Delicious Creamy Lemon Pasta is a vegetarian-friendly recipe made with just a handful of easy ingredients. Its flavors are fresh, bright, and decadent. Even better, it can be ready to serve in under 30 minutes! Perfect for a light lunch, easy dinner, or side dish!

Flavorful meals shouldn’t be complicated, and this Creamy Lemon Pasta is about as simple as it gets! Perfect for a light lunch or dinner, or even as a side dish, this is a great meal to make when you’re short on time or meal-prepping ahead of a busy week. I love making a big batch of this to enjoy for a quick lunch all week long.

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Kids and adults will love this simple pasta recipe! Customize it to best fit your family’s tastes, or prepare as written in the recipe card. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Quick & easy. An easy-to-make pasta dish that uses simple pantry staples and is all cooked in one pan. Ready in under 30 minutes!
  • Very tasty. The flavors of this recipe will leave you wanting to go for seconds. And it’s an excellent complement to a variety of cuisines. Serve it as a side with chicken, salmon or pork.
  • A family-friendly recipe. This pasta is not one of those meals you will have to worry about whether the kids will eat. It works for everyone!
Pasta served with a creamy lemon sauce.

Ingredients needed

This incredible lemon pasta is actually super simple with just 6 core ingredients, but it tastes really fancy. All you’ll need is:

  • Pasta. We used fusilli noodles, but any long or short pasta will work. Use whole wheat, gluten free, or any other pasta of choice.
  • Lemon juice + zest. Use fresh lemon juice and zest to give this dish a lovely, bright and sunny flavor.
  • Butter. Thickens the sauce and makes it rich and decadent.
  • Heavy cream. For all that delicious creaminess!
  • Garlic. Garlic is pretty much a must in any pasta dish.
  • Salt + fresh black pepper. Brings out all of the delicious flavor!
  • Parmesan cheese. I highly recommend buying a high-quality parm and grating it yourself. Because this recipe contains so few ingredients, quality really counts.

How to make this recipe

This lemon garlic pasta recipe couldn’t be more simple! It’s ready in just a few easy steps! Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

  1. Cook the pasta. Make the noodles according to package directions until al dente. You want it to be *slightly* undercooked as it will cook a little more in the skillet with the sauce. Be sure to save ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Make the sauce. When the pasta has 5 minutes left, start the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Whisk in the lemon zest and cream and continue to whisk until the liquid comes to a gentle simmer. Add the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring continuously until all of the butter is added and melted. If your pasta is not yet done, remove the sauce from the heat.
  3. Mix the pasta with sauce. Once the pasta is done, return the sauce skillet to the heat over medium and whisk in ½ cup of the pasta water. Then transfer the pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat.
  4. Add parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Mix in the parmesan until it’s fully melted. Finally, add in the lemon juice and stir to combine. The sauce should be a little on the thinner side but it thickens quickly as it begins to cool. However, if you think it’s too thin, you can sprinkle on a teaspoon of flour and stir to mix.
  5. Finish + serve. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!
Stirring creamy noodles in a large pan.

Expert tips

  • Don’t forget to reserve pasta water. The starchy water helps the sauce stick to the pasta and make things blend in much better. If you do forget, use water or broth.
  • It’s very important to remove the pan from the heat before you add the lemon juice, otherwise the sauce could separate.
  • Serving suggestion. We love this served with a fresh green salad and some crusty bread. So good!

Frequently asked questions

What does lemon pasta taste like?

Lemon pasta is a light, vibrant recipe that’s quick and easy to make! The end result is creamy and garlicky with a subtle tang from the lemon, but nicely balanced by the rich cream and parmesan cheese. This can be enjoyed alone or paired with a variety of proteins and/or vegetables. 

Do lemon and garlic go together?

Lemon and garlic pair wonderfully together! When cooked, garlic loses its pungency and turns mild and buttery, which is a perfect compliment to lemon’s bright acidity. In this lemon garlic pasta recipe they combine to provide the most delicious flavor!

Customize this recipe

This dish is delicious as-is, but feel free to change things up to customize it to your family’s preferences and what you have available. Here’s some options:

  • Make it gluten free. Simply use a gluten-free pasta of choice.
  • Add protein. Feel free to toss the pasta with chickpeas, diced chicken breast, shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked shrimp.
  • Add veggies. Mix in cooked broccoli, asparagus or spinach.

Storage recommendations

  • To store. Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. We do not recommend freezing this pasta dish.
  • To reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven or large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, splashing in cream, almond milk, regular milk or water as needed to loosen the sauce. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave.
Creamy lemon pasta served with lemon wedges in a white bowl.

As usual, PLEASE let me know if you make this recipe and how you like it! You can come back here and leave a comment or tag me on instagram (@foodwithfeeling).

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Creamy lemon pasta served in a white bowl.

Creamy Lemon Pasta


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  • Author: Brita Britnell
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 large servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Creamy Lemon Pasta is a vegetarian-friendly recipe made with just a handful of easy ingredients. Ready to serve in under 30 minutes!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 8 ounces of pasta
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks and divided
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 cup of finely grated parmesan
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of flour to thicken sauce

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. You want it to be *slightly* undercooked as it will cook a little more in the skillet with the sauce. Be sure to save ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. When the pasta has 5 minutes left, start the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Whisk in the lemon zest and cream and continue to whisk until the liquid comes to a gentle simmer.
  3. Add the remaining butter in, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring continuously until all of the butter is added and melted. If your pasta is not yet done, remove the sauce from the heat.
  4. Once the pasta is done, return the sauce skillet to the heat over medium and whisk in ½ cup of the pasta water. Then transfer the pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat.
  5. Mix in the parmesan until it’s fully melted. Finally, add in the lemon juice and stir to combine. The sauce should be a little on the thinner side but it thickens quickly as it begins to cool. However, if you think it’s too thin, you can sprinkle on a teaspoon of flour and stir to mix.
  6. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • To store. Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. We do not recommend freezing this pasta dish.
  • To reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven or large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, splashing in cream, almond milk, regular milk or water as needed to loosen the sauce. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 948
  • Sugar: 5.8 g
  • Sodium: 451.2 mg
  • Fat: 53.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 91.5 g
  • Protein: 26.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 146.9 mg