Creamy Lemon Pasta (Pasta al Limone)
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Pappardelle al Limone is a creamy lemon pasta recipe with a luscious, super-lemony cream sauce and wide pappardelle noodles. It’s quick and easy to make and so, so good!
With just a few ingredients, this creamy lemon pasta comes together in a matter of minutes and is just perfect topped with plenty of Parmesan. It’s flavorful, easy to prepare and really delicious. Best part? The velvety lemon sauce doesn’t require cooking!
You know those days. When the only thing that could lure you off the couch is a bowl of comfort food — specifically a bowl of pasta al limone, also known as lemon pasta.
Well then! Allow me to introduce you to one of our all-time favorite pasta dishes: Dreamy, creamy lemon pappardelle, featuring perfectly cooked pasta in a luxe no-cook, lemon cream sauce.
Otherwise known as Creamy Lemon Pasta in my house, this easy pasta recipe will become a culinary magic trick to keep in your back pocket.
When a case of hunger emergency strikes, combine a few simple ingredients for the sauce. Then mix it with hot pasta, such as the wide pappardelle noodles shown or any long pasta shape like spaghetti or linguine.
Creamy lemon pasta al limone!
You’ll be rewarded with a rich, velvety sauce that practically sparkles with fresh lemon flavor.
The original version of this dish even became the inspiration for Quick Creamy Cacio e Pepe, another one of my easy delicious pasta recipes that combines a carbonara sauce with cacio e pepe pasta.
Recipe steps explained
Because the super-creamy — and did I say lemony? — sauce is so utterly unfussy, you can make this recipe in about 15 minutes flat.
Like the best fresh tomato pasta sauce, you don’t even need to cook it!
In fact to make the sauce, just whisk the ingredients together in a big bowl (cream, cheese, egg yolk, and of course, LEMON) while the pasta water boils in a large pot of salted water. You won’t need any other pan or large skillet, so there’s less to clean up.
Toss the hot pasta with the creamy lemon sauce in the biggest bowl in your kitchen, sprinkle with parsley and serve while it’s hot.
Sure, on an exhausting day you could just microwave macaroni and cheese and be done, but I promise this will be sooo much better (for body and soul).
The name of the recipe all by itself pretty much translates as “Mac and Cheese for Grown Ups.”
It’s basically a creamy tangle of wide noodles (pappardelle) that are the perfect-sized strands to capture the tangy lemon sauce. Who doesn’t love a bowl of pasta with a creamy sauce?
Is pappardelle an egg noodle?
Pappardelle is a pasta cut into wide, long noodles. It’s made as a fresh egg pasta, and it’s also available as a dried egg pasta and durum wheat pasta without eggs.
What’s the difference between tagliatelle and pappardelle?
The difference between pappardelle and fettuccine and/or tagliatelle is that pappardelle is about twice the width of the latter.
The chunky size of pappardelle noodles captures more sauce, which makes it ideal to pair with rich, hearty sauces like meaty tomato, mushroom ragu and cream-based sauces. Especially one like this — practically singing with bright flavor from the lemon zest, lemon juice and nutty, salty Parmesan.
Ingredients for creamy lemon pasta:
- Butter. Use a good cultured butter, unsalted or salted. I don’t often cook with salted butter, but if you happen to see a lightly salted premium butter at your market, get it and use it! It will take this pasta to the next level.
- Egg: You’ll need one egg yolk, which helps thicken the sauce.
- Cream. Make sure you get a cream labelled as heavy cream , not whipping cream. Heavy cream has a slightly higher butterfat content than whipping cream and gives the sauce a luscious mouthfeel. Give the container a good shake before pouring out the cream to measure.
- Parmesan. Avoid the pre-grated stuff. I really hate to sound like the ultimate food snob here, but if you can get real-deal Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, please do! It is without question a bit pricier, but you only need about 4 ounces of cheese for the recipe. If that isn’t within reach, just choose a good hunk of Parmesan that you grate yourself.
- Dried pasta: I love to use pappardelle, a pasta that looks like wide fettuccine or tagliatelle. It’s a perfect shape for hearty thick sauces. You can find packaged dried pappardelle (coiled in little nests) in many grocery stores. Use any long pasta shape you like, including angel hair, penne or spaghetti.
- Fresh parsley: Chopped Italian or curly parsley adds color to the dish.
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Creamy Lemon Pasta (al Limone)
- Kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream, well shaken – see note below
- ½ cup (125 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 lemon
- 8 ounces (223 g) dried pappardelle pasta
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter, salted or unsalted is fine
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Bring a large pot (5-6 quarts) of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, cream, 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Grate the zest from the lemon with a rasp grater (a Microplane is my top pick) over the bowl, then slice the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice from one half. Whisk to combine.
- Cook the pasta until al dente, usually 8 – 10 minutes. Taste and test!
- Drain the pasta and immediately add to the bowl with the lemon cream. Top with the butter, then use 2 forks or a pair of tongs to gently toss the pasta until it’s coated with the sauce. Cover the bowl and let it sit 5 minutes to thicken.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley, additional grated Parmesan and lemon zest, if you like.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Depending on the brand of heavy cream you have, a layer of thick cream can form a cap on top of the liquid cream. Be sure to shake the container heavy cream well to blend it before measuring it.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container 1-2 days in the refrigerator. Add a teaspoon or two of water or cream before reheating as the pasta sauce will thicken.
- You can use either fresh or dried pappardelle or fettuccine noodles.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.
easy and delicious to my skeptical family!
This was fabulous and so easy—it’s a big hit with family and friends with everyone asking for the recipe. Your website’s recipes look delicious—gonna try lots more of them. Thank you!
Delicious. I subbed ricotta for parmesan (I didn’t have any parm).. and it was amazing!!
Thank you, was delicious and easy to follow. I made it after coming home from work for my wife who was craving lemon pasta. She’s been looking after our 4 month old and has been super tired and I surprised her with this and she loved it. Thank you
That is wonderful!! So glad she enjoyed it:)) xo
This is one of our absolute favorites and fight for the leftovers the next day. We do not change a thing except we don’t always have fresh parsley. Thank you for such a delicious recipe!
So happy you enjoy it Judy!
Ok, I made this and added a pan of well carmelized onions (maybe 1 onion per recipe? I think I used a full pound of pasta and probably 2 onions cooked down with olive oil) to this and it was *fantastic*, recipe requested by all. Made it multiple times, sometimes with a protein on top.
Super quick and easy, and delicious! A perfect weeknight pasta.
Hello, this dish sounds amazing!! I’ve never made a sauce before that has egg in it and isn’t at least heated up. Is it safe to eat raw egg yolk? I’m still going to try it tomorrow night, but I was just curious. Thank you.
Hi Mandy – In this recipe the yolk is slightly “cooked” by combining it with the hot pasta. If you have any concerns about eating raw egg, you can definitely use a pasteurized egg, which can be found in your grocery store. Hope you enjoy!
I added a sliced onion, braised in olive oil and a little salt long and slow until sweet and medium brown. It was really good, guests loved it.
Delicious and so very easy to put together. A nice light meal.
Really nice and easy recipe. I used high quality ingredients and it tasted like Italian summer. I added a small amount of ground black pepper to it as well. Will make again!!
So glad you liked it!
This was amazing!! I love anything lemon! Where is the cheese grater from?
Yay! I found the grater at a flea market!
Are you supposed to put the sauce una pan?
No, the sauce does not need to cook in a pan – just toss the hot pasta with it in bowl.
Do I use cream fraise or heavy whipping cream? Thanks
Hi – I use heavy cream in this recipe, but you can substitute creme fraiche if you prefer.
First time trying it with cream, fantastic texture. I usually do a cold version of this , but this is a very good warm pasta recipe. You can add different vegetables for color or some peppers
Thank you keep up the good cooking
I emulsified the parmesan over heat in a small saucepan to make it into a thicker sauce and added sweet peas to the recipe. It was great! 🙂 Thanks.
Very quick and easy to make! I didn’t have heavy cream, so used half & half. Also, I added grated garlic and added cherry tomatoes. Delicious!! Thanks for this great recipe!
Pasta with cream and lemon, what’s better than that? Nothing if someone asked me that. Amazing recipe especially the steps and the choice of ingredients.