Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti al Limone

Done right, spaghetti al limone tastes like a sun-drenched afternoon on the Amalfi Coast. Look for the softest, juiciest lemons you can get—no cold, hard, odorless ones welcome. Make sure you grate the Parmigiano using the finest side of the box grater, so the cheese effortlessly dissolves into the warm pasta.

Total time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • Zest of 1 lemon plus juice of 2 lemons, squeezed lemon halves reserved
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup very finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about a minute shy of the time indicated on the box.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt butter in oil. Add garlic and swirl in pan until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add lemon zest and juice.
  3. Add 1 cup starchy pasta water, reserved squeezed lemon halves, salt and pepper, and continue to simmer until pasta is ready.
  4. Use a spider or tongs to transfer wet spaghetti into lemon-butter sauce.
  5. Stir spaghetti until liquid reduces slightly and starts to coat pasta. Remove garlic and lemon halves, squeezing out any remaining juice before discarding.
  6. Off heat, alternate between adding Parmigiano and at least another ½ cup pasta water, while continually stirring or tossing, until spaghetti is creamy and saucy.
  7. Remember, you can always loosen the pasta with a splash of warm pasta water if needed.
  8. To serve, sprinkle with chives. Finish with more grated Parmigiano and generous cranks of black pepper.

Original WSJ Article