LEMON GARLIC BUTTER PASTA IS A QUICK AND EASY DELICIOUS RECIPE THAT ONLY NEEDS A HANDFUL OF INGREDIENTS AND MINIMAL EFFORT!Jump to Recipe
Wake up your taste buds with the vibrant flavors of lemon and garlic in this easy and delicious butter pasta recipe. Lemon garlic butter pasta is one of my favorite easy pasta recipes. You only need a few simple ingredients to make it, and the whole thing comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. The hardest part of the recipe is remembering to set your butter out a few hours ahead of time.
Pro Tip: use unsalted butter and add your own salt to the recipe.
I think when most people think of a lemon pasta they think of pasta al limone, which is an awesome recipe. I prefer this recipe, because 1. Garlic. 2. You get a lovely creamy sauce without the need for heavy cream.
This simple recipe is a great idea for busy weeknights - it was inspired by my Lemon Arugula Pasta, but it's a bit simpler. For a side dish - pair it with Air Fryer Frozen Garlic Bread. Wrap up your meal with Reese's Pieces Brownies or Caramelized Peaches.
As stated, you only need a few ingredients to make this recipe, but you can definitely add things to it if you want. See a little further down the post for some alteration and substitution recommendations.
- Butter - use unsalted butter and salt the garlic butter mixture yourself
- Garlic - 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic - measure with your heart
- Parmesan cheese - high quality only - no green cans in sight.
- Lemon - a bit obvious. You'll use both the lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Pasta - I like a long pasta for this recipe - spaghetti is my favorite. But you can use any pasta shape you like.
Full ingredients can be found in the recipe card below.
PRO TIP: taste the butter mixture after you mix it all up, and add more garlic or lemon juice if you think it's needed. You can always add more, but you can't take it out once it's in there.
How to make Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta
- Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water following package instructions for al dente doneness.
- While the pasta cooks, mix together the room temperature butter, fresh lemon juice, zest, minced garlic and parmesan cheese. Set aside until pasta finishes cooking.
- One the pasta finishes cooking, drain it, reserving half a cup of the starchy pasta water. Add the cooked pasta back to the pot. Add in the lemon garlic butter and stir to melt butter.
- Add a bit of the pasta water - a few tablespoons at a time, and stir with tongs or a wooden spoon (don't use metal tongs on a non-stick skillet or pot) until the butter sauce becomes silky and clings to the pasta. You wont use the entire half cup of pasta water. If you accidentally add too much water turn the burner to medium heat and let some of the liquid boil off - just don't stop stirring while you do.)
You can use olive oil in place of butter, or use vegan butter. You can also use vegan parmesan, or nutritional yeast to keep this simple pasta dish vegan.
- Want it spicy: add some crushed red pepper.
- Want it veggie heavy: add cherry tomatoes or steamed green beans.
- Use gluten-free pasta if you're sensitive to gluten.
Serve the pasta with extra parmesan cheese, lemon wedges, and fresh parsley.
This recipe really only needs a bowl and a pot, but I can tell you if you don't have a microplane zester in your kitchen for zesting lemons, and grating cheese, you're really missing out.
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How do you reheat Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta
This reheats really well in the microwave - microwave on half power for a few minutes, and then full power for the last minute. Serve the leftovers with a lemon wedge and parmesan cheese.
Will the garlic be overwhelming?
If you mince the garlic small, it should cook slightly when tossed with the hot pasta, which should help it lose a little bit of the pungent raw garlic taste. As with any recipe or ingredient you're not sure about, start on the low end then taste and adjust.
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Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta
- 12 ounces pasta
- 4 ounces unsalted butter 1 stick, room temperature
- 2-3 cloves garlic finely minced
- zest and juice of one lemon about 2-3 tablespoon juice, 1 tablespoon zest
- 2 tablespoon grated parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water, and return the pasta to the pot.
- While the pasta is cooking, mix together the room temperature butter, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, and parmesan cheese. Taste, and add salt and pepper, and more garlic or lemon if needed. Set aside until pasta finishes cooking.
- Toss the butter mixture into the pot with the cooked and drained pasta, and over very low heat, stir until the butter melts.
- Add a bit of the pasta water - a few tablespoons at a time - and stir until the sauce goes silky and clings to the pasta noodles.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with a lemon wedge and extra parmesan cheese.