Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta Recipe comes together in just 20 minutes and is made with 7 simple ingredients. It’s light, fresh and creamy without any cream in it.

A bowl of lemon fusilli pasta topped with parsley

Creamy Pasta Al Limone without cream

Pasta Al Limone is Italian for Lemon Pasta. While this may seem like a bit more of an unusual pasta from a traditional tomato sauce pasta or pesto pasta, I can assure you that this Lemon Garlic Pasta is absolutely delicious and perfectly fresh for spring and summer.

It’s a simple pasta dish that is made by combining pasta with butter, oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and of course lemon. All these ingredients get tossed together with some pasta water (the *secret ingredient* to making this pasta creamy) to create a luscious pasta with a simple yet vibrant taste.

Why you’ll love Garlic and Lemon Pasta recipe

  • Ready in 20 minutes. This is a great quick and easy back-pocket pasta recipe that comes togehter in under 20 minutes. It’s great because it’s made with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry.
  • Fresh and vibrant flavour. The lemon zest in the pasta gives it a really beautiful fresh taste that is really nice for spring and summer. It’s also lighter than a heavy tomato sauce or cream sauce.
  • Easy to customize. There are so many ways you can customize this garlic and lemon pasta. Try adding in any protein you love, add some ricotta or burrata cheese or even some more herbs.

Lemon Garlic Pasta Ingredients

Pasta: any pasta shape will be delicious in this recipe. You can use a long pasta like spaghetti, or short pasta like penne or fusilli. The pasta shape I use in the photos is called bucatini fusilli.

Olive oil: it’s important to use olive oil in this recipe and not substitute it with vegetable oil or another cooking oil. The olive oil makes up the sauce so you want to have that delicious olive oil taste.

Butter. If you don’t want to use butter, you can substitute this with more olive oil. However, the butter does give the pasta an extra creamy and rich element.

Garlic: fresh garlic only! Do not substitute with powdered, dried or jarred garlic. Since there are only a few ingredients going into this pasta it’s important that everything is fresh. This is key to making tasty lemon pasta.

Lemon: You can use a regular lemon or a meyer lemon. Depending on your personal taste, you may even want to add more lemon to the recipe!

Parmesan cheese: again, make sure it’s the real stuff 🙂 You can grate the parmesan cheese yourself or use pre-grated cheese.

Pasta water: this is the water that the pasta was cooked in. As the pasta cooks in the salted water, it releases its starches which creates salty starchy water. This is basically liquid gold and an important ingredient to add back to the pasta to create a creamy sauce.

How to make Lemon Garlic Pasta

Step 1

Add the butter and olive oil to a skillet or pot on medium-high heat until warm, then add the minced garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Sauteé everything together for 1 minute.

Step 2

Boil the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. You want to make sure to cook the pasta to al dente (with a slight bite to it.) Then add the pasta and grated parmesan cheese to the skillet.

Step 3

Slowly start to add the pasta water two tablespoons at a time and mix together. The pasta water will start to emulsify with the oil and butter and turn into a light and creamy sauce.

Step 4

Add enough pasta water until the pasta is creamy. Taste and add any additional lemon zest, salt or parmesan cheese if needed. Serve with some fresh parsley or basil, black pepper and parmesan cheese.

Lemon Pasta Varaitions

There are many different variations and add-ins you can make to this Lemon Garlic Pasta recipe. Here are a few ideas of ingredients you can try.

  • Grilled Shrimp
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Panchetta
  • Egg yolk (mix it in at the end when the pasta isn’t too hot, otherwise the yolk can cook)
  • Herbs
  • Ricotta
  • Heavy cream
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Sauteéd spinach 
  • Sauteéd zucchini 
  • Grilled asparagus 
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes

How to store and reheat leftovers

Store any leftover lemon pasta in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe as the pasta will become mushy.

Reheat the pasta in a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. If the noodles are all clumped together, you can add a drizzle of olive oil when reheating the pasta. This will help the noodles come apart.

What to serve with Pasta Al Limone

There are so many great things you can serve with this Pasta Al Limone! This recipe works wonderfully as a main, but can also be served as a side, or with a starter like a soup or a salad. Here are some great recipes to serve up with this Lemon Pasta.

Tips for making a perfect Lemon Garlic Pasta

  • Use fresh ingredients. Since this is a simple pasta dish made with 7 ingredients, it’s important to use fresh ingredients and not substitute for bottled, jarred or dried ingredients. This pasta will only be as good as the ingredients you use!
  • Salt the pasta water. The pasta water should be heavily salted so it tastes salty like the ocean. As the pasta cooks in the salted water the pasta will absorb the salt and become more flavourful.
  • Cook the pasta to al dente. The pasta should be cooked with a slight bite to it. A good rule of thumb for this is to cook the pasta one minute less than directed on the packaging. The pasta will continue to cook in the sauce so it’s important not to overcook it beforehand.
  • Don’t skip out on the pasta water. This recipe uses pasta water in the sauce to create a creamy lemon garlic pasta. This is the secret ingredient to create a delicious sauce, so don’t leave it out!

More delicious Pasta recipes to try

Lemon fusilli pasta in a white bowl with parsley

If you tried this Lemon Garlic Pasta or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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A bowl of lemon fusilli pasta topped with parsley

Lemon Garlic Pasta

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This lemon garlic pasta is made with 7 simple ingredients and is fresh and delicious!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 8oz pasta of choice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp of zest)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • Fresh parsley or basil to top (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. (with a slight bite to it.) Make sure to reserve 1 cup of the cooking water from the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a skillet on medium-high heat, then add the minced garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice and sauteé for 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the pasta and parmesan cheese to the skillet and mix to combine.
  4. Slowly start adding in the pasta water a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to mix as you add the water. As you mix the pasta will start to turn creamy. Depending on your desired texture, you may need more or less pasta water. Keep adding until the pasta is light and creamy. (You may not use a full cup, that’s ok.)
  5. Top the pasta with some fresh parsley or basil and more grated parmesan cheese.
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. 

Salt the pasta water. The pasta water should be heavily salted so it tastes salty like the ocean. As the pasta cooks in the salted water, the pasta will absorb the salt and become more flavourful.

Cook the pasta to al dente. The pasta should be cooked with a slight bite to it. A good rule of thumb for this is to cook the pasta one minute less than directed on the packaging. The pasta will continue to cook in the sauce so it’s important not to overcook it beforehand.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 of the recipe
  • Calories: 615
  • Sugar: `
  • Sodium: 300mg
  • Fat: 30g
  • Saturated Fat: 11.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 60g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 19g

Keywords: pasta al limone, lemon pasta, lemon pasta with garlic, garlic pasta with lemon