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This lemon ricotta pasta recipe makes a creamy, zingy sauce in minutes! It’s a shortcut that makes mealtime easy.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Here’s a quick and simple pasta recipe that’s the perfect shortcut for weeknights: Lemon Ricotta Pasta! Mixing ricotta cheese with olive oil, Parmesan and a little pasta water makes a makeshift white sauce that’s ideal for coating on long noodles (who knew!). This quick weeknight trick has become a staple over here: the zing of the lemon zest makes it absolutely irresistible not to keep slurping down noodles.

Ingredients in lemon ricotta pasta

Ricotta is a creamy Italian cheese with a mild flavor that’s famous for its use in lasagna: but it’s ideal for long noodles, too. The great part about this lemon ricotta pasta? It requires just 1 minute of cooking to form a beautifully creamy white sauce. You’ll literally stir together a few ingredients and voila: a creamy sauce. Here’s what you’ll need for whipping up this pasta at home:

  • Bucatini or spaghetti noodles (or your noodle of choice)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon zest
Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Tips for lemon ricotta pasta

This lemon ricotta pasta recipe could not be easier: boil the pasta, stir together the sauce ingredients, and combine! There’s not much cooking here. But there are a few minor tips that can make or break the recipe:

  • Save the pasta water! This ingredient is used to make a creamy sauce. It’s easy to forget (been there), so my mom shared a tip with us that helps. After you start the pasta, place your strainer in the sink, then place a liquid measuring cup inside as a reminder. When you go to dump the pasta, you’ll think: what’s that liquid measuring cup? Oh yes, I need to save the pasta water!
  • Make sure to cook the pasta to al dente. This means “to the bite” in Italian: when it’s tender with a small white speck inside when you bite into a piece. Boil it a few minutes less than the package instructions indicate, and start taste testing early!
  • The texture is best when served immediately. This lemon ricotta pasta is best when the pasta is freshly cooked and it’s warm: especially since you use the pasta water to help create the sauce. You can eat it later, but it does get drier in texture.

Leftovers and storage instructions

Want to eat this lemon ricotta pasta the next day? You can, though it’s not quite as good as the day of. This pasta is best with piping hot fresh pasta and sauce warm from the stove. It does get a gummier texture as it sits, and especially once it’s cooled. Here’s how to freshen up your leftovers:

  • Leftovers become drier over time, and with refrigeration. You can store the pasta about 2 days refrigerated, but the texture becomes drier.
  • How to reheat it? You can reheat the pasta with a splash of milk on the stovetop, and revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt. Make sure to generously garnish with grated Parmesan cheese as well.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta

What to serve with lemon ricotta pasta

Want a few fast and easy side dishes to serve with this pasta? Anything from a quick green salad to lemony peas works here. If you’re serving it as a main dish, think about dishes that add additional protein. Here are a few ideas:

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

More ricotta recipes

Ricotta makes magic with pasta, toast, desserts, and more! Here are some of our favorite ricotta recipes:

This lemon ricotta pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Lemon Ricotta Pasta


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This lemon ricotta pasta recipe makes a creamy, zingy sauce in minutes! It’s a shortcut that makes mealtime easy.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon (plus reserve some for garnish)
  • ¼ cup pasta water
  • For the garnish: chopped parsley, red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. Using a glass liquid measuring cup, reserve ½ cup of the hot pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  2. In a saucepan, mix the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, black pepper, lemon zest, and ¼ cup pasta water. Warm over medium heat and stir until a creamy sauce forms, about 1 minute. 
  3. Pour the sauce onto the noodles and stir to combine. Add another splash of pasta water to help the sauce coat the noodles. Serve with chopped parsley, additional grated Parmesan cheese and the reserved lemon zest. (Leftovers last 2 days refrigerated but the sauce becomes thick when cold. Reheat with a splash of milk and additional kosher salt to revive the flavors.)
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Lemon ricotta pasta

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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14 Comments

  1. Made your Lemon Ricotta Pasta tonight…absolutely fabulous, quick to prepare and delicious! Thank you!

  2. This was so good! My husband and I both loved it. It was very quick and easy. I paired it with the lemony pea recipe suggested in the blog, also delicious! I highly recommend adding the parsley and crushed red pepper before serving. We will be making this recipe frequently!

  3. Made this the first time while looking for something to use ricotta with. Wow! Was so easy and so good. The lemon zest really made it pop. So if you’re thinking about making it, don’t skip the zest!

  4. I’m so confused- I made this last week and loved it so I wanted to make it again this week. But it seems to have split or something into like curds and whey on the pasta…. and I can’t figure out why. My boyfriend doesn’t mind it but the texture is too weird for me. The only change was whole wheat pasta this time. I’m going to try again because I loved it last week. Any idea why that might gave happened?

    1. I’m sorry about that! Did any lemon juice get into the sauce? The acid from that could cause the cheese to break apart.

  5. Ok. I don’t usually comment on recipes but I must for this one. Yumm. This is delicious! I think that I just found my new favorite food. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  6. Wow! So easy and delicious! I added red pepper flakes and arugula. Will definitely make again.

  7. Very good recipe! I like lemon so this was perfect for me. Quick and easy too. I making it again tonight!

  8. My 16 year old son and I made this together, and we loved it! Easy and fancy at the same time. He’s planning to make it again next week for the whole family.