Lemon Pasta – How To Make True Pasta Al Limone


If you follow this blog, you know I have a soft spot for those quick pasta dishes that make the best of just a few ingredients. And this lemon pasta recipe is one of the best among them.

In Italian cuisine, there are many minimalist dishes that stem from the concept of using only a bunch of ingredients that could be easily found in the homes of ordinary people. Spaghetti aglio e olio, sedanini con crema di soffritto, pasta with zucchini and cherry tomatoes-all these pasta meals were born to be easy, quick, and delicious.

Lemon pasta (or pasta al limone) has the same purpose. 

It basically involves cooking the pasta in a pan along with lemon peels and garlic, using a special method that allows the essential oils of the lemon to be absorbed by the pasta, while giving it a creamy texture. 

This way you will get a delicious pasta dish with a zesty citrus flavor, ready in less than 20 minutes and perfect for refreshing your palate on summer days. 

Let’s see how to make it!

all the ingredients for this lemon pasta recipe: a lemon, garlic cloves, spaghetti, and extra virgin olive oil


This lemon pasta recipe has only 5 essential ingredients:

  • spaghetti: or whatever kind of long-shaped pasta you prefer;
  • 1 lemon, quite obviously;
  • 1 chopped clove of garlic: don’t use store-bought powder. Get a real clove!
  • extra-virgin olive oil: to sauté the lemon peel and garlic. Alternatively, you can use 1/4 stick of butter;
  • a tablespoon of coarse salt.

Optional ingredients: in addition to those, you can add some chopped parsley, grated parmesan, or grated lime peel. For this time, I chose to use only the parmesan.

Many people also like to add a bit of heavy cream, but I don’t think you need it. If you cook this dish as I’ll show you below, you’ll be able to turn the ingredients above into a creamy emulsion without extra help. It’s cheaper and healthier. 

How to make the best pasta lemon

This lemon pasta recipe has a different cooking method than usual. Instead of putting the pasta in a pot full of boiling water, you cook it in a pan along with oil and garlic, using very little water at a time. 

This method is called risottare in Italy, and it is the same method you use to make risotto. It allows you to extract all the starch from the pasta (or rice) and combine it with the rest of the ingredients to make the dish more creamy. 

Are you ready to try it?

Step 1: Boil water in a small pot and bring it to a boil. You don’t need a lot of it. 2 cups should be enough. 

Meanwhile, oil (or butter) a saucepan and toss in the chopped garlic and lemon peels, then cook over low heat for a few minutes until the garlic turns golden brown. After that turn off the heat and wait for the water in the other pan to come to a boil. Salt the water.

lemon peels and garlic in a saucepan

Step 2: Remove the lemon peels from the pan, add the spaghetti, turn the heat back on, and pour over 2 ladles of the boiling water. Stir well with wooden chopsticks, trying to keep the noodles from being in too much contact with any unwetted sides of the pan. 

Step 3: After a few minutes, the water will have been absorbed by the noodles and you will begin to see the starch settle to the bottom of the pan, forming a kind of cream. Add 2 more ladles of water and let it absorb. 

cooking lemon pasta

Keep doing so until the pasta is cooked. 

Step 4: Remove the pan from the heat, give it one last stir with chopsticks, and scrape some lemon peel over everything. 

If you chose to add Parmesan cheese, pour it over the pasta, cover everything with a lid, and let it sit for 5 minutes. This will make the cheese blend with the starch released from the pasta, giving it extra creaminess. 

Serve aside with some more grated parmesan cheese. 

That was easy, right? That’s the beauty of this lemon pasta recipe. 

Next time, I’m going to make it with parsley instead of parmesan. Let me know if you tried it at home!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Easy Lemon Pasta Recipe

  • Author: Mortadella Head
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This easy lemon pasta recipe uses a special cooking method that turns the pasta starch into a zesty cream. It’s perfect to refresh your mouth on a hot summer day.


Units Scale

5 oz spaghetti

1 lemon

1 garlic clove

2 tbspExtra-virgin olive oil

a pinch of coarse salt

2 oz grated parmesan cheese (optional)

grated lime zest (optional)

fresh chopped parsley leaves (optional)


  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add salt. In the meantime, peel the lemon.
  2. Oil a saucepan and add the lemon peel along with a chopped clove of garlic, and sauté on low heat until the garlic becomes golden brown. Then, turn off the heat and wait for the water to boil.
  3. Remove the lemon peels from the saucepan and add the spaghetti, spreading them over the oil. Turn the heat back on, and add two ladlefuls of the boiling water, spreading them well over the pasta. Stir with wooden chopsticks.
  4. When the water will be completely absorbed into the pasta, add 2 more ladles. Keed doing so until the pasta is cooked al dente.
  5. Take the saucepan away from the heat and add any of the optional ingredients. If you choose to add parmesan cheese, cover with a lid and let anything rest for 5 minutes, then stir again. This way, the cheese will mix with the pasta starch and the oil to give your dish a creamier texture.
  6. Enjoy.


You can use butter instead of oil.

You can also grate the lemon peels instead of just adding them to the pan. This way, they’ll incorporate in the final dish, making it more citrusy.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: lemon pasta, pasta al limone

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating


(and get a free ebook)

Top rated posts


Join Our Mailing List

Copyright © 2020. All Rights Reserved. Mortadella Head