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Creamy Lemon Pasta Recipe | Pasta al Limone

Creamy Lemon Pasta Recipe | Pasta al Limone

5 Stars (14 Voters)
This creamy lemon pasta recipe is such an easy, but yet, delicious pasta recipe. This classic lemon sauce has so much flavor in it. Pasta al limone is a creamy, rich and flavorful dish that goes well for dinner, lunch or brunch. If you are a fan of unique pasta dishes, you should give this dish a try.

lemon pasta

Hey foodies, there really is no taste quite like that of lemons; they can transform anything into something exciting! But you know what? Whatever zesty bite there is to savor in this world, I absolutely love it. Lemons are simply the best. While lemon is often associated with sour treats such as lemon tarts and lemon cakes, I'm here to prove that notion wrong by showing how that fantastic citrusy flavor can be infused into a creamy pasta.

Imagine al dente pasta enrobed in a velvety, luxurious sauce, infusing with the fresh, bright flavor of lemon. It's the luscious marriage of creamy richness and lemony tartness that will win you over with every bite. And let me tell you, this thing doesn't tickle your taste buds only, it's also a breeze to throw together, making it just perfect for those nights when you're up to your ears in work but do not want to grab some greasy takeout.

But before we go there, one myth has to be busted: strong lemony flavors aren't only at home with desserts. Oh no, my friend, lemon has its place in savory cooking, too, and once you've tasted the magic of creamy lemon pasta, you'll be wondering how you survived so long without it.

If you are ready to take your pasta game up a notch and treat yourself to a zesty explosion in the mouth, then come with me in this culinary adventure of making the ultimate creamy lemon pasta. Trust me, your taste buds will be forever grateful!

What is lemon pasta?

Lemon pasta, known as 'Pasta al Limone' in Italy, represents one of the dishes within the Italian culinary tradition. This classic Italian favorite actually hails primarily from its sun-drenched coastal regions, where lemons abound, most famously along the picturesque Amalfi Coast. The marriage of pasta and lemon reflects an almost un-Italian, simple philosophy toward cooking, in which quality ingredients seem to speak for themselves.

Pasta al Limone, originating from Italy, boasts a well-balanced blend of rich creaminess and sharp citrus notes. Its birthplace is often traced back to a humble peasant dish: freshly cooked pasta tossed with locally grown lemons, olive oil, and cheese, resulting in a refreshing and hearty meal.

Over time, the dish has evolved to become one of the most favored items on the menu of Italian restaurants in Italy and around the world. Today, Pasta al Limone serves as a testament to the true ethos of Italian food: elegant simplicity, bold flavors, and a commitment to using the best seasonal produce. Its enduring popularity among aficionados of Italian cuisine is attributed to its pleasing brightness and soul-warming appeal.

creamy lemon pasta

Ingredients for creamy lemon pasta

Crafting the perfect creamy lemon pasta starts with a carefully curated selection of ingredients:

  • Garlic Cloves: These aromatic cloves provide a robust, savory flavor base for the dish, infusing the sauce with a subtle depth.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon is the star of the show, offering vibrant citrus notes to the dish. The zest adds intense lemon flavor, while the juice provides a refreshing tanginess that cuts through the creaminess of the sauce.
  • Butter: Butter contributes richness and a velvety texture to the sauce, enhancing its indulgent appeal. It also helps to mellow out the acidity of the lemon, creating a beautifully balanced flavor profile.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil adds a fruity complexity to the sauce, complementing the bright flavors of the lemon. Its subtle earthiness adds depth to the dish without overpowering the other ingredients.
  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is the key ingredient for achieving the luxurious creaminess that defines this dish. It coats the pasta in a silky-smooth sauce, adding richness and decadence to every bite.
  • Salt: Salt is essential for enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients and bringing everything together harmoniously. It helps to balance out the acidity of the lemon and accentuate the savory notes of the garlic and Parmesan.
  • Pasta of Your Choice: Any variety of pasta works wonderfully in this recipe, providing a hearty base for the creamy lemon sauce. Whether it's spaghetti, fettuccine, or penne, choose your favorite shape to suit your preference.
  • Parmesan: Parmesan cheese adds a salty kick and a creamy finish to the dish. Its nutty, umami-rich flavor enhances the overall depth of the sauce, elevating it to gourmet status.
  • Parsley: Parsley adds a fresh, herbaceous element to the dish, both visually appealing and adding a burst of flavor. It provides a bright contrast to the richness of the sauce, balancing out the dish and adding a touch of freshness.

What equipment do you need to make creamy lemon pasta?

To make creamy lemon pasta, you'll need the following equipment:

  • Large Pasta Pot: For boiling water to cook the pasta.
  • Pan or Skillet: To prepare the sauce.
  • Grater or Zester: For grating the lemon zest.
  • Juicer: To extract the lemon juice.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: For accurately measuring ingredients like butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Kitchen Knife: For mincing garlic cloves and optionally chopping parsley for garnish.
  • Colander: To drain the cooked pasta. Cooking Utensils: Such as spatula or wooden spoon for stirring the sauce and tossing the pasta.
  • Microplane: For finely grating Parmesan cheese as a finishing touch.

Or, if you feel like it's time to renew your kitchen, read our article: Top 20 Kitchen Essentials Every Home Cook Needs. It will help you choose the right equipment for you.

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How do you make creamy lemon pasta?

To make creamy lemon pasta, start by cooking pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, prepare a sauce by melting butter in a pan, adding minced garlic and lemon zest, then stirring in heavy cream and lemon juice. Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce, adding Parmesan cheese and pasta water as needed to achieve a creamy consistency. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley if desired.

Tips to make the best lemon pasta

pasta al limone

To ensure you create the best creamy lemon pasta every time, here are some helpful tips:

  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Opt for fresh lemons, garlic, and Parmesan cheese to maximize flavor.
  • Balance Flavors: Achieve the perfect balance of creaminess and acidity by adjusting the amount of lemon juice and zest to suit your taste preferences.
  • Don't Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta just until al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly when added to the sauce. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and compromise the texture of the dish.
  • Save Pasta Water: Reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining. Adding a splash of pasta water to the sauce helps bind everything together and creates a silkier texture.
  • Emulsify the Sauce: To create a smooth and creamy sauce, slowly add the heavy cream to the melted butter and lemon mixture while stirring continuously. This helps emulsify the sauce and prevents it from separating.
  • Season Thoughtfully: Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce before adding the pasta. Remember that Parmesan cheese is salty, so go easy on additional salt until you've added the cheese and tasted the sauce.
  • Finish with Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle chopped parsley over the finished dish for a pop of color and freshness. The herbal brightness complements the tangy lemon flavors beautifully.
  • Serve Immediately: Creamy lemon pasta is best enjoyed right after cooking while the sauce is still warm and the flavors are at their peak.

More Pasta recipes you might like:

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20 Minutes
20 Minutes
  • 1-2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3 tablespoon (45g) Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 2/3 cups (160ml) Heavy cream
  • Salt to taste
  • 280g Pasta of your choice
  • 1/4 cup (22g) Parmesan
  • Parsley for serving


  1. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. While you wait the water to boil, start making the sauce.
  2. Mince garlic clove, grate the zest from one lemon and squeeze the juice of the lemon and set aside.
  3. In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add minced garlic and cook over low heat for 2 minutes, add butter, lemon zest and heat until melted. Add lemon juice, heavy cream, salt and bring to a boil.
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
  5. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Add some of the pasta water, parmesan and cook for 1- minutes and toss to combine.
  6. Serve immediately.


What type of pasta is best for creamy lemon pasta?

Any type of pasta works well for creamy lemon pasta, but long, thin pasta shapes like spaghetti or fettuccine are popular choices as they allow the creamy sauce to cling to each strand. However, feel free to use your favorite pasta shape or whatever you have on hand.

creamy lemon pasta recipe

Can I make creamy lemon pasta ahead of time?

Creamy lemon pasta is best served immediately after cooking to enjoy its fresh flavors and creamy texture. While you can prepare the sauce ahead of time, it's recommended to cook the pasta and toss it in the sauce just before serving to prevent the pasta from becoming too soft and the sauce from separating.

Is creamy lemon pasta suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, creamy lemon pasta can easily be made vegetarian-friendly by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and ensuring that all other ingredients, such as butter, cream, and cheese, are vegetarian-friendly.

How can I make creamy lemon pasta dairy-free?

To make creamy lemon pasta dairy-free, you can substitute dairy-free alternatives such as vegan butter, coconut cream, or cashew cream for the traditional butter and heavy cream. Additionally, use dairy-free Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.

What can I serve with creamy lemon pasta?

Creamy lemon pasta pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including a simple green salad, roasted vegetables, garlic bread, or grilled chicken or shrimp for added protein. The light and refreshing flavors of the pasta also make it a great standalone dish.

Can I freeze creamy lemon pasta?

While it's possible to freeze creamy lemon pasta, the texture of the sauce may change slightly upon reheating, and the pasta may become softer. If you do choose to freeze leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to 1-2 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating gently on the stovetop.

How long does creamy lemon pasta last in the refrigerator?

Creamy lemon pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. When reheating, you may need to add a splash of pasta water or cream to refresh the sauce and maintain its creamy consistency.

What variations can I make to creamy lemon pasta?

While traditional creamy lemon pasta is delicious on its own, there are endless variations to explore. You can add cooked vegetables like spinach, asparagus, or peas for added freshness and color, or incorporate protein such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or smoked salmon. Experiment with different herbs, spices, or cheeses to customize the flavor to your liking.

Why my pasta sauce is not creamy?

There are a few potential reasons why your pasta sauce may not be achieving the desired creamy consistency. Firstly, it's important to ensure that you're using enough fat in the sauce, such as butter or cream, to create richness and creaminess. If the sauce is too thin, you may need to reduce it further to concentrate the flavors and thicken the consistency. Additionally, make sure to emulsify the sauce properly by slowly incorporating the cream into the melted butter or other fat while stirring continuously. If the sauce still lacks creaminess, you can add a bit of flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken it without altering the flavor.

Why my pasta sauce is broken?

A broken pasta sauce typically occurs when the fats and liquids in the sauce separate, resulting in a greasy or curdled appearance. This can happen if the sauce is heated too quickly or if it reaches too high of a temperature, causing the fats to separate from the other ingredients. To prevent this, ensure that you're cooking the sauce over low to medium heat and stirring continuously to maintain a smooth emulsion. If your sauce does break, you can try rescuing it by whisking in a small amount of cold water or cream to help re-emulsify the ingredients. Alternatively, blending the sauce with an immersion blender can sometimes help salvage a broken sauce by recombining the fats and liquids.

How to not curdle curdle lemon cream sauce?

To prevent curdling in a lemon cream sauce, it's essential to avoid overheating the sauce and ensure proper emulsification of the ingredients. Start by melting butter over low to medium heat and gradually add the cream while stirring continuously. Avoid bringing the sauce to a rapid boil, as this can cause the fats and liquids to separate. Additionally, adding a starch slurry (mixing a small amount of cornstarch or flour with cold water) to the sauce can help stabilize it and prevent curdling.

Can I use milk instead of cream?

While cream is typically used to achieve a rich and creamy texture in lemon cream sauce, you can substitute milk if you prefer a lighter version. Keep in mind that using milk may result in a thinner sauce with less richness compared to cream. To compensate for the lower fat content, you can add a bit of butter or olive oil to the sauce to enhance its creaminess and flavor.

How to fix broken lemon cream sauce?

If your lemon cream sauce has broken, there are a few techniques you can try to fix it. Firstly, remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Then, whisk in a small amount of cold water or cream while stirring vigorously to help re-emulsify the ingredients. Alternatively, blending the sauce with an immersion blender can sometimes help restore its smooth texture by recombining the fats and liquids. If these methods don't work, you can try adding a bit of flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce and stabilize it.

What is cream lemon sauce made of?

Creamy lemon sauce, also known as lemon cream sauce or Pasta al Limone, typically consists of butter, heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and Parmesan cheese. The butter and cream provide richness and creaminess, while the lemon zest and juice impart bright, citrusy flavor. Garlic adds savory depth, salt enhances the flavors, and Parmesan cheese contributes a salty, umami-rich finish to the sauce.


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