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One Pot Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta

This creamy lemon garlic pasta is made in one pot and comes together in just 20 minutes with 3 easy steps! Pasta cooked to perfection in a light and creamy parmesan lemon garlic sauce. You’ll love this recipe, it’s simple, light, and delicious!

It’s alllll about the sauce here. Imagine if scampi sauce and Alfredo made a baby, that’s the best way I can describe it. However, don’t be deterred by the mention of Alfredo, it’s not that heavy! By cooking the pasta in the liquid that we use to make the sauce, we don’t need to add any thickeners, as the starchy water from cooking the pasta IS the thickening agent in the sauce. If you loved my last recipe, you will absolutely love this!

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • ONE POT – This dish couldn’t be easier to make and only one pot to clean up!
  • 3-STEPS – 3 steps means quick and easy, perfect for a week night dinner.
  • LEMON – Lemon, garlic, and parmesan are my favorite flavors for a pasta dish. Especially in during the spring and summer months.

A few notes about the ingredients

  • chicken broth –we use a combination of use chicken broth and water for the best flavor, but you can also use vegetable broth.
  • short pasta – I recommend a short pasta like mezzi rigatoni.
  • garlic – use chicken broth for the best flavor, but you can also use vegetable broth.
  • heavy cream – a little heavy cream will create that creamy sauce, you can also use half & half.
  • butter – we add a couple tablespoons of butter right at the end for some rich flavor.
  • parmesan – parmesan cheese adds some subtle salty, nutty notes to the flavor of the sauce. Fresh is best!
  • lemon – we will use both lemon juice and zest in this recipe to brighten up the flavors.

Lemon zest adds sweet citrus flavor that comes from the oils in the peel and is less acidic than just the juice itself. I recommend using a lemon zester like this one here.

How to make one pot lemon garlic pasta

Start off by cooking your pasta in the chicken broth and water. Stir frequently until all the liquid is absorbed. Put the lid on in between intervals of stirring.

Once the pasta is cooked through, you will stir in the heavy cream, lemon zest, garlic, and butter. Then you will turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and the parmesan.

What makes this recipe so good?

We wait until the end of the cooking process before adding the garlic and the lemon. This allows the flavors to keep a little bit of a bite and not weaken during the cooking process. Trust me, I tried making it both ways, and waiting until the end= makes quite a difference!


  • Make sure all the ingredients are prepped in advance and ready to add to the pot.
  • Use all fresh ingredients! Grate the parmesan cheese yourself, use fresh squeezed lemon juice, and fresh cloves of garlic.
  • Be sure to stir the pasta frequently, or it will become gummy and sticky.
  • Use a sauté pan with higher walls and a lid. If you don’t have one, you can use a shallow pot with a lid. Its important to have higher walls for stirring and using a lid as the steam will also help cook the pasta. This one is similar to the one that I have.

FAQs and substitutions

Best way to reheat creamy lemon garlic pasta

I prefer to reheat this pasta in a sauté pan and adding little cream to bring the sauce back to life.

How to store leftovers

This meal is best enjoyed right after cooking, but leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing leftovers.

What about adding some vegetables?

Spinach or peas would go great in this dish. If adding, do so in step 2 when you add the heavy cream.

Can I add chicken?

You can add in cooked pulled chicken (like rotisserie) in step 2 when you stir in the heavy cream.

What to serve with creamy lemon garlic pasta?

This pasta goes great accompanied by grilled chicken or grilled shrimp! I serve it with a garden salad on the side.

creamy lemon garlic pasta in a saute pan on the counter with a wooden serving spoon

One Pot Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta

This creamy lemon garlic pasta is made in one pot and comes together in just 20 minutes, making it the perfect side or main dish for a weeknight meal! Pasta cooked to perfection in a light and creamy parmesan lemon garlic sauce. You'll love this recipe, it's simple and delicious!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 people


  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ lb short pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter salted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fresh grated parmesan finely grated
  • 1 tsp lemon zest about 1 small lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • Combine the chicken broth (1 cup), water (1 cup), and pasta (½ lb) in a medium skillet that has a lid. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, removing the lid and stirring every 2 minutes to keep the pasta from getting sticky. Do this until the liquid is almost completely absorbed and the pasta is cooke through to al dente (or your preference).
  • With the heat on low, stir in the heavy cream (½ cup), lemon zest (1 tsp), and minced garlic. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes until the cream is heated through and completely incorporated. Stir in the butter (cut into 2 tbsp) until melted.
  • Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice (1 tbsp) and grated parmesan (½ cup). Serve with more fresh grated parmesan.


*This recipe serves 2 people as the main course, but can serve 4 people as a side. If you double the recipe, I recommend using a shallow pot with high walls and a lid. 
Keyword 20 minute meal, 30 minute pasta

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