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Pasta al limone is a really simple and classic Italian dish of long noodles and a parmesan and lemon topping. It is covered in melted butter and tangy lemon, and is the perfect thing to cook for dinner when you don’t know what to make!

This recipe is so simple, and super flavorful! You can eat it as is, or you can dress it up with a protein or a side dish. If you love plain and simple noodle recipes, you’ve got to try these delicious Garlic Sesame Noodles, this classic Creamy Carbonara, and this delicious Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese Spaghetti.

A close up on pasta al limone.

Pasta al Limon

Pasta al limone, or lemon pasta, is an incredibly popular pasta dish in Italy, and I can see why! It’s so simple, yet bursting with the delicious flavors of butter or olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lots of lemon. It’s so simple and I love making this dish for dinner when I’m short on time, ideas, and resources. If you’ve got a box of spaghetti in the pantry and a few lemons on the counter, you’ve got what you need for this recipe!

If I am making this for dinner, I love serving it with some kind of protein. My favorite options are this Greek lemon chicken or this crockpot apricot chicken. Not that those are traditional in this dish at all, I just know my family will be hungry again in an hour if I don’t feed them a little something extra! I also love making air fryer mushrooms to go on top, they are so good and easy to make! You can also serve

Ingredients

I love pasta al limone for many reasons, but my favorite reason is how simple the ingredient list is! You can make the sauce more hearty and add more ingredients, but the traditional recipe is so delicate and delicious. You can add more fresh herbs on top of this lemon pasta recipe if you would like to. I think the lemon flavor is enough to flavor the whole thing on it’s own! You can find the measurements below in the recipe card.

  • Spaghetti: Spaghetti noodles are traditional and delicious, not to mention easy to cook!
  • Butter: You can use butter or olive oil in this recipe. You will make a butter sauce with garlic and lemon juice and zest.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic clove makes this dish so savory and delicious.
  • Lemon Juice: This is where the magic happens. Lemon juice is the star of this past! Make sure you have at least two lemons on hand.
  • Lemon Zest: Zest is so strong and flavorful, and adds a pop of fresh lemon flavors. Make sure to thoroughly wash your lemons first.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano is the perfect choice for shredding on top of this pasta.
  • Salt and Pepper: This dish is heavy on the black pepper, and for good reason! It goes great with the lemon and Parmesan. Feel free to add however much you like.
  • Basil or Italian Parsley: This is for garnishing the top. It adds a pop of fresh flavor that you definitely want to include!
Process photos showing how to make the sauce and cook the pasta.

Pasta al Limone Recipe

Get ready for the easiest pasta recipe you’ll ever make! Pasta al limone is so straightforward and alive with flavor. Once you cook the pasta, you will use one cup of the reserved pasta water to make the butter lemon sauce. Pasta cooking water is salty and starchy, and helps to bring the sauce together.

  1. Cook Pasta: In a large pot, filled with salted water, boil your pasta until al dente. Follow package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Make Lemon Sauce: Once your pasta is cooked and drained, in a large skillet over medium heat melt your butter. Sautee your minced garlic in the melted butter for just under a minute, add in your cooked pasta, half of your lemon juice, and half of the reserved pasta water.
  3. Add Pasta: Cook the pasta in the skillet, stirring continuously to coat the pasta in the butter mixture. Keep an eye on your pasta as you cook, it should always remain evenly coated in the sauce while it cooks, if it becomes dry or at all, add a little more of the reserved water, but don’t over water your pasta.
  4. Add Lemon and Cheese: Once your pasta has cooked in the skillet, being continually stirred, for about 3 minutes add in the lemon zest, the rest of the lemon juice, and your parmesan cheese. Then continue to stir and cook the pasta, evenly distributing the cheese and zest.
  5. Add Seasoning: Add in salt and pepper and adjust the amount to your liking. The pasta is ready to serve when it is even coated in the lemon butter sauce mixture and the cheese has been evenly melted and distributed throughout the noodles.
  6. Enjoy: Enjoy fresh, plating your pasta with thinly sliced lemon wedges and minced lemongrass for garnish.
Pasta al limone in the pan.

Tips for Making Pasta al Limone

Pasta al limone is such a great recipe to have in your recipe book! It is simple, delicious, and full of flavor. If you are looking for ways to mix things up, or just want your pasta to turn out perfect, try these tips. It will turn out perfectly every time!

  • Add Heavy Cream: If you want to make this more of a cream sauce, you can add 1 cup of heavy cream to the pan when you add your other sauce ingredients. It gives the pasta a little more body and makes the pasta extra creamy and delicious!
  • Add a Protein: This pasta is perfect topped with chicken. I listed some of my favorite chicken recipes above. Other chicken recipes you can try: Grilled Chicken, Lemon Chicken Piccata, and Chicken Francese.
  • Rasp Grater: This is my secret weapon! A rasp grater, sometimes called a microplaner, is the perfect way to grate parmesan. It crumbles it up so small that it completely melts into the sauce, leaving it so creamy. I also like to grate fresh parm on the top of the pasta after I plate everything.
A fork scooping up pasta al limone.

Storing Leftovers

Pasta al limone is so yummy I doubt you’ll have any leftovers! If you do happen to have some you need to store, here is how.

  • In the Refrigerator: Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You may need to drizzle olive oil on top when reheating to help the noodles rehydrate.

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Pasta Al Limone

By: Alyssa Rivers
Pasta al limone is a really simple and classic Italian dish of long noodles and a parmesan and lemon topping. It is covered in melted butter and tangy lemon, and is the perfect thing to cook for dinner when you don't know what to make!
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a large pot, filled with salted water, boil your pasta until al dente. Follow the package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • Once your pasta is cooked and drained, in a large skillet over medium heat melt your butter. Sautee your minced garlic in the melted butter for just under a minute, add in your cooked pasta, half of your lemon juice, and half of the reserved pasta water.
  • Cook the pasta in the skillet, stirring continuously to coat the pasta in the butter mixture. Keep an eye on your pasta as you cook, it should always remain evenly coated in the sauce while it cooks, if it becomes dry or at all, add a little more of the reserved water, but don’t over water your pasta.
  • Once your pasta has cooked in the skillet, being continually stirred, for about 3 minutes add in the lemon zest, the rest of the lemon juice, and your parmesan cheese. Continue to stir and cook the pasta, evenly distributing the cheese and zest.
  • Add in salt and pepper and adjust the amount to your liking. The pasta is ready to serve when it is even coated in the lemon butter sauce mixture and the cheese has been evenly melted and distributed throughout the noodles.
  • Enjoy fresh, plating your pasta with thinly sliced lemon wedges and minced lemongrass for garnish.

Notes

Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 12gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 385mgPotassium: 162mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 494IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 164mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Italian American
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About Alyssa Rivers

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Alyssa Rivers and the food blogger behind The Recipe Critic. The blog launched in 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family. Each recipe is tried and true, family-tested and approved.

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