Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta (Pasta al Limone)

Lemon garlic butter pasta is a simple, fuss-free, and amazingly delectable zesty dish. You only need five ingredients and 15 minutes. Enjoy this pasta dish as a side, or add veggies and protein to make it a meal.

Cooked pasta rolled into nests.

This is for you if you love an easy lemon garlic pasta recipe! Made in 15 minutes, then top with shredded parmesan cheese, parsley, or red pepper flakes for a spicy dish.

Though it sounds like a summer dish, lemon garlic pasta is enjoyed all year round. The best part of this recipe is that it can have several variations and will make your taste buds sing.

If you want a meal with an Italian flair, try paring pasta al limone with a burrata salad with balsamic glaze. Combined, it is a light and refreshing meal perfect for warm days!

What Is Pasta Al Limone?

Originating in Sicily, Pasta al Limone is a classic Italian simple pasta dish that combines long pasta noodles with butter, lemon, parmesan cheese, and garlic. This easy recipe proves delicious food can be made with simple ingredients.

The secret to making the perfect lemon garlic butter sauce is the starchy pasta water because it clings to your noodles and adds flavor. 

Pasta up close.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Made with simple, fresh ingredients – Loaded with lemon, garlic, and butter, this simple lemon pasta recipe is full of unique flavors. You will only need everyday kitchen staples to get the perfect flavor combination.
  • 20-Minute Meal or Side Dish – Are you always pressed for time? You can prepare lemon garlic parmesan pasta faster than you can get takeout!
  • Easy Modification – This lemon pasta recipe can use any pasta you like.

Ingredients for Lemon Garlic Pasta

Ingredients used to make the recipe.
  1. Pasta – Angel hair, spaghetti, or other long pasta: I love using thin or angel hair pasta; nevertheless, any long noodle will work. The lemon garlic pasta sauce works best in a longer shape than a round shape. Substitute with keto-friendly or gluten-free pasta for easy diet modification.
  2. Butter – Use traditional butter or plant-based butter with this recipe.
  3. Garlic – I recommend using a minimum of five cloves. For extra flavor, use roasted garlic!
  4. Lemon – If you prefer more lemon, you can adjust the amount of juice. I always add extra.
  5. Cheese: Use traditional parmesan or vegan parmesan. For vegans, I recommend the “Follow Your Heart” brand. The cheese is perfect when the container is freshly opened.

Garnish Options

  • Fresh parsley: Parsley is excellent at adding vibrant color to this simple garlic lemon pasta dish that aids in balancing the richness of the sauce. It adds a fresh flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese freshly grated: If you use good quality cheese, it will enhance the flavor immensely. It adds a nutty flavor and gives this lemony pasta some depth. Use freshly grated pasta because the pre-shredded version does not melt properly. 
  • Crushed red pepper: To add spiciness.
  • Peas – Peas work perfectly with this dish to add flavor and texture.
  • Additional Mediterranean flavors – I like to add kalamata olives, capers, artichoke hearts, and/or roasted red peppers to give this dish a strong Mediterranean flair!
Grilled lemon half up close.

Instructions

  1. Pasta: In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 1 cup (240ml) of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  2. Lemon Sauce: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat while cooking pasta. When the butter begins to foam, reduce the heat to low and add lemon zest, lemon juice, and minced garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside until the pasta is ready.
  3. Combine: Add 1 cup of pasta water to the butter mixture and combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat the pasta evenly. Add grated cheese and toss rapidly until the sauce thickens; if it becomes too tight and dry, add more pasta-cooking water to loosen it.
  4. Garnish: Add additional fresh lemon juice to desired taste. Season with salt and black pepper. Top with desired garnishes such as freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil, parsley, and/or red pepper flakes.
Picture steps to make recipe.

Pairings

The best thing about pasta is how you can pair the dish. You can enjoy this lemon garlic pasta creamy as a primary or side dish, together with:

Hand squeezing grilled lemon on pasta.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I use pasta water for this recipe?

The water from the pasta is reserved for adding flavor and starchy thickness to the sauce. If your pasta with lemon sauce lacks starch, add parmesan cheese to help thicken the sauce.

Can I use garlic powder for this recipe?

Yes, you can substitute garlic powder for fresh garlic. One garlic clove equals ¼ of a teaspoon of garlic powder.

How do I store lemon pasta?

If you have leftovers, use an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. Freezing lemon garlic pasta is not recommended. 

Bowl of garnished pasta.

Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta (Pasta al Limone)

Lemon garlic butter pasta is a simple, fuss-free, and amazingly delectable zesty dish. You only need five ingredients and 15 minutes. Enjoy this pasta dish as a side, or add veggies and protein to make it a meal.
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: All Day, Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 5 people
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 microplane
  • 1 cheese grater
  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 tongs
  • 1 large pot

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450g) Pasta (angel hair, thin spaghetti or spaghetti)
  • 5 tablespoons butter or plant-based butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • ½ cup (50g) Parmigiano-Reggiano or plant based parmesan
  • Garnish suggestions: Parsley, basil, or pine nuts.

Instructions

  • Pasta: In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 1 cup (240ml) of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  • Lemon Sauce: While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, reduce the heat to low, and add lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside until the pasta is ready.
  • Combine: Add 1 cup of pasta water to the butter mixture and combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat the pasta evenly. Add grated cheese and toss rapidly until the sauce thickens; if it becomes too tight and dry at any time, add more pasta-cooking water to loosen it sufficiently.
  • Garnish: Add additional lemon juice to desired taste. Season with salt and pepper. Top with desired garnishes.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta (Pasta al Limone)
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
481
Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
15
g
23
%
Cholesterol
 
37
mg
12
%
Sodium
 
256
mg
11
%
Carbohydrates
 
69
g
23
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
16
g
32
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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