Easy Lemon Pasta

This Lemon Pasta recipe is deliciously tangy and creamy, plus it comes together in under 15 minutes! It’s a quick and easy dinner that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Want a recipe for the perfect dish to serve at your next dinner party?

This creamy Lemon Pasta is just what you’re looking for!

Why?

  • It’s an easy recipe that only takes 15 minutes!
  • It’s a crowd pleaser and vegetarian-friendly.
  • It’s super affordable – you can make this lemon pasta for less than $15.

And because this pasta al limone recipe is so easy and so affordable, that leaves plenty of room in the budget for wine and plenty of time for enjoying your guests and drinking said wine.

My favorite wine for pairing with this Lemon Pasta is Chardonnay – It’s creamy, with notes of citrus, just like this pasta!

Ingredients for Lemon Pasta:

  • Spaghetti (or other pasta of your choosing)
  • Lemons
  • Olive Oil
  • Heavy Cream
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Basil (optional)

How to Make Lemon Pasta:

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water.
  • Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Combine lemon juice, oil, heavy cream, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes in a bowl to combine.
  • Add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and whisk to combine.
  • Toss until pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Add remaining cooking liquid, if necessary.
  • Garnish with lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper.

Tips:

  • Generously salt your pasta cooking water. This ensures that your pasta is flavored right from the beginning. Use one tablespoon of salt for every six cups of water. We’re also going to be using that pasta cooking water to flavor our sauce.
  • Cook your pasta just short of al dente. I like to cook my pasta for about a minute less than the package directions call for. This is because the pasta will continue to cook as it’s tossed with the lemon cream sauce, and we don’t want it becoming mushy. I cooked my spaghetti for 8 minutes.
  • Save your pasta cooking liquid. That starchy water is perfect for loosening up the lemon cream sauce as it’s tossed with the pasta.
Extreme close up of pasta coated in creamy sauce.

Variations:

  • Lemon pasta with chicken: Stir in some cooked shredded chicken or sliced chicken breasts.
  • Lemon pasta with basil: Stir in 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil.
  • Shrimp: Some sauteed shrimp would be delicious in this recipe.
  • Cheese: Swirl in some ricotta or mascarpone at the end for extra creaminess.
  • Without cream: Simply add some additional pasta cooking liquid or chicken broth.
  • Want to add even more flavor? Try adding a dollop of this tangy gremolata sauce to your finished pasta. Or, swirl in some kale pesto or arugula pesto.

How to store it:

This creamy lemon pasta will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave, or in a skillet, adding in a splash more water, chicken broth, or cream.

What to serve with Lemon Pasta:

Lemon pasta in grey dish next to lemon zest strips.

I hope that you love this Lemon Pasta as much as I do. And as perfect as it is for a dinner party, it’s also equally amazing to enjoy it while you’re in PJ’s enjoying an episode of the Real Housewives and a chilled glass of Chardonnay… You may even have the ingredients on hand already to make it. No need for a special occasion – any day of the week is perfect for Lemon Pasta.

Wine Pairing with Lemon Pasta: 

  • Chardonnay is a perfect match with the creamy, tangy sauce and the nutty parmesan cheese in this recipe.

If you loved this Lemon Pasta recipe I would appreciate it so much if you would give it a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish are share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings. 

For more great Platings & Pairings recipes, be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

More easy Pasta Recipes

Watch the Web Story of me making this Easy Lemon Pasta.

Overhead shot of lemon pasta in bowl next to charred lemon halves.

Lemon Pasta

Lemon Pasta is deliciously tangy and creamy, plus it comes together in under 15 minutes!
3.97 from 139 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti (or other pasta of your choosing)
  • Salt
  • 3 lemons (zested and juiced)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus additional for serving)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water (1 tablespoon of salt for every 6 cups of water) until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. 
  • Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return drained spaghetti to the pot.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, oil, heavy cream, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes in a bowl to combine. Add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and whisk to combine.
  • Add lemon sauce to spaghetti in pot; toss until pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Add remaining cooking liquid, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Garnish with lemon zest, chopped basil (if desired) and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes

I like to cook my pasta about a minute less than the package directions call for. This ensures that your pasta remains al dente as it’s tossed with with the lemon cream sauce and heated through. 
This creamy lemon pasta will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave, or in a skillet, adding in a splash more water, chicken broth, or cream.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 268mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 376IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 1mg

This post was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2022 to add new photographs. The recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

55 thoughts on “Easy Lemon Pasta”

    • 3 stars
      So I made this and the lemon was way too overpowering. I probably wouldn’t use the zest of three lemons. I would scale back to using the zest from only one in the future.

      Reply
    • OMG so good! I par-boiled clean shrimp, drained (make sure NO shell or tails remain) Then I toss them into the pasta for 2 minutes prior to draining the pot. They cook up quick and they’re a delicious addition to this amazing pasta. In the springtime I may just toss in frozen peas. The lemon & basil goes super well with shrimp & peas.

      Reply
    • 3 stars
      Very lemony to the point the husband said it was too much. I think one lemon and one lemon zest would be more than enough. We called it lemonade pasta. Lol it was fun to try. Easy to make.

      Reply
  1. 5 stars
    I totally agree that Chardonnay is the perfect pairing for this delicious lemon pasta dish! I love how simple and flavorful the ingredients are. This looks like a great way to ring in the last few days of summer!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I sauteed onions, garlic, and asparagus to add to pasta with grilled chicken…so good!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    This was sooo good. I added some garlic salt and some Italian seasoning because I love me some garlic. Thank you for this recipe. Super quick and simple dinner!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Made this for a spontaneous dinner party with my friends as I had all of the ingredients on hand. So easy to make and super delicious! My friends and I all loved the dish. 10/10 would make again.

    Reply
  5. 5 stars
    I did it for my wife who is a snob. She loved it and had seconds. Thanks chef! We loved this dish. The only change I made was one less lemon. You rock. 5 stars!

    Reply
  6. Awesome! Lemon Pasta is my favorite food. It’s great to be able to cook it right at home, it’s really not as difficult as I thought, thanks for your detailed instructions. Best regards!

    Reply
  7. 3 stars
    The first bite was so good. Sadly the lemon was very strong and by the time my serving was done I was over-satiated with lemon. So, if you are a lemon LOVER then you will probably really like this.

    Reply
  8. 2 stars
    Much too lemony for my family. I love acidity and I still found this a little too intense. Next time I might cut it down to two or one lemons. It was super fast to make and was fairly easy as well! Just cut the lemon down or cook the sauce a little longer to cook down the acidity.

    Reply
  9. 5 stars
    Looks great! The recipe is quite simple and easy to prepare, added to the menu for this weekend. Hope to enjoy the best Lemon Pasta with my family. Thanks and have a nice day!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback! I’m going to test this recipe again using actual measurements of lemon juice vs. lemons and will revise the recipe. I think this is important size lemons can vary so much in size.

      Reply
  10. 5 stars
    I loved this. I had forgotten to get the heavy cream so I threw in a big old dollop of sour cream and it worked really well. Love the chopped basil flavor!

    Reply
  11. 5 stars
    Easy Lemon Pasta is awesome! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, my wife and daughter both liked it, which made me happy. Thanks for your recipe

    Reply
  12. 1 star
    Why do you feel the need to add alcohol to everything? Ever consider some people are alcoholic and can’t just have a “glass of wine”?

    Reply
    • Ever consider that you come across as rude?
      And your issue with alcohol shouldn’t be added to a recipe rating. Not kind or fair to the author who spent a lot of time and effort to provide us this info for free.

      Reply
    • There is no wine in the recipe. It is just a suggested pairing. Given the name of the website, I don’t know why this is a surprise to you. If you can’t/don’t want to drink alcohol with it, then don’t.

      Reply
  13. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Easy to make and so flavorful. I added grilled shrimp and peas. Delicious. I love all your recipes. Perfect!

    Reply
  14. 5 stars
    This is going to be a short review as I’m eating this amazing pasta dish as I write. It was so simple and full of flavor. I did have to add more red pepper flakes but aside from that, I followed the recipe exact. I was able to pick some fresh basil from my outdoor garden and that was better than the crush basil in a bottle. Amazing, easy and delicious dish. Thank you. It’s on my Pintrest Pasta board so I don’t lose it. 🙂

    Reply
  15. 5 stars
    Imake this, but instead of the fatening cream, i use a 2% fat greek yogurt.And of course, a little less lemon zest. Thank you!

    Reply
  16. 5 stars
    This is now a staple dish in our house. We both fell in love with this recipe. We like spice so we add a little more red pepper. But each person has different taste buds so point is it’s amazing and you can make slight alterations where needed to fit your palette.

    Reply
  17. Hello,
    I’m Jackson, I’m a chef who loves food, I’m always interested in new foods. The Lemon Pasta is great! I just finished them tonight, taste is great and i had a great dinner with my little family. Thanks for your sharing.
    Sincerely grateful!

    Reply

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