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Lemon Pasta

Lemon Pasta is a bright and simple pasta dish perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. On the table in under 20 minutes, this dish uses fresh garlic, zesty lemon, and creamy parmesan cheese to create a light meal everyone will enjoy. Serve it as is or add a protein and fresh veggies to round it out, it’s a hit either way!

Oval dish filled with lemon pasta.

Lemon Pasta

Lemon Pasta is one of those simple recipes that seems almost too good to be true. Quick to make while utilizing ingredients commonly found in the kitchen, you wouldn’t think this dish would be as flavorful as it is!

The lemon and garlic combination is savory and citrusy. Freshly grated parmesan and fresh herbs really elevate this recipe and make it the perfect summertime dinner.

It is easily enjoyed as is for a quick lunch or dinner, but you can also add your favorite chicken or seafood for a bit of protein. Or keep it vegetarian and add some extra veggies!

How to Make Lemon Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook your pasta to al dente in texture, typically about one minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. Don’t forget to salt your water before boiling your pasta.
  2. As the water boils and the pasta is cooking, combine the olive oil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix and set aside.
  3. Now in a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Careful not to burn. Once the butter melts, add the garlic cloves and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Now add the lemon juice and cheese mixture as well as the reserved pasta water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat.
  4. Add the linguine, freshly chopped basil, and lemon zest. Toss to combine.
  5. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Serve while warm and enjoy!
Collage showing how to make lemon pasta.

Lemon Pasta Tips and Variations

  • You don’t have to stick strictly to linguine pasta. You can use any type of long pasta you have on hand. Fettuccine, angel hair, and spaghetti are all great options.
  • Add baked chicken or serve alongside oven baked salmon to add protein to this meal.
  • Sun Dried tomatoes and spinach can add color and veggies to this pasta.
  • For a creamy version, use milk, heavy cream, or half and half instead of the pasta water.
Close up view of pasta with lemon and cheese.

Storage and Reheating

Storage: Store any leftover Lemon Pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating: Warm in the microwave for 60 seconds or until heated through. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese.

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Yield: 1 Pound of Pasta

Lemon Pasta

Top down view of lemon pasta.

Lemon Pasta is on the table in under 20 minutes; this dish uses garlic, lemon, and parmesan cheese to create a light meal everyone will love.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes


  • 16 ounces linguine pasta
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Chopped basil or parsley, for garnish


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente (about 1 minute less than the package directions). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain the remaining.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, combine the oil, cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the lemon cheese mixture and the reserved pasta water. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, and remove from heat. 
  4. Add the cooked pasta, fresh basil, and lemon zest. Toss to combine.
  5. Garnish with freshly chopped basil or parsley and extra Parmesan cheese. Serve warm. See post for storage options.


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 4 ounces of pasta. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

*Photos courtesy of Tina Frank Photography.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

4 ounces

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 492Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 510mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 13g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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