20 Minute Creamy Tagliatelle al Limone (with Lemon)

Can a cream sauce be both comforting and fresh? Meet the best late winter cream sauce recipe. Dried tagliatelle pasta is tossed in a cozy blanket of a little light cream kissed with the juice and zest of a lemon. Creamy tagliatelle al limone is the comfort food recipe to serve in late February or early March when you feel Spring calling but Winter is still doing her thing. Bonus? The whole dish is ready in less than 20 minutes.

In 20 minutes, you can be twirling up your own forkful of tagliatelle al limone.

I have become a little tagliatelle obsessed and keep coming up with new reasons to use this light but hearty long strand pasta. Whether it’s tossed with a rich ragu bolognese or a meaty cream sauce, tagliatelle pasta is a winner in my book.

This time, I am using it for a pasta al limone recipe —lemon pasta just doesn’t sound as pretty—and the combination is nothing short of lick-the-plate status! I think you’ll agree! 

What is tagliatelle al limone?

a stainless skillet of tagliatelle al limone and tongs
A pan of creamy lemon pasta is the perfect main course or side dish for beef or chicken.

All the time I’ve spent in Italy throughout my 5 decades, I’ve never been to the Amalfi Coast which is known for producing large, sweet lemons perfect for spaghetti al limone.
(More on tagliatelle pasta below, btw.) Found in Southern Italy, especially in the famously gorgeous Amalfi Coast, tagliatelle al limon is essentially a creamy lemon sauce over tagliatelle, an egg pasta that has become one of my favorites. 

And I know you’re going to love it because you can make the whole shebang —including cooking the pasta —in under 20 minutes.

Sip on an an authentic Italian amaretto sour while you’re cooking and you’ll feel like you’re in Italy.

Tagliatelle talk

Many times, you’ll find packages of dried tagliatelle in little nests, as shown.

You probably figured out from the title that you’ll need tagliatelle looking for this recipe. Tagliatelle is a flat ribbon pasta, many times package in little heaped “nests”. It is wider but thinner in thickness than fettuccine, but not as wide as pappardelle. 

For this recipe, I’m chose dried tagliatelle pasta because it cooks quickly and is readily available in most grocery stores. If you can’t find tagliatelle near you, you can use any ribbon pasta or twist shaped pasta you like:

  • fettuccine
  • tagliolini – thinner than tagliatelle. Depending on the brand, it might look rounded like spaghetti
  • ​cavatappi
  • fusilli

Ingredient Call Out

Fresh lemon zest and juice get swirled into 18% cream and parmesan for al limone sauce.

We’ve already talked a ton about the pasta so let’s do a rundown on the creamy sauce ingredients!

  • Lemon (limone) – If you’re lucky to find an Amalfi lemon, you struck gold! Any of the easy to find types of lemon in the grocery store will work. You’l be using first the lemon zest then the lemon juice.
  • Cream. Not just any kind of cream but light cream (similar to what is used in the reader favorite butter and cream sauce recipe. It’s not “light” as in low calories but has a lower percentage of fat (18%).
  • Butter. Unsalted butter to be specific. Adds more richness than olive oil.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper 

How to make tagliatelle al limone

Are you ready to make a super creamy lemon pasta recipe? Let’s get started!

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium high heat.  
  2. Sprinkle in a hefty handful of kosher salt to the water before carefully adding in about 1/2 lb. of dried tagliatelle. 
  3. Cook until al dente for about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 to 1 1/2 cups pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander.
a dark wooden cutting board with fresh grated parmesan and lemon being zested
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a stainless skillet of cream sauce with lemon zest in it
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cream sauce and a pat of butter in a skillet with lemons
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  1. Zest one lemon and then cut it in half and juice it. Grate parmesan cheese.
  2. Over medium low heat in a large skillet with sides, pour in the light table cream and sprinkle in the lemon zest. 
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon of butter and whisk until melted. Add remaining butter 1 Tablespoon of butter at a time until incorporated. 
lemon juice being added to al limone sauce in a skillet
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skillet of cream sauce being mixed in with tagliatelle pasta al limone
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  1. Stir in 1/2 cup of pasta water to start followed by 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Whisk to combine and allow sauce to thicken a bit over low heat.
  2. Toss in cooked, drained tagliatelle pasta until all the strands are evenly coated.
  3. Sprinkle over fresh grated parmesan and a little lemon zest and black pepper.

Lemon Cream Sauce Pro Tip

Add the zest first to the lightly heated cream to introduce the lemon and whisk thoroughly so the cream won’t curdle.

Tagliatelle tips – dried vs fresh pasta

If you have the time and are inspired to make homemade pasta, I certainly wouldn’t discourage you! But because around here we shoot for easy (especially on busy weeknights), dried pasta works great! Here are some differences between dried pasta and fresh tagliatelle:

  • Dried pasta doesn’t readily soak in the flavors like fresh so might need to use more juice and zest for the maximum lemon flavor
  • While fresh tagliatelle cooks super quickly, dried actually cooks relatively fast…like 5 minutes or less so the time difference from fresh is really minimal.
  • Dried pasta might not release as much starch into the water as fresh so be sure to reserve extra of that starchy pasta water to help create a silky, smooth, not-too-thick sauce.
  • When shopping for tagliatelle, look for pasta made from 100% durum wheat semolina pasta. It’ll hold it’s shape better when cooked.

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!

a fork twirling tagliatelle in lemon sauce
5 from 1 vote

Tagliatelle al Limon

Can a cream sauce be both comforting and fresh? Meet the best late winter cream sauce recipe. Dried tagliatelle pasta is tossed in a cozy blanket of a little light cream kissed with the juice and zest of a lemon. Creamy tagliatelle al limone is the comfort food recipe to serve in late February or early March when you feel Spring calling but Winter is still doing her thing. Bonus? The whole dish is ready in less than 20 minutes.
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:20 minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients
 

  • ½ lb tagliatelle pasta
  • zest and juice of one lemon. set aside -1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup cream
  • 5 T butter
  • reserve 1 1/2 cup pasta water
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • salt and pepper 1/2 teaspoon each, maybe white pepper?

Instructions

  • Cook 1/2 lb dried tagliatelle in about 5 qts of generously salted water for about 3 minutes. Reserve at least 1 – 1 ½ cups of pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander.
    ½ lb tagliatelle pasta
  • First zest then juice 1 lemon. Freshly grate parmesan cheese.
  • To a large skillet, add the light cream and heat the pan to medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the lemon zest (reserve a little bit for garnishing the finished dish).
    Add in the butter 1 Tablespoon at a time, thoroughly melting between additions. whisking the whole time.
    Starting with ½ cup, pour in pasta water followed by ¼ cup lemon juice and whisk to combine. Heat gently whisking the whole time until the sauce thickens. Toss in cooked tagliatelle and more pasta water as needed in small increments. Once you have the sauce where you like it, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and zest over a little more lemon.
    zest and juice of one lemon. set aside -1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 cup cream, 5 T butter, reserve 1 1/2 cup pasta water
  • Stir in cheese (1/4-1/2 cup) and then garnish with more lemon zest, parmesan and freshly chopped parsley, if desired.
    1/4 cup parmesan, salt and pepper 1/2 teaspoon each
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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