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Although there are many delicious pasta recipes to choose from, this creamy lemon pasta sauce is one of the most delicious ways to serve spaghetti or whichever kind of pasta you prefer. Pasta al Limone is creamy, buttery, and delicious, offering the zesty tang of lemon as well as salty parmesan cheese and a little red pepper for a spicy kick.

A bowl of creamy lemon pasta (also known as pasta al limone) garnished with herbs and grated parmesan cheese sits on a white surface, with a fork on the side and lemon halves, a pepper grinder, and a small bowl of sauce in the background.

Spaghetti with creamy lemon pasta sauce makes a truly delicious dinner which everyone will love. This creamy lemon pasta will become one of your favorite Italian meals.

Fans of Italian food (especially pasta!) might also want to try baked cream cheese spaghetti, lasagna al forno, or sausage tortellini soup. Chicken and dumplings is another tasty dinner idea.

A bowl of lemon pasta garnished with parsley, with a fork and spoon beside it. Nearby, there are lemon halves, a pepper grinder, a salt bowl, and a small dish of red pepper flakes.

Why You’ll Love It

So delicious: The tangy lemon flavor, creaminess and garlic and red pepper sauce is perfectly balanced and makes this easy creamy lemon pasta sauce really tasty.
Ready in 30 minutes: Even though this recipe is made from scratch, it can still be on the table in just half an hour (perfect for those busy weeknights!)
Customizable: You can use another kind of pasta or tweak the creamy lemon sauce however you wish.

A close-up of a fork lifting a serving of pasta with a creamy lemon sauce from a white bowl. The pasta is garnished with fresh herbs, and the background has lemon wedges.

Lemon Cream Sauce Pasta Main Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below

Spaghetti: Feel free to use any kind of pasta you want, such as linguine, fettuccine, farfalle, or any pasta shapes you like.
Fresh lemons: As lemon is one of the main ingredients in this creamy lemon pasta recipe, you should use fresh lemon juice and zest, to make it absolutely delicious and infuse it with that fresh flavor.
Cream and butter: These add a rich and creamy touch. For the best result, use full-fat cream and butter.
Parmesan cheese: Also known as Parmigiano Reggiano, this delicious cheese contrasts with the citrusy lemon flavor with its distinctive salty taste. Grate your own for the freshest flavor.

Ingredients for a creamy lemon pasta dish arranged on a white surface include spaghetti, olive oil, butter, cream, parmesan, garlic, lemons, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper shakers.

How to Make Lemon Cream Sauce for Pasta

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card

Cook pasta: Follow the package directions to cook the pasta and drain it, saving some of the pasta water.
Sauté the garlic: Melt the butter with the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic in there for a minute.
Add more sauce ingredients: Next, add fresh lemon juice and zest, heavy cream, red pepper flakes, reserved pasta cooking liquid, and salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook over a very gentle simmer for 5 minutes or so.
Add the cheese and pasta: Stir the parmesan cheese and cooked spaghetti into the lemon sauce.
The finishing touches: Serve immediately, garnished with more lemon zest, red pepper flakes, grated parmesan, and chopped fresh parsley.

A pot of pasta al limone garnished with chopped herbs and red pepper flakes. Surrounding the pot are lemon halves, fresh parsley, and small bowls containing grated cheese and butter.

Substitutions and Variations

Gluten-free option: Choose gluten-free spaghetti if you need to make this gluten-free (this one is my fave!)
Tweak the seasonings: You can omit the red pepper flakes if you don’t want the spicy kick, or adjust the amount of salt and black pepper.
Change up the pasta: Spaghetti is a classic choice but there are plenty more types of pasta to choose from, and they all work great with this creamy lemon sauce. You can use fresh pasta if you want (bear in mind it has a shorter cooking time than dried pasta).

Close-up of a fork twirling a bite of creamy lemon pasta with visible herbs and red pepper flakes. In the background, there are lemon halves and more pasta in a bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Appetizers: Kick off your Italian meal with antipasto salad or green goddess salad.
The protein:
Serve your favorite meat with this creamy lemon pasta spaghetti, perhaps a juicy tomahawk steak or pesto-crusted salmon.
For dessert: Finish the meal with tiramisu cheesecake mini trifles or any of these Italian dessert recipes.

Close-up of a serving of pasta al limone being lifted by metal tongs from a pan. The pasta is garnished with herbs, and a lemon wedge is visible at the bottom.

How to Store Leftover Pasta al Limone

Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 4 days.
Freeze: This will freeze but the lemon cream sauce might separate and thaw out a bit grainy.
Thaw: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Reheat: Add more cream, lemon juice and butter to thin the sauce out a bit while rewarming it in a pan on the stove or in the microwave.

A bowl of pasta with creamy lemon sauce topped with grated cheese and parsley, with a pepper grinder, lemon halves, and a small container of grated cheese in the background.

Top Tips

Zest then juice: It’s easier to zest the lemons before you juice them. Also, you can start with less lemon juice and lemon zest if you don’t want a strong lemon flavor, adding more to taste.
Perfect pasta: Once the pasta water comes to a boil, add salt (this makes the pasta tastier).
Experiment with add-ins: You might like to add some capers or thinly sliced mushrooms.

A stainless steel pan filled with creamy lemon pasta garnished with parsley and red pepper flakes. Parmesan cheese, lemon halves, and spices are in the background.

Creamy Lemon Pasta Sauce FAQs

What kind of pasta goes best with this lemon juice and cream sauce?

You can use literally any pasta, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, tagliatelle, pasta shells, penne… whatever you like!

Can you make this dish ahead?

Although this recipe is best made and served straight away, and only takes about half an hour from start to finish, you can prep some of the ingredients ahead, such as grating the cheese or zesting and juicing your lemon.

Is this a main dish or a side dish?

I like to serve this with steak, pork, chicken, or another protein because it makes a good side dish. I also serve veggies on the side, perhaps smoked asparagus or roasted Brussels sprouts. But it can also work as a vegetarian main dish in its own right.

A bowl of creamy lemon pasta garnished with grated cheese, chopped parsley, and black pepper, with lemon wedges in the background.

Creamy Lemon Pasta Recipe

5 from 2 votes

Creamy Lemon Pasta

By: Bella Bucchiotti
Spaghetti with creamy lemon pasta sauce makes a truly delicious dinner which everyone will love. This creamy lemon pasta will become one of your favorite Italian meals.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 12 Ounces spaghetti
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • zest from 1 lemon, plus more for garnish
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ Teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • ½ Teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ Teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, plus more to taste
  • ½ Cup reserved pasta water
  • ½ Cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Boil water in a large pot over high heat and then cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.
  • Drain the pasta and save 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  • Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Whisk in the heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and pasta water.
  • Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  • Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
  • Toss the cooked pasta in the lemon sauce.
  • Garnish with red pepper flakes, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and parsley.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

Zest then juice: It’s easier to zest the lemons before you juice them. Also, you can start with less lemon juice and lemon zest if you don’t want a strong lemon flavor, adding more to taste.
Perfect pasta: Once the pasta water comes to a boil, add salt (this makes the pasta tastier).
Experiment with add-ins: You might like to add some capers or thinly sliced mushrooms.

Nutrition

Calories: 610kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 530mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1036IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 227mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

If you’re a fan of Italian flavors, you are definitely going to want to try this creamy lemon pasta recipe. It combines the appeal of pasta with the zesty tang of lemon and plenty of cream, along with garlic, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, and more. Whether you pair this with meat or fish is up to you. One thing is for sure, and that’s everyone is going to rave about this perfect dish. You’ll also love the fact it’s ready in just 30 minutes!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

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