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.
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.
- 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.
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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).
- 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.
- 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.
Yes. The dish will be slightly different but still delicious. I often make this dish with full-fat cream cheese. Mascarpone is also great.
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.
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.
More easy and quick pasta recipes
- Quick Tuna Pesto Pasta
- Fried Spaghetti
- Creme Fraiche Salmon Pasta
- Creamy Tahini Pasta
- Gouda Mac and Cheese (5 Ingredients)
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One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
- 1 large pot
- 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
- 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.
- Spaghetti or any other pasta, short or long, is good.
- 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.