Spaghetti with Lemon-Parmigiano Sauce

April 17, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This creamy, dreamy lemon-Parmigiano pasta is the ultimate last-minute meal. The sauce is quickly assembled as the pasta boils away and is made up entirely of items you should always have in your pantry: dry pasta, lemon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olive oil. The magic ingredient here is the pasta cooking water, which takes the starch from the cooking pasta and uses it to bind the lemon juice, grated cheese, and olive oil to make a perfect pasta sauce.
Jennifer Clair

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min


  • 2 organic lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and more for serving
  • 1 pinch Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 20 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
In This Recipe


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few generous grindings of black pepper; mix vigorously so the cheese “melts” into the oil and lemon juice. Taste, adding more salt and pepper to your liking; set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil (1 tablespoon of salt for every 6 cups of water). Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  3. Return the drained pasta to the hot, empty and pour over the lemon-Parmigiano sauce, tossing with up to 1/2 cup of the reserving cooking water (to start) to make a creamy sauce that clings to the strands, adding more water as necessary. Add the basil and toss once or twice just to incorporate. Serve immediately with more grated Parmigiano, as desired.

More Great Recipes:
Pasta|Italian|Lemon|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Quick and Easy|Weeknight Cooking|Entree|Dinner|Lunch

Reviews (14) Questions (0)

14 Reviews

Alyson S. January 1, 2019
This pasta is delicious. However, I found the lemon flavor to be overly intense. Next time, I will use half the amount of lemon. I added honey, as a previous reviewer suggested, and that helped.
Shelby W. October 21, 2018
Really great dish; one of my favorite F52 recipes for sure! I found that when using non-organic lemons specifically, the acidity and lemon flavor overall became a little overwhelming. A good solution I found is adding a little honey in the sauce stage. Yes, it changes the consistency a bit (once you mix it into the pasta w/ the salted water, you won't be able to tell the difference in viscosity), but it lightens the overall flavor and makes everything more palatable for sensitive eaters :)
Keith S. August 5, 2018
This is THE ONE. After lots of tries to replicate the experience of Sandro's spaghettini al limone, this recipe was like finding home. Awesome to emulsify the ingredients before the pasta, rather than cooking them and stirring into adding anchovies to the waiting sauce melted them without sizzling them. Bravo and ta!
Dawn G. June 25, 2018
I made this tonight with fresh basil from the garden and it was sooooo good! I added in some shrimp, too. Really simple, easy recipe but the flavor was great and it’s a nice light summer meal. Next time I will double it, because there are no leftovers that I was hoping to have!
Lynn June 5, 2018
Deeeeeelicious! Had it cold the next day with halved grape tomatoes. Refreshing, amazing, tangy. Was thinking all the other geggies you could add in cold salad form. Fantastic! Thank you for this recipe.
Lynn June 5, 2018
Veggies! (Not geggies). Artichoke? Cucumber?
Nina W. May 25, 2018
will this work with zuchini noodles<br />
Kris May 2, 2018
What would you serve this with for a complete meal if you have guests. Vegetarian options please
Author Comment
Jennifer C. May 3, 2018
I would definitely go with a broccoli rabe dish. A perfect complement (colorwise) and a nice bitter element to introduce alongside this richly-flavored pasta dish.
Cindy L. June 4, 2018
What about a meat or seafood dish?
Amy April 20, 2018
Quick, fresh and above all, tasty indeed! Thanks Jennifer!
Dogolaca April 19, 2018
Will I survive if I use a lemon that doesn't have the "organic" label?
Author Comment
Jennifer C. April 19, 2018
You will indeed survive. It’s just the ideal when eating the rind too. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Rachel April 24, 2018
Conventional lemons are absolutely fine.