Lemon Spaghetti | Easy Pasta al Limone Recipe

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Lemon spaghetti is an easy, quick and delicious lemon pasta recipe. A light and fresh main dish, perfect for summer.

In our recipe we preferred a pasta sauce made with lemon juice and zest, with NO CREAM.

Usually, for this recipe, we use spaghetti, which goes better with this lemon sauce, taking up all its aroma. In place of spaghetti you can even use linguine or tagliolini.

lemon spaghetti recipe

Lemon pasta recipe is a typical dish of Costiera Amalfitana which produces the best Italian lemons. As you need both lemon juice and peel for this recipe, remember to use organic, untreated lemons.

Another very important aspect is to pay attention to the cooking of the pasta, in order to get the typical creaminess of this recipe without using heavy cream.

lemon spaghetti recipe

The secret is to “risottare” the pasta with the lemon juice and the starchy cooking water. This means finishing cooking the pasta as if it were a risotto, that is directly in the pan with the lemon sauce. 

Lemon spaghetti recipe is quick to make, perfect for everyday meals. But it’s also great for a special, elegant dinner party, given its simple sophistication.

lemon spaghetti recipe

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How to Make Lemon Spaghetti

  • Prep Time: 10 Min
  • Cook Time:10 Min
  • Servings: 4


  • 350 g (12 oz) of Spaghetti
  • 40 g (2 1/2 tablespoons) of unsulted butter
  • 1 organic lemon, large size
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
  • 1,5 liters (7 cups) of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon of coarse salt

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

No special equipment is required to make spaghetti with lemon, the recipe is really simple.

Anyway, it’s certainly useful to have a good grater for the lemon peel and a manual citrus squeezer or an electric citrus squeezer.

A pot with a colander for cooking pasta can also be a great help. This type of pot allows you to drain the pasta while keeping the cooking water useful for the recipe.

Or you can simply use a simple spaghetti spoon to transfer the spaghetti from the water to the sauce pan.

It’s also very nice and decorative to use themed dishes for lemon pasta. Your table will be beautiful and elegant with these hand painted ceramics from Italy.


lemon spaghetti recipe step 1

Step 1) – Wash the lemon and then grate the zest, avoiding the bitter white part. Squeeze out the juice and set aside.

lemon spaghetti recipe step 2

Step 2) – Place the butter, oil and grated lemon zest in a large non-stick pan. Remember to save some of the zest to add at the end.

Melt the butter and sauté it. Stir well with a wooden spoon and add the lemon juice. Finally add the garlic clove. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.

lemon spaghetti recipe step 3

Step 4) – Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in 1.5 liters (7 cups) of water with 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt.

Take a look at the cooking time of the spaghetti on their package. Halfway through cooking, drain spaghetti and place in skillet with lemon sauce.

Spaghetti should be very much al dente, practically still raw, and finish cooking in the pan with the sauce.

lemon spaghetti recipe step 4

Step 5) – Add a ladleful of the starch-rich cooking water. Finish cooking the spaghetti in the pan, stirring well. If necessary, add a little more water.

Serve hot with more lemon zest and a little chopped parsley on top.

lemon spaghetti recipe


We recommend that you immediately eat this pasta al limone while still hot. We don’t recommend heating, storing or freezing.

Lemon Spaghetti Recipe: Tips and Variants

The recipe we have shown you is the easy lemon pasta recipe. It contains few seasonings and the lemon is really the only protagonist of this dish. This recipe is really very simple but just as tasty and flavorful.

From this classic recipe you can get many delicious variations and create a new dish every time. In fact, while the pasta is cooking in the pan, you can add other ingredients to the lemon sauce.

Let’s see together some alternative to this traditional lemon spaghetti recipe.

Lemon Pepper Spaghetti

When the pasta is cooking in the pan with the lemon sauce, just before the end of cooking, add 3 tablespoons of grated pecorino romano (or parmigiano if you prefer) and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir well and serve.

You will get a really amazing pasta similar to Cacio e Pepe but with lemon aroma!

lemon spaghetti recipe

Lemon Spaghetti with Shrimp

Cook a dozen shrimp (raw and shelled) with the pasta in the skillet, 5 minutes will be enough. Shrimp and lemon is a great combination and also very well-suited for elegant dinners or special occasions.

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

Obviously if you want to make a real creamy, thick and abundant lemon sauce you need to add the heavy cream. We recommend about 120 ml (1/2 cup) of it.

You will get a very creamy, flavorful lemon pasta but certainly much more caloric.

Light Lemon Pasta

If you want to lighten up this recipe further, we recommend that you only use oil and omit the butter. Also add a drizzle of raw oil before serving the lemon pasta.

lemon spaghetti recipe

Lemon Spaghetti with Aromatic Herbs

We recommended using parsley, but of course you can season your pasta with lemon however you like.

Rosemary, sage, thyme or mint are herbs that go very well with lemon.

If you don’t like garlic you can leave it out.

If you like a spicy taste you can add a red chili pepper.

What Kind of Lemon to Use to Make Lemon Spaghetti Recipe?

To make a great lemon pasta, use a fresh, firm lemon that is not over-ripe.

It’s very important that it’s organic and thoroughly washed. This aspect is essential in all recipes where not only the juice but also the peel must be used.

The best varieties of lemon for the preparation of lemon pasta recipe are, of course, those of Sorrento and of the Amalfi Coast: the famous “Femminello di Santa Teresa” and the “Sfusato Amalfitano”. These lemons are very rich in essential oils and beneficial properties.

If you don’t have Sorrento lemons, don’t worry! Lemons of other varieties are fine too, such as Eureka or Lisbon lemons, widely grown in Florida and California to name a few.


What Kind of Pasta is Best?

Use any form of long pasta, which is much better suited than short pasta for this type of dressing, the lemon sauce.

Dry durum wheat spaghetti holds up very well to cooking, but homemade pasta is also a good fit. For example, tagliatelle or fettuccine.

Why Cook Spaghetti Risotto-Style?

In Italian “risottare la pasta” means to cook the pasta in a pan with its sauce as if it were a risotto. In this way, the pasta takes up all the tasty and flavorful juices of the sauce.

We recommend this method of cooking in this recipe as well. In this case, the cooking water, with its starch, helps to emulsify the lemon sauce. It’s especially useful in creamy sauces like this one that must thicken quickly, being rich in starch.

lemon spaghetti recipe

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