This zesty one pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta is the perfect pasta dish for spring and it can be ready in only 20 minutes. The fresh lemon and basil lighten up the rich ricotta cream sauce. Don’t forget a bottle of white wine and some fresh bread!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This lemon ricotta pasta dish is a one pot recipe, meaning the sauce and pasta are all cooked together in… one pot! This makes for a super easy cleanup.
- The base of the ricotta sauce is made from the pasta water and half and half. The starchy pasta water thickens the sauce and there is no need to drain the pasta (or use reserved pasta water).
- The lemon brightens up the creamy ricotta sauce, making this a pasta that is great for spring and summer.
- The shallot and garlic give the sauce more depth and flavor.
- The white wine enhances the acidity of the lemon juice and zest.
- This lemon ricotta pasta is a perfect weeknight dinner because it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.
- Learn how to make one pot lemon ricotta pasta. There are multiple variations below that include, a lemon ricotta pasta no parmesan and how to add a protein or greens to this lemon pasta.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Unsalted Butter: Swap for olive oil.
- Shallot: Swap for a ¼ cup of finely diced red or yellow onion.
- White Wine: Swap for vegetable broth or omit.
- Short Cut Pasta: I used calamarata pasta, but rigatoni, penne, fusilli, or bow tie pasta will all work as well.
How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Brown butter, shallot, and garlic.
- Bring water and half & half to a simmer.
- Stir in pasta and cook.
- Stir in lemon and cheese.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Melt butter over medium high heat, until the butter begins to brown.
Step 2: Turn the heat down to medium. Add shallot and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Step 3: Add in the water, half and half, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.
Step 4: Stir in the pasta. Bring to a simmer.
Step 5: Lightly boil for 10-12 minutes covered, or until the pasta is al dente, stirring every 2-3 minutes so the pasta does not stick.
Step 6: Turn the heat off. Add lemon juice, zest, ricotta, and parmesan cheese. Stir until well combined. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken.
Make Ahead & Storage
- Refrigerator: Store leftover lemon ricotta pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Reheating: Reheat in the microwave in a microwave safe dish in 30 second increments until heated through, stirring occasionally. You can also reheat the lemon pasta on the stove over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Use good quality cheese. I highly recommend using freshly grated parmesan reggiano for the best flavor. Be sure to use whole milk ricotta. I really like the brand, Liuzzi.
- Brown the butter. Once the butter melts, continue heating it until it bubbles and then browns. This adds so much flavor to the pasta.
- Deglaze the pan. Deglaze the pan with wine or broth. This releases all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and deepens the flavor.
- Stir frequently. It is important to stir the pasta while it is simmering so it does not burn or stick.
- Cover the pot. The steam that builds up underneath the lid will help cook the pasta, as it absorbs more of the liquid and is not fully covered with liquid.
- Let stand. The pasta will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Garnish with lemon zest and basil. The extra lemon zest and basil on top really brighten up the dish.
- This lemon ricotta pasta is heavy on the sauce. For less sauce, reduce ricotta to ¾ cup and reduce water to 1 ¾ cup.
- This recipe can be doubled. Double this recipe to use a full pound package (16 ounces) of pasta. Be sure to use a large pot.
- Baked lemon ricotta pasta: Undercook the pasta slightly (reduce cook time by a couple of minutes). Toss about ⅔ cup of panko bread crumbs with 2 Tablespoons of melted salted butter. Pour the pasta into a lightly greased oven safe dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 425, until the bread crumbs have browned.
- No parmesan: Swap parmesan cheese for another light salty cheese like mozzarella or leave it out all together.
- Add a protein: Top this lemon ricotta pasta with shrimp, grilled chicken, or salmon.
- Add veggies: Once the pasta is almost finished cooking, wilt in a big handful of spinach or kale. You can also add sauteed or grilled vegetables on top for a hearty vegetarian dish.
- Spicy: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes with the salt and pepper for a spicy lemon ricotta pasta.
One Pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter*
- 1 small shallot, diced finely*
- 5-6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
- ⅓ cup dry white wine*
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 8 ounces dried short cut pasta*
- 1 lemon juiced and zested, plus more for serving
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- basil for serving
- Melt butter over medium high heat, until the butter begins to brown.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add shallot and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the water, half and half, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.
- Stir in the pasta. Bring to a simmer.
- Lightly boil for 10-12 minutes covered, or until the pasta is al dente, stirring every 2-3 minutes so the pasta does not stick.
- Turn the heat off. Add lemon juice, zest, ricotta, and parmesan cheese. Stir until well combined. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken.