This mouthwatering Lemon Pasta recipe is ready in the time it takes to cook pasta. It's an easy vegetarian pasta that's as quick and easy as it is delicious.
Picture this: tangy, zesty lemon, salty parmesan, and creamy butter combined with perfectly cooked pasta and topped off with crispy basil leaves. Are you drooling yet? It's like a sunshine-filled bowl of pasta that'll instantly transport you to a cozy Italian trattoria.
Trust me, you'll want to bookmark this recipe for those busy weeknights when time is of the essence, but flavor is still a top priority. Plus, this is perfect as a main course or a pasta side dish beside grilled chicken or fish.
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These notes are here to help make this recipe a success; they cover some but not all ingredients; for a complete ingredient list, check out the recipe card below.
Pasta: I like to use linguine for this recipe. You want a long pasta noodle, so feel free to use spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, tagliatelle, or angel hair pasta.
Butter: Use good quality salted butter. Good quality butter has extra flavor and a creamy taste.
Extra virgin olive oil: Use the best you can, as it is a big part of the sauce. I buy a good quality one from the grocery store, so have a look for special deals next time you shop.
Parmesan: Buy a block and grate it yourself. The taste and texture are worlds apart from pre-grated stuff!
Lemons: You want the juice and the zest here. If you can find them buy unwaxed lemons; if not, wash them in hot water to remove any residue from the rind.
Basil: This is an optional garnish, but the crispy basil leaves look so pretty on the pasta.
We've tested this recipe at least 3 times to ensure it works well for you, have a look at our tips for getting the best dish you can!
- Get your water on to boil before you do anything else. This will take the most time unless you have an electric kettle. (The fastest way to get boiling water.)
- Salt your pasta water generously. The recipe suggests a tablespoon of salt, assuming 4 quarts of water.
- Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. This helps combine the simple sauce and allows it to coat the pasta.
- Zest the lemons before you juice them; it is almost impossible to zest a juiced lemon.
Why You'll Love This 10 Minute Lemon Pasta
- It is a speedy and easy dinner idea.
- It works well as a pasta main or pasta side dish.
- It is versatile and easy to adapt.
- It uses easy-to-find ingredients.
These are all just suggestions and things that have worked in our test kitchen, but it is your dinner, so adapt it to suit your family. That is the beauty of cooking; we can all create our own delicious meals.
- Add Protein: Add chicken or seafood to the pasta. If you have leftover cooked chicken, shrimp, or salmon, add them to the pasta when tossing it with the sauce to heat through. Or if you are cooking your protein to add to the pasta, cook it in the skillet before you start the sauce, and set it aside, tented with foil. You can add it back when you mix the pasta and sauce.
- Add Greens: Add spinach or blanched kale, asparagus, or peas when you mix the pasta with the sauce.
- Cheese: Top your finished pasta with extra parmesan, creamy goat cheese, mini mozzarella balls, or crumbled ricotta.
- Pangratatto: Adding toasted breadcrumbs to pasta gives it a crunchy, crispy texture. I'll be posting a variety of pangratatto recipes soon.
Serving Suggestions for Lemon Pasta
Wine: Lemon is notoriously tricky to pair with wine, as it softens wines and sometimes makes them taste sweet or bland. A dry Reisling is an excellent choice, as is a young sparkling wine. Or add creaminess with a Chardonnay. For those wanting red wine, a favorite pairing is a light, bright red like a Valpolicella or Zinfandel.
For more lemon pastas try:
- Lemon Garlic Pasta
- Creamy Lemon Shrimp Pasta
- Creamy Lemon Basil Pasta
- Lemon Pepper Shrimp Pasta
- Creamy Lemon Shrimp Gnocchi
- Lemon Pepper Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Lemon Salmon Pasta
- Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Pasta
If you make this 10 Minute Lemon Pasta, please come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Get the Recipe
Crispy Basil Leaves (Optional)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- small handful fresh basil leaves
- 14 oz pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large lemons (see note 2)
- ⅔ cup grated parmesan (see note 1)
- black pepper
- Get a large pan of water on to boil.
To make the crispy basil leaves
- Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil. Once it gets hot, add the basil leaves and let them fry for about 10 seconds; flip them carefully and fry for 5-10 seconds, then remove them to a piece of kitchen paper.2 tablespoon olive oilsmall handful fresh basil leaves
To cook the pasta
- Add the salt to the boiling water, add the pasta, stir, and set a timer per the packet cooking instructions.1 tablespoon salt14 oz pasta
- Once cooked, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, make the sauce.
- Add the butter to a frying pan, then pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Place over medium-low heat until the butter melts.2 tablespoon salted butter⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Zest 1 of the lemons. Then juice both lemons.2 large lemons
- Whisk the juice and zest into the olive oil and butter mixture, then mix in the grated parmesan.⅔ cup grated parmesan
- Season the sauce with black pepper.black pepper
To finish the dish
- Toss the pasta into the lemon sauce, and add ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water. Toss the pasta, adding more water if it looks dry.
- Check the seasonings, then serve with extra parmesan and the crispy basil leaves (if using)
- Buy a block of parmesan and grate it yourself. The taste and texture are worlds apart from pre-grated stuff!
- You want the juice and the zest of the lemons. If you can find them buy unwaxed lemons; if not, wash them in hot water to remove any residue from the rind.
Nutrition is per serving