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If you're looking for an easy 15-minute weeknight meal, make this creamy lemon pasta! It's comforting, tangy, and indulgent. Plus, this adaptable recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan.
Traditional Spaghetti al Limone is a simple dish consisting of long noodle-shaped pasta such as spaghetti, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil or butter, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
In order to make this dairy-free, all that's required are a few small tweaks to give it that luscious creamy mouthfeel, and taste without lacking any flavor. And the best part is that minimal ingredients are required.
- Spaghetti - or another long pasta noodle such as bucatini works best for this particular dish.
- Extra virgin olive oil - helps build the flavor for the sauce.
- Lemon zest and lemon juice - the zest gives it that true lemon flavor and the acidity helps to cut the richness of the cream and add tanginess.
- Dairy-free butter - for more depth of flavor and added creaminess.
- Cashew cream - the perfect replacement for dairy cream.
- Salt and pepper - to taste.
How To Make Creamy Lemon Pasta
This dish comes together really quickly, so it helps to have everything prepped and ready to get tossed into the pan.
First, zest and juice the lemon.
Then, cook the spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions until al dente, reserving one cup of the pasta water.
As the pasta finishes cooking, make the lemon pan sauce by whisking the ingredients together in the skillet.
Once the pasta is done, transfer the cooked noodles to the sauce along with some of the reserved pasta water. Toss them throughout the sauce until well-coated, and season to taste.
Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this creamy lemon pasta using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- Make it gluten-free - use your favorite gluten-free spaghetti noodles.
- Make it nut-free - use full-fat coconut cream.
- Not dairy-free? - use regular butter and dairy cream instead.
- Add-ins - cooked protein such as chicken or shrimp, vegetables such as asparagus, peas, or artichoke hearts.
To make this easy pasta dish, you'll just need a few basic kitchen tools such as a chef knife, cutting board, microplane to zest the lemon, citrus reamer or juicer, a skillet, and a pasta pot to cook the noodles.
More Italian Recipes
Creamy Lemon Pasta (Spaghetti al Limone)
- 8 ounces long pasta noodles such as spaghetti or bucatini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- lemon zest from 1 large lemon about 1 ½ tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free butter
- ½ cup cashew cream
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- lemon zest for topping
- fresh basil or parsley to garnish (optional)
- Cook the spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions until al dente. (It'll continue to cook further in the pan in the sauce.) Reserve one cup of the pasta water.
- Remove the zest of one large lemon and squeeze out the juice yielding to 2 tablespoons. Set the lemon juice aside.
- Add the olive oil and lemon zest to a large warm skillet over medium-low heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes before adding in the dairy-free butter and cashew cream. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir or whisk until combined.
- Using tongs transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet (it's perfectly fine if some excess water clings to the noodles) along with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water.
- Toss the noodles throughout the sauce until the noodles are well coated, adding more pasta water as needed. The sauce will seize up as it cools, so use a little more than you think. Add in the fresh lemon juice, and season with more salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Serve with more freshly zested lemon and fresh basil or parsley to garnish.