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overhead view of a plate of lemon pasta with black perpper, sprinkled with parsley.

The Best Lemon Pepper Pasta Recipe

Ready in about 15 minutes, this lemon pepper pasta is one of our favorite pasta dishes. It is bursting with flavor, and it’s perfect for a regular weeknight dinner or guests.
Course Pasta Recipes
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 587kcal
Author Adina


  • Large pot
  • Large pan


  • 1 lb spaghetti 450 g, Note 1
  • 2 lemons 4 teaspoons zest and 6 tablespoons juice, Notes 2,3
  • 3 tablespoons butter 45 g/ 1.6 oz, Note 4
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan 50 g/ 1.8 oz, Note 5
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher Note 6
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste


  • Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water boils, add salt generously. Cook the spaghetti al dente. Remove about ½ cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
  • While the pasta cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients; everything should be ready as soon as the pasta is al dente.
  • Lemons: Wash the lemons with hot water and rub them dry. Zest the yellow skin, nothing of the white peel (bitter). Juice the lemons.
  • Prepare ingredients: Grate the cheese finely and set it aside. Chop the parsley and set it aside. Grind the pepper now if you want to measure out the amount you need.
  • Sauce: Start making the sauce about one minute before the pasta is done.
  • Gently heat the butter and the oil in a large pan. The butter should melt, but the mixture should not get too hot, or the Parmesan clumps. Add lemon juice and zest, Parmesan, chopped parsley, sea salt, and pepper. Add about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water and the drained spaghetti.
  • Toss well with two spoons until the noodles are coated with sauce. Add a little more pasta water if necessary and toss again. Adjust the taste with more salt and pepper if required.


  1. You can use other pasta shapes if you like.
  2. Preferably organic and unwaxed as you will need their zest.
  3. One lemon weighs about 4.5 oz (130 g). I was able to zest 2 teaspoons lemon zest and press 3 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon so that you will need a total of 3-4 teaspoons lemon zest (to taste) and 5-6 tablespoons juice.
  4. I have unsalted most of the time; if using salted, adjust the amount of salt you need for the dish accordingly.
  5. Freshly grated Parmesan from a block of cheese
  6. If using table salt, start with less and add more to taste.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 587kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 666mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 201mg | Iron: 2mg