Lemon Pasta

5 from 1541 votes

Ready to serve in 20 minutes, this fresh and vibrant lemon pasta is simple to make with just a few basic ingredients and a burst of flavor!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Quick and easy to make, this simple lemon pasta recipe, also called pasta al limone in Italy, is the perfect weeknight dinner. Made with fresh lemon, garlic, black pepper and parmesan, this vegetarian spaghetti is bursting with flavor.

Close up overhead shot of the lemon pasta in a bowl topped with parsley and lemon slices

Ingredients & substitutions

  • Pasta: I like to make this dish with a long pasta. Spaghetti or linguini both work great, but you can make it with a shorter pasta if that’s what you have. Use a gluten-free pasta if you have an intolerance. Be sure to check out my post on how to cook pasta perfectly for this recipe.
  • Oil: For cooking. I use olive oil to lend flavor to the dish, but you can use another high heat oil like avocado, canola or vegetable.
  • Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic for the best flavor.
  • Parsley: Use fresh parsley for a burst of herby freshness throughout the dish.
  • Lemon: I use both the zest and juice of a lemon for a real zingy flavor. It is called lemon pasta after all!
  • Cheese: I like to add in some grated parmesan, but you can omit this to make a vegan dish.
Ingredients to make the recipe on a white board

How to make lemon pasta

  1. Add the garlic, parsley, lemon zest and juice to heated oil in a pan.
  2. Add the pasta water to bring in some starch and cheese (if using).
  3. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  4. Toss in the cooked spaghetti and serve.
4 image collage to show how to make the sauce and then adding the pasta to the sauce in one pan

Watch this video to learn how to make lemon pasta.

Tips for making the recipe well

  1. Cook the pasta al-dente. That’s because you’ll be tossing it with the sauce for a couple minutes so it will continue to cook. If you overcook it, it can become very soft.
  2. Don’t toss your pasta water! Some is added back to the pan with the lemon and garlic. It contains starch, which will allow the lemon sauce to coat each strand of spaghetti.
  3. Use milk instead of pasta water for a more creamy texture. I prefer keeping it light with the lemon juice and pasta water because the garlic and olive oil give it great flavor. But milk is a great option as well!
  4. Use fresh ingredients. This simple dish has the best flavors when you use fresh products. Use fresh rather than dried herbs, use freshly minced garlic and stay away from bottled lemon juice for this recipe.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it keep?

This lemon pasta is best served as soon as it’s made, but it will keep well in the fridge for two or three days. You can reheat leftovers on the stovetop or in the microwave. You may want to add in a tablespoon or two of water when you reheat to loosen the sauce back up.

What else can you add to it?

This pasta al limone is super delicious as it is, but you can easily add in some protein if you wish. Stir in some shredded chicken, or add some cooked shrimp to serve.

What do you serve it with?

You can easily serve this by itself, but I like to add some fresh veggies, a salad side or some bread to make it more hearty. Try it with:
Caesar Salad
Caprese Salad
Green Beans
Garlic Bread

Two bowls of the lemon pasta served with fresh parsley

This simple but delicious lemon spaghetti is the perfect weeknight meal when you are short on time. So easy to make, but it results in such a fresh and vibrant dish.

More pasta recipes to try:

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Lemon Pasta recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Lemon Pasta

Ready to serve in 20 minutes, this fresh and vibrant lemon pasta is simple to make with just a few basic ingredients and a burst of flavor!
5 from 1541 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 297
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins


  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley plus more for serving
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese optional
  • Freshly cracked black pepper for serving


  • Cook the spaghetti in a pot of salted water according to package instructions until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking pasta liquid.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the cooking pasta liquid and parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Transfer the cooked spaghetti to the skillet with the pasta sauce and toss until well coated. Serve with extra parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.



Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3 days in the fridge.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • To make it gluten-free, you can use any gluten-free pasta of your choice.
  • To make the sauce more creamy, you can add some milk instead of some of the water. 


Calories: 297kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 69mg, Potassium: 168mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 152IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 67mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Share this recipe

Share it with the world! Mention @feelgoodfoodie or tag #feelgoodfoodie!

Close up overhead shot of the lemon pasta in a bowl topped with parsley and lemon slices

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating


  1. This recipe is excellent!! Thank you so much! I have made it three times and also made a meal for two friends and they liked it so much they asked me for the recipe.

    Since I do not eat dairy, I appreciate that there is no cream. For the parmesan I use non-dairy and it works very well.

  2. I thought the recipe was excellent. I stirred the cheese in the pasta water slowly to make a cream base. Took a little more pasta water than 1/2 cup. I didn’t think it needed cream. I added some shrimp soaked in lemon.

    1. I had this thought myself. We used a half cup of milk and no pasta water… but I’m thinking a full cup of milk would be better. It was still enjoyable though.

  3. My only problem with this recipe is I had no idea what 12 ounces was and had to google it to find out it’s 340.194 grams. Would it be possible to include both measurements in the recipe? Thanks.

  4. Quick and delicious. I didn’t have parsley so I substituted basil. I also added a little more fresh lemon. It’s definitely going to be a go to family favorite. Thank you!!

  5. Have been waiting to try this pasta for ages..didn’t use cheese and followed the recipe given..wow loved it. For those who loves the smell and taste of lemon will surely like this!! In my opinion it,it is an acquired taste. Thank you

See All Comments