This Lemon Garlic Pasta recipe is simple and incredibly DELICIOUS! The combination of lemon and garlic creates a delicate flavor profile that pairs beautifully with the pasta. And get this, this dish is ready in just 25 minutes!
This lemon garlic pasta is ridiculously good. I literally could not stop eating it when I made it for the first time. The delightful flavor profile of lemon and garlic infuses this pasta dish. The sauce is delicately creamy thanks to the combination of heavy cream and starchy pasta water.
This pasta recipe pairs beautifully with chicken and shrimp. And it makes a large quantity which is great for feeding a large group or for leftovers for later in the week. Oh, and did I mention that it’s ready in just 25 minutes? The short cooking time and ease of ingredients make this lemon garlic pasta recipe perfect for an easy weeknight dinner or a weekend dish to impress your loved ones.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fettuccini Pasta – If you do not have fettuccini on hand, use spaghetti, bucatini, or linguine.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – Olive oil is an integral part of this recipe. Avoid using cheap, bitter olive oil and focus on a fine extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Garlic – Garlic is one of the main flavor profiles of this pasta dish. You’ll need five cloves, minced, which will permeate the olive oil (and your kitchen) with delicious flavor and aroma.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – This recipe uses just enough red pepper flakes for a subtle hint of spice. This pasta is in no way spicy, but you can omit the red pepper flakes if desired.
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Butter – Use salted or unsalted butter.
- Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice – For the best flavor, it is important to use fresh lemon juice and zest. Zest the lemons before juicing them.
- Parmesan Cheese – Grated or shaved, the parmesan is in the sauce and acts as a garnish.
- Starchy Pasta Water – One of the best, and cheapest (a.k.a. free), pasta ingredients out there is starchy pasta water. Do not forget to reserve some of this water before draining the pasta.
- Fresh Parsley – For garnish.
How to Make This Recipe
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, reserving ⅓ cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and garlic. Cook until the garlic has permeated the olive oil, about 8 – 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute.
Next, add the heavy cream, lemon zest, and butter. Stir until combined. Pour in the ½ cup of parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
Transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce along with the starchy pasta water and lemon juice. Toss until the noodles are coated in the sauce. Serve immediately with additional parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Add cooked, sliced chicken or buttery shrimp for a complete meal. Fresh baby spinach is also a fantastic addition to this lemon garlic pasta as well.
Kick up the red pepper flakes to a ½ tsp for an addictive spiciness.
Reserve extra starchy pasta water to use for reheating leftovers the following day. Transfer the pasta water to a jar or an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I have tried two methods to reheat this pasta dish. Each method requires a small amount of heavy cream or pasta water to rehydrate the pasta and make it creamy.
On the stovetop: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add a ½ tbsp of olive oil. Transfer the leftover pasta. Pour a tablespoon of heavy cream (and/or pasta water if you have extra) over the pasta, toss to combine. Cook the pasta until hot, stirring frequently.
In the microwave: Add a tsp of heavy cream (or pasta water) to the pasta, stir to combine. Heat pasta accordingly until hot.
Other Recipes You Will Love
- Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach
- 10-Minute Hearts of Palm Pasta
- Easy Beef Meatball Recipe
This 25-minute lemon garlic pasta is perfect for any night of the week thanks to its simple preparation and common ingredients. It looks, and tastes, impressive. It is a literal joy to eat! Add this pasta recipe into your meal rotation, you’re going to want to make it repeatedly (trust me).
Lemon Garlic Pasta
- 16 oz fettuccine pasta
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated; plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup starchy pasta water reserved from cooking pasta (before draining)
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley chopped; for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to package instructions for al dente. *Reserve a ⅓ cup of starchy pasta water before draining the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add all the minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic has infused the oil, about 8-10 minutes. *Keep a close eye on the garlic as it cooks to avoid browning or burning. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in the heavy cream, butter, and lemon zest. Stir until everything has incorporated and the butter is melted. Next, stir in the ½ cup of parmesan cheese until melted.
- Reduce the heat to low. Transfer the cooked pasta into the large skillet along with the lemon juice and starchy pasta water. Toss until the noodles are coated in the sauce. (This is best done with tongs). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Serve the pasta immediately. Garnish each serving with grated parmesan and fresh chopped parsley.
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