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Pasta al limone, also called lemon pasta, is a delicious Italian dish that combines the tangy flavor of lemon with savory pasta. This simple yet elegant single serving dish can be ready in minutes!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Incredibly delicious: This popular Italian dish features a tangy lemon-based sauce that is made with simple ingredients and can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish.
  • A light pasta dish: One of my favorite quick pasta meals to make is traditional Italian pasta al limone but I absolutely love this lighter lemon pasta that skips the heavy cream in favor of a silky sauce made just with butter, Parmesan cheese, and a little bit of starchy pasta water. The dish is finished with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or chopped basil, and additional cheese
  • Ready in minutes: This pasta dish comes together in roughly 15 minutes which makes it the perfect meal for a busy weeknight.
  • Recipe doubles well: Our recipe yields one generous serving of the best lemon pasta. If you’d like to make a second bowl simply double the ingredient amounts.

What Is Pasta al Limone?

Pasta al Limone is a classic Italian pasta dish featuring a luscious lemon sauce. The sauce is made with a combination of butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese, all melted together to create a silky and indulgent sauce. The bright and zesty lemon flavor makes this dish a wonderful option for a light and satisfying meal.

Ingredients

lemon pasta ingredients on a kitchen counter.

Ingredient Notes

See below for ways to use leftover ingredients.

  • Spaghetti: Or use another type of pasta. Linguine, angel hair, or bucatini are excellent alternatives. I recommend using 2 ounces of dry spaghetti, which yields 1 cup of cooked spaghetti. The best way to measure 2 ounces of dry pasta is to use a kitchen scale, otherwise, a 2-ounce serving of spaghetti measures 2 1/8 inches in circumference.
  • Butter: I use salted butter.
  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil in this easy lemon pasta recipe and in every other recipe on One Dish Kitchen that calls for olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form of olive oil. It is an unrefined oil and the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. Because of the way extra virgin olive oil is made, it retains a more true olive taste. It also contains more of the vitamins and minerals found in olives. It’s my favorite type of olive oil, but you may use light olive oil instead.
  • Lemon: I use a small lemon in this recipe for the juice and the zest.
  • Garlic: Use 1 clove of minced garlic.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

How To Make Pasta al Limone For One

These step-by-step photos and instructions are here to help you visualize how to make this recipe. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Cook the pasta in a medium-sized pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions to al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
pasta cooking in a small pot on the stove.
  1. Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add lemon zest and garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in lemon juice.
garlic, lemon zest, and butter in a small skillet on the stove.
  1. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and toss with the other ingredients.
  2. Add some of the pasta water and the Parmesan cheese and stir until the sauce thickens.
spaghetti with lemon juice and zest in a skillet.
  1. Remove the skillet from the heat and add a pinch of salt if you feel it’s necessary. Toss again to combine, and if needed, add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water. Transfer to a bowl, top with more Parmesan cheese and a little fresh basil or chopped parsley if you have some on hand, and enjoy hot.
pasta al limone in a blue bowl topped with shredded parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil.
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Expert Tips

  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. Pasta al limone comes together quickly so it’s a good idea to have everything ready before beginning. Plus, if you have questions about any of the ingredients used or the recipe process, you will likely find the answers within the post.
  • Salt your pasta cooking water. This ensures that your pasta is perfectly flavored from the start. Use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of salt for every 4 cups of water. Some of the pasta water is also going to be used to flavor the sauce.
  • Remember to save some of the pasta cooking water. This starchy liquid is perfect for adding additional flavor and helps the pasta and sauce hold together. It also helps to thicken the sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can This Recipe Be Doubled?

Yes. If you’d like to make a delightful “lemon pasta for two”, simply double the ingredient amounts.

Do I Have To Use Spaghetti?

Although I prefer using spaghetti or angel hair pasta in this recipe, you can use 2 ounces of your favorite type of pasta.

Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice Instead Of Fresh?

Absolutely! The lemon zest from the fresh lemon gives the sauce a tangy burst of fresh flavor but bottled lemon juice will work if necessary. Feel free to add a bit more lemon juice if you feel the sauce needs more tang.

How Do I Store Leftover Pasta al Limone?

Leftover lemon spaghetti will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, melt a little butter in a skillet over medium heat, add the spaghetti and heat for a few minutes until warmed through.

Serving Suggestions

Looking to round out your meal? Here are some stellar sides and accompaniments that complement the tangy flavors of Pasta al Limone beautifully.

  • Chicken Piccata: The lemony profile of chicken piccata pairs exceptionally well with Pasta al Limone.
  • Baked Pork Chops: A savory option that balances the zesty flavors of your lemon pasta.
  • Serve with Salmon: Present your lemon pasta next to a salmon fillet or mix in some flaked salmon for a seafood twist.
  • Crusty Bread: Nothing says Italian like a side of warm, crusty bread—perfect for sopping up any leftover sauce.
  • Green Salad: A simple, refreshing salad can be a great palate cleanser, especially with a light vinaigrette.

Recipe Variations

Pasta al Limone is delightful on its own, but it’s also incredibly versatile. If you’re looking to experiment, here are some tasty tweaks to make this dish uniquely yours.

  • Lemon Pasta with Chicken: Incorporate cooked chicken or repurpose leftover rotisserie chicken into the dish.
  • Creamy Lemon Pasta: Add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream to the sauce, heating it briefly before mixing it with the pasta.
  • Pesto Twist: For an herby kick, stir in a spoonful of pesto into the pasta and sauce.
  • Shrimp Addition: Elevate your meal by tossing in some cooked shrimp for extra protein.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this lemon pasta recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see it!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Pasta al Limone For One (Lemon Pasta)

5 from 8 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Pasta al limone, also called lemon pasta, is a delicious Italian dish that combines the tangy flavor of lemon with savory pasta. This simple yet elegant single serving dish can be ready in minutes!

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 ounces dry spaghetti A 2-ounce serving of dry spaghetti measures 2 ⅛ inches (circumference) and yields 1 cup of cooked spaghetti.
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese , divided

Instructions 

  • Cook the pasta in a medium-sized pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions to al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
  • Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add lemon zest and garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.
  • Stir the lemon juice.
  • Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and toss with the other ingredients.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and stir until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and add a pinch of salt if you feel it's necessary. Toss again to combine, and if needed, add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water. Transfer to a bowl, top with more Parmesan cheese and a little fresh basil if you have some on hand, and enjoy hot.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. Pasta al limone comes together quickly so it’s a good idea to have everything ready before beginning. Plus, if you have questions about any of the ingredients used or the recipe process, you will likely find the answers within the post.
  • Salt your pasta cooking water. This ensures that your pasta is perfectly flavored from the start. Use ¾ to 1 teaspoon of salt for every 4 cups of water. Some of the pasta water is also going to be used to flavor the sauce.
  • Remember to save some of the pasta cooking water. This starchy liquid is perfect for adding additional flavor and helps the pasta and sauce hold together. It also helps to thicken the sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 430kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Sodium: 394mg, Potassium: 167mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 0.3g, Vitamin A: 526IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 0.1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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12 Comments

  1. I have not made this yet, but if I wanted it to be more creamy, would you suggest cream cheese or something else? If so, how much for a single serving?

    1. I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of heavy cream to the sauce, heating it briefly before mixing it with the pasta.

  2. Amazingly good and fresh tasting! I tripled the recipe because doubling didn’t seem like enough portion size for a main course dinner for two… Flad I did that. Served it with a warm rosemary bread loaf with oil and balsamic for dipping. Definitely will make again.

  3. What a great meal for a late dinner! I made it as written. It’s light, yummy, quick, easy, and hits the spot. Gotta do it again and try adding whatever else is on hand. Thanks!

    1. Our recipe does not call for adding cream but it can be added if you’d like a creamier sauce. Stir in a tablespoon into the sauce and heat, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. The sauce will not curdle. The heavy cream will thicken the sauce as it heats and then add the pasta to the pan.

  4. Made this for my dinner last dinner and it was absolutely delicious! Very quick, used ingredients that I always have in my kitchen, and it served me exactly the right portion. So glad I found your site!

  5. I love this. Lemon, butter, garlic, parm, what’s not to love. But I use 1 ounce of pasta rather than 2 oz to save carbs and lower calories.

  6. Really good recipe! I made this using some preserved Meyer lemons that I have. Tossed in a few shrimp and some cut up asparagus to saute with the lemon and garlic. Delicious meal!

    1. Sounds wonderful, Christine. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe. Thank you for your feedback.