Lemon Spaghetti

5 from 14 votes

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Lemon Spaghetti is packed full of lemon flavor and pairs perfectly with fresh basil and parmesan. This whole dish comes together in the time it takes to boil the noodles. 

lemon spaghetti twirled into nests on a plate topped with basil, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Lemon Spaghetti
  2. Optional Toppings
  3. The Magic Ingredient
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. What Goes Well with This Dish?
  6. How to Make Lemon Spaghetti
  7. Lemon Spaghetti Recipe

I am obsessed with pretty much any pasta, but this recipe has a special place in my heart. The lemon and basil combo is just *chef’s kiss*. It is such a great summer dish because it is so light! Plus, you don’t have to turn on the stove and heat up the house. You don’t use any heavy creams or sauces, just bright, fresh ingredients. You won’t believe how quickly it comes together. If you make the sauce while the pasta is cooking, you’re done in literally 15 minutes.

This recipe can be made with any type of pasta, not just spaghetti. The light, lemon flavor is perfect on penne pasta, rotini pasta, or farfalle pasta. The farfalle (little bows) is especially good because it gives more surface for the sauce to stick. Every bite is full of lemon flavor.

Ingredients in Lemon Spaghetti

  • Spaghetti
  • Lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chopped fresh basil

Optional Toppings

As is, this is a great vegetarian main dish, but adding a little meat will make it a heartier meal. Chicken and shrimp are my first two choices of protein to add to pasta. If time is an issue, stir fry some shrimp or diced chicken and combine with the pasta. For a fancier dinner, top with slices of grilled chicken or some Spicy Grilled Shrimp.

If you want to keep it vegetarian, there are several vegetables that go well with lemon spaghetti. Throw in some steamed broccoli or asparagus for some extra nutrition and texture. Sautéed mushrooms and/or sliced zucchini are also delicious additions. Have you tried a vegetable that you love in this pasta? Leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the list!

lemon spaghetti twirled into nests

The Magic Ingredient

All the ingredients in this dish are delicious and important. However, one ingredient takes this recipe to the next level – pasta water. Now, I know you’re thinking, “You mean that stuff I pour down the drain?” YEP. You need to start saving a little bit of that magic stuff before you drain the pasta. Have you ever had a sauce that just won’t stick to your noodles? Pasta water is the answer! It is salty and starchy and it helps the sauce thicken and cling to the noodles. I usually save about a cup of pasta water and then once I combine the sauce and noodles, I just add a little pasta water at a time until I reach the desired consistency. Try it, you will believe it when you see it.

A measuring cup full of pasta water over a pot of pasta

Frequently Asked Questions

What to add to spaghetti to make it healthier?

Adding lemon juice and lemon zest adds a healthy dose of Vitamin C! If you are looking to boost the fiber content of your spaghetti while maintaining the flavor, try adding some broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, or swiss chard. All of these are high in fiber and would taste delicious with lemon spaghetti.

What to serve with lemon spaghetti?

Options to serve with your lemon spaghetti are baked or grilled chicken, baked salmon, grilled shrimp, steamed and buttered broccoli, or a fresh salad.

Read More:35+ Quick and Easy To Follow Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Surely Love

What Goes Well with This Dish?

Lemon Spaghetti works great as a stand alone dish. However, if you want to use it as a side dish, or just round out the meal, check out these ideas!

How to Make Lemon Spaghetti

Fresh and Easy Lemon Spaghetti in a bowl with a fork in focus with noodles swirled around it.

Lemon Spaghetti

5 from 14 votes
This fresh Lemon Spaghetti is full of tangy, lemony flavor and is SO easy to make!  It's flavorfully sprinkled with sliced fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8



  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest from the spaghetti.
  • While pasta is cooking, zest and juice the lemons. You should get about ½ cup of lemon juice. If not, fill up the rest of the ½ cup with bottled lemon juice.
  • In a small bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined.
    Lemon sauce in a small bowl
  • Toss spaghetti with the lemon sauce until it is evenly coated. Add lemon zest and basil.
    Pasta topped with lemon sauce, basil, and lemon zest.
  • Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time until the sauce clings to the pasta and thickens a little.
    A measuring cup full of pasta water over a pot of pasta
  • Top with more fresh basil, lemon zest, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Serve hot.
    lemon spaghetti twirled into nests on a plate topped with basil, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese


This lemon pasta recipe comes together so quickly and is perfect for busy weeknights, but also busy weekdays too! Pack leftovers in an airtight container, add a little broccoli and some sliced chicken or salmon, and you have a beautiful lunch for the next day that everyone will be envious of. 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1gCalories: 365kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 10gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 318mgPotassium: 172mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 94IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    Ever since I tried it first time I can’t get enough of it. Now I use this sauce on any pasta I make. I will NEVER look at another jar of Alfredo sauce again. It is THAT good!

  2. 5 stars
    So incredible. The lemon adds the perfect touch of brightness while the cheese rounds it all out. Super easy, and a perfect family night favorite! (Also so gonna try this with scallops)

  3. My whole family loves this recipe! For our weekly extended family dinner I am adding lemon butter sautéed scallops and serving it with Cesar salad, garlic bread and white wine! Perfect for a large get together!

  4. 5 stars
    Great Recipe… I sautéed everything together before I put on spaghetti with very diced onion … and a little zested Lemon to… GREAT!!!! My 3 year old Granddaughter loved it to!!!!

  5. Yum who would of thought lemon and spaghetti! I added squash and zucchini , and a few tablespoons of sour cream, just to make it a little creamy!! SUPERB thanks 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    The whole family loved this! Definitely a keeper. And I love how quick and easy it was to make too!

  7. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Trying to cut down on meat during the week so I’m constantly looking for inspiration for mid week meals. This is perfect!

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is super fresh-tasting and perfect for spring!! I love how easy it was to make too — and my whole family loved it!

  9. I love pasta, but do not always like a heavy meat based or tomato sauce. I quite often just have olive oil and garlic, but that is a rather one note dish. Your recipe really looks like it has layers of flavor and it is still light and fresh. Thank you. I will be making it this week.