Simple Lemon Pasta Recipe

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by Anne-Marie

A simple lemon pasta recipe that's a delightful pairing of creamy sauce, pasta, and lemon flavors. Easy to adapt to vegan and gluten-free diets.

Simple Lemon Pasta on a white plate on a blue placemate with plate, napkins, forks, and a bunch of parsley.

Why this recipe works

This Simple Lemon Pasta Recipe makes an easy weeknight meal. Easy to adapt for vegan and gluten-free diets, it’s become a family favorite.

It was inspired by a blogger challenge, where I recreated a recipe from Jen Around the World. (With permission of course!)

My husband, Paul, loved it so much he told me it was one of his favorite recipes I’d ever created!

A dish of simple lemon pasta with parsley, half a lemon, and plates, naplins and forks in the background.

Simple Lemon Pasta

This recipe for lemon pasta sauce is easy to modify if you are vegan, dairy-free, or gluten-free – or all the above!

With only a few ingredients, it’s also ideal for those last minute meals that take little time to prepare.

For a heartier meal, grill up some chicken breasts and make Lemon Pasta with Chicken. Or sauté a bag of frozen asparagus and make Lemon Pasta with Asparagus.

See how versatile this recipe is?

Closeup of lemon pasta recipe with a slice of lemon. Plates, napkins, and forks in the background.

How to make dairy free lemon pasta

For those who need to have a dairy-free or vegan recipe, here are a few simple substitutions that keep the recipe compliant while maintain its integrity.

Substitute my Vegan Tofu Sour Cream Recipe or Tofutti Sour Cream for regular sour cream.

Use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese if you need a vegan option.

A dairy free or vegan butter spread like Earth Balance is an easy (and delicious) option.

Overhead of a dish of lemon pasta with lemon zest, cheese and parsley.

Making this a low-fat lemon pasta

If you can have dairy, lighten this recipe for Lemon Pasta Sauce by using either a low-fat sour cream or a non-fat Greek yogurt.

I prefer the Greek yogurt since it’s tastier and sometimes low-fat sour creams can contain sketchy filler ingredients that you may want to avoid.

Another fat reducing tip is to use a low-fat buttery spread.

Sometimes when lowering fat in a recipe, you may need to amp up the flavor.

Adding capers to this recipe would work wonderfully and have a similar flavor profile to chicken piccata.

(Capers are also delicious in salads, so don't worry about the leftovers!)

A dish of Lemon Pasta with grated cheese, a sprinkle of parsley, and some lemon zest on a white plate.

Gluten free lemon pasta suggestions

While I used whole wheat pasta for this version, you can easily use gluten-free pasta.

There are so many terrific brands on the market these days. Even the store brands are delicious and cook up well.

My kids aren’t gluten-free and I can manage to get them to eat my GF pasta with this yummy lemon pasta sauce and a hearty helping of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Do you have a favorite cheese grater? I love the Zesty Citrus Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater. I’ve had it for over four years now and it works great for both cheese and citrus!

More easy pasta recipes for dinner

Pasta is one of my all-time favorite options for fast and easy meals.

There are so many options for dressing up a pasta recipe. Plus, they’re easy to modify to make them gluten or dairy free.

If you like pasta as much as we do, you’ll love these Crock-Pot Baked Ziti Recipe, Instant Pot Lasagna, and Instant Pot Spaghetti recipes. All can be made vegetarian with substitutions.

Or try Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Italian Vegetables for a quick and easy dinner.


Simple Lemon Pasta Recipe

Closeup of lemon pasta recipe with a slice of lemon. Plates, napkins, and forks in the background.

A simple lemon pasta recipe that's a delightful pairing of creamy sauce, pasta, and lemon flavors. Easy to adapt to vegan and gluten-free diets.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 box pasta (any variety)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or buttery spread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 cups sour cream, vegan sour cream, or non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped – to taste for garnish, plus extra for serving


  1. Cook pasta al dente in salted water. Drain, rinse, and place pasta back in the pot. Place lid on the pot to keep pasta warm. Set aside.
  2. Juice one lemon into a bowl. Strain to remove pulp and seeds.
  3. In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add minced garlic and lemon juice. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add your sour cream (or vegan sour cream substitute) to the butter and oil mixture. Add lemon zest and salt. Stir everything together and taste. Add more salt if necessary.
  5. Pour sour cream mixture over drained pasta. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water.
  6. Place pasta in a large serving bowl and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  7. Serve with extra grated cheese and parsley on the side.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 541Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 662mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 12g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally published on September 10, 2012. Updated with new pictures and information.

11 thoughts on “Simple Lemon Pasta Recipe

  1. Shelley C

    Great modifications to make the dish meet your dietary requirements, and it looks and sounds wonderful – no wonder your family gobbled it up!!!


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