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Creamy Lemon Pasta (No-Cook Sauce)

4.79 from 212 votes

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This is a creamy lemon pasta recipe with a luscious, super-lemony cream sauce. It’s quick and easy to make and so good! Best part? The velvety lemon sauce doesn’t require cooking! With just a few ingredients, this pasta recipe comes together in a matter of minutes, perfect topped with plenty of Parmesan cheese. It’s flavorful, easy to prepare and really delicious.

A close-up photo of a gray bowl of pappardelle pasta noodles in a creamy lemon sauce with a serving spoon and fork.

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 lemon pasta — also known pasta al limone in Italian — does the trick.

It’s basically a creamy tangle of wide noodles (pappardelle) that are the perfect-sized strands to capture the tangy lemon cream sauce. Who doesn’t love a bowl of pasta with a creamy sauce?

Allow me to introduce you to one of our all-time favorite pasta dishes: Dreamy pappardelle noodles (featuring perfectly cooked pasta ) in a luxe no-cook, lemon cream sauce.

A close-up photo of a gray bowl of pappardelle pasta noodles in a creamy lemon sauce with a serving of cheese, a spoon and fork.

Because the super-creamy — and did I say lemony? — sauce is so utterly unfussy, you can make this recipe in about 15 minutes flat.

This is one the quickest meals you can make. I hope it becomes a culinary magic trick to keep in your back pocket. You’ll be rewarded with a rich, velvety sauce that practically sparkles with fresh lemon flavor.

Ingredients for creamy lemon pasta:

The original version of this dish even became the inspiration for Quick Creamy Cacio e Pepe, another one of my easy, creative pasta recipes that combines a classic pasta carbonara sauce with cacio e pepe pasta.

  • Butter. Use a good cultured butter, unsalted or salted. If you happen find salted premium European-style 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 prefer, including angel hair, penne or spaghetti.
  • Fresh parsley: Chopped Italian or curly parsley adds color to the dish.

Recipe steps

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.

Lemon pasta is the ultimate mac and cheese

About pappardelle

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 means it can capture more sauce, which makes it ideal to pair with rich, hearty sauces like meaty tomato, mushroom ragu and cream-based sauces.

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Creamy Lemon Pasta (No-Cook Sauce)

Karen Tedesco
This is a creamy lemon pasta recipe with a luscious, super-lemony sauce that doesn't require cooking. It's quick and easy to make and so good! With just a few ingredients, this pasta recipe comes together in a matter of minutes. Serve topped with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
Print Pin
4.79 from 212 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large or extra-large 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, or your favorite dried pasta
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter, salted or unsalted is fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • 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, ½ cup Parmesan and ½ 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. Be sure to 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 or any type of dried pasta.
Recipe adapted from How to Eat

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 235mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 803IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 211mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Instagram

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.

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28 Comments

  1. Wow! Your recipe is a taste sensation! Tried it yesterday, and it’s an instant favorite. Thanks for sharing this culinary delight. Love your content! For more delicious recipes, check out https://ricettaitaliano.com/ for guaranteed culinary inspiration! Thanks

  2. Aimee Holtz says:

    I love everything about this recipe. It is so incredibly easy, and so incredibly delicious. Even with the cream it is a light dish, and the lemon adds brightness to it. Pappardelle is my new favorite pasta, but this could be made with whatever your favorite pasta may be. I double the recipe so there is plenty for leftovers the next day, tastes even better. It will definitely be a go-to meal in this house, especially on busy nights.

  3. Matthew Pavey says:

    5 stars
    Amazing ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

  4. 4 stars
    easy and delicious to my skeptical family!

  5. Diane Bartels says:

    5 stars
    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!

    1. 5 stars
      Delicious. I subbed ricotta for parmesan (I didn’t have any parm).. and it was amazing!!

      Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    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

  7. 5 stars
    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!

  8. 5 stars
    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.

  9. Liane @ Foodie Digital says:

    5 stars
    Super quick and easy, and delicious! A perfect weeknight pasta.

  10. 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.

    1. 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!

  11. 5 stars
    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.

  12. 5 stars
    Delicious and so very easy to put together. A nice light meal.

  13. 5 stars
    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!!

  14. Lisa Tafolla says:

    5 stars
    This was amazing!! I love anything lemon! Where is the cheese grater from?

  15. Are you supposed to put the sauce una pan?

    1. Bonnie Avery says:

      Do I use cream fraise or heavy whipping cream? Thanks

      1. Hi – I use heavy cream in this recipe, but you can substitute creme fraiche if you prefer.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.