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.
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: 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 pasta sauce is the starchy pasta water because it clings to your noodles and adds flavor.
Why you'll 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.
- 15-Minute Meal – 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
- Pasta - 1 pound (450g) 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.
- Butter - 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter (vegans use plant-based butter at a 1:1 ratio): Lemon garlic pasta utilizes butter and cheese to give it a rich flavor.
- Garlic - 5 large garlic cloves minced: I recommend using a minimum of five cloves. For extra flavor, use roasted garlic!
- Lemon - Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus fresh juice: If you prefer more lemon, you can adjust the amount of juice. I always add extra.
- Cheese: ½ cup (50g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving. Vegans use plant-based parmesan (I recommend the "Follow Your Heart" brand.)
- 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!
- 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Bread - Pasta and crusty bread go hand in hand. Enjoy this dish with easy homemade bread, Turkish pide bread, cheesy garlic bread, or vegan garlic bread.
- Salad: Round out the dinner with a salad. I recommend this kale crunch salad with a lemon dijon dressing or go fancy with a strawberry, apricot, and pistachio salad.
- Vegetables: Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables. The best combinations include zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, roasted brussels sprouts, etc.
Lemon sauce for pasta is a great dish because you can customize it according to your preferences. There are numerous flavorful additions, including:
- ¾ cup heavy cream – Add cream to create a creamy velvet sauce.
- Toasted Pine Nuts– Create a sweet flavor. Toast for a deeper flavor.
- Cherry Tomatoes– You can add additional flavor with cherry tomatoes. Quick oven-roast the tomatoes for a deeper flavor!
- Lemon shrimp pasta - Add grilled shrimp to make lemon garlic butter shrimp pasta.
- Add chicken –Adds a juicy flavor and protein to make this a well-rounded meal.
- Vegan Alternative - Start by switching out animal butter for vegan butter. I recommend using plant-based parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for a cheese flavor. Swap regular cream with canned coconut milk for a creamy dish.
- Herbs: Basil and parsley pair perfectly with lemon pasta!
If you want to make the best lemon garlic pasta, follow the tips gathered from experts who have mastered this recipe.
- Zesting: Avoid adding the lemon's white pith. The pith has a bitter flavor.
- Lemon Juice: Roll the lemon on a table to loosen the juice for maximum output.
- Pasta Water: The secret to an excellent lemon butter sauce for pasta is starchy pasta water. Reserve 1 cup of starchy water. It will hold the pasta and sauce together.
- Freshly Grated Cheese: Always grate your parmesan cheese for the freshest flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Yes, you can substitute garlic powder for fresh garlic. One garlic clove equals ¼ of a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Garlic and lemon combine beautifully, creating an exquisite, cooked, or raw flavor. They are a perfect addition to a salad dressing in their raw form, especially when mellowed with fruity olive oil. On the contrary, when you cook garlic, it turns buttery and gives a mild flavor, and it is an ideal way to complement a lemon's bright acidity.
If you have leftovers, use an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. It is not recommended to freeze lemon garlic pasta.
Reheating lemon pasta
On the stove – Add a bit of water, butter/olive oil to the pasta when hearing it in a skillet. Move around repetitively to stop the pasta from burning or sticking. Remove pasta from the skillet as soon as the noodles are warmed.
In the microwave – Add some water to the noodles and heat the lemon garlic pasta in 15-second intervals. Make sure you stir in between to ensure the noodles are hot.
Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta (Pasta al Limone)
- 1 microplane
- 1 cheese grater
- 1 large skillet
- 1 tongs
- 1 large pot
- 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.
- 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.1 pound (450g) Pasta (angel hair, thin spaghetti or spaghetti)
- 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.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
- 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.