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Lemon Pepper Pasta

This lemon pepper pasta is creamy, with the perfect touch of bright lemon flavor and cracked black pepper. Quick, easy, and affordable, but still good enough for company. My new favorite pasta recipe!

A bowl of lemon pepper pasta made with spaghetti noodles and garnished with lemon wedges.

🍋 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • The flavor of this lemon pepper pasta is absolutely heavenly! The sauce is creamy, light, and tangy. It’s delicious year-round, but nothing screams spring or summer more than lemon pepper pasta.
  • It’s ready in less than 30 minutes and uses only simple ingredients. It’s a quick and easy way to achieve a restaurant-level meal without breaking the bank!
  • This lemon pepper pasta is super versatile! It’s delicious on its own as a main course, but it’s also a great base for your favorite protein. Chicken, fish, or even shrimp would be perfect pairings for this creamy dish.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • Garlic has a tendency to burn very quickly, so be sure to only cook it about 30 seconds! As soon as it’s fragrant, you can go ahead and add the other ingredients.
  • Be sure to set aside 1 cup of pasta water for when you are making your sauce! You might not need the entire cup, but the pasta water ensures your sauce becomes creamy and smooth.
  • When zesting your lemons, use only enough pressure to zest the yellow skin. The white pith underneath is bitter and sour, which is definitely not what you want in your pasta!
A bowl of lemon pepper pasta made with spaghetti noodles and garnished with lemon wedges.

🍝 More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love

A bowl of lemon pepper pasta made with spaghetti noodles and garnished with lemon wedges.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

This easy meatless pasta dish is full of bright lemon and earthy pepper flavors, brought together with the perfect amount of creamy parmesan sauce.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Recipe Makes: 6 servings


  • large pot
  • large wooden spoon (or silicone spatula)
  • small bowl (or cup)
  • colander
  • Large skillet
  • tongs


For the Pasta

  • 8 cups water
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles (or uncooked linguine noodles)

For the Lemon Pepper Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (at or close to room temperature)
  • juice of one large lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan (at or close to room temperature)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • zest of one large lemon

Suggested Garnishes (All Optional)

  • additional lemon zest
  • additional parmesan
  • additional black pepper
  • thinly sliced lemon wedges
  • chopped fresh parsley


For the Pasta

  • Add 8 cups water to large pot and heat over medium-high heat. When water begins to boil, add ½ tablespoon salt and stir to incorporate.
  • Continue heating pot over medium-high until salted water begins to boil, then add 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles and stir to incorporate.
  • Boil spaghetti noodles according to timing indicated on package instructions. When pasta is al dente, transfer 1 cup water from pot to small bowl or cup, then pour pasta and remaining water into colander. Drain pasta well and set aside.

For the Lemon Pepper Sauce

  • Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to large skillet and heat pan over medium heat. Swirl or tilt pan occasionally to move butter around, covering entire pan surface, and continue heating until butter is melted.
  • Once melted, add 3 cloves garlic and stir to incorporate. Sauté garlic until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook or burn garlic.
  • Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly. Pour in 1 cup heavy cream and juice of one large lemon, then add ½ teaspoon black pepper and stir until cream and lemon juice are fully incorporated.
  • Return skillet to heat and reduce heat to low. Simmer cream mixture 5 minutes or until sauce thickens enough to coat back of wooden spoon.
  • Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly. Add ¼ cup grated parmesan and stir until cheese is melted and incorporated. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt, then return skillet to low heat.
  • Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss or gently stir until pasta is well coated in sauce.
  • Slowly pour ½ cup of reserved pasta water into skillet, adding water in small increments and tossing well after each addition. If sauce is too thick, continue adding remaining pasta water in small increments until desired consistency is reached.

To Serve

  • Add zest of one large lemon and toss pasta to incorporate, then divide pasta into preferred portion sizes and plate accordingly. If desired, garnish pasta with additional lemon zest, additional parmesan, additional black pepper, thinly sliced lemon wedges, and/or chopped fresh parsley, and serve immediately.


  • Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten-free noodles. Some pre-packaged grated parmesans may have gluten-containing ingredients or may be processed in facilities where cross-contamination can occur, so be sure to check your labels.

Recipe costs provided are approximate. Actual cost per recipe & serving will vary by location, store, brand, etc. Approximate cost shown does not include costs for any optional ingredients.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 330kcal | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 781mg | Potassium: 144mg | Total Carbs: 31g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Net Carbs: 30g | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 86mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used. To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to leave us a rating and review below!
Recipe by Cheryl Malik

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