Pasta al Limone

A classic pasta recipe that’s very simple with few, cheap ingredients. I have been tweaking this recipe as I go – I like the combination of grated lemon zest and the julienned zest as the garnish, which is slightly bitter and provides a little texture. This dish allows for a lot of freedom, whether if you like it more acidic (I do), or would rather have just a lemon flavor, either works well.

Pasta al Limone

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


  • 1/2 box fettuccine or spaghetti
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 2 clove garlic smashed, then chopped fine
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 5-6 T butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c Parmesan as much as you'd like
  • 3-4 T Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 bunch parsley finely chopped (garnish)


  • Peel half of lemon. Cut zest into very thin strips. If you don’t have a grater you’ll have to peel and use the entire lemon.
  • Cook pasta in salted boiling water. Add a touch of olive oil if you’d like – it can help the pasta not stick together as much. Cook until very al dente – its going to seem underdone, but will keep cooking in the sauce. Save 3/4 c of pasta water.
  • Add cream to saucepan or pot over medium-low heat and add zest (either cut or grated). Whisk or stir often, adjusting heat until liquid is simmering. Turn heat down and add butter a small chunk at a time (roughly a tablespoon) until thickened and creamy. Turn off heat.
  • Add pasta water to sauce. Return to medium heat. Transfer pasta to sauce pot and slowly add parmesan, mixing consistently, until cheese is melted. *If the sauce has thickened up too much, add a little more pasta water, a couple tablespoons at a time.
  • Squeeze lemon or so over pasta. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Adding salt can help counter the acidity of the lemon juice and vice versa.
Keyword lemon, pasta