Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta is a recipe you can make with minimal effort and ingredients but it always tastes great. Frugally using up kitchen spices and noodles to create a dish that's cheap, easy, and perfect for dinner.
We make a simple lemon butter garlic pasta sauce and toss our noodles in it to create a classy tasting dish that's completely homemade. This meal is something you're going to look forward to over and over again.
Serve it up with a side of Italian Green Beans with Tomatoes or Air Fryer Frozen Garlic Bread for a complete meal. For a different variation of this recipe, make sure to check out my Zucchini Penne Pasta.
🍯 Why This Recipe Works
- It's a faster dinner option. Made in just minutes, you can be eating this pasta meal in 20 minutes or less. Perfect for when you're in a hurry!
- It's customizable! Add in meats like shrimp, cooked chicken, or steak. Use fresh parmesan cheese instead of canned, etc. Adjust the recipe to suit your wants and tastebuds.
- Even the leftovers taste incredible! Enjoy this butter garlic lemon pasta on any night of the week and look forward to leftovers the next day because they taste just as good.
Spaghetti noodles- You'll want to use spaghetti noodles for this recipe, but in all honesty, any noodle variety would work just fine.
Reserved pasta water- This will help to create a sauce and help it to thicken and cling to the noodles.
Lemon juice- Use fresh lemon juice or bottled depending on what's easiest. This will add a nice contrast of flavor by adding freshness and acidity.
Parmesan cheese- I like to use the green containers of grated parmesan cheese because it's cheap and always in my fridge, but you can just as easily use freshly shredded parmesan.
For specific ingredients and measurements, please see the recipe card below.
Noodles. You can use any long slender pasta that you want for this lemon garlic parmesan pasta recipe. They all work well and all you'd have to adjust is the cooking time to boil them as thicker noodles take longer to cook.
Creamier. Making the easy lemon garlic butter sauce for pasta couldn't get any simpler, but it could get creamier. By swapping out the reserved pasta water for heavy cream you can get a creamy pasta variation.
🥣 Recipe Add-Ins
- Red pepper flakes
- Seared scallops
- Blanched or softened asparagus heads
Another great idea would be to add in artichoke hearts and chicken for a nice Tuscany feel. Some sundried tomatoes would be great with that too!
If you have zucchini on hand, you can try my Zucchini Penne Pasta, which is a variation of this recipe.
Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add in your spaghetti noodles. Cook according to the package directions, reserving ½ cup of pasta water before you drain it.
Step 2: To prevent the pasta from sticking as it sits in the colander, you can choose to run it under cold water and toss in a little olive oil.
Step 3: Return your empty pot to the stove over medium heat. Add in the butter and let it melt completely.
Step 4: Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Step 5: Add in lemon juice, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup of pasta water.
Step 6: Remove from heat and stir in the cooked spaghetti noodles.
If desired you can slowly add in more pasta water until you get a good coating on all of your noodles. You shouldn't need much as this won't be a "wet" noodle recipe.
Step 7: Garnish with fresh parsley leaves if desired.
🥣 Recipe Add-Ins
Meat or No Meat?
The kids and I agree that this recipe is perfect as-is but my husband is a meat-loving kind of guy, so adding in cooked chicken breasts (or Air Fryer Chicken Breasts) before serving is a great way to get some added meat on the plate if you don't want this as a meatless Monday adventure.
Adding in cooked shrimp is a great way to give this dish a nice seafood twist. To do this, I'd recommend buying a bag of frozen tiny cooked shrimp and then adding it to the boiling water of pasta right before draining it (but after you've reserved your pasta water).
The few moments it spends with the hot water should be enough to warm them through without overcooking the already cooked shrimp.
🍴 Recipe Tips
Using fresh lemons will give this lemon garlic butter spaghetti a much fresher taste, but we usually opt for bottled concentrated lemon juice as it's always on hand and works great in a pinch.
Using freshly shredded parmesan cheese is great and the cheese would melt into the pasta to create a great experience, so if desired, I would recommend trying that.
We love garlic, but I understand not everybody does so feel free to reduce the amount of garlic used (or increase it up to 7-8 cloves of fresh garlic) if you really want the flavor to be strong.
Reheating this lemon garlic pasta dish is easy. Just plop a serving size of it on a plate and pop it into the microwave for about 1-2 minutes until heated through.
For larger serving sizes I'd recommend placing the pasta in a large pot over medium heat on the stove with a few tablespoons of water or butter. Reheat until warmed through.
🥗 Side Dishes
This pasta goes perfectly with any number of side dishes. We like to keep this meal light and simple so we usually opt for garlic bread and a simple green side salad.
Other yummy options include cooked green beans, roasted brussel sprouts, asparagus, or broccoli (green veggies really work well here).
Yes, you can use any noodle of choice to pair with this sauce. Feel free to use short-cut noodles like penne or long noodles like linguine. Whatever you have on hand should work just fine.
You can keep this pasta dish in your fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days, giving you plenty of time to repurpose or enjoy the leftovers (assuming that there are any).
During the hotter summer months, I enjoy making this recipe in the early morning/afternoon before the house gets hot and then simply reheating it again before dinner. It works great this way because the house doesn't heat up too much and we can all enjoy a light dinner.
❤️ More Delicious Pasta Recipes
If you tried this Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta, please leave a ⭐️ star rating and share your feedback in the 📝 comments section below. I would truly appreciate it!
Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta
- 16 ounces Spaghetti noodles ($0.92)
- ½ cup Reserved pasta water ($0.00)
- 4 Tablespoons Butter ($0.36)
- 4 teaspoons Garlic, minced (4-5 cloves) ($0.25)
- ⅓ cup Lemon juice ($0.72)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese ($1.47)
- 1 teaspoon Salt ($0.10)
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper ($0.05)
- Fresh parsley for garnish *optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add in your spaghetti noodles. Cook according to the package directions, reserving ½ cup of pasta water before you drain it.
- To prevent the pasta from sticking as it sits in the colander, you can choose to run it under cold water and toss in a little olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking.
- Return your empty pot to the stove over medium heat. Add in the butter and let melt completely.
- Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add in lemon juice, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup of pasta water.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cooked spaghetti noodles.
- If desired you can slowly add in more pasta water until you get a good coating on all of your noodles. You shouldn't need much as this won't be a "wet" noodle recipe.
- Garnish with fresh parsley leaves if desired. Serve warm.
- Try different pasta types, adjusting cooking times as needed.
- Create a creamy version by substituting pasta water with heavy cream.
- Enhance with cooked chicken breasts.
- For a seafood twist, add cooked shrimp.
- Fresh lemons provide a fresher taste, but bottled lemon juice works as well.
- Freshly shredded parmesan cheese offers a great melting experience.
- Adjust the garlic to suit your preference, from reducing to intensifying.
- Reheat servings in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or use a pot on the stove with water or butter.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Prepare in the morning to avoid heating up the house during hot summer months, then reheat before dinner.