5 from 6 votes

Simple Spaghetti al Limone (Lemon Pasta)

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Spaghetti al limone is a light and simple pasta perfect for summer you can have on the table in 10 minutes or less.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
£0.69
Makes: 5
mains
Italian
Freezable

Creamy, bright, and cheesy!  What am I talking about?  Delicious Spaghetti al Limone otherwise known as lemon spaghetti or lemon pasta.  With just 5 simple ingredients, you can have this deliciously citrus summer pasta on the table in ten minutes or less!

Spaghetti in a creamy sauce in a pan mixed with with a metal tong.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Whatever the season I eat Spaghetti al limone, its flavors immediately zap me back to summer.  Sitting outside on a warm night with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and good company.  This lemony dish is perfect for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight, or a weekend lunch with friends that doesn’t require much work.  Any way you eat it, I think you are going to love its simple, complex flavors.

Pantry Staples – Pasta al limone only needs 5 ingredients.  And more than likely, you have all of them in your kitchen.  Lemon, garlic, parmesan, spaghetti, and cream is all you need!

Quick – This pasta and sauce can be made in the time it takes to boil the pasta.

Bright Flavor – The lemon and garlic bring a bright citrusy flavor to this pasta limone, making it perfect for summer.

Budget Friendly – Using just five simple ingredients makes this dish the perfect inexpensive weekly meal.

Craving some other, simple and quick pasta recipes? Try my ; Cheesy Marmite Spaghetti, 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Chorizo Carbonara and Easy Boursin Cheese Baked Pasta

What is Pasta al Limone?

Pasta al limone originated in southern Italy and like many Italian pasta dishes is made up of just a few simple ingredients. Some prefer to make this dish with just pasta water or a little wine in the sauce,  however I add cream to my recipe to balance out the acidity from the lemons.  I find the lemon, garlic, and cream come together perfectly for a mouthwatering taste and texture.

Ingredients

Ingredients to make spaghetti with cream and lemon laid out on a pale blue background and labelled.

Spaghetti Pasta – This dish is made with spaghetti, so it is actually spaghetti limone, or lemon spaghetti.  I find that spaghetti is perfect because of the fast cooking time and ability to handle the lemon sauce beautifully.  However, any pasta you have will work in this recipe.

Cream – Double cream is important to give this pasta limone recipe its creamy texture and also balance the acidity from the lemon.

Lemon – The star ingredient in any pasta al limone recipe is of course the lemon!  The lemon’s acidity cuts through the fat of the double cream and offers a beautiful brightness to the dish.

See the recipe card for full information on all ingredients and quantities.

Variations/ Adaptations

  • Pasta al limone traditional style is made with spaghetti, but honestly, any pasta will work.  So no worries if you have something different like fettuccine, penne, or even rotini.
  • If you don’t have cream, I recommend leaving it out entirely and adding additional pasta water to help make the sauce creamy.
  • Make this limone pasta dish vegan by using vegan cream or leaving the cream out entirely and adding extra pasta water.  Also, opt for a vegan parmesan.
  • This dish pairs well with seafood or chicken.  Try adding cod, shrimp, prawns, or griled chicken.
  • Increase the veggies in this dish by adding spinach, arugula, or kale when you add the pasta to the sauce.  Some also like to add a bit of basil.

Pair this yummy spaghetti with one of these healthy side dishes; Roasted Tenderstem Broccoli, The Best Buttered Sauteed Leeks and Honey-Roasted Carrots & Parsnips

How to make pasta al limone

  1. Start by adding your pasta to salted boiling water. Timer set to the packet cook time minus 2 minutes (Image 1).
  2. To a separate pan, add the oil and garlic. Season with salt and gently fry for a couple of minutes. After two minutes, add a ladle of pasta water to prevent the garlic from burning (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with spaghetti added to water in a pan and the second with chopped garlic in oil in a pan.

3. At this stage add the zest of one lemon (Image 3).

4. Then pour in the cream (Image 4).

2 step by step photos, the first with garlic in a stainless steel pan and the second with cream being poured into the pan.

5. Stir the cream together with the lemon and garlic (Image 5).

6. Sprinkle in the parmesan and stir to combine (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with a creamy sauce mixed with a wooden spoon and the second with grated parmesan added to the sauce.

7. When your timer goes off, use your cooking tongs to transfer the pasta into this pan whilst stirring vigorously. The pasta water & parmesan will form an emulsion to make the sauce (Image 7).

8. Add the juice of a whole lemon and mix to combine. Season with a pinch of salt and lots of pepper. If the pasta looks dry, add another ladle of pasta water and stir until you get your desired consistency. The pasta should be al dente at this point so you’re all good to go! Serve up with an extra squeeze of lemon if you like it tangy & a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little heat (Image 8).

2 step by step photos, the first with a spaghetti added to the creamy sauce and the second with the spaghetti being stirred with some tongs.

Try these other yummy pasta recipes this week ; Sausage and Fennel Pasta, Prawn and Chorizo Pasta and Creamy Chorizo Pasta

Tips for the best result

  • Make sure your pasta is al dente.  Meaning you should cook it about 2 minutes less than it says on the package. 
  • Don’t throw out your pasta water!  The starch from the pasta water will help bring your sauce together.
  • You can make this dish even faster by using fresh pasta.  
  • For the best flavor, freshly grated parmesan works beautifully.
Creamy spaghetti on a plate with lemon rind and a wedge of lemon.

Add some protein and pair these tasty recipes with the spaghetti al limon ; Air Fryer Steak Bites, Air Fryer Salmon Bites and How to Make Shredded Chicken

Serving Suggestions

Spaghetti al limone is great just eaten alone.  However, it could also be served with bread, salad, a side of vegetables, or a cup of soup.  But most importantly, the right glass of wine can really take this pasta dish over the top!

Best wine pairing

This is one of the most common questions asked on the internet about Pasta al limone.  People want to know what wine goes well with the bright acidic flavor of lemon.  So I did a lot of research and here are some of the suggestions given by big wine sites like Decanter.com and Wine.com.

A dry white wine would pair well with this bright lemony sauce.  Here are a few white wines to try:

  • Sauvignon blanc
  • Albarino
  • Chenin blanc
  • Riesling
  • Chablis
  • Verdicchio
  • Greco di Tufo

While white wine can be great with this dish, some wine enthusiasts actually say that the ideal wine to drink with a lemon dish is actually a tannic red wine.  In Italy, often a red wine is chosen to drink with any pasta dish.  So here are two red wines you can try:

  • Chianti
  • Valpolicella

Storage and Reheat Instructions

Refrigerator:  When storing the lemon pasta in the refrigerator, be sure that it is placed in an airtight container.  The pasta should last 3-4 days.

Freezer:  You can freeze pasta al limone, however you should know that it may lose a little bit of its lemony flavor.  To freeze, place it in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months in the regular freezer and up to a year in a deep freezer.

Reheat:  To reheat this dish from the refrigerator, add around 1 Tbsp of water and microwave until the spaghetti is hot all over.

To reheat from the freezer, use the defrost setting on the microwave to thaw the pasta.  Once thawed, if the pasta seems dry add 1 tbsp of water.  Then microwave on a regular setting until the pasta is hot throughout.  

Creamy spaghetti on a plate with lemon rind and a wedge of lemon and a wooden chopping board with a slice of lemon on a board.

FAQs

Could I use light cream instead of heavy?

Yes you could use light cream, the consistency would still be creamy.

Can I make this without cream?

I prefer my spaghetti al limone with cream, however you can make this without cream by using an extra amount of starchy pasta water instead.

Spaghetti al Limone

Print
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
£0.69
mains
Italian
Freezable
Servings: 5
Spaghetti al limone is a light and simple pasta perfect for summer you can have on the table in 10 minutes or less.

Ingredients

  • 500 g spaghetti (£0.75)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (£0.39)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon (£0.30)
  • 100 g parmesan, finely grated (£2.60/2)=(£1.30)
  • 100 ml cream (£1.20/2)=(£0.60)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Start by adding your pasta to salted boiling water. Timer set to the packet cook time minus 2 minutes.
  • To a separate pan, add the oil and garlic. Season with salt and gently fry for a couple of minutes. After two minutes, add a ladle of pasta water to prevent the garlic from burning.
  • At this stage add the zest of one lemon and the cream. Stir to combine.
  • When your timer goes off, use your cooking tongs to transfer the pasta into this pan.
  • Slowly pour in the parmesan whilst vigorously moving the pasta around with the tongs. The pasta water & parmesan will form an emulsion to make the sauce.
  • Add the juice of a whole lemon and mix to combine. Season with a pinch of salt and lots of pepper. If the pasta looks dry, add another ladle of pasta water and stir until you get your desired consistency.
  • The pasta should be al dente at this point so you’re all good to go! Serve up with an extra squeeze of lemon if you like it tangy & a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.

Notes

  • Cook pasta al dente by boiling it for 2 minutes less than package instructions.
  • Save pasta water to enhance the sauce consistency with its starch.
  • Use freshly grated Parmesan for superior flavor.

Nutrition

Servings: 5 servings
Fat: 13g
Calories: 519kcal
Carbohydrates: 76g
Protein: 21g

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