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Lemon pasta

Lemon Pasta

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x


This lusciously creamy lemon pasta recipe is the ideal balance of richness and acidity! It’s a comforting meal or stellar side dish.


  • 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini pasta*
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Cook the pasta (and save the pasta water!): Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Set the timer for a few minutes less than the package instructions and then taste: the pasta should be just done, still with some firmness. The pasta should also taste salty from the salted water. Save out ½ cup pasta water using a glass measuring cup for the sauce, then quickly drain the pasta.
  2. Make the sauce: In saucepan, add the milk and cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As it comes to a simmer, grate in the garlic. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, zest of 1 lemon, and 4 tablespoons butter and stir for 1 minute. Slowly sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until fully incorporated and the sauce thickens.
  3. Serve: Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Allow to sit 3 minutes. Add the remaining zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon butter. Add a few drizzles of pasta water as necessary until nicely coated. Serve with fresh ground black pepper. Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days (reheats nicely in a skillet with a splash of milk).


*This quantity serves 6 to 8: make sure to cut in half if you’re serving less eaters! Pair with a green salad or veggie side to round it out as a meal.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Pasta
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian