lemon ricotta pasta in a dish

There are plenty of things to love about this creamy lemon ricotta pasta dish, including the fact that it’s easy to make and could easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. That said, this recipe takes a different spin on pasta, which is great for people looking to venture away from the typical pasta sauces we see all too often in recipes. From start to finish, this dish takes about 20 minutes to make, and the result is a meal that tastes as good as something you’d order at a restaurant.

Recipe developer Catherine Brookes of Blue Sky Eating came up with this unique take on a creamy pasta dish that includes the perfectly-matched flavors of lemon and ricotta. Trust us — the two ingredients go together like peanut butter and jelly. "The combination of smooth, creamy cheese with sharp, zesty lemon is so mouth-watering!" Brookes raves. She adds, "It’s a dish that feels indulgent and comforting, yet fresh and summery, too."

Gather the ingredients for lemon ricotta pasta

lemon ricotta pasta ingredients

Before you do anything else, you’ll need head to the store and grab all the ingredients for this creamy lemon ricotta pasta. You’ll need fusilli pasta, a lemon (which you’ll need to zest and juice), a garlic clove, olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, ricotta cheese, basil, salt, and pepper.

Once you have those items, you can make this easy dinner.

Boil the pasta

pasta draining in collander

You’ll need to read the instructions on the back of the pasta box and cook the pasta according to the instructions. Since each brand is different, the instructions will vary slightly.

And if you don’t like fusilli? Don’t sweat it. "Feel free to swap [it] for other kinds of pasta such as penne or spaghetti," Brookes says.

Mix the sauce

ricotta sauce in bowl

While your pasta cooks, take out a bowl and start adding the ingredients for the sauce. This includes the lemon juice and zest, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, ricotta cheese, chopped basil, salt, and pepper.

Drain the pasta and reserve the water

lemon ricotta pasta in pot

Once the pasta finishes cooking, drain the pasta and reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water. "Adding a little of the pasta water to the sauce at the end helps to make it extra creamy and silky," Brookes says.

Return the pasta to the pot and add the cheese sauce and the reserved pasta water. Turn the heat on the stove to medium and stir for a few minutes, until the sauce heats through.

Serve and enjoy

lemon ricotta pasta in bowls

Once you remove the pasta from the pot, scoop it into a dish of your choice. If you wish, top it with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and any remaining lemon zest. This recipe can certainly be enjoyed without any side dishes, but Brookes provides a few serving suggestions. She says it would be good "with a crisp green salad … or maybe some garlic bread."

"Leftovers don’t keep super well with this one as the creamy cheese is definitely best served warm," Brookes notes. "But technically, you could keep it in the fridge a couple of days and reheat [it] in the microwave."

  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ teaspoon Italian herbs
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions.
  2. While the pasta boils, mix together the lemon juice and zest, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, ricotta cheese, chopped basil, and some salt and pepper, to taste in a bowl.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
  4. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cheese mixture and reserved pasta water. Stir on medium heat for a couple of minutes to heat through.
  5. Top with extra grated Parmesan cheese and lemon zest, if desired.