Spaghetti al Limone

This simple pasta is a staple of southern Italian cuisine, of which many variations exist. The fresh zest of lemon and cream strikes the perfect balance of fat and acidity.
Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Difficulty Easy





  • For pasta Water
  • ¾ lb Spaghetti
  • 1 Lemon


  • ¾ cup Heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp Butter
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • To taste Salt
  • To taste Black pepper, freshly ground


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until just before al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove two 5 cm / 2”-long strips of lemon zest. Thinly slice strips lengthwise into strands and set aside. Grate remaining zest into a large pot or Dutch oven. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Add cream to pot and cook over medium heat, whisking, until liquid begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in butter, about one tablespoon at a time, until melted and sauce is creamy.
  • Add reserved pasta water to sauce and return heat to medium. Using tongs, transfer cooked spaghetti to sauce and cook, tossing often, gradually adding Parmesan cheese until sauce reaches desired consistency. This should take about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in reserved lemon juice and season with salt. Divide pasta among four bowls. Season with black pepper and garnish with reserved lemon zest strands.


  • If cream sauce looks tight, add more pasta cooking liquid
  • Add grilled chicken or shrimp to pasta if desired  
  • Alternatively, you can use linguine or bucatini pasta noodles