Lemon garlic pasta, also known as Pasta al Limone or pasta Limone, is one of the easiest yet most delicious Italian dinner recipes. It comes together in less than 25 minutes using only olive oil, butter, lemon, garlic, and parmesan cheese. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this dish because it’s bursting with vibrant fresh flavor that you can enjoy for a quick dinner or as a tasty side dish. We keep it gluten free by swapping in gluten free pasta so everyone can enjoy it.
When I first learned to cook, Lemon Garlic Pasta was one of the first Italian pasta recipes I ever made. And, to be honest, I didn’t even know I was making a recipe. I would simply saute some garlic, butter, and olive oil in a pan and then toss with pasta, lemon, and parmesan cheese. I had no idea that I was making the popular Italian recipe Pasta al Limone.
Like with Tagliatelle Carbonara, Gluten Free Fettuccine Alfredo, Vodka Cream Sauce, and Ragu Alla Bolognese, this lemon pasta was easy to turn into a gluten free dinner recipe; all I needed to do was swap in gluten free pasta. I’ll give my GF pasta recommendation in the ingredient section.
Reasons you’ll love this lemon pasta recipe
- Easy to prepare. Lemon garlic pasta is an excellent recipe for the beginner cook!
- It comes together in less than 25 minutes. This will become your go-to quick dinner during the busy week.
- Delicious. You can’t go wrong with lemon, garlic, and cheese!
Pasta Limone uses staple Italian ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
- Gluten free pasta. I love using thin pasta like capellini or spaghetti when making lemon garlic pasta. If you can find gluten free angel hair pasta that’s a good one to use too. My favorite brand is Jovial Gluten-Free Pasta because it is the best tasting and doesn’t break into pieces after being tossed with the other ingredients. You can find Jovial pasta in major supermarkets alongside the other gluten free pasta. You can also purchase Jovial gluten free pasta online at Thrive Market.
- Extra virgin olive oil and salted butter. I like to mix olive oil and butter for the sauce, giving the lemon pasta the best flavor. However, you can use all olive oil if you want to reduce the amount of saturated fat. If you use unsalted butter, you might need to add extra salt to the finished dish.
- Garlic cloves. Using fresh garlic gives the lemon garlic sauce the best flavor.
- Lemon. Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest are the only way to make Pasta al Limone. I use the juice and zest from one lemon, but I recommend purchasing a second lemon so you or your guest can squeeze extra lemon juice on when you’re ready to eat.
- Parmesan cheese. Grate the parmesan cheese fresh for the best flavor and to make sure the cheese is gluten-free; you never know what you’re getting with parmesan in a green can.
- Fresh parsley. This gives the lemon pasta recipe a fresh herb flavor, but it’s optional, so if you don’t have any then leave it out. Other fresh herbs to use are basil and thyme, I’ve also sometimes sprinkled in a ½ teaspoon of my homemade Italian seasoning while the garlic is cooking, which gives this recipe a delicious flavor.
How to make lemon garlic pasta
Step one. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gluten free pasta al dente according to package directions. As the pasta cooks, spoon out ½ cup of the pasta water and set it aside. You might not need to use it, but I find it’s always helpful when making a simple sauce to have a little extra starchy pasta water handy to help the sauce coat the pasta. After the pasta cooks, drain it and set it aside.
Step two: Make the lemon garlic sauce. Start by heating the olive oil and butter in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. The pan should be big enough to hold the pasta and sauce together.
Step three: After the butter melts, stir in the garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden brown; you don’t want it to burn, so just as it turns golden, add the pasta.
Step four: Add all of the pasta into the pan and toss with the garlic butter sauce.
Step five: Toss in the lemon juice, zest, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley. If the pasta seems dry, drizzle in a bit of pasta water to coat the pasta with the sauce and ingredients.
Step six: Taste for salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired or serve with lemon slices or wedges.
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Large skillet
Lemon garlic pasta is one of those Italian recipes that go with everything. There are many variations you can create.
- For more protein serve it with gluten free breaded chicken cutlets (our favorite) or grilled chicken. You can even toss it with leftover shredded chicken. Shrimp and scallops pair perfectly with lemon pasta.
- For extra veggies add steamed broccoli, spinach, or asparagus. You can even toss in some of these Italian roasted vegetables.
- Or enjoy it on its own with a gluten free caesar salad and a side of gluten free garlic bread.
- Have the lemon at room temperature. This makes it easier to get the juice out of the lemon.
- If you don’t have a hand juicer, squeeze a cut lemon over a mesh strainer to get all the juice without seeds slipping in.
- Roll the lemon on the counter before juicing it to get the most juice.
- If you don’t want pieces of garlic in the pasta dish, then crush the garlic and cook in olive oil and butter. Once it’s fragrant, remove the garlic and continue with the recipe.
- Use any size gluten free pasta shape.
- Pour in ½ cup of dry white wine with the lemon juice and let it cook down for a few minutes after the garlic. This gives the pasta Limone another layer of delicious flavor.
- To make this vegan or dairy-free leave out the butter or use vegan butter and also swap in nutritional yeast or vegan cheese for the parmesan.
- For a creamy lemon garlic pasta, add ¼ cup heavy cream to the pasta after it’s tossed with the lemon garlic butter sauce and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until the pasta is hot.
- Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes for a spicier flavor.
- You can use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder if you don’t want to use fresh garlic.
For the week.
Store the leftover lemon garlic pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for five days.
To reheat .
Place the lemon pasta into a microwave-safe dish and reheat in 30-second increments, tossing between, until heating through. If the pasta seems dry, add a little extra olive oil, butter, fresh lemon juice, or even chicken stock. Sprinkle with more grated parmesan cheese, and enjoy.
Lemon Garlic Pasta (gluten free)
- Large pot
- Cutting board
- Sharp chef's knife
- Pasta strainer
- Large skillet
- 12 ounce gluten free capellini or spaghetti pasta Jovial is our favorite brand
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice juice from one lemon
- 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley
- extra lemon optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gluten free pasta al dente according to package directions.
- As the pasta cooks, spoon out ½ cup of the pasta water and set it aside. You might not need to use it, but I find it's always helpful when making a simple sauce to have a little extra starchy pasta water handy to help the sauce coat the pasta.
- After the pasta cooks, drain it and set it aside.
- Make the lemon garlic sauce. Start by heating the olive oil and butter in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. The pan should be big enough to hold the pasta and sauce together.
- After the butter melts, stir in the garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden brown; you don't want it to burn, so just as it turns golden, add the pasta.
- Add all of the pasta into the pan and toss with the garlic butter sauce.
- Toss in the lemon juice, lemon zest, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley. If the pasta seems dry, drizzle in a small amount of pasta water just until it coats the pasta with the sauce and ingredients.
- Taste for salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired or serve with lemon slices or wedges.
Did You Make This Recipe?
If you made this delicious lemon garlic pasta (gluten free) I’d love for you to rate it and leave a comment. Then, continue the gluten free conversation and delicious recipe sharing over in our Gluten Free Italian Recipes Facebook Group. Join us now!