Linguine al Limone is a creamy pasta that bursts with the bright flavors of summer.  Lemon juice, lemon zest, and a touch of basil add freshness, while the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, butter, and pasta water create a starchy sauce that when tossed with the pasta, creates a luxurious and decadent dish that definitely lands it in the comfort food category.  And with 5 main ingredients you probably have on hand, this can be made quickly, and simply, without running to the store.

Close up shot of linguine al limone in plate.

Pasta al limone is the dish I make when I’m in the mood for fettuccine alfredo, but want something that tastes a little bit lighter, and brighter.

Al limone is very similar to Alfredo in that Alfredo includes the same core ingredients:  butter, pasta water, and Parmigiano Reggiano.  It is definitely a filling dish.  

But the lemon juice and lemon zest somehow make linguine al limone taste a little less heavy.

Technique

The technique used to make the sauce for pasta al limone is the same as the technique for making bucatini cacio e pepe, spaghetti alla Nerano, and fettuccine Alfredo.

The technique involves tossing the pasta in the pan with the cheese, pasta water, and in the case of al limone, butter.

This process allows the ingredients to emulsify, and create a creamy texture that clings to the linguine.  

 

To see my technique on how to make this exact recipe, watch my YouTube video below in the recipe card.

Essentially, all pasta should be tossed, or flipped, using this method, but for al limone, cacio e pepe, and the others listed above, it is critical to the success of the dish.  

The technique isn’t hard to learn – it just takes a little patience.  But once you’ve learned it you will use it all the time and you can impress your friends or family with your fancy flipping skills.  😉

Note:  you may find other recipes that use heavy cream to make al limone.  Traditionally, this recipe does not call for heavy cream, although it may help you achieve that creamy texture if you’re not comfortable with tossing/flipping.  Think of it as a cheat code.  And don’t feel guilty about it – I too sometimes use heavy cream, such as in my creamy garlic mushroom pasta and fettuccine alfredo recipe.

Ingredients shown: butter, lemons, parmesan cheese, basil, and box of linguine.

How to make linguine al limone

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Zest 2 medium-sized lemons and roughly chop the zest.  Once zested, juice the same lemons until you have ~5 tablespoons of lemon juice.  The amount of juice you get from lemons will vary.  Pro tip:  To maximize the amount of juice you get from a lemon, run it under warm water, then roll it on top of a clean surface while applying downward pressure before slicing it in half.  

Linguine al limone recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Using the fine edge of a cheese grater, grate 1 1/4 cups of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Bring a pot of water to a boil adding 2 tbsp of kosher salt per gallon of water and begin to cook the linguine until al dente.
  2. A few minutes before the pasta is done cooking, heat a pan to low heat and add the butter and olive oil.  Then, add half the lemon zest and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Pull your linguine out of the pot using tongs and place the al dente pasta in the pan with the butter, olive oil, and zest.  Toss, or stir to incorporate.
  2. Add the lemon juice and toss again to coat.  Turn the heat off the pan and wait 30 seconds.  Then, begin adding the cheese a little bit at a time.  

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Toss and stir quickly to emulsify.  If the sauce is too thick, add some pasta water, a tablespoon or two at a time, until the consistency is just right.  Taste test and add kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately as the pasta can dry out quickly.  If needed, add a bit more cooler pasta water and toss again right before serving to loosen the pasta back up.  Top each plate with a touch of the remaining zest, and a sprinkle of basil or parsley (completely optional), and more grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  Enjoy!

Tongs holding linguine with cheese.

More lemony goodness

It is no surprise that I love lemon.  My grandmother’s family was from Southern Italy where lemons are a religion, so you could say the love of lemon is in my blood.  

And if you are looking at linguine al limone, it’s a safe bet that you too love lemons.  If that is true, check out these other foods that include lemon in some way, shape, or form.

Linguine al limone in grey plate with sprinkled parsley.

What to serve with linguine al limone

The cheese and butter make this a heavier dish.  For that reason, I like to serve pasta al limone with a lighter side.

Salads, such as chickpea and arugula salad, or Via Carota’s green salad, would be perfect.  

Sauteed greens would also be a great side, such as broccoli rabe with garlic, or sauteed spinach.

If you’ve enjoyed this Linguine al Limone recipe, or any recipe on this site, we want to know so tell us in the comments below.  We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well.  Thanks!

Watch the video below where Jim will show you how to make this recipe with easy to follow instructions.  Some people learn by watching.  If you’re that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Linguine al Limone

5 from 9 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Linguine al limone is a simple, creamy lemon pasta made with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, butter, lemon juice, zest, and pasta water.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti, fettuccine, etc
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese finely grated, plus more for serving
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 medium lemons, zested divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons basil chopped
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water will not need all of it

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta to al dente in salted water (2 tbsp kosher salt per gallon of water).
  • A few minutes before the pasta finishes cooking heat a pan to low and add the butter and olive oil.  Add half the lemon zest and let it cook for a minute or two.
  • Add the wet (pull pasta out with tongs) al dente pasta to the pan and stir and/or toss to incorporate.
  • Add the lemon juice and toss to coat.  Turn the heat off. Wait 30 seconds, then begin adding the cheese a bit at a time.  Toss and stir quickly to emulsify.  If the sauce is too thick add a bit more pasta water (a tablespoon or two at a time) to get the consistency just right.
  • Test and add kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately as the pasta can dry out quickly.  If needed add a bit more cooler pasta water and toss right before serving to loosen the pasta right back up. Top each plate with a touch of the remaining zest and a sprinkle of basil or parsley.  Serve with more grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Tossing pasta in the pan will help emulsify the sauce of pasta water, cheese, and lemon juice.  It's a good skill to learn and will massively improve your pasta recipes!
  • If the cheese clumps don't worry.  It can be loosened up with cooler pasta water or even cold tap water.  
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the fridge, but pasta al limone is best served and eaten right away.

Nutrition

Calories: 556kcal | Carbohydrates: 62.8g | Protein: 19.7g | Fat: 25.6g | Saturated Fat: 11.7g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 206mg | Calcium: 208mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 from 9 votes (1 rating without comment)

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28 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    5 stars
    I continue to be amazed at how these recipes turn out so delicious with just a few ingredients. I’ve also learned some techniques from watching your videos, so thank you for that!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Dave, I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe and the videos and really appreciate the comment.

  2. ED says:

    5 stars
    Awesome!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Ed, I’m so happy you enjoyed and appreciate the comment!

  3. Max Black says:

    5 stars
    I used to get the Chicken Limone at The Newbridge Cafe in Chelsea, MA. Reading this brought me back 30 years and a few hundred miles! Going to serve this with chicken cutlets! Thanks Jim!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Max, thanks for the comment and hope you enjoy!

  4. Joe Sullivan says:

    5 stars
    We just made this for the second time — delicious! Definitely worth having extra lemon juice on hand. And the pasta water makes a big difference! thanks for a great recipe, Jim!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Joe, I’m so happy to hear you liked this recipe enough to make it a second time! I appreciate the comment, thank you!

  5. Alan Thompson says:

    Omg Wifey loved this in our regular rotation ❤️🍷

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Alan, so happy you and your wife enjoyed this one! Thank you for the comment!

  6. annette says:

    5 stars
    So delicious, thank you

    1. Jim says:

      Thank you, Annette! So happy you liked it!

  7. Paula says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic! Love the freshness and ease to prepare, now one of my all time favorites! Thank you.

    1. Jim says:

      Thank you, Paula! So happy you liked this one!

  8. Denise says:

    Is it possible to use some lemon cello?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Denise, I have not tested this recipe with limoncello so can’t say for sure how it would turn out. I’d probably just stick with the lemon juice as limoncello tends to be very sweet and may change the integrity of the dish.

  9. Bev says:

    5 stars
    New to me but doable. Love lemons.

    1. Jim says:

      Hope you enjoy it, Bev!

  10. Marina says:

    This sounds amazing!!! Basil. Lemon…! Perfection!!! Making this for sure!!

    1. Jim says:

      Thanks! Hope you enjoy it!