spicy tteokbokki. So when my cravings for chicken Alfredo struck again, I wanted to create a version that I would finally fall in love with. 

How to Make Gochujang Chicken Alfredo

To make it right for my perfect version, I needed to solve the two main problems I had with chicken Alfredo: the rich, buttery sauce that can sometimes feel greasy, and the dry, unpleasantly chewy (most of the time!) chicken.

  • Make the creamy sauce. Instead of using lots of butter and heavy cream to make the sauce, I go simple with heavy cream, egg yolks, and Parmesan cheese. Egg yolks make the sauce taste luscious without making it taste too rich. Then I introduce the spicy gochujang mixture, which includes gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), soy sauce, and honey, to the cream to balance the different flavors. The result is a creamy, spicy sauce that’s wonderfully rich without being greasy. You get the spicy kick at the end from gochujang and a little bit of sweetness from honey, while heavy cream ties everything together.
  • Cook the chicken. I’m always a thigh girl, not a breast girl, when it comes to chicken. So, for this recipe I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces rather than big strips; they stay juicy and are more flavorful when mixed into the sauce. Once the chicken gets some color, I add plenty of scallions and garlic, which get cooked in the residual chicken-flavored fat. You can’t tell me that this chicken has no flavor when it uses five garlic cloves! 
  • Bring the sauce, chicken, and pasta together. When the garlicky chicken meets spicy, creamy sauce, something magical happens. The sauce thickens as it simmers, and the garlicky, umami flavors from cooking the chicken get infused with the sauce. After everything gets tossed with cooked fettuccine pasta and topped with more scallions and Parm, help yourself to a bowl of the most perfect chicken Alfredo that you’ll fall in love with every time. 

Gochujang Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Gochujang, Korean red pepper paste, give the classic pasta dinner a special twist.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    dried fettuccine pasta

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 5

    cloves garlic

  • 1 pound

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1/4 cup

    gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    honey

  • 1 1/2 cups

    heavy cream

  • 2

    large egg yolks

  • 2 ounces

    Parmesan cheese (about 1 firmly packed cup grated on a Microplane), plus more for serving

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, thinly slice 3 medium scallions (about 1/2 cup); set aside about 1 tablespoon for garnish. Finely chop 5 garlic cloves. Cut 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch cubes.

  2. Place 1/4 cup gochujang, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 2 large egg yolks in a liquid measuring cup or medium bowl and whisk to combine. Finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 firmly packed cup), or measure out 1 cup store-bought grated.

  3. Add 1 pound dried fettuccine to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and spread into an even layer. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cook undisturbed until the bottom is golden-brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the scallions except the garnish and garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  4. When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the gochujang mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and bubbling, about 1 minute. Add the cream mixture and stir to combine. Add the Parmesan and simmer until the sauce thickens and the color of the sauce turns glossy and a rosy-pink color, 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Add the pasta and toss to coat, adding some of the reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to get a saucy consistency. Garnish with the reserved scallions and more Parmesan if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.