Lemon Pasta

5 from 1751 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

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 1751 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 297
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

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.

Video

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, 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.

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

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Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!!

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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!

  11. 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!!!

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

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

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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

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