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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.
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.
How to make lemon pasta
- Add the garlic, parsley, lemon zest and juice to heated oil in a pan.
- Add the pasta water to bring in some starch and cheese (if using).
- Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
- Toss in the cooked spaghetti and serve.
Tips for making the recipe well
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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
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.
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.
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:
- One Pan Pasta
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Scallops with Pasta
- Arrabiata Pasta with Shrimp
- Chicken Fajita Pasta
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!
- 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.
- 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.