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Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta

What I am fan girl-ing over this summer: this Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta. When you toss spaghetti pasta with butter, lemon juice, fresh garlic and a loaded amount of parmesan cheese, you don’t stand a chance.

You just signed yourself up for the can’t-stop-eating, can’t-get-enough, need-to-make-again feeling over and over again.

Two plates of Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta

All the ways to serve it

Is it a side dish? Is it a main dish?


Besides being crazy tasty, I love the versatility of this dish. It is a great side dish to many different meats and protein, or it can also be a light lunch or dinner by itself.

Also, MEAL PREP ALERT! I like making a whole lot of it and then save the rest as leftovers. This pasta dish keeps really well and can last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Trying to figure out how to serve this? NO PROBLEMO. Here are a few ideas:

Fork digging into a plate of Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta

How to make Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta

When life is busy, this is the dish for you. Because it is so easy to make, and you will actually love your meal!

Boil the pasta, make the sauce, and toss pasta in sauce. Then sprinkle on more parmesan cheese and some fresh parsley. It should take about 20 minutes to do all that!

When making the sauce, use a skillet and melt butter in skillet and sauté fresh garlic in butter.

Once you can smell the fragrance of the garlic, add salt, black pepper, some pasta water (from boiling the pasta) and lemon juice to the sauce. Parmesan will be sprinkled on later after tossing pasta in the sauce.

Something to note: When lemon juice and garlic interact, especially when using older garlic, garlic turns blue. I was a little freaked out at first when I made this and saw blue garlic pieces, but my pal Google told me it’s a natural reaction. It is safe to eat and it doesn’t change the taste.

So there are two things you can do if you see blue garlic when cooking the sauce – 1) remove all the blue garlic by straining it (what I did in this recipe), or 2) just leave it because blue garlic is totally edible.

Pro tip: use good parmesan cheese. Buy a block parmesan cheese and grate it yourself, because those are the best kind. The next best thing is to get the refrigerated shredded/grated parmesan cheese. I would avoid getting the non-refrigerated pre-grated kind.

The quality of the parmesan cheese makes a BIG difference in the quality and taste of this dish!

Spaghetti pasta tossed in garlic, butter, parmesan cheese and lemon

I love it when a simple dish yields so much flavor. This is exactly one of those dishes. If you want to make this slightly healthier, use whole wheat pasta, or do a mixture or whole wheat and regular pasta.

Nutty, savory, citrusy, garlicky. ALL THE FLAVORS and MORE.

I’m going to be eating this all summer long. And very likely into the Fall and Winter.


Upclose of a plate of spaghetti tossed in lemon, garlic, butter and parmesan cheese

If you make this recipe, don’t forget to comment below and let me know how it goes! Also, take a pic and tag me on instagram because I wanna see!!!

Calling all pasta lovers!

That’s right! I have more pasta recipes just for you!

Fork digging into a plate of Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta

Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta

Spaghetti tossed in lemon juice, garlic, butter and lots of sharedded parmesan cheese. Super simple and flavorful pasta side or main dish!
4.80 from 63 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 439kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 16 oz whole wheat spaghetti or regular, or mixed
  • 6 tbsp salted butter
  • 7-10 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice 2-3 large lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (from boiling the pasta) + more if needed
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


  • In a large pot, bring water to boil. Once water boils, add spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Do not overcook. Reserve pasta water for later (be sure to reserve more than 1/4 cup in case you need more).
  • Drain pasta water. If pasta will be sitting for a while, rinse it with cold water and toss in olive oil to prevent it from sticking and getting overcooked.
  • While pasta is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients. Chop garlic and parsley, grate parmesan cheese, and squeeze lemon juice.
  • In a large skillet, melt butter and cook chopped garlic until fragrant but do not brown or burn garlic. Add lemon juice, salt, black pepper and 1/4 cup pasta water to skillet. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
  • Optional: If garlic turns blue (it's normal because of its reaction with lemon juice), using a strainer to remove garlic.
  • Toss pasta in sauce and 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Add additional 1 or 2 tbsp pasta water if needed, but note that this is not a wet pasta dish. Garnish with more parmesan cheese and parsley.
  • Serve and enjoy!



Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 956mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 241mg | Iron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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4.80 from 63 votes (49 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. You don’t list where/when to add the parmesan cheese.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Oops! I just added it to 6). Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  2. Christina says:

    Can this be served as a cold dish?

    1. Joyous Apron says:


  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I had leftover spaghetti and used it here. I also steamed some broccoli and added it to the final dish. Hubs said this was a keeper. Thank you!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      That’s awesome! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  4. Susannah Fox says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! I made this dish for my super-fussy husband in our new Italian home. The grocery store delivered extra lemons by mistake and I said ‘I know what to do.’ We used freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano which made up for the dried parsley.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! Happy to hear that you all enjoyed it! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  5. Richelle Mancewicz says:

    5 stars
    I’ve tried lemony-garlicky parmesan pastas before but was always disappointed by the lack of flavor. This recipe, however, is fantastic! I used really good parmesan, fresh garlic and lemon, and Ronzoni Gluten-Free Thin Spaghetti, which worked perfectly and tasted just like traditional wheat pasta. Will be making again and again!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! I love hearing that! Thank you so much for trying it! 🙂

  6. I want to make this for a family party this weekend! Can this be prepared ahead of time at all? Or do you think it would be better to make it entirely the day prior and reheat the dish in an oven the day of the party?

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Absolutely! You can prepare it ahead of time and reheat the dish in the oven or even the microwave. Sometimes I even eat it cold/at room temperature!

  7. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! my family loved it thank you so much!❤️

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      That’s wonderful, Alexis! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  8. 1 star
    The amount of parmesan in this dish rendered it practically inedible for my family and I.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out for you and your family. Hopefully by reducing the amount of parmesan it will be more to your liking!

  9. Shelli Dicioccio says:

    5 stars
    Fabulous. Made a smaller amount but still was perfect. The lemon hung in the background and the slow pouring grated Parmesan cheese just made it. Thank you for a needed, fairly easy dish for us tonight!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank YOU for making it and sharing! So happy to hear that you all enjoyed it!

  10. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe! If you love lemon like I do, this is the recipe for you. I used half a box of linguine since that’s what I had on hand and it was extra saucy which was a bonus. I also added some diced chicken for some protein. Can’t wait to make this again soon!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes! perfect for lemon lovers! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it – it’s one of our go-to recipes. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      So glad to hear!!

  11. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. I made it for dinner with broccoli and it was fantastic. Perfect amount of creaminess and lemon flavor!!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much, Amanda! Happy to hear that you enjoyed it!

    2. I added the zest from the Lemons and put Bacon Crumble

  12. Lee Fuller says:

    5 stars
    Made this this evening and it was fabulous! Nice and simple, really tasty. Added some prawns and salmon at the end too, just because!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much! So happy to hear that you loved it!

  13. 5 stars
    I wanted to make a quick and easy dinner tonight and came across this Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta. It was delicious, just like every other recipe of yours I’ve tried! I was low on lemon so I only used half the amount but it still had a wonderful lemon flavor. I love lemon and thyme together so added a little fresh thyme when I sautéed the garlic and I added a splash of cream with the pasta water. It’s soooo good! I’ll definitely make this again. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much for your kind review, Llene. Nothing makes me happier than hearing you’ve been enjoying my recipes. SO appreciate you trusting my recipes! 🙂

  14. try it with capers!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      YUM! Great idea!

  15. 5 stars
    So glad to see a dish like this without cream. Simplicity is always best. Thank you for this recipe.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      So glad you liked the recipe!

  16. 5 stars
    What if I want to make it wetter?

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Add more pasta water to the pasta when tossing it in the lemon garlic sauce.

  17. 5 stars
    This has become an almost weekly dish for me. I love about anything with parm. Cant believe Id not discovered it before. Great with just about anything, very versatile. I tried adding capers as someone else suggested and that took it to a whole other level of yum.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! I love hearing that! It’s one of my all time favorite as well. Capers in it sounds AMAZING!!