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Lemon Butter Pasta Recipe

This easy pasta dish combines fettuccine–or your favorite pasta like angel hair pasta –with a fresh, creamy lemon sauce, and comes together in under 30 minutes. It’s such a great, easy weeknight meal.

lemon butter pasta in a white bowl

If you are needing some easy meals to add to your weeknight dinners, this should definitely be one of them. I love how quickly this comes together, only needs a few ingredients, and results in such a rich and delicious pasta dish.

It has quickly become one of my favorite weeknight meals to throw together on busy weeknights, or really just anytime! It’s so yummy!

This dish really stands well on its own, but I do love pairing this with a side salad or grilled veggie and sometimes I’ll add a protein (I like to mix it up, but love serving it with chicken or shrimp)! With its bright lemon garlic butter sauce and over all creamy sauce, my crew can’t get enough of it—a hit even with the pickiest eaters. 

The best part is the freshness of this recipe makes it a great pasta option for every season! It’s one of my favorites to make in warm weather, and is still cozy enough to make in cooler seasons too. Who doesn’t love hot pasta?!

Why You’ll Love this Lemon Butter Pasta Sauce

  • It’s so easy! It’s almost a one-pot dish, and comes together with very basic steps and minimal effort. It’s a great option for cooks of any age! 
  • It’s versatile. If you’d like to add protein, this goes beautifully with chicken, salmon, or shellfish, as well as a variety of veggies!
  • It’s ready in a flash. This dish comes together from start to finish in less than 30 minutes, making it a great option for busy nights when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
  • It’s full of flavor. The combination of cheese, butter, garlic, and lemon makes such a complex and wonderful flavor and even appeals to picky eaters.

Ingredients in Lemon Butter Pasta Sauce

  • Pasta – My favorite pasta to use for this is fettuccine, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can use any type of pasta! And if you want to make this gluten free, substitute with your favorite gluten-free pasta. 
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil is such a healthy oil, and is perfect to add authentic flavor to this dish. I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil for its bright taste!
  • Butter – Butter gives a little extra richness to this dish, which I love! If you want to make this dairy free, you can add more olive oil instead, or your favorite plant-based butter.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is so delicious in this pasta dish, adding complexity and making it so yummy. You can easily use garlic powder if you don’t have fresh on hand. I love using the already minced garlic!
  • Reserved Pasta Water – I guess this technically isn’t its own ingredient, but it’s very important! The salt and starch in pasta water helps to thicken the sauce and glue the ingredients together.
  • Heavy Cream – Heavy cream adds to the creaminess to the sauce. If you want to make this dairy free, you can substitute with your favorite dairy-free milk (I recommend full-fat coconut milk to add a similar thickness as heavy cream).
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese – I love adding freshly grated parmesan, but regular grated will do! If you don’t have or like parmesan, pecorino is a great alternative.
  • Lemon Juice – This dish really shines with fresh lemon juice. If you don’t have a lemon on hand, you can substitute bottled lemon juice, but know that it will change the flavor slightly.
  • Salt – Salt is so important in pasta dishes. It helps to combine and elevate the flavors. My favorite salt to use is natural sea salt, to add some extra minerals!
  • Pepper – Pepper finishes this dish off perfectly, adding just a little extra savory to balance the lemon and cream. Freshly cracked pepper is my favorite!

How to Make Lemon Butter Pasta

Start with a large pot. Fill with filtered water, add some salt, and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add in your pasta and cook until al dente (soft, but still slightly firm). If you’ve never made al dente pasta, the easiest way is to just cook it 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions.

As soon as you pop the pasta into the pot, it’s time to start the sauce!

Grab a large saucepan or large skillet, and heat the olive oil and melt butter together over high heat. Just don’t let it heat too long before a or it will start to splatter!

Add your minced garlic to the oil and butter mix and sauté just until the garlic has turned a golden brown color. This happens quickly, so be sure not to burn it!

Pour the heavy cream into your garlic mixture and stir. Simmer on low heat just until the cream begins to thicken a bit.

Remove your sauce from the heat and set it aside until your pasta has finished cooking.

Once your pasta has finished, drain the pasta, making sure to set aside about ¾ cup of the pasta water. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by setting a bowl in the sink and carefully pouring some of the water into it before draining the rest.

Add your drained pasta right into the cream sauce and toss it well. If you don’t have a large enough saucepan, keep the pasta in the pot you cooked it in and add the cream sauce into that!

Slowly add the starchy pasta water into the mixture, stirring as you go, until your pasta has the amount of sauce that you prefer.

Add in the grated parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice to the pasta, and salt and black pepper to taste.

Toss once more, or until the cooked pasta is done.

Add an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately. Top with fresh parsley or even some red pepper flakes for a little extra kick!

Easy pasta recipes are some of my favorites to pull out of my recipe card arsenal! They are budget friendly, quick to make, and satisfies the entire family! This delicious dish is an excellent recipe to use for a special occasion main dish. Throw the lemon butter garlic pasta sauce over whatever you like and you have yourself a meal!

Looking For Other Easy Pasta Recipes? Check out my Orzo Pasta Salad and Tri Color Pasta Salad recipes.

I hope you enjoy this pasta sauce throughout the year! Be sure to let me know what you use this creamy lemon pasta recipe for this season!

Lemon Butter Pasta Sauce Recipe

This easy pasta dish combines fettuccine–or your favorite pasta like angel hair pasta –with a fresh, creamy lemon sauce, and comes together in under 30 minutes. It’s such a great, easy weeknight meal. We can’t get enough of this delicious and flavor filled pasta in our home.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz Dry fettuccine pasta (or noodle of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 2 Garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup Heavy cream
  • ¾ cup Reserved pasta water
  • ½ cup Grated parmesan cheese pecorino cheese works too
  • 1 Lemon juiced or ⅛ cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, add in the dry pasta and cook until it is still slightly firm, yet soft (al dente).
  • As soon as you put the pasta into the boiling water, you’ll want to start the sauce portion.
  • In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter together over high heat. Add in the minced garlic and saute until the garlic has turned a golden brown color.
  • Pour the heavy cream into the pan of garlic and butter. Simmer on low heat until the cream begins to thicken a bit. Set aside until the pasta has finished cooking.
  • Drain the pasta making sure to set aside ¾ a cup of the pasta water. 
  • Add the drained pasta to the cream mixture and toss it well.
  • You can slowly add in the reserve pasta water until your pasta is the sauciness you prefer
  • Add in the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the pasta. Toss once more until the noodles are fully coated.
  • Add a sprinkle more of parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.

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