Lemon Spaghetti

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Say hello to this quick lemon spaghetti. It’s a delightful spring pasta that is bright, creamy, and full of lemon flavor. And it’s ready in less than 15 minutes.

A refreshing midweek meal the whole family will love!

Top view of a blue plate full of creamy lemon spaghetti.

I LOVE the combination of pasta with lemons. In the past, I created lemon garlic pasta, lemon caper pasta, and this incredible lemon ricotta pasta, one of the most popular recipes on the website.

Today, I’m sharing this super delicious lemon spaghetti, which uses minimal ingredients and is incredibly flavorful. We absolutely love this recipe because it comes together in no time, and the sauce is fresh, velvety, and perfectly coats the spaghetti. 

You only need one lemon, cheese, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. Combining these ingredients in a pan with a touch of starchy pasta water will make a delicious, smooth sauce in two minutes flat. Next, toss in your al dente spaghetti and a big crackle of black pepper, and you’re ready to swirl creamy noodles around a fork!

Lastly, the recipe is very flexible and easy to customize. You can experiment with different fresh herbs or add your favorite veggies or protein for a balanced, terrific family meal.

Grab some spaghetti from your cupboard and fresh lemon, and let’s make this easy and flavorful lemon spaghetti!

List of the ingredients

  • Spaghetti
  • Lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan and cream cheese
  • Basil
  • Salt & pepper
The ingredients to make lemon spaghetti are arranged over a white background.

How to make lemon spaghetti

(Note: this is a quick description; the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook your spaghetti until al dente.
  • Heat olive oil in a pan, then stir in garlic and lemon zest.
  • Add cream cheese, parmesan, basil, lemon juice, and pasta water to the pan.
Top view of a pan with the ingredients to make the lemon spaghetti sauce.
  • Stir the spaghetti sauce until smooth and creamy.
  • Drain the spaghetti, add it to the pan, and toss until well combined.
  • Season to taste, and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. It’s so delicious with warm focacciapesto garlic breador black pepper focaccia on the side!
Top view of a pan with spaghetti combined with creamy lemon sauce.

Recipe Notes

Ingredients & substitutions

Spaghetti: I like using something long, like spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine. I recommend buying premium-quality spaghetti, which has a better taste and a rough texture that helps the sauce cling to each noodle. My favorite brands are Garofalo and Rummo.

Olive oil + garlic: The recipe starts with fragrant garlic cooked in olive oil.

Lemon: I use lemon juice and zest to maximize the lemon flavor. The zest is added to the garlic, which packs so much flavor.

Cream cheese: I used Philadelphia cream cheese, but you can use any nice full-fat cream cheese or a dollop of ricotta, which would also work and add some tangy flavor and creaminess to the sauce.

Parmesan cheese: But don’t skip the Parmesan cheese with its nutty flavor. I recommend using freshly grated parmesan that melts very well into the sauce.

Herbs: I used fresh basil, but parsley or dill would work fine. Fresh herbs are lovely and add aromatic notes, but you can skip them if you don’t have them.

Salt & pepper: The recipe doesn’t require seasoning as the pasta water and parmesan contain salt already. However, I recommend to season to taste the pasta sauce before serving.

Close-up of a blue plate full of lemon spaghetti.

lemon spaghetti variations

It’s a perfect weeknight pasta for spring and summer, and it’s easy to take it to the next level by adding a few delicious extras. Here are some ideas:

  • Add veggies. Roasted or sauteed cherry tomatoes, grilled or roasted zucchini, peppers, sauteed kale or spinach, roasted artichokes, and more.
  • Add protein. Grilled chicken, shredded ham, shrimp, and pan-fried or smoked salmon are all great options if you’re not vegetarian.

Serving suggestions

Leftovers & storage

Lemon spaghetti is best when fresh, creamy, and cooked al dente. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, but they lose their creaminess and bite. To reheat, put them in a microwave-safe dish and add a splash of milk or water.

Close-up of creamy lemon spaghetti around a fork.

More spaghetti recipes you’ll love!

And since you are a spaghetti lover, you might want to check out this collection of spaghetti sauce recipes!

Lastly, I hope you’ll love this lemon spaghetti as much as we do. And if you have any questions, let me know! Leave a comment, send me a message, or rate it. I would love to hear from you!

Lemon Spaghetti

This quick lemon spaghetti is a delightful spring pasta that is bright, creamy, and flavorful. And it's ready in 15 minutes!
Prep Time5 minutes
10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: pasta
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: Lemon spaghetti
Servings: 4
Calories: 290kcal
Author: Katia



  • 8oz (225 grams) Spaghetti (or your favorite long pasta shapes)

Lemon Garlic Sauce

  • 1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon zest
  • ½ cup (60 ml) pasta cooking water
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (approx juice from ½ lemon)
  • 8 Basil leaves, shredded
  • salt & pepper, to taste



  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta per packet instructions.
  • When the spaghetti is nearly done, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water (you need it for the sauce), and stop cooking and draining the pasta when it's al dente.

Lemon sauce

  • When the pasta is about 4 minutes away from being done, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 60 seconds until it's fragrant and smells nice.
  • Add only ½ cup of the reserved hot pasta water (keep the rest aside), then the lemon juice, grated parmesan, cream cheese, basil, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Stir until emulsified and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking if needed. Turn the heat off.
  • Now, the spaghetti should be ready and al dente. Drain it and add it to the pan, tossing until well combined and juicy. If needed, add an extra touch of the reserved pasta water.
  • Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


Storage: Lemon spaghetti leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Refrigeration will dry them out. Reheat on the stove or in a microwave with a touch of water or milk, and toss well until combined. 
Nutrition facts: The nutrition values are for one serving and are based on an online nutrition calculator. It’s an estimate only, and it should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice (extra parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve are not included). Please see my disclosure policies.


Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 620mg | Potassium: 148mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 1mg

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