Pasta al Limone

updated Jun 26, 2023
Pasta al Limone Recipe

This vibrant and creamy pasta is bursting with fresh lemon flavor.

Serves2 to 3

Prep10 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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Pasta al Limone in skillet.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

This pasta dish, with its creamy, tangy, lemon sauce, has long been a favorite in my household. It’s the sort of dish that takes so little time to put together but also really seems to impress guests, so we make it both for ourselves on lazy evenings at home as well as when we’re entertaining (I love having at least one easy, quick-to-prepare dish on the menu). We make it so often, in fact, that this recipe made its way into my second cookbook, Acquacotta, which was inspired by six months we spent living on the southern Tuscan coast, where lemon trees abound.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

What I love about this dish is that the sauce can be made in the time it takes the pasta to boil. I particularly love using fresh egg pasta, whether store-bought or homemade — it’s so wonderfully silky and takes on the sauce so well. As a bonus, it only takes a few minutes to cook, making this an even quicker meal for those times when you just need to get dinner on the table in a hurry!

Any pasta shape works with the creamy lemon sauce, although I particularly like a long, flat pasta when I’m choosing a fresh egg pasta. Linguine or tagliolini, which are thinner and a bit more delicate than tagliatelle or pappardelle, are perfect. Sometimes, to change things up a little, we like to add another ingredient to the sauce, such as fresh herbs, capers, or sun-dried tomatoes. If you like a little heat, fresh chile goes very well here too.

Pasta al Limone Recipe

This vibrant and creamy pasta is bursting with fresh lemon flavor.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 2 to 3

Nutritional Info


  • Kosher salt

  • 2

    large lemons, preferably unwaxed and organic

  • 2 ounces

    Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)

  • 12 ounces

    fresh tagliolini or other long pasta

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of 2 large lemons. Juice the lemons. Finely grate 2 ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup). Start the sauce.

  2. Heat 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the lemon zest and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and simmer for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium heat, adding some of the pasta water as needed, until the pasta is well coated and glossy with sauce. Serve immediately with the grated cheese.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days. Reheat with a splash of milk or cream.