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overhead image of a plate with pesto ricotta pasta, lemon wedges and fresh basil leaves.

Easy Ricotta Pesto Pasta

A creamy ricotta pesto pasta recipe that’s ready in the time it takes the pasta to cook. A quick and delicious weeknight meal made with just a few ingredients and minimal effort.
Course Main Course, Pasta Recipes
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 704kcal
Author Adina


  • Large pasta pot
  • Small bowl



  • 1 lb pasta 450 g, Note 1
  • 1 cup ricotta whole milk, 250 g, Note 2
  • ½ cup heavy cream 125 ml
  • 4 tablespoons pesto Note 3
  • 1 lemon zest and juice, to taste, Note 4
  • fine sea salt and ground black pepper

To serve:

  • 1-2 tablespoons Parmesan freshly grated, to taste
  • fresh basil leaves optional


  • Cook pasta: Fill a large pot with hot water from the tab (to speed up the cooking process). Once the water is boiling, add salt generously. Cook pasta according to the packet’s instructions until al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water (you will not need it all) and drain the rest.
  • Lemon: Wash and zest the lemon; you will need about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Juice the lemon; you will need 1-2 tablespoons of the juice (or more to taste).
  • Sauce: While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Mix 1 cup ricotta, ¼ cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons pesto, one teaspoon of lemon zest, and one tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl; add fine sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  • Combine: Return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Mix to combine. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as required. If you want to loosen the sauce a bit more, add another splash of cooking water.
  • Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan and garnished with torn fresh basil leaves.


  1. Any pasta shape you like. I used maccheroni/macaroni, but another short or long pasta is excellent. Whole wheat pasta works too.
  2. I had the best experience with Galbani (not sponsored, just experience).
  3. Your favorite homemade or bought pesto. Basil pesto is excellent; ensure you use a good brand.
  4. Lemon: It’s best to buy an organic, unwaxed lemon, as you will also need a bit of its zest. When making the sauce, start with one tablespoon of lemon juice, and add more to taste.


Serving: 1quarter | Calories: 704kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 230mg | Potassium: 385mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1044IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 219mg | Iron: 2mg