This Lemon Garlic Pasta requires only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes to prepare. It's light and creamy despite the lack of cream. It's the kind of pasta dish you make on busy weeknights when you need a filling dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
Why you'll love this
- It's so refreshing! Lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic, and parsley provide a burst of flavor to dull spaghetti, transforming it into a pasta meal that packs a punch. The best thing is that you can tailor the ingredients to your family's preferences for a foolproof recipe that you'll add to your regular meal rotation.
- If you liked this recipe you can take a look at my Instant Pot Chicken Drumsticks, Quick & Easy Gouda Mac and Cheese, and my Carrot and Lentil Soup.
What you'll need
- lemon: Lemon, of course, is the star of the show! Because you will be utilizing both the zest and the fresh lemon juice, try to choose an organic or high-quality lemon. Even better if you have a lemon tree.
- Pasta: Lemon pasta is generally made using long spaghetti strands. I used spaghetti, but you could also use capellini, linguine, or angel hair pasta.
- Cheese: Without using heavy cream, Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan cheese is utilized to make a wonderful creamy sauce! It is always preferable to grate your own cheese rather than using pre-grated cheese.
- Garlic: For my fellow garlic enthusiasts, garlic is used to infuse olive oil.
- Olive oil: Using extra virgin olive oil instead of butter is always my preference. Use high-quality olive oil and cook on low heat.
- Parsley: Fresh herbs are always best, so parsley is added at the end for freshness and a burst of color.
- Chili: To give the spaghetti a spicy bite, add red pepper flakes or chili flakes.
How to make lemon garlic pasta
This is an overview of the instructions. For the complete directions scroll down to the bottom!
- Bring a big saucepan of salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. While it's cooking, heat the olive oil over low heat with the chopped garlic, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Sauté the garlic slowly.
- Then stir in the lemon zest and whipping cream. To blend, stir everything together.
- When the pasta is done, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Mix the cooked spaghetti with the lemon butter garlic sauce until thoroughly combined.
- Shredded parmesan cheese on top.
- Combine the pasta with the buttery lemon garlic sauce, adding leftover pasta water as needed. Garnish with parsley or basil, if desired.
You'll need a spaghetti shape that's simple to slick with sauce for this Lemon Garlic Pasta. I've specified spaghetti, but any long, narrow pasta will suffice. Linguine or angel hair pasta (Capellini) are both excellent choices. A drop of starchy cooking water at the end helps the sauce stick together.
Do lemon and garlic go together?
Lemon and garlic complement each other well, whether raw or cooked! They work well in salad dressings when raw, especially when combined with fruity olive oil. Garlic loses its pungency when cooked and becomes mild and buttery. Again, a fantastic complement to the fresh acidity of lemon.
How can you make it even faster?
This is a quick and easy meal idea. Especially if you already have some roasted garlic in the fridge.
If not, lightly roasting the garlic takes only a few minutes. Put it in the oven as soon as you get home from work. Then go about your post-work routine: change your clothes, check Facebook, crack open a beer, whatever. In around 40 minutes, the garlic will be ready!
Tips for lemon garlic pasta
- Make use of high-quality ingredients. Because Pasta Al Limone has only a few components, strive to use high-quality ingredients to give the meal more flavor. I usually get my Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from an Italian deli or a local market.
- The lemon should be rolled out. Rolling the lemon on a table first helps to loosen the lemon juice inside, allowing you to get the most out of your lemons.
- Zest the lemon with a cheese grater or a Microplane grater. Make cautious not to grate the bitter white part of the lemon.
- Set aside some pasta water.
- The creamy sauce requires pasta water! So keep some aside from the starchy water that was used to cook pasta.
- If the sauce is too dry, add the extra pasta water. If the sauce is too dry after adding the cheese, add more pasta water.
- Rather than using pre-grated parmesan cheese, always grate your own. It is best to grate the parmesan finely so that it melts quickly rather than getting clumpy.
Variations and Substitutions
This meal would be even better with shrimp! Cook until it is opaque in the sauce, then combine with the lemon garlic spaghetti. So delicious!!
If you wish to increase the protein content of the lemon garlic pasta recipe, use leftover rotisserie chicken.
A couple of tablespoons of butter added to the sauce makes it much richer and creamier. Making it into a lemon garlic butter sauce - delicious!
This creamy spaghetti will stay in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Keep it in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove. Adding more water or a little bit of cream will help rehydrate the pasta and prevent it from tasting dry.
This can also be frozen for a period of up to three months. Allow the pasta to cool to room temperature before placing it in a ziplock bag or freezer-safe container.
More Easy Dinner Recipes
Lemon Garlic Pasta
- 1 package spaghetti pasta
- 1 large lemon
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup freshly chopped parsley
- ½ tablespoon red chili flakes
- ½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- In a big pot of salted water, begin boiling the pasta. Make careful you heavily salt the water and keep some pasta water aside!
- In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in olive oil while the pasta cooks. Cook on low heat to infuse the oil without burning it.
- Grate the lemon zest with a microplane or cheese grater. After that, squeeze the same lemon's juice and remove any seeds.
- Allow the lemon zest and juice to simmer in the pan for a few minutes on low heat.
- When the pasta is nearly cooked and al dente, put it directly to the pan with ½ cup of pasta water to finish cooking in the pan over medium heat.
- Mix in the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. If necessary, or if the pasta is dry, add another ½ cup of pasta water and continue to stir for a few minutes to create a delicious creamy silky sauce.
- Stir in the chopped parsley and you're done! Enjoy your Lemon Garlic Pasta with a small spray of olive oil and extra parmigiano cheese.
- For this recipe, you can use any long, slim spaghetti you choose