This Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pasta (Under 10 Minutes!) is a simple to make pasta recipe. Each bite is full of creamy ricotta and vibrant lemon flavors. Ready in the time it takes to make the pasta! A delicious vegetarian dish to enjoy any night of the week!
This article contains affiliate links which supports us at no extra cost to you.
Why you'll love pasta con la ricotta:
- Delicious sauce: The combination of browned butter and lemon creates a unique and delicious flavor that is both savory and tangy.
- Super creamy: A really satisfying sauce that is made with velvety ricotta cheese.
- Easy and fast: This recipe is quick and easy to make, perfect for busy weeknights when you want a tasty yet simple meal.
- Customizable: It can easily be customized to fit your taste by adding in other ingredients such as vegetables or protein.
- Why you'll love pasta con la ricotta:
- What ingredients are in ricotta lemon pasta?
- How to you make pasta with ricotta recipe?
- What other ways to use browned butter?
- Expert tips for Creamy Ricotta Pasta:
- Variations for Pasta with Lemon Sauce:
- Pasta making tips
- How to store this pasta?
- Some other pasta recipes to enjoy:
- Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pasta (Under 10 Minutes!)
Yes, you read that correctly! While the pasta is cooking, you prep the super quick and buttery lemon sauce. The sauce is made in just minutes, and then it's combined with the creamy ricotta cheese. This recipe is a riff on my pasta with ricotta and peas. I cooked up farfalle pasta, but any short pasta works great for this really easy pasta recipe.
Since it was recently Easter, I happened to have a little bit of basket ricotta cheese. It was an amazing quality basket ricotta cheese from New Jersey. I bought a few containers to make my pastiera Napoletana and my Italian Easter meat pie.
If you can find a really great quality ricotta cheese, I highly recommend using it for this pasta recipe.
What ingredients are in ricotta lemon pasta?
Here is all you need to make this delicious and super simple pasta. Full printable recipe is found below.
- Pasta: I used farfalle, but penne or any short pasta works. You could even use shells or ditalini.
- Butter: Unsalted or salted, but be sure to use a very good quality butter.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: I always recommend to use the best quality extra-virgin olive oil.
- Lemon zest and juice: Organic is best if you can find it. The lemon zest and juice make this pasta so fresh!
- Ricotta: The ricotta adds a very creamy and luscious texture to the sauce.
- Sea salt: Season with a little salt. Add more or less to your taste.
- Freshly ground black pepper: You could leave out the pepper, if you don't like it. But a little bit of freshly ground pepper goes great with this ricotta pasta.
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese: Be sure to use the best Parmigiano Reggiano. You don't need a lot, but the better the cheese, the better the flavor of the pasta.
- Fresh Italian parsley: I prefer to use Italian parsley. If you can't find, use curly parsley.
How to you make pasta with ricotta recipe?
Full printable recipe is below.
Gather all your ingredients.
Step 1: Cook the pasta. Be sure to use a large pot so you have enough room to stir the pasta as it cooks and remember it does expand as it cooks.
Step 2: Start the sauce. Let's talk about the sauce for a minute. Now this is not dairy-free recipe, so I used real butter. You have to brown the butter a little (browned butter makes every thing a little bit more delicious!) and freshly squeezed lemon juice + zest (better to use an organic lemon) gets added to that nicely browned butter.
Step 3: Add starchy boiling pasta water to butter sauce. Just don't forget to save a little bit of the starchy pasta water and as soon as you drain the pasta. You ladle some out into a measuring cup (I save a little more than 1/2 a cup)and add it right to the pan with the browned butter, but save a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to mix with the ricotta. The starchy pasta water gets combined for a minute and it helps thicken the butter sauce a little.
Step 4: Add ricotta to a serving bowl. Once the browned butter sauce is ready, add the ricotta and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano (pecorino also works) to a large serving bowl. Add the last part of the reserved pasta water to help make the creamy sauce, if needed. You don't want the sauce to be dry. Stir it together and add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a dash of salt.
Step 5: Combine pasta and ricotta sauce. The final step is to add the pasta in the buttery lemon sauce to the bowl with the ricotta cheese. Stir it all together to combine. Check the salt and add some freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle on some chopped Italian parsley.
What other ways to use browned butter?
I have baked quite a lot with browned butter...here are some recipes to check out!
- Browned Butter Pumpkin Beer Bread - This is a really nice quick bread to enjoy in the Fall.
- Browned Butter and Molasses Chocolate Chips - One of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes...ever!
- Caramelized Banana Bread with Brown Butter Glaze - This glaze...that is all!
Expert tips for Creamy Ricotta Pasta:
- Pasta: I used farfalle, but you could use whatever short pasta you like or happen to have in your pantry. A long pasta like spaghetti, linguine or bucatini would also be fine. You could also make it with your favorite gluten-free pasta.
- Pasta cooking water: Don’t forget to save a little bit of the pasta water. A ½ cup should be all you need. It makes the pasta a little bit more creamy when combined with the ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Butter: I used unsalted butter. Use whatever brand you like. The better quality, the better the final flavor of this simple pasta dish.
- Ricotta: I highly recommend using full fat ricotta. I found a basket ricotta at a specialty market, and the flavor surpassed any other ricotta I’ve ever tried here. If you prefer lower fat ricotta, go ahead and use it!
- Lemon: Only fresh lemon will work for this dish! You’re using the zest and the juice, so if you can, try to get organic.
- Extra-Virgin Olive oil: I can’t emphasize enough how using a nice extra-virgin olive oil will change the flavor of a recipe. I have a really nice Sicilian EVOO and it’s very fruity.
Variations for Pasta with Lemon Sauce:
- You could use a whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.
- Want to add some protein? Try adding cooked chicken, shrimp, or tofu to the dish before combining it with the ricotta sauce.
- Substitute the lemon juice and zest for lime juice and cilantro for a fresh twist on this recipe.
- Add in some diced tomatoes or roasted vegetables for added texture and flavor.
- If you like spice, add red pepper flakes to the browned butter sauce for a kick of heat.
- Add into the ricotta sauce some different herbs like fresh basil, oregano, or freh thyme.
- Add some cooked veggies like like broccoli, bell peppers, and zucchini.
Pasta making tips
- Salt-the pasta water needs to be salted. If you skip this taste, the end flavor will be really missing something.
- Pasta water-save some of that pasta water. I always keep a measuring cup right by the stove so I don’t forget to grab a little bit before draining the pasta.
- Cook the pasta to al dente-Mushy pasta just isn’t going to showcase the flavor of this dish. Keep an eye on the pasta and check it about a minute or two before it’s supposed to be done. I usually spoon out a piece of pasta and check the texture. Then drain it as soon as it’s al dente.
- No need to rinse the pasta-You may see some pasta recipes where they instruct you to drain and rinse the pasta. The pasta does not need to be rinsed.
How to store this pasta?
- To refrigerate: As soon as it cools down, store it for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You could heat it up in a low heat (you may need to add a little bit of water to loosen the ricotta up again).
- To reheat: Reheat stovetop or in the microwave. Add a little water to loosen the ricotta sauce. Top with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.
- To freeze: I do not recommend freezing any leftovers.
Yes, it does. Lemons are sprayed with pesticides and other toxins. If you can find organic, it is better to use than a non-organic lemon for this recipe.
I used farfalle pasta, but penne would work. You could even use a long pasta like spaghetti or linguine, if that's what you have on hand.
It wouldn't be the same flavor profile. I wouldn't suggest to use cottage cheese, because than it would be cottage cheese pasta. If you want a lemon ricotta pasta, get some ricotta cheese.
You could use a splash of a very good lemon juice from a bottle, but the flavor will be different than using fresh lemon juice. Also, the lemon rind does add more citrus vibrancy to this recipe.
Yes, you can! You could use your favorite gluten-free pasta brand and follow the recipe below.
Yes, you can. You could melt the butter and follow the rest of the steps.
Originally published April 2022 and updated for content January 2024.
Some other pasta recipes to enjoy:
- Vegan Creamy Tomato Pasta
- Roasted Cherry Tomato and Tuna Pasta
- Pasta e Ceci-Italian Chickpea Soup
- Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pasta (Under 10 Minutes!)
- 1 pound farfalle pasta or any other short pasta
- salt for pasta water
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 tsp lemon zest and juice I used 1 large organic
- 1 cup whole fat ricotta
- sea salt for sprinkling
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley chopped (not the stems)
- Boil water: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the pasta.
- Cook pasta: Add pasta to the boiling cooking water. Set a timer, and cook the pasta making sure it's not quite al dente (so about 1 minute less than the cooking time, because you'll be combining in the skillet with the browned butter + lemon sauce and heating together and it will cook a little more).
- Make the sauce: When there is a few minutes left of pasta cooking time, prep the browned butter sauce. In a large skillet on medium heat, add the butter. Let it melt and start to brown. When the butter is browned add in the lemon juice and zest. Add in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Reserve pasta water: Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup plus 2 extra tablespoons of the pasta water. Add in ½ cup of starchy pasta water to the skillet with browned butter.
- Add pasta to sauce: Dump the pasta into the skillet on medium-high heat and stir to combine with the browned butter lemon sauce. Combine it together for about 2 minutes (make sure it doesn't overcook, it should reach al dente texture).
- Prep ricotta in a bowl: In a large serving bowl, add the ricotta and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano (pecorino also works). Stir it together and add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a dash of salt. Add a tablespoon or two of the reserved pasta water to help the ricotta sauce bind with the pasta.
- Combine ricotta with pasta: Add the pasta in the buttery lemon sauce to the bowl with the ricotta cheese. Stir it all together to combine. You should have a creamy ricotta sauce. Add a little more pasta water or olive oil, if needed.
- Season: Check the salt (add more if needed), and add some freshly ground pepper.
- Serve: When serving in the bowls, sprinkle on some chopped Italian parsley and a little grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional). Enjoy!
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.