Pasta Al Limone Recipe – Creamy Lemon Pasta


The best Pasta Al Limone Recipe with a simple lemon cream sauce made with butter, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and cream. You can add chicken or grilled shrimp or enjoy it as is! Bon Appetit! 

side view of a plate of pasta al limone tossed with butter cream lemon sauce

Meet your new favorite meatless pasta dish – Pasta al Limone! The pasta dish that caused me to wonder why on earth I complicate my cooking more than necessary. It is SUPER EASY to make, zingy and creamy with the perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, and acidity!

This South Italian pasta classic is a quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe that is refreshing and simple but the mix of lemon and parmesan will take your tastebuds on an Italian Summer holiday!

overhead shot of a plate with Italian pasta al limone tossed with butter cream lemon sauce and topped with lemon zest

What is Authentic Italian Pasta Al Limone? 

Pasta al limone is a simple South Italian pasta dish consisting of pasta (usually spaghetti), lemon (zest and juice), plenty of butter or sometimes olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper.

The origin of pasta al Limone is disputed, but it is definitely a big deal in southern Italy and Sicily, regions that are known for their lemons. There are plenty of variations of this South Italian lemon pasta recipe. Some of them contain a splash of white wine, others lots and lots of butter; some, like this one use cream.

My extra creamy version of this lemon pasta uses the holy trinity of cream, creamy goat cheese and parmesan cheese. You can, of course, add normal cream cheese – I just happened to have goat’s cream cheese and it went perfectly with the lemon note. 

The authentic Pasta Al Limone Recipe is made with Sorrento lemons. But you can still make a delicious bowl of creamy lemon pasta using regular lemons. 

close-up side view of a plate of lemon cream pasta sprinkled with chopped pistachios

 

Let me tell you, this might be my favorite pasta dish EVER! It’s even better than cacio e pepe!!! With this creamy lemon sauce, this is just so crazy delicious. You can make it using half-and-half and you can use any pasta you have kicking around in your pantry. I used Fettuccine, but you can use tagliatelle or spaghetti. Even rotini or penne would work.

Every bite wows more than the last and it’s simply mindblowing how good something this easy, made with so few ingredients, can taste that divine.

Put on some Italian music in the background while cooking, then spoil someone special and surprise them with this flavor bomb of a pasta dish!

a forkful of Italian lemon cream pasta al limone

How to make the best Pasta Al Limone

Because this recipe only has few ingredients, quality is key! 

For making pasta al Limone, you will need:

  • Organic Lemon. Most recipes use both juice and zest but I honestly find the version with lemon juice too acidic and go with zest only. 
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan. Make sure to buy the real-deal, and grate it yourself right off of the block. 
  • Cream and Cream Cheese – I used creamy goat cheese and love it. 
  • Butter – I used salted butter but take whatever you have.
  • Pasta. I recommend you go with long noodles that can be dragged and tossed through the liquid. Spaghetti is the classic pasta shape but any long noodle such as fettuccine or linguine works too.
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper. Especially the black pepper – it’s essential. 

side view of a serving of Italian Lemon Cream Pasta al Limone topped with lemon zest

Can I make Lemon Pasta with Chicken or Shrimp? 

Yes, you can totally add some more protein. Pasta al Limone with chicken is a sure bet but grilled shrimp would also be nice. Make sure to prepare it separately though. I love topping this pasta dish with grilled, sautéed, or even simply shredded leftover rotisserie chicken. 

This lemon cream pasta would also go really well with a fillet of grilled salmon. 

a forkful of pasta al limone

Tips: 

  • You can add some fresh herbs to your liking, think mint or basil fresh or flat-leaf parsley. Stay away from dried herbs, which are lackluster in flavor. 
  • Add sauteed veggies like green asparagus, or grilled zucchini. So good! 
  • When buying lemons, it is important to choose organic lemons that have not been treated with pesticides as we are using the zest. Look for lemons with rough, rather than smooth, skins, as they contain more of the essential oil.
  • Do not forget a grinding of fresh black pepper.
  • Make this for a dinner party and follow up with a shot of homemade Italian Limoncello Lemon Liqueur. 

 

Did you make and love this pasta al limone recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!

a plate with Italian Pasta Al Limone with creamy lemon sauce and lemon zest on top
5 from 2 votes
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Pasta al Limone - Creamy Lemon Pasta

The best Pasta Al Limone Recipe with a simple creamy lemon sauce made with parmesan cheese, fresh lemon and cream. You can add chicken or grilled shrimp or enjoy it as is! Bon Appetit! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword bon appetit lemon pasta, creamy lemon pasta, pasta al limone recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 698 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson

Ingredients

  • 1 big organic lemon
  • 12 oz fettuccine pasta or spaghetti - 340 g
  • 6 tbsps salted butter 80 g
  • 1 cup cream 250 ml
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup or honey - optional
  • 3 tbsps cream cheese or goat cheese - about 50 g
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese 90 g
  • salt to taste

For serving

  • chopped pistachios for serving optional
  • lemon zent
  • black pepper

Instructions

  1. Grate the zest of 1 big organic lemon.  If you want, you can set some aside for decoration. 

  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling heavily salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (pasta will finish cooking in the sauce).

  3. While the pasta is cooking, add the cream to the pot with the lemon zest and honey cook over medium heat, whisking often, until liquid is just beginning to simmer. This should take about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk in the cubed butter 1 Tbsp. at a time until melted and sauce is creamy and emulsified. Remove from heat.

  4. Just before pasta is al dente, scoop out 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Add ¾ cup (180 ml) pasta cooking liquid to the cream sauce and return to medium heat. Add the cream cheese and stir to combine. Using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta to the pot with sauce. It's okay if a little bit of water comes along with it. I just dump the pasta into a sieve, take the sieve and transfer the pasta immediately. 

  5. Cook a minute tossing the pasta often and add the grated Parmesan little by little, until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy about 3 minutes. If the sauce needs thinning, add 1–2 Tbsp more of pasta cooking liquid. Remember that cream sauces thicken up even more as they cool, so it’s better to err on the saucier side.  If you are using herbs, add them now right in the end and gently toss again. Serve with more Parmigiano for sprinkling on top. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.

  6. Divide the pasta among two bowls. Season with freshly cracked black pepper, then top with reserved lemon zest  and chopped pistachios.

Recipe Notes

Tips: 

  • You can add some fresh herbs to your liking, think mint or basil fresh or flat-leaf parsley. Stay away from dried herbs, which are lackluster in flavor. 
  • When buying lemons, it is important to choose organic lemons that have not been treated with pesticides as we are using the zest. Look for lemons with rough, rather than smooth, skins, as they contain more of the essential oil.
  • Do not forget a grinding of fresh black pepper.
  • Make this for a dinner party and follow up with a shot of homemade Italian Limoncello Lemon Liqueur. 

Pasta Al Limone Pinterest Pin


2 Comments

  1. Marie-Charlotte Chatelain


    The sauce is perfect! Just right with the amount of zest and the addition of cream cheese makes it soooo creamy! Used normal cream cheese and fresh basil! YUM


  2. These are really easy to make and SO DELISH! One of those classic pasta recipes that everybody loves!

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