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20 Minute Lemon Pasta Main Dishes

Light and bright in flavor, this lemon pasta dish is super quick and easy to make (about 20 minutes!)!

A simple sauce of lemon, butter, and a splash of cream (and some capers if you’d Like) is tossed with pasta. This is perfect for lunch or as a “nest” under a protein Like chicken, salmon, or shrimp.

close up of 20 Minute Lemon Pasta in the pot

Quick & Easy Lemon Pasta

  • This pasta has a zesty lemon sauce that is slightly creamy and ready by the time the pasta cooks.
  • Lemon pasta takes 20 minutes from Begin to End so it’s great as a side or a quick dinner.
  • This dish pairs well with any mild protein Like shrimp, fish, or chicken.ingredients to make 20 Minute Lemon Pasta

What’s in Lemon Pasta?

PASTA: Use whatever pasta is on hand but our preference is a delicate long pasta like spaghettini or angel hair.

SAUCE: Lemon and garlic flavor this sauce and capers add a briny punch. We love capers paired with lemon (especially in Chicken Piccata).  If you don’t have capers, stir in a couple of tablespoons of tapenade or chopped olives.

GARNISH: Lemon pasta looks extra fancy topped with parsley. You can also garnish with a few leaves of torn basil, freshly ground black pepper, and parmesan or crumbled feta cheese.

RECIPE TIP: Heavy Cream cannot be substituted with lighter cream in this recipe. Lighter cream can curdle from the lemon juice. If you do not have heavy cream, try melting some spreadable cream cheese to get a creamy consistency.

Heavy cream (or whipping cream) should have between 35-35% milk fat (sometimes displayed on the container as 30% m.f. )

process of making sauce for 20 Minute Lemon Pasta

How to Make Lemon Pasta

Elegant lemon pasta is delightfully simple to create:

  1. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.
  2. Cook the garlic in butter (per the recipe below). Add lemon juice, heavy cream, & capers. Simmer until sauce thickens.
  3. Remove from heat and add pasta & parsley. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

20 Minute Lemon Pasta in bowls

Tips for Perfect Lemon Pasta

  • Heavy Cream cannot be substituted with lighter cream in this recipe.
  • Do not overcook the pasta, it should be cooked al dente (firm).
  • Reserve some pasta water to get the right consistency to the sauce.
  • Do not rinse the pasta, the starches help the sauce cling to the pasta.
  • Cook this dish in a skillet at least 10″, this helps the cream to thicken.

What to Serve With Lemon Pasta

This dish can be served as a simple entrée or side, so here are a few faves.

Try a Greek Salad and some Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks or Homemade Focaccia Bread. An arugula salad a great peppery flavor.

Best Way to Store

Keep pasta refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan with a little extra cream. Cooked lemon pasta doesn’t freeze well so it’s best to use it up.

More Fast Pasta

  • Fettuccine Alfredo
  • 15 Minute Mac and Cheese
  • Creamy Garlic Pasta
  • Easy Shrimp Scampi Recipe
  • Quick Broccoli Pasta
  • Cacio e Pepe

close up of 20 Minute Lemon Pasta in the pot

5 from 2 votes

Review Recipe

20 Minute Lemon Pasta

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
This quick and easy lemon pasta is tangy and bright and best of all, ready in about 20 minutes.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dry pasta approx 2 cups
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons capers
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese optional

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup pasta water.
  • Zest the lemon and set the zest aside. Juice 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • While pasta is boiling, add butter and garlic to a 10″ skillet. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, heacy cream, and capers to the skillet. Simmer 5-6 minutes or until slightly thickened (if doubling the recipe, thickening will take longer).
  • Remove from heat and toss with pasta and chopped fresh parsley. Stir in pasta water to reach desired consistency.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese and additoinal lemon slices if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • This serves 4 as a side dish or two as a main dish.
  • This recipe can be doubled, the thickening time will be longer.
  • Heavy Cream cannot be substituted with lighter cream in this recipe.
  • Do not overcook the pasta, it should be cooked al dente (firm).
  • Reserve some pasta water to get the right consistency to the sauce.
  • Do not rinse, the starches help the sauce cling to the pasta.
  • Cook this dish in a skillet at least 10″, this helps the cream to thicken.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.25of the recipe, Calories: 374, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 57mg, Sodium: 251mg, Potassium: 175mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 718IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 1mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

In this space, I am always sharing flavorful, fresh, (mostly) healthy recipes that I love to make and eat in my real, actual, every day life. If I wouldn’t eat it in real life, I won’t put in on the blog. You’re cooking for yourself, your family, your roommates, or your friends. I want you to be so excited about these recipes that you eagerly await 5pm when you can go home from work and start cooking.

20 Minute Lemon Pasta Main Dishes

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