Easy Lemon Caper Pasta | One-Pot Meal in 20 Minutes

Lemon Caper Pasta

Whether you need an elegant pasta dish for a dinner party or you want a quick meal that won’t overload the kitchen with dishes, this lemon caper pasta recipe is perfect. 

I am always on the hunt for new recipes that I can make easily. When you are making a nice dinner, the dishes pile up quickly! One-pot meals are great for saving time on clean-up and they are just as tasty as a more complicated dish.

This one-pot lemon caper pasta is a delightful medley of zesty lemon, briny capers, creamy parmesan, and fragrant fresh herbs, all coming together in a simple, easy-to-make dish. It is both refreshing and comforting with flavors that are sure to impress.


Why We Love This Pasta

One pot: It’s hard to beat a one-pot meal! Not only are they quick and easy to make, but you also have less dishes. The creamy lemon caper sauce is made in the same pot you boil the pasta in so you only need to dirty one pot.

Creamy: With just a bit of heavy whipping cream and freshly grated parmesan, this lemon caper pasta is creamy without being overly rich or heavy.

Simple: This elegant pasta comes together with just a handful of ingredients. That means less prep time, less planning, and more enjoying the ingredients that are there.

Quick: This easy recipe comes together in under 20 minutes, making a quick dinner when you’re in a rush. I like to keep the ingredients for this on hand so I can make it anytime I need something fast!


What You’ll Need

Pasta: Which type of pasta you use is up to your personal preference. I like opting for thin pasta like angel hair or spaghetti because they are able to absorb the light sauce better. Homemade pappardelle or fettuccine are also great!

Fresh lemon: The tart and fresh flavor of both lemon juice and zest make this creamy sauce perfectly balanced.

Capers: Salty, briny capers add so much flavor and a savoriness to our pasta dish. 

Garlic: All of my favorite pasta dishes have lots of garlic! It is an important aromatic ingredient that tastes delicious in lemony, creamy sauce.

Heavy cream: Adding just a bit of cream to this simple sauce gives it some body and a creaminess that is addicting.

Parmesan cheese: Parmesan and capers are the perfect pair, making the pasta salty and savory. Use freshly grated parmesan for best results.

Fresh herbs: A sprinkling of minced fresh herbs gives the dish both flavor and color. You can use whichever herbs you enjoy, but I recommend fresh parsley or basil.

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What to Serve with Creamy Lemon Caper Pasta

This simple pasta is the perfect dish for hosting, special occasions, or busy weeknights. If you want to bulk the dish up a bit and make it more filling, try pairing it with these other dishes to make a delicious, well-rounded meal.


Pair this simple pasta with caramelized scallops, shrimp, or grilled chicken to add some protein and flavor. 


Make your meal more nutritious and tasty with a side of vegetables. I recommend air fried parmesan zucchini, green beans, or a nice side salad with homemade vinaigrette.


Pasta and bread are the perfect pair! You can go a lot of different directions with your side of bread. I like parmesan bread bites, garlic bread, fresh rolls dipped in olive oil dip, or homemade focaccia bread.

Don’t Forget Dessert

Make this a perfect well-rounded meal for a tasteful dinner party or a casual weeknight dinner. You’ll love homemade blueberry gelato or tiramisu to wrap up your meal.


Tips for Making Lemon Caper Pasta

  • Be careful with added salt. With the capers and parmesan in this recipe, it will be pretty salty on its own. Add extra salt in very small amounts and taste between each addition.
  • Chop the herbs small. Fresh herbs add so much flavor to this dish, but they can be overpowering. I recommend mincing them for best results.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta. We are cooking the noodles al dente because they will continue to cook when added to the sauce. To avoid mushy noodles, be sure to slightly undercook them on the first boil.
  • Use freshly grated parmesan for best results. If you grate your own cheese rather than buying pre-shredded cheese, it will produce a better texture and flavor as it melts into the lemon sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t like capers?

That’s okay, you can substitute something you do like! For a somewhat similar flavor, try green olives or marinated artichoke hearts. If you don’t like briny veggies, you can use cherry tomatoes or roasted red peppers instead.

Do capers need to be cooked?

Nope! Just like olives, capers are already fully prepared before being preserved in their brine. You can use them straight out of the jar in your delicious pasta dish. In this recipe, we will be sauteing them lightly just to bring out their flavor a bit.

What should I do with leftovers? 

This pasta is best eaten fresh, but leftovers can definitely be enjoyed. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. To reheat the pasta, add a splash of cream to freshen up the sauce and reheat the pasta in the microwave or on the stove.

Can I make this pasta dish gluten-free?

This pasta can easily be made gluten-free. Simply substitute the pasta for your favorite gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles.

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Lemon Caper Pasta

Easy Lemon Caper Pasta | One-Pot Meal in 20 Minutes

  • Author: Tessa Hollman



12 ounces pasta of choice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

2 ounces of capers, drained but not rinsed

2 tablespoons of butter

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup parmesan, freshly grated

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 lemon, zest and juice

½ cup fresh herbs, like parsley or basil

Salt* and black pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add your pasta and cook al dente according to the package instructions.
  2. Drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water, and set aside.
  3. In the same hot pan, add a bit of olive oil, minced garlic, and capers. Saute until the garlic is fragrant, around 2-3 minutes.
  4. Melt butter in with the garlic and capers, then add the heavy cream. Heat the heavy cream over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken, around 5 minutes. Do not allow it to boil.
  5. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  6. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss your cooked pasta in the sauce and return to medium heat for a couple of minutes to let the flavors meld. Add pasta water as needed to achieve desired consistency.
  7. Remove from heat and dress with fresh herbs. Serve hot.


*Be careful with added salt. With the capers and parmesan in this recipe, it will be pretty salty on its own. Add extra salt in very small amounts and taste between each.

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