The easiest lemon cream sauce pasta recipe you will ever make! Just cook the pasta, add the no-cook lemon cream sauce and enjoy.

Lemon cream pasta in white bowl.

This ridiculously easy genius lemon pasta recipe comes from the incomparable Nigella and is fabulous enjoyed as a quick and easy pasta side dish or as a meatless main dish. With a completely no-cook lemon sauce, you can simply boil some pasta, toss and enjoy!

Ingredients and substitutions

Ingredients to make lemon cream pasta.

Pasta – I think this no-cook sauce works especially well with long pasta, such as spaghetti, linguini or tagliatelle. That said, you can use any pasta you have on hand or enjoy.

Heavy Whipping Cream – This is 35% b.f. cream. Whipping cream is highly recommended as the higher fat prevents curdling of the sauce in the presence of acidic lemon juice.

Lemon – You will need one fresh lemon on hand, to provide both the lemon zest and lemon juice required.

Egg Yolk – be sure to start with a pasteurized egg, as the egg yolk will only be warmed by the heat of the pasta.

Basil – I love fresh basil with this lemon pasta, but a bit of chopped fresh parsley will do just fine as well.

Step-by-step photos

Lemon cream sauce ingredients in small bowl
1
Adding dried pasta to boiling water.
2
Removing pasta with tongs after cooking.
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  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, add the lemon cream sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well combined.
  2. When the pasta water is boiling, salt the water generously and add the dried pasta to cook just to al dente.
  3. When the pasta is ready, remove it from the boiling water to a warm bowl, allowing excess water to drip back into the pot..
Adding butter to cooked pasta.
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Adding the lemon cream sauce to the cooked pasta.
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Adding some fresh basil to the cooked pasta.
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  1. Add the butter to the cooked pasta and toss to coat the pasta well.
  2. Pour the lemon cream sauce over the pasta and toss to combine well.
  3. Add some fresh chopped basil to the bowl and toss in. If the pasta seems dry at all, drizzle a bit more pasta-cooking water into the bowl and toss. Serve with additional lemon zest, some flaky salt and Parmesan cheese.

Recipe video

Recipe tips!

  • Add a bit more pasta-cooking water to the bowl if the pasta seems dry, to loosen up the sauce.
  • Use a bit of the pasta-cooking water to warm the serving bowl. Simply pour into the bowl, swirl around and pour out before adding the cooked pasta.
  • No need to drain the pot of pasta. Simply use tongs to transfer from the cooking pot to a large, warm bowl. The bit of extra pasta-cooking water will benefit the sauce.
  • This pasta is best enjoyed freshly made, so adjust the scale of the recipe to make just what you will eat right away.

How to enjoy this lemon cream pasta

  • Enjoy it as a meatless main dish or as a side dish.
  • This lemon pasta is lovely served with salmon skewers, seared scallops or grilled chicken.
Lemon cream pasta in white bowl.

Making ahead and storing

As noted above, this pasta is best enjoyed freshly made. While you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for a couple of days, the pasta keeps its lemon flavour but loses its creaminess. In a pinch, you can drizzle a little more heavy cream on the leftovers when reheating, to return a bit of creaminess.

Lemon cream pasta in white bowl.

Get the Recipe: Creamy Lemon Pasta

The easiest lemon pasta recipe you will ever make! Just cook the pasta, add the no-cook sauce and enjoy.
5 stars from 6 ratings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dried pasta, spaghetti, linguini or tagliatelle recommended

For the lemon cream sauce:

  • 1 large pasteurized egg yolk, *see Note 1 below
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated recommended
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream , 35% b.f. *see Note 2 below
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

To finish the pasta:

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • basil leaves, torn or chopped

To serve:

  • Additional lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, some freshly ground pepper and some flaky salt, if desired.

Instructions
 

  • Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, combine all the lemon cream sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork until well combined. Set aside for now.
  • When the pasta water is boiling, salt the water generously then add the dried pasta. Cook the pasta just until al dente.
  • Tip! There is no need to drain the pot of pasta. Simply use tongs to transfer the pasta from the cooking pot to a large, warm bowl, allowing the excess water to drip off the pasta back into the cooking pot. The bit of extra pasta-cooking water that is transfered wwiththe pasta to the bowl will benefit the sauce.
  • When the pasta is cooked, transfer the pasta to a warm bowl with tongs. (You can warm the bowl by swirling some of the hot pasta-cooking water in it then dumping it out).
  • Add the butter to the hot, cooked pasta and use the tongs to toss the pasta until well coated in the butter. Pour the lemon cream sauce overtop and again, toss well to combine. If the sauce seems dry at all, drizzle with a bit more of the pasta-cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  • Add some fresh basil to the bowl and toss to combine.
  • Serve the pasta immediately garnished with additional lemon zest and Parmesan cheese and seasoned with some flaky salt and freshly ground pepper.

Notes

Note 1: As this is a no-cook sauce, the egg yolk will only be warmed by the heat of the hot, cooked pasta. As such, it is advised that you start with a pasteurized egg.
Note 2: Heavy whipping cream is highly recommended as the high-fat content prevents curdling when used with the acidic lemon. The thicker consistency also creates a creamier finished dish.
Tips!
  • Use a bit of the pasta-cooking water to warm the serving bowl. Simply pour into the bowl, swirl around and pour out before adding the cooked pasta.
  • This pasta is best enjoyed freshly made, so adjust the scale of the recipe to make just what you will eat right away.
Be sure to read the notes above this recipe card, for more tips on making this recipe. You’ll also find step-by-step photos and a recipe video that you might find helpful.
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Course: Pasta
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 341kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 133mg, Potassium: 157mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 489IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 1mg
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