This lemon butter garlic pasta sauce is the quickest, most delicious lunch to try on a busy day. Bursting with lemon flavour, this pasta al limone is also garlicky and naturally creamy at the same time!
This is one of the easiest yet most delicious pasta recipes I've ever had. As its name suggests, lemon butter garlic pasta gets its flavour from a mix of lemon and garlic sauteed in butter.
If you've been looking for a recipe for lemon pasta without cream, this is one of the best to try. You only need a handful of ingredients to make it, and you may already have them all in the house.
Pasta al limone, as it's called in Italian, doesn't need any cream because it's naturally creamy from the starch.
Why you'll love this lemon butter garlic pasta sauce
- It's ready in 15 minutes. You can have a bowl of delicious garlic lemon butter pasta in your hands super fast. Just what I want to hear when I'm pressed for time!
- It's super versatile. This creamy lemon butter garlic pasta sauce is great on its own but also perfect with prawns, chicken or salmon.
- It's loaded with flavour. Lemon, butter and garlic are an amazing flavour combo just perfect for a no-frills pasta dish.
What goes into pasta al limone?
Olive oil — Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can for this recipe for the best flavour.
Butter — Unsalted butter is best for this garlic lemon butter pasta sauce. if you use salted butter, you may not need to add any extra seasoning.
Garlic — Feel free to add as much garlic as you like. I like to make this sauce with at least six cloves. You can either finely slice the garlic or mince it.
Red chilli flakes — Half a teaspoon of red chili flakes adds a bit of a kick to the sauce. Skip it if you want to keep things on the milder side, or add more if you prefer your pasta fiery.
Lemon — You'll need the juice and zest of a medium lemon. Try to use an unwaxed or organic lemon to avoid any chemical protective layers.
Parmesan — If you're a vegetarian, make sure you use a hard Italian cheese that's labelled as safe for vegetarians. Parmiggiano Reggiano is not vegetarian because it's made with animal rennet.
How to make garlic lemon butter pasta?
Cook the pasta al dente in salted water according to the instructions on the package. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water before draining.
Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic changes its colour, careful not to burn it.
Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and toss well with a pair of kitchen tongs to cover it in the butter sauce. Add a splash of pasta water if it looks too thick.
Stir in the lemon zest and juice, then add the Parmesan and toss well to combine.
Add the chopped parsley, season to taste and serve immediately, topped with additional grated cheese and lemon zest if you like.
Recipe notes and tips
- To make sure the pasta water is extra starchy, cook the pasta in less water than you'd usually do. The starchier water will make the sauce creamier.
- It's always a good idea to grate your Parmesan or hard cheese yourself because freshly grated cheese has more flavour than bagged cheese.
- Pasta al limone is best served immediately, and I don't recommend reheating it.
If you liked this lemon butter garlic pasta sauce, you might also like some of my other quick and easy pasta recipes:
- Vegan Tagliatelle Bolognese with Mushrooms
- Pink Sauce Pasta
- Pasta alla Cenere (Gorgonzola and Black Olive Pasta)
- Tagliatelle ai Funghi (Tagliatelle with Mushrooms)
- Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Walnuts
- 300 g (10.5 oz) linguine or spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 40 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 50 g (½ cup) grated Parmesan (or veggie hard Italian cheese)
- A handful freshly chopped parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta al dente in salted water according to the instructions on the package. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven and melt the butter in it over low-medium heat.
- Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic changes its colour, careful not to burn it.
- Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and toss well with a pair of kitchen tongs to cover it in the butter sauce. Add a splash of pasta water if it looks too thick.
- Stir in the lemon zest and juice, then add the Parmesan and toss well to combine.
- Add the chopped parsley, season to taste and serve immediately, topped with additioanl grated cheese and lemon zest if you like.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 314mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 11g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.