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One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

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Delicious one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta; this is a perfect meal for any night of the week.

bowl with lemon ricotta pasta cooked garnished with peas, parsley and lemon wedges.

This quick and satisfying lemon ricotta pasta recipe is ready in about 15-20 minutes! The one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon using just a handful of ingredients is a simple summery meal bursting with fresh, bright lemon flavors.

Check out more Italian-inspired pasta dishes that are super easy and quick to make: Mascarpone Pasta, Creamy Tuna Carbonara, or (my absolute favorite) The Best Lemon Pepper Pasta Recipe. Or see 10 Fast Pasta Recipes.

What will you love about this dish?

  • Minimal effort: Set the pasta to cook, drain it and mix it with the rest of the ingredients – the perfect recipe for a busy weeknight. Also, a one-pot recipe means less cleaning after cooking.
  • Bold, fresh flavors: The mild ricotta cheese is the perfect canvas for the zesty-tangy lemon and the sharp Parmesan cheese.
  • Economical: Just five simple ingredients and some spices, you might already have most of the needed items in your pantry.

Recipe ingredients

one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon in a bowl with lemon wedges and parsley.
  • Pasta: I often use spaghetti, but any type of pasta is great for this recipe; it doesn’t matter if the shapes are long or short. Try penne, fusilli, macaroni, bow tie, linguini and so on.
  • Lemon: Preferably organic, unwaxed lemons as you will also need the zest. You will need one large lemon or 1 ½ medium to get 5-6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
  • Peas: They are optional but nice, adding a bit of sweetness and bite to the dish.
  • Olive oil: Good quality extra-virgin olive oil; I use my good salad olive oil for this recipe.
  • Spices: Red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add as much heat as you like; I usually add a good pinch of red pepper flakes which is about ¼ teaspoon. However, you can be more generous. Cayenne pepper is a good substitute; use it to taste.

What can I add?

  • Spinach: You can replace the peas with a good handful of fresh baby spinach.
  • Fresh basil: Add some finely sliced basil leaves just before serving.
  • Garlic: Add 1-2 grated garlic cloves to the sauce.
  • Mushrooms: Fry about 9 oz (250 g) of sliced mushrooms in a separate pan. Add them to the one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon instead of the peas.
  • Shrimps: Cook some shrimps in butter in a separate pan. Season well and serve them with the lemon ricotta pasta.

How to make one pot lemon ricotta pasta?

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package instructions (1). Add the frozen peas during the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking time (2). Reserve some pasta water and drain the contents of the pan.
collage of two pictures of cooking spaghetti in a water and adding peas.

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  • Prepare ingredients while the pasta cooks. Wash, dry, and zest the lemon. Halve it and squeeze the juice to get about 6 tablespoons. Grate the Parmesan. Set both aside.
  • Mix sauce: Whisk ricotta, heavy cream, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper (3). Add about ¼ cup of starchy water and whisk well (4).
collage of two pictures of mixing ricotta sauce for pasta in a bowl.
  • Combine: Return the pasta and peas to the pot (5) and mix well with the ricotta mixture. Add a little more of the reserved cooking water if necessary (6). Adjust the taste with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
collage of two pictures of mixing spaghetti, peas and cheese sauce in a pot.

Expert tips

  • Pot: You can combine the ricotta sauce ingredients in a small bowl while the pasta is cooking or whisk everything in the empty pasta pot while the spaghetti is draining.
  • Pasta water: Don’t forget to save about 1/2 cup of pasta water. The starches and salt it contains are what you need to make the dish creamy, to help the sauce coat the spaghetti, and to add flavor.
  • Cheese: Use whole milk ricotta and not the skimmed version. The fat content affects the taste and texture of the sauce.
    • It’s preferable to use freshly grated Parmesan from a wedge; the pre-grated stuff doesn’t taste as good. It also contains additives that prevent the cheese from melting nicely.
close up of tangled spaghetti with peas and lemon slices.

Recipe FAQ

Can I replace ricotta?

Yes. The dish will be slightly different but still delicious. I often make this dish with full-fat cream cheese. Mascarpone is also great.

Can I reheat it?

The one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon is best served immediately without reheating.
However, you can reheat the leftovers or enjoy them at room temperature. When reheating, add a splash of milk, heavy cream, or water to the pan and stir often.
The leftovers will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Is the recipe vegetarian?

No, because it contains Parmesan which is made with animal rennet. To make it vegetarian, use vegetarian hard cheese instead.

How to serve?

  • Serve the creamy lemon ricotta pasta with a simple salad dressed with vinaigrette. I love it with baby spinach or fresh arugula salad.
  • Sauteed or roasted vegetables like kale, broccoli, or green beans would also make a delicious side dish.
close up half a bowl of spaghetti with lemon ricotta sauce.

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bowl with lemon ricotta pasta cooked garnished with peas, parsley and lemon wedges.

One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

Delicious one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta; this is a perfect meal for any night of the week.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Main Course, Pasta Recipes
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 700kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • 1 large pot

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 lb pasta Note 1
  • 1 cup peas frozen
  • 1 cup ricotta whole milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 lemon unwaxed, Note 2
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • about ½ cup pasta cooking water
  • 6 tablespoons Parmesan freshly grated
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste
  • fine sea salt or Kosher, to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta and peas: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt generously and cook according to the packet’s instructions until al dente, adding the frozen peas during the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking time. Reserve some pasta water and drain the rest.
  • Prepare ingredients: Wash, dry, and zest the lemon. Squeeze the juice to get about 5-6 tablespoons. Grate the Parmesan. Set both aside.
  • Mix sauce: Whisk ricotta, heavy cream, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, about ½ teaspoon salt, and about ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper. Add about ¼ cup of the pasta water and whisk well.
  • Combine: Return the pasta and peas to the pot. Pour the ricotta sauce on top. Add a little more reserved cooking water if necessary to thin the sauce to your liking.
  • Adjust the taste with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Spaghetti or any other pasta, short or long, is good.
  2. You will need 1 tablespoon lemon zest and about 5-6 tablespoons of lemon juice. One large or 1 ½ medium lemon should do it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 700kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 216mg | Potassium: 448mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3974IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 270mg | Iron: 2mg
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