Lemon Pasta Recipe: 15-Minute Dinner

Make this delicious lemon pasta recipe for dinner in 20 minutes.
3 mins read
Lemon pasta recipe

For occasions when simplicity reigns supreme: Lemon Pasta! This recipe embraces the beauty of basic, featuring a delightfully uncomplicated yet irresistible combination. Experience sheer simplicity with a silky, cheesy lemon sauce and a burst of flavor from freshly ground peppercorns, ensuring satisfaction with every bite.

Why You’ll Adore This Pasta al Limone Recipe

Effortless Authenticity. This classic Italian pasta, widely celebrated for its authenticity, is known as pasta al limone. Comprising long noodle-shaped pasta (typically spaghetti), lemon zest and juice, butter or olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper, this recipe epitomizes simple perfection.

Creaminess without Heavy Cream. Similar to Ricotta Pasta, what sets this spaghetti al Limone apart is its ability to achieve a rich, silky sauce without relying on heavy ingredients. Remarkably, there’s no heavy cream whatsoever; instead, the pasta’s starches work their enchantment.

Kitchen Staples. Ever find yourself staring into the fridge or pantry, wondering what to whip up for dinner? The answer lies in lemon pasta. Crafted from six uncomplicated ingredients, chances are you already have most (if not all) of them readily available.

Delightfully Light. Lemon pasta harmonizes the savory notes of umami-rich Parmesan cheese, the zestiness of bright lemon, the kick of freshly cracked black peppercorns, and the smoothness of butter. It satisfies those comfort food cravings while remaining refreshingly light, ensuring you won’t be left overly full.”

Creating Lemon Pasta: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lemon pasta recipe

The Essential Ingredients:

  1. Unsalted Butter: Opt for butter over extra virgin olive oil to build the creamy texture characteristic of this pasta sauce.
  2. Lemon: The pasta’s namesake, providing a vibrant flavor through both zest and juice, elevating the overall taste.
  3. Parmesan: Ensure authenticity by using real Parmesan, grated fresh from the block. Quality matters in this minimalistic recipe, as demonstrated in dishes like Penne Alla Vodka.
  4. Pasta: While spaghetti is the traditional choice, other long noodles like fettuccine, angel hair, or linguine work well. Shorter noodles are less effective, as the magic of the silky sauce relies on the way long noodles can be effortlessly dragged and tossed through the liquid.
  5. Garlic: Optional but delightful, adding a layer of flavor. Some classic recipes include garlic, while others do not. If available, it complements the taste of pasta al limone, but its absence won’t hinder the dish.
  6. Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Be generous with the black pepper, as it plays a crucial role in enhancing the dish’s overall flavor profile.

Instructions for Lemon Pasta:

  1. Cook the Pasta: Boil the noodles until al dente, remembering to reserve a portion of the pasta water.
  2. Start the Sauce: In a skillet, sauté garlic with butter to begin creating the luscious lemon pasta sauce.
  3. Toss: Add the cooked pasta along with some reserved pasta water. Toss thoroughly to coat the pasta evenly.
  4. Finish: Introduce lemon zest and juice, followed by the Parmesan cheese. Continuously toss the mixture, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the lemon pasta hot, garnished with extra cheese and black pepper. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations:

  • We cherish this pasta in its simplicity, but if you desire to elevate or add protein, consider these delectable options. a. Shredded or Diced Chicken: Elevate the dish by adding grilled, sautéed, or shredded chicken. b. Italian-Style Chicken: Opt for a restaurant-inspired experience by pairing it with Chicken Francaise or Chicken Piccata. Sautéed Italian chicken sausage is also a delightful choice. c. Shrimp: Take inspiration from Garlic Shrimp Pasta and incorporate sautéed or grilled shrimp for a seafood twist.d. Herbs: Enhance the flavor with fresh basil or parsley. Avoid dried herbs for a lackluster taste. e. Greens: Boost the veggie factor by stirring in baby spinach or baby arugula just before tossing the pasta in the sauce; they’ll wilt and add freshness to your dinner.

Storage Tips:

  • To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat: Gently warm the pasta in a skillet over medium-low heat, adding a splash of water if needed to thin the sauce. Toss the noodles frequently and revive the flavors with a squeeze of lemon.
  • To Freeze: Store pasta in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Accompaniments for Lemon Pasta:

  1. Bread: You can never go wrong with bread. Consider trying No Knead Focaccia or Rosemary Olive Oil Bread for an exquisite pairing.
  2. Salad: Opt for fresh, uncomplicated salads like Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad or Arugula Salad. Prepare these alongside the pasta as it cooks for a seamless meal assembly.
  3. Vegetables: Enhance your dining experience by including veggies as a side. Complement your lemon pasta with Roasted Zucchini or Roasted Eggplant for a delightful vegetable addition.

Recommended Tools for this Recipe:

  1. Non-Stick Skillet: Ensure a smooth cooking process by using a non-stick skillet, preventing the pasta from sticking to the bottom.
  2. Citrus Juicer: Simplify the lemon juicing process with the convenience of a citrus juicer.
  3. Colander: An essential tool for draining the pasta, and maintaining the ideal consistency for your lemon pasta dish.
Yield: 4

Easy Lemon Pasta Recipe

Lemon pasta recipe

Lemon pasta, a sublime classic Italian dish, is crafted with simplicity, combining the bright flavors of lemon, Parmesan, butter, and black pepper. It's a quick and easy recipe, achieving culinary perfection effortlessly!


  • 8 ounces of dried whole wheat spaghetti or gluten-free pasta
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium lemon, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese (approximately 1 1/2 ounces), with additional for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a medium pot, bring salted water to a boil. Ensure there's enough water so that the pasta is more crowded than usual. Cook the noodles until al dente following package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. If the garlic finishes before the pasta, remove the pan from heat to avoid burning.
  3. IMMEDIATELY (as soon as the pasta is drained), add the hot pasta to the skillet with garlic. Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Increase the heat to medium-high and, using tongs, toss to coat. Keep cooking and tossing constantly until the sauce becomes shiny and coats the noodles (approximately a minute). The pasta will be covered in a glossy, silky sauce. If it tightens, add a tablespoon or two of reserved pasta water slowly to maintain the consistency.
  4. Zest the lemon over the top. Cut the lemon into quarters, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Sprinkle Parmesan over the pasta and toss again to combine. The cheese may initially clump, but continue tossing, adding small splashes of pasta water as needed. Season with a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss again. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  5. Transfer the pasta to serving plates and garnish each serving with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan and a bit more black pepper. Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 269Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 378mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g

Misato Alexandre

Hello, I'm Misato—a dedicated mom, wife, and culinary enthusiast. Join me on this delightful journey as I share my love for baking cookies and crafting delicious meals for my family. Explore some of my favorite recipes here on my page, and I hope they bring as much joy to your kitchen as they do to mine.

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