Lemon Pasta

5 from 2848 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!

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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.

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

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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 2848 votes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 297
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
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Video

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 78mg, Potassium: 170mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 152IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 1mg

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

Cuisine American
5 from 2848 votes (2,788 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Monica says:

    Fast, easy, delicious 👌🏻

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay, so happy you liked it!!

  2. Jezzica says:

    Yes.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad you liked it!

  3. Carrie says:

    I served this with chicken piccata and’s broccoli and it was a huge hit in my home. My husband has been asking for it ever since I made it which was less than a week ago 🙂 it’s already on my list to make again next week. The only thing I changed was using angel hair pasta.

    1. Yumna says:

      Love this!

  4. Agnes says:

    I loved this lemon pasta recipe, it was super easy to read and work with. This meant i could easily use it to help me with my school project, and to make at home!

    1. Yumna says:

      So happy you enjoyed it!

  5. Brenda says:

    Yummy! Recipe is easy to prepare and is also so tasty! I didn’t put in parmesan, and it’s still really flavorful. I did put in 4 cloves of garlic and used a large lemon. I also only used about 8 ounces of pasta instead of 12. Thank you so much, Yumna!

    1. Yumna says:

      Thanks, Brenda!

  6. Ellen says:

    I like this recipe because I have all the ingredients in my pantry except for the lemon and Italian parsley. Comes together quickly and is a favorite of my family’s.

    1. Yumna says:

      So happy you enjoy this dish, it’s a favorite of mine as well. So easy to make!

    2. ⁰9th says:

      Absolutely yummy!!

      1. Yumna says:

        So happy you enjoyed this recipe.

  7. Christine says:

    This was absolutely DELICIOUS, made it last night with fresh lemons and parsley. Very quick and easy. I used Lucini EVOO and added a small pat of butter and a Tbsp of 50/50 to make it just a bit richer (wouldn’t have been necessary if my pasta water had been starchy enough).

    1. Yumna says:

      Thanks for the tips, I am so happy you loved it!

  8. Michele says:

    Quick and flavorful! I added a pad of butter!

    1. Yumna says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  9. ANNIE says:

    Great recipe! Easy, light, delicious. Def repeat

    1. Yumna says:

      Thanks for sharing, glad you loved it!

  10. kazy says:

    Very pleasant recipe. Next time I will add a 1/2 cup of pasta water to the Lemon juice and Parmesan so the cheese can melt more smoothly. The way the recipe is written made the cheese clump in the pan.

    1. kazy says:

      And yes, my Parmesan cheese was a fresh block which I grated.

  11. Karen says:

    This was incredible. Made it last week while visiting friends and will make it again at home tonight. So so SO delicious and simple to make!!

    1. Yumna says:

      Yay, I am so happy you enjoyed this easy recipe!

    2. kazy says:

      Ignore my comments. This was for another Lemon Pasta recipe not yours. My bad.

  12. Ziali says:

    A bit too lemony for me, maybe it’s cause I used a whole lemon but I’m not sure. 🙁

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So sorry to hear that the lemon was too much, you can always use less lemon. But, in general this pasta is so supposed to have the lemon flavor really come forward. If you want you can try my cottage cheese alfredo pasta, it’s much milder in taste.

  13. Carlyle says:

    LOVE easy and quick dishes. The simpler, better!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad you enjoyed the lemon pasta!

  14. Pat O says:

    Made this recipe for dinner last night. A light pasta that is simple to make and delicious. Used thin spaghetti which was perfect.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So happy to hear that you liked it, Pat!

  15. Stephanie Oceguera says:

    I substituted the olive oil for avocado oil. It is delicious, I also used penne instead. The lemon gives it a great touch. Thank you!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much!

  16. Diana Evans says:

    I couldn’t get the parm to mix properly with the starchy water. It became globs. I ended up taking it all out, making a cream with parm/garlic/parsley/lemon sauce instead which was great.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Did you use a parm block and shred it yourself, or did you use pre-shredded parm? The kind you get at the store has an anti-caking agent on it that makes it almost impossible to blend without it clumping up.

      1. Diana Evans says:

        You are right, the culprit is the shredded cheese! I will try this again with the proper cheese and update! Thank you!

        1. Yumna J. says:

          I wish they didn’t add the anti-caking agent, it is a pest! Hope the second batch turns out better for you!

          1. Sam says:

            You can also rinse the cheese off under water in a strainer first of you want to use up the cheese you have

            I cut asparagus into three pieces added them to the pasta for the last five mins of cooking time to have a little veggie in there the lemon goes very well with asparagus – great sauce thank you!

          2. Yumna says:

            Love the idea of adding asparagus!

  17. Nina says:

    FABULOUS!!! I tossed the cooked pasta (fettacini) with fresh parmesan, then microwaved the pasta 2 min @ 50% to give the parmesan a chance to melt, then added 1 carton lemon yogurt, zest and juice of whole lemon, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper and tossed all together. It was delicious hot and surprisingly just as wonderful at room temp! This is an unforgettable recipe…….

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much, Nina!

  18. Maria says:

    Oh my goodness! This is the best side dish ever. We had leftover chicken that we didn’t know what to have with. This is simple, easy and pairs well with leftover chicken. Will definitely make again, it’s a very refreshing side for the summer.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much, Maria!

  19. Cathy says:

    I was pondering how to make a leftover cooked salmon filet from last night into dinner for two tonight. This lemon pasta looks perfect.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      You’ll have to let me know how it turns out Cathy! Hope you enjoy.

  20. Kimberly says:

    SO AMAZING! I made this last week for my family, they have requested it again for dinner this week.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much! So glad everyone enjoyed it!

  21. Amber says:

    This lemon pasta recipe was tasteless. Very disappointing.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I am so sorry to hear that, Amber! Did you use fresh lemons?

  22. Brian says:

    Very good!

    Added some sautéed red bell pepper, peas, and scrimps

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yum! That sounds delicious

  23. Rebecca Thomas says:

    I have just finished making and eating this recipe. I LOVE it! So easy. And I’m so glad I found your website. It’s so easy to navigate. I’ve already printed off three more recipes that I plan to try!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much, Rebecca! I can’t wait to hear what you think of my other recipes.

  24. Renee says:

    This was delicious. I ate seconds. My picky 3 year old ate it too.(She loves lemons). Definitely will make this again as part of my regular rotation.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad you both enjoyed it!

  25. Morgan says:

    Was delicious! I did notice you called it a vegetarian meal, yet it calls for Parmesan cheese. The final dish didn’t even need it though! So good!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much! Most vegetarians do eat cheese and other dairy products; if it was vegan, I for sure wouldn’t have included the cheese.

      1. Morgan says:

        Unfortunately Parmesan isn’t vegetarian. It comes from the stomach of baby cows. Rennet. They probably make vegetarian parm though! Either way, it’s delicious without it!

        1. Yumna J. says:

          You are so right! I did not know that! Thank you so much for pointing it out!

          1. Morgan says:

            No problem, Honey! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  26. Debbie says:

    Thank you for this recipe!
    I absolutely loath cooking and tried this with some milk instead of pasta water and was afraid I’d mess it up but it is absolutely delicious !!

    I am so proud that I didn’t burn my house down.

    Thank you again!!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Aw, you’re so welcome, Debbie!! Cooking isn’t that bad – just takes a little practice; you’ve got this!

  27. Lacey says:

    Delicious! First time making!
    Had served with tomato puree and cheese on a tiger loaf and lemon slices on the pasta.
    Simple and easy to make, I recommend to add more lemon juice after served to become plenty more sour!
    A very nice ideal meal, Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! That sounds extra delicious. You’re welcome!

  28. Justine Ann Green says:

    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.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! Three times?! That’s amazing to hear!

  29. Bernadette says:

    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. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed!!

  30. Sue Thompson says:

    Pretty good. I little dry. But perhaps more milk or cream

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Definitely adjust as needed!

    2. Snowy says:

      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.

  31. Snowy says:

    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.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I’ll definitely consider adding that feature. Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Anthony says:

      Thank you for commenting this because I had no idea either and this helped me measure!

  32. Elizabeth Linares says:

    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!!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you were able to make some simple substitutes and enjoy. You’re welcome!!

  33. Karen says:

    This recipe was a waste of time and product. It was awful!😤👎🙁

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      In what way?

    2. Nigel says:

      It was like four tiny ingredients and is lemon pasta…what flavor profile were you expecting or what did you do to mess it up?

  34. sri mahalakshmi says:

    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

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I’m so glad you finally got around to trying the recipe! You’re so welcome!!

      1. Deborah wilson says:

        My husband loved the lemon pasta , was really good, my husband grilled shrimp to add to it

        1. Yumna Jawad says:

          That is amazing! I love that idea!

  35. Kimberly Coldren says:

    I have a tough crowd. The 2 lemon lovers thoughts is was just about right. The 2 meat lovers needed more sauce and cheese. Probably need to tinker more for the right balance but loved the freshness and simplicity.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      This recipe is super customizable, so I’m sure there’s a way to make it work for all!

  36. Susan says:

    We loved this recipe. Cooked it during a heat wave. Great flavor with both the lemon juice and zest. I had one small lemon and 1/2 of a extra large lemon. I like the idea of adding cooked shrimp to the leftovers.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you! Sounds perfect. Hope you’re staying cool!

  37. Jeannette says:

    Yum !

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you!

  38. Sam says:

    Loved this when i had it last – i have a BBQ tomorrow and was going to make a big bowl using Fusilli.

    Do you think I could make it today and refrigerate until tomorrow without the pasta sticking together?

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I love that! That is so exciting. Yes, you can!

  39. JT says:

    Made this for the first time tonight and my husband and I just loved it! Quick, easy and flavorful. I upped the amount of garlic and cheese for us. Will be added to our rotation. Thank you!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That’s perfect! I love it. Yay!!

  40. Patti Kearney says:

    Have made this several times, and we’ll be having it tonight, too! It’s so easy, and tastes so fresh! I usually add roasted green beans on the side, and of course, a nice cold bottle of Chardonnay! Great recipe!!!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That’s amazing! What a fantastic way to enjoy the recipe. Thank you!

  41. Jennifer says:

    Loved this recipe! Easy, fresh, and full of flavour. Have already made several times. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! That’s amazing. Happy to have shared!

  42. SA says:

    Hey Yumna, do you think I could use fusilli instead of spaghetti? Thanks in advance!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Yes, you can!

  43. Lynn Rogers says:

    I love this light and flavorful recipe! I added broccoli to the pasta with 5 min left, and tossed it all together. It is delicious! Making it again right now!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! Sounds perfect.

  44. Lidia says:

    This recipe lacks flavor! Definitely wouldn’t make it again or recommend.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. What kind of flavors did you think it was missing?

  45. Carolin Schluter says:

    I was making a seafood oven bake with Lobster, Scallops, Shrimp and Muscles.
    I was trying to come up with a good side dish-
    THIS WAS YOUR PERFECT!!
    The entire dinner turned out amazing!!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Now that sounds like a fantastic meal! So glad you enjoyed!

  46. Quezebo Jones says:

    Don’t want to be critical but the ingredients don’t show how much pasta water to add.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      ½ cup of the cooking pasta liquid

  47. Brooklyn says:

    Would it be good with fettuccine noodles? I definitely want to make more than the recipe calls for but only have one box of the noodles it calls for

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Yes, it will work with fettuccine!

      1. Nikki says:

        Looveee this dish so much 💓 i just recently decided to change my lifestyle.

        Perfect feel good.dish 💓.

        1. Yumna Jawad says:

          Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed!

  48. Voula says:

    Delicious and light!! And so easy to make! Made with brown rice quinoa fusilli pasta… so good

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you! That’s great to hear!

  49. Nicole says:

    I had a few lemons today and a strange craving for lemon garlic pasta. I searched online and ended up on this recipe, made it, and it came out exactly as I hoped! The only thing I didn’t have was fresh parsley. I served with some oven baked broccoli. Perfect measurements on the rest of the ingredients, and I definitely recommend the black pepper at the end.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That makes me so happy to hear! Sounds perfect. Yay!!

  50. Priya says:

    Really supper….. I love your all videos..I made this Lemon pasta again week

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! I love that!

  51. Jennifer says:

    this recipe encouraged me to get fresh ingredients so it was a little messy however my picky eater husband congratulated me. He likes it! Home run! Thanks!! Will make this a part of our monthly menu.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That’s amazing! Yay!!

  52. Carl Hurley says:

    I made this lemon pasts one time in the past and loved it. I want to make it again.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Yay!! Hope you do!

      1. Dave says:

        This is so easy to make and so delicious. I made it for the first time today, and served it with pieces of pan sauteed chicken breast. In addition to the zest I sliced up part of the lemon peel into slivers and used that also.

        1. Yumna Jawad says:

          Thank you! I love that!!

  53. Deb says:

    I made it today. The only things I changed was I added some thyme, used tri-color bow tie pasta and a few cans of albacore. My family and neighbor loved it! Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Sounds delicious! Glad you all loved it!!

  54. Susan says:

    I made this lemon pasta again last night. This time I served it with your grilled lemon chicken on top of each serving. It was delicious. This is the first time I used angel hair pasta. I liked it the best, it really gets coated well with the sauce.

  55. Terry says:

    Loved this dish!! Made it exactly as written. Did not use the optional cheese. Chiffonade some fresh basil from my garden. 🤗

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay!! Fresh is always best!

  56. Bryan P Thym says:

    Made this dish over the weekend. Easy and excellent. Used Angel Hair pasta and the pasta cooks quickly. I also added fresh seared scallops on top of each stack of pasta. Delicious! Wish I can post a pic of the dish

    1. Yumna J. says:

      That sounds delicious! Feel free to share any photos you take of the recipes to my FB group called “Feel Good Foodies: A Community!”

  57. Linda says:

    I’m not that good at cooking, but this looked so good I had to try it. Easy peasy and delicious. I learned something new, Al dente. I added shrimp. Thanks, comfort food.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I’m glad you gave it a try! That’s amazing!

  58. suzanne bazzi says:

    Just made this pasta because I needed a good side dish for my chicken. It was so easy and fast and my kiddos loved it. Thank you so much for the recipe and all of your hard work.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay! You’re so welcome!

  59. Kathryn says:

    This was delicious…and SO easy which is much needed for this mamma who doesn’t have much time right now with two littles. I added seared scallops to the top since I had some that needed to be used and it was a perfect pair. It will certainly be a go to since my husband and two year old devoured it.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I love the sound of that! I’m so happy you all enjoyed it! Thank you!

  60. Susan Brown Bruening says:

    Absolutely delicious. This will be a staple in our meal planning. So easy to make I grilled some shrimp in butter, lemon zest, pepper and Italian seasoning. I added after dishing up the pasta. My husband is a meat/potatoes guy and said this is something he’d love to have, often. The flavor is great.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Those sound like delicious additions! Thank you so much!

  61. Coral says:

    I had fresh lemons and had to try this pasta! It was really good even though I think I put too much lemon in it! Oops! I also added some shredded chicken for a little protein! Overall, very good!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much! Adding chicken is a great idea!

  62. Heba says:

    I had to try this immediately after I saw the post on Instagram. It is so good and so easy to make !! This is definitely going to be part of our regular weekday dishes!

  63. Jan says:

    Looks great! In tip #3, you mentioned butter but it’s not in the recipe. Do you make this with butter as well?

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you! I originally tested it with butter, but I switched to olive oil because I liked it better for this recipe.

  64. Arif Yousuf says:

    Saw this on your instagram and had to try it immediately…did not dissapoint