This delicious pasta dish is ready to serve in minutes. Full of fresh flavors from lemon, basil, and garlic then topped with toasty garlic breadcrumbs, this pasta is great as a side dish or a quick meal.
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Since discovering this delicious dish while scrolling TikTok it has been a nearly constant on my meal plan. It is versatile enough to pair well with many main courses, and easy enough to make pretty much any time.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The ingredients for this recipe are very simple. It is very important to use fresh garlic, lemon, and basil in order to get the best flavor.
- Olive Oil - Get some great recommendations here!
- Butter - I use regular salted butter. You can use unsalted as well, but you may need to add additional salt.
- Chili Flakes or black pepper
- Angel Hair Pasta - In an absolute pinch you can use spaghetti, but be prepared to add extra water and increase the cooking time.
- Lemons (Juice and Zest) Plan on using 2-3 lemons depending upon ripeness and size.
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Optional Bread Crumb Topping: butter, olive oil, garlic, and panko bread crumbs.
See the recipe card for quantities.
To make this dish you will need basic cooking equipment such as measuring cups and spoons, a large pot for boiling water, tongs, and a large skillet (at least 12 inches)
Before you get started ...
This garlic and lemon pasta cooks in minutes once you get started. Make sure that you have all of the ingredients close at hand and be sure to prepare the fresh ingredients:
- Mince the garlic
- Zest and juice the lemons (keep the juice and zest separate)
- Slice the basil into thin strips
If you plan on serving the pasta with the breadcrumb topping be sure to prepare the breadcrumbs before you begin on the pasta. To save time, you can prepare the breadcrumbs while you are waiting for the water for the pasta to boil.
The cooking method for this pasta is a little different than what most may think. Start out by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. You will want at least 5 cups of water.
When the water is near boiling, add the olive oil, butter, garlic, and chili flakes to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook them until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant.
Carefully add about 2 cups of the boiling water along with the dry pasta to the skillet, still over medium-high heat. Using tongs, stir the pasta and break apart any clumps.
As the water is absorbed by the pasta, continue adding additional boiling water to the skillet about 1 cup at a time. When the pasta is almost al dente, add the lemon juice.
Hint: Pasta cooked al dente should be springy and lively, with only a little resistance when you bend it.
After adding the lemon juice cook the pasta for an additional minute or two. Once the pasta is cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil and lemon zest to taste.
To prepare the breadcrumbs, heat the butter, oil, and garlic in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs.
Continue cooking them, stirring almost constantly until the breadcrumbs are a toasty golden brown. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Serve the pasta topped with the breadcrumbs and additional lemon zest if desired. Enjoy!
Here are some of my favorite ways to change up this recipe:
- Add shrimp - Make this a complete meal by adding some peeled and deveined shrimp. Cook the shrimp in the oil, butter, garlic, and red pepper in step two, then remove them from the skillet and set them aside while you cook the pasta. Serve the shrimp over the pasta.
- Creamy Lemon Pasta - Just before removing the pasta from the heat, stir in a half cup of cream and parmesan cheese to taste.
This lemon garlic pasta is best enjoyed fresh. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to five days and reheated in a hot skillet or in the microwave. I don't recommend freezing this dish.
As simple as it sounds, cooking your pasta in salted water makes a huge difference in the overall flavor of the dish. Properly salted pasta enhances the flavors of any sauce or topping that you choose to add.
- Pasta cooked al dente should be springy and lively, with only a little resistance when you bend it.
Garlic and Lemon Pasta
- Medium Saucepan
- Large Skillet
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Citrus Juicer
Optional Bread Crumb Topping:
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon Garlic minced
- ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
For Breadcrumb Topping:
- The breadcrumb topping is optional. If you would like to make it, prepare it before you begin to cook the pasta. Add the butter and oil to a skillet over medium heat.1 tablespoon Butter, 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- When the butter is melted, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes stirring almost constantly.1 tablespoon Garlic, ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
For the Pasta:
- Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium.5 cups Water, 2 teaspoon Salt
- Once the water is boiling, Heat the olive oil, butter, chili flakes, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the garlic is fragrant about 30 seconds to 1 minute.3 tablespoon Olive Oil, 2 tablespoon Butter, 1 teaspoon Chili Flakes, 6 cloves Garlic
- Add about 2 cups of the boiling water to the skillet with the oil and garlic. Place the dry pasta in the skillet and give it a quick stir to separate the pasta.16 oz Angel Hair Pasta
- Allow the pasta to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly. When most of the water has been absorbed, add another cup of the boiling water and continue cooking and stirring. Repeat this process until the pasta is cooked to almost al dente (about 2-3 minutes)
- Stir in the lemon juice. Allow the pasta to continue cooking for 1-2 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Add additional water if your pasta is too dry.2-3 Lemons
- Stir in the fresh basil and half of the lemon zest. Serve immediately topped with the prepared breadcrumbs, and the remaining lemon zest if desired.handful Fresh Basil Leaves
Be sure to read the entire post for tips, tricks, and help troubleshooting.
The nutrition information listed here is only an estimate and is simply provided as a courtesy. It nor any other information within this post should constitute medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to read all packaging and ingredient labels for potential allergens. Optional ingredients are not included unless otherwise specified.