Lemon Garlic Pasta

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This simple recipe for Lemon Garlic Pasta is bursting with lemon and garlic flavor. The parmesan gives it a little bit of saltiness making a well-balanced pasta dish that is enjoyable anytime!

lemon garlic pasta served on white plate with parmesan cheese

Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta Recipe

This meal feels fancy but it’s difficult to make. The white wine adds a deeper citrus flavor after the alcohol is cooked out, leaving you with an even bolder flavor. It’s also a creamy sauce, which is my favorite. A cup of heavy cream adds just the right amount of richness without making the pasta feel heavy.

When I want something different from Alfredo or tomato sauce, I make this lemon pasta sauce. The kids love it. It’s light, lemony, and garlic-forward. They love fresh garlic as much as I do! Plus, it’s a dish my kids can make with me. They like to help measure the ingredients and whisk the sauce in the pot. Since they are getting older, I love to involve them in cooking whenever I can and they always have so much fun.

ingredients needed to make lemon garlic pasta

Ingredients You’ll Need

Trust me when I say that this is not a lot of ingredients. I always have things like seasonings, oil, cream, broth, etc… on hand because I cook with them often. All you need is one lemon as well! You can get both the zest and juice from it. I’m guilty of using very cheap wine when I cook. I typically spend under $10!

  • Long Pasta: I used bucatini for this recipe. Other options are linguine, angel hair pasta or even penne.
  • Kosher Salt: The salt will be divided between seasoning the sauce and seasoning the pasta water.
  • Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Juice – fresh lemon juice is best.
  • Heavy Cream
  • White Wine: You do not have to spend a lot of money on an expensive wine. 
  • Chicken Broth
  • Reserved Pasta Water: This will be to thin out the cream sauce.
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Add as much or as little as you like for a little kick.
  • Garlic
  • Basil: I used freshly minced basil.
  • Black Pepper
  • Parmesan: Freshly grated is the way to go whenever you can. It melts easier and doesn’t clump.

How to Make Lemon Garlic Pasta

This is a quick and easy sauce to make and the whole process takes under 30 minutes from start to finish.

  • Boil the Pasta. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add 5 tbsp of the kosher salt to the water along with the pasta. Cook for about 5 minutes al dente, then drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. The pasta is going to finish cooking the sauce.
  • Cook the Garlic. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic then cook until fragrant. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in Broth and Wine. After adding the chicken broth and white wine to the skillet, allow it to reduce for about 4-5 minutes to cook out the alcohol.
  • Add the Remaining Sauce Ingredients. Next, add lemon juice, lemon zest, heavy cream, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring all of the ingredients to a medium-low simmer.
  • Finish the Pasta. Add in the cooked pasta and pasta water. Stir occasionally while it cooks and allow the sauce to thicken. This takes around 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the Garnishes. Top with fresh basil, parmesan, and more black pepper to taste.
  • Serve. Enjoy nice and hot! Add even more parmesan cheese to your portion if you like!
lemon garlic pasta served on plate with parmesan cheese

Tips and Variations

  • Sauvignon Blanc is my top pick for white wine. You can also use Pinot Grigio.
  • You can add chicken or shrimp to this garlic and lemon pasta to make a complete meal. We also like to sometimes add in veggies like broccoli, asparagus or peas.
  • I wouldn’t recommend making this recipe ahead of time. It is best served right after cooking.
  • Instead of bucatini, you may substitute spaghetti, angel hair, or fettuccine. Cooking times will vary so follow the package directions.
fork with lemon garlic pasta

How to Store Leftovers

Any leftover lemon garlic pasta can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I highly recommend reheating on the stovetop and adding a little bit of broth or cream to bring the sauce back to life. It may separate if heated in the microwave. 

lemon garlic pasta on white plate with parmesan cheese and basil

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Lemon Garlic Pasta

This simple recipe for Lemon Garlic Pasta is bursting with lemon and garlic flavor. The parmesan gives it a little bit of saltiness making a well-balanced pasta dish that is enjoyable anytime!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes


  • 16 ounces long pasta
  • 1 large lemon zested and juiced
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt for pasta water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup pasta water reserved from cooking pasta
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 cloves garlic minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh basil minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • fresh parmesan for serving


  • Bring water to boil in a large pot. Once boiling add in salt and pasta. Cook for 5 minutes. Pasta will finish cooking in sauce. Drain with cold water and set aside.
  • In a large skillet add in olive oil and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add in chicken broth and white wine. Reduce for 4-5 minutes
  • Add in lemon juice, zest, heavy cream, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add in cooked pasta and pasta water. Cook, tossing occasionally until the sauce has thickened, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add in fresh basil and top with black pepper and freshly grated parmesan.

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Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 6651mg | Potassium: 266mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 741IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg


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