Hearty Dinners/ Pasta

Easy Lemon Pasta

September 16, 2021 by Chris Collins

This Lemon Pasta is silky smooth, outrageously tasty and comes together in under 15mins. Plus it couldn’t be easier to make!

There’s a few different ways you can make lemon pasta, but here I’ll show you the tastiest way imaginable. Follow me…

tongs twirling pasta in large black frying pan

Lemon Pasta Ingredients

A lot of recipes use cream to create the lemon sauce. Pasta Al Limone I believe it’s called. However, much to your (and my) surprise there’s actually no cream in this recipe! In my opinion you really don’t need it.

The key to a gorgeous lemon sauce for pasta is balancing the flavours and adding a good amount of savoury flavour to the sauce. Pasta with only lemon juice is a fairly unappealing combo, what you really want to do is build a sauce that celebrates the lemon without masking its flavour. But also one that stops the lemon getting carried away. It’s a tricky balance, but I believe I’ve cracked it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Spaghetti – I find long cut pasta works best with this recipe. Because the sauce is quite thin, you can toss the spaghetti and distribute the sauce easier.
  • Lemon – Both the zest and the juice.
  • Butter – This creates a nice savoury base for the sauce.
  • Garlic – Garlic + Butter + Lemon = heaven!
  • Parsley – Pairs perfectly with the above ingredients.
  • Parmesan – Adds a nice savoury tone to the sauce.
  • Salt and Black Pepper – The black pepper balances out the sweet and salty tones in the sauce by adding a hit of spice.

overhead shot of lemon pasta ingredients with text labels

Making Lemon Pasta

Genuinely couldn’t be easier. The sauce will be finished by the time the pasta has cooked!

Starchy Pasta Water

An ingredient not mentioned above (is water an ingredient these days?!). Using the water your pasta is cooked in is essential in creating the lemon sauce. It creates an emulsion with the butter to help form a silky, glossy and very slightly creamy sauce.

How to use Starchy Pasta Water in Lemon Pasta

Two really important factors to consider:

  1. Make sure the pasta water is properly seasoned with salt. This ensures it doesn’t dilute the flavour of the sauce.
  2. Be sure to scoop the pasta water out JUST before the pasta has cooked. This will ensure the water is at its starchiest, which in turn is what ensures the sauce goes nice and creamy.

Process shots: melt butter (photo 1), fry garlic, lemon zest and black pepper (photo 2), whisk in lemon juice and pasta water (photo 3), melt in parmesan (photo 4), add pasta (photo 5), toss with parsley (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make lemon pasta

close up overhead shot of lemon pasta and tongs in pan

Serving Lemon Pasta

Use your starchy pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. If it ends up too watery just keep tossing the pasta until the sauce thickens and clings to it.

To serve, honestly I love this pasta as it is. Having said that, in the past I have added asparagus, chicken and prawns/shrimp, which all go really nicely! To serve I usually add more parmesan and parsley, but that’s totally optional.

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this lemon pasta shall we?!

tongs lifting lemon pasta out of black frying pan

How to make Lemon Pasta (Full Recipe & Video)

close up overhead shot of lemon pasta and tongs in pan

Easy Lemon Pasta (so delicious!)

This Lemon Pasta is silky smooth, outrageously tasty and comes together in under 15mins. Plus it couldn't be easier to make!
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Calories per serving: 768kcal
Cost per serving: £1.50 / $2

Equipment:

  • Large Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Large Pot & Pasta Tongs
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Zester
  • Finer Cheese Grater

Ingredients (check list):

  • 1lb / 500g Dried Spaghetti
  • 6 tbsp / 90g / 3oz Butter, diced into cubes
  • 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve
  • 2 heaped tbsp finely diced Fresh Parsley, plus more to serve
  • 1 large Lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Black Pepper (see notes)
  • Salt, as needed

Instructions:

  • Add spaghetti to a pot of heavily salted boiling water and cook un al dente. Don't drain the liquid when it's cooked, transfer the pasta straight from the pot to the pan. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water just before its cooked.
  • Meanwhile melt butter into a pan over medium heat, then add garlic, lemon zest and black pepper. Fry for a couple of mins to cook the garlic, then pour in lemon juice and 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water. Whisk it to emulsify everything until it begins turning cloudy.
  • Add in parmesan and continue to stir until it melts into the sauce. Transfer spaghetti straight from the pot into the pan and add parsley. Toss the pasta until the sauce thickens and wraps around the pasta. It should have a light creamy/glossy texture. Use more starchy pasta water to thin out as needed, or continue to toss and reduce the sauce if it's too watery.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly, then serve with extra parmesan and parsley if desired!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Starchy Pasta Water - Make sure the water is heavily salted otherwise it'll dilute the flavour of the sauce. Also make sure there's only just enough water to boil the water. You want it fairly shallow so it's as starchy as possible, meaning it makes the sauce nice and creamy. Ensure you scoop the water towards the end of the pasta cooking for it's at its starchiest.
b) Black Pepper - This is a simple recipe that relies on the perfect balance of flavours. To counteract the sour tones of the lemon, you've got salt from the pasta water and parmesan, but we also want to balance it all out with a touch of spice. This is where the black pepper comes in. I recommend using 1/4 tsp at the start, then adjust as needed towards the end.
c) Serving - I personally love this as it is, but you could add chicken, shrimp/prawns or even asparagus if you wanted! As it is, it'll make 4 large portions and 5 fair sized portions.
d) Calories - whole recipe divided by 4 with no extra parmesan/parsley:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Easy Lemon Pasta (so delicious!)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 768 Calories from Fat 347
% Daily Value*
Fat 38.59g59%
Saturated Fat 23.451g117%
Trans Fat 1.467g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.062g
Monounsaturated Fat 9.735g
Cholesterol 99mg33%
Sodium 432mg18%
Potassium 314mg9%
Carbohydrates 87.73g29%
Fiber 3.8g15%
Sugar 3.4g4%
Protein 17.78g36%
Vitamin A 1306IU26%
Vitamin C 7.9mg10%
Calcium 114mg11%
Iron 1.72mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

For more quick pasta recipes check out these beauties:

If you plan on making the Lemon Pasta recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

COMFORT FOOD DINNERS

YOU'LL NEVER STOP MAKING

A FREE EMAIL SERIES, FROM ONE FOODIE TO ANOTHER

5 FOOLPROOF

5 VIRAL

YOU'LL NEVER STOP MAKING!

A FREE EMAIL SERIES, FROM ONE PASTA LOVER TO ANOTHER.

PASTA RECIPES