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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.
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.
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.
- Combine the ingredients for the sauce, which includes an egg to bind the sauce.
- Mix wide pappardelle noodles or any long pasta shape like spaghetti or linguine. with the hot pasta and toss.
- Like the best fresh raw tomato pasta sauce, you don’t even need to cook it!
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.
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.
Creamy Lemon Pasta (No-Cook Sauce)
- 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
- 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.