Lemon Butter Pasta

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Dinner, Lunch, Recipes


Imagine a delicious lemon butter pasta with butter cream and lemon zest. Simple lemon-butter spaghetti is a quick culinary escape anybody can create. Busy folks and families like this dish since it tastes great with minimal effort.

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What makes this recipe good?

Elegant simplicity makes lemon butter pasta stand out. The combination of tart lemon, silky butter, garlic, and fresh herbs makes this meal magical. Light and fragrant, the sauce clings to pasta, providing creaminess without the heaviness of classic cream sauces.


Can I use bottled lemon juice?

Fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor and zest.

How can I make this dish creamier without cream?

Use the pasta water; its starchiness helps in forming a creamy sauce.

Key ingredients for lemon butter pasta

The beauty of lemon-butter pasta lies in its simplicity. The ingredient list is short, but each component is essential.

You should prepare pasta (preferably long strands like spaghetti or linguine).

High-quality unsalted butter

Use fresh lemons for both juice and zest.


Use fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil.

To taste, add salt and pepper.


Chef’s Tips for Perfect Lemon Butter Pasta

The ideal lemon butter pasta involves attention to detail and chef-approved methods to improve taste and texture. These detailed recommendations will guarantee your food is perfect every time:

Pasta Choice

Opt for pasta shapes that hold sauces well, such as spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine. The light, creamy sauce interacts beautifully with these long, thin shapes, perfectly coating each strand.

Quality of Ingredients

Use the best-quality unsalted butter you can find, as the butter is a key flavor component in this dish. Organic, fresh lemons are also recommended, as you’ll be using both the zest and the juice to impart a bright, citrusy flavor.

Sauce Emulsification

The secret to a silky sauce lies in emulsifying the pasta water with melted butter and lemon juice. Gradually add hot pasta water to your sauce while stirring vigorously to create a smooth and glossy sauce that isn’t greasy.

Zesting Lemons

When adding lemon zest, ensure to only zest the outer yellow skin and not the white pith underneath, which can be very bitter. A microplane grater works best for getting fine shreds of zest that melt into the sauce.


The pasta should be drained and added to the sauce as soon as it’s ready. This timing ensures that the pasta is hot and ready to absorb all the flavors from the sauce.

Finishing Touches

Finish the dish with freshly cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. The cheese adds a nice saltiness and further enhances the creaminess of the sauce.

Preventing Separation in Lemon Butter Sauce

Maintain Gentle Heat: Keep the sauce on low to medium heat, and avoid letting it reach a boil after adding the butter.

Proper Emulsification: Gradually whisk in the reserved pasta water to the sauce. This helps in creating a smooth, creamy consistency that binds the butter and lemon juice together effectively.

Customizing Your Lemon Butter Pasta

Lemon butter pasta may be customized to your tastes and diet, making it flexible for different occasions and palates. Here are some more lemon-butter pasta variations:

Protein Variations

Grilled Seafood: Add grilled scallops or prawns for a luxurious touch. The sweetness of the seafood pairs beautifully with the tangy lemon sauce.

Crispy Bacon or Pancetta: For a smoky flavor, add crispy bacon or pancetta bits just before serving.

Vegetable Additions

Sautéed Spinach or Kale: Incorporate greens like spinach or kale, sautéed until just wilted. They add color, nutrients, and a slight earthy flavor that complements the creamy pasta.

For a burst of sweetness and a vibrant look, toss in some cherry tomatoes roasted with olive oil and garlic.

Herbs and spices

Fresh Basil or Thyme: For an aromatic boost, sprinkle freshly chopped basil or thyme. These herbs are not only flavorful but also enhance the visual appeal of the dish.

Red Pepper Flakes: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, red pepper flakes can add a spicy contrast to the rich and tangy sauce.

Dietary Modifications

Gluten-Free Pasta: Substitute regular pasta with a gluten-free variety to cater to dietary restrictions without compromising on taste.

Dairy-Free Version: Use a high-quality vegan butter and skip the Parmesan, or use a vegan cheese alternative to cater to dairy-free and vegan diets.

Cheese Variations

Ricotta or Goat Cheese: Add dollops of ricotta or crumbled goat cheese for a creamy texture and a tangy flavor that pairs well with lemon.

Nutty Additions

Toasted Pine Nuts or Walnuts: Sprinkle toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts for a delightful crunch and nutty flavor, which contrast nicely with the smooth sauce.

What goes best with Lemon Butter Pasta?

This pasta pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides and wines. Here are some suggestions:

Side Dishes: Serve with a light salad, such as arugula and cherry tomatoes, or garlic bread.

Wine Pairing: A crisp white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, complements the lemon’s freshness.

Health Benefits

Lemon butter pasta offers more than just taste; it includes several health benefits:

Lemons are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Butter is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins if used in moderation.

Garlic is known for its immune-boosting properties.

Why not try more meals if you liked this zesty lemon butter pasta recipe? For a fast and nutritious meal, try the Air Fryer Sesame Chicken, which has a delicious crisp and a bit of sweetness. Instead, try the Hawaiian Chicken in a Crock Pot, which combines slow cooking with tropical spices.


lemon butter pasta

This lemon butter pasta can be prepared in twenty minutes. It is amazingly delectable, piquant, and buttery, making it ideal for weeknights.

  • Author: Gabriela cardenas
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Sautéing, Boiling
  • Cuisine: talian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • 400 grams (14 oz) of spaghetti or linguine
  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) unsalted butter
  • Juice and zest of 2 large lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions.
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic to the skillet and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water. Add the pasta directly to the skillet.
  6. Toss the pasta in the lemon butter sauce, adding pasta water as needed to create a smooth, emulsified sauce.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and the sauce is creamy.
  8. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley.


  • For an extra touch of flavor, add a sprinkle of red chili flakes to the garlic while sautéing.
  • If the sauce is too thick, gradually add more pasta water until desired consistency is achieved.
  • For a vegan version, substitute the butter with a vegan alternative and use nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan cheese.

Keywords: lemon butter pasta, lemon pasta, butter pasta recipe, creamy lemon pasta

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