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Easy Lemon Ricotta Pasta

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When you’re on the lookout for a quick and easy dinner idea (every night around here!), you’ve got to try this delicious and nutritious lemon ricotta pasta recipe! This vegetarian dish is perfect for a satisfying weeknight meal, with its creamy ricotta and bright lemon flavors (from both zest and juice, just like lemon risotto). Made with just a few simple ingredients and pantry staples, dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes! After topping chicken broccoli ziti with crunchy breadcrumbs, I knew this ricotta lemon pasta needed them to, they add the perfect texture to the chewy pasta.

If you love a pasta dinner (who doesn’t?!), be sure to give my chicken broccoli ziti, udon noodles with vegetables, and scallop linguine a try next time.

Lemon ricotta pasta with breadcrumbs

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What You’ll Love About this Lemon Ricotta Pasta Recipe

  • Bright lemon flavor
  • Creamy, cheesy texture
  • Just 10 minutes prep time
  • Just 15 minutes total cook time
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Almost 20 grams of protein per serving


  • Pasta – I love to use cavatappi pasta, but any similar shape will work. Alternatives like fusilli, farfalle, or even rigatoni are good alternatives as I know sometimes finding cavatappi can be tough.
  • Butter – Use high quality butter for best flavor.
  • Bread crumbs – Use panko breadcrumbs for the best crunch. Their larger, flatter shape gives them more surface area, more opportunity for browning, and more crunch!
  • Garlic – Use whole garlic cloves as we’ll be slicing the garlic. Minced garlic will also work, but you may need to adjust the cooking time as they will sizzle and cook faster than sliced garlic.
  • Lemon – Use whole lemon as we are using both lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Olive oil – Use a high quality cooking olive oil.
  • Ricotta cheese – Use whole milk ricotta for maximum creamy texture.
  • Optional add-ins – These ingredients will add a little more flavor and/substance to the dish. Try arugula, baby spinach, wilted kale, peas, sautéed lemon pepper shrimp, cooked chicken, or grilled salmon.
Ingredients to make lemon ricotta recipe

How to Make Ricotta Lemon Pasta

This is an overview on how to make pasta with ricotta and lemon, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Cook pasta. Boil large pot of water and cook pasta (don’t forget to salt the pasta water!) according to al dente package instructions.
Toast breadcrumbs. Melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and add panko bread crumbs. Stir frequently and cook until golden brown, removing from heat and transferring to a bowl immediately to stop cooking.
Toasted panko bread crumbs for pasta
Prep ingredients. Thinly slice garlic. Zest and juice lemon.
Make lemon ricotta cheese sauce. Heat oil in large skillet and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add in ricotta cheese and lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Add pasta water and lemon zest and whisk until smooth.
Lemon ricotta sauce for pasta
Finish ricotta and lemon pasta. Add pasta to lemon ricotta sauce and toss together. Stir over heat, until sauce is thickened if necessary. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs.
Pasta in a lemon ricotta sauce in skillet
Bowl of lemon pasta on a blue plate

Storage Instructions

Store leftover lemon and ricotta pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

How to reheat

Reheat pasta in a hot skillet or microwave until warmed through.

Bowl of lemon pasta with breadcrumbs

What to Serve with Lemon Ricotta Pasta

I think all you need to serve this one pot lemon ricotta pasta with is a simple veggie side:

How to Feed Lemon Ricotta Pasta to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

I would recommend serving the easy lemon ricotta pasta in a pinch bowl (taster bowl) if it’s a new or learning-to-like it food and you can also leave out some plain pasta if necessary. Serve the meal with a few items you know your kids will eat, like fruit, milk, and/or bread and butter.

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Close up of lemon ricotta pasta in a bowl

More Easy Pasta Recipes

If you like this lemon ricotta pasta recipe, you might also like some of these other easy pasta recipes:

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Close up of lemon ricotta pasta in a bowl

Easy Lemon Ricotta Pasta

  • Author: Emily Dingmann of myeverydaytable.com
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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You’ll love this lemon ricotta pasta recipe – it’s easy, made with just 7 simple ingredients, and totally delicious. 


Units Scale
  • 16 oz. cavatappi (or similar shape pasta)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp. zest and 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 16 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese


  1. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Remember to salt the cooking water and reserve 1 cup of cooking water.
  2. Prep ingredients:
    Melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and add panko bread crumbs. Stir frequently and cook until golden brown, removing from heat and transferring to a bowl immediately to stop cooking.
    Thinly slice garlic.
    Zest and juice lemon.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic. Cook for 30-seconds to a minute, being careful to not burn. Add in ricotta cheese and lemon juice and stir to combine. Pour in 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and lemon zest.
  4. Whisk until creamy. Add in cooked pasta and toss until it coats the pasta, cooking a few more minutes to thicken sauce if necessary. If mixture is dry, drizzle in more of the reserved pasta cooking water.
  5. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on top and freshly cracked pepper and flaky sea salt if desired.

Keywords: lemon ricotta pasta, ricotta lemon pasta

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    • Emily

      Hi Jr, that is disappointing. I’m sorry you had that experience. Would love some further feedback so I can recreate this and troubleshoot. Did you use whole or skim ricotta? Did you salt everything enough? And did you stir in pasta water at the end? This should have gotten rid of any clumps in the sauce. Please let me know so I can ensure this doesn’t happen to others. Thanks for the feedback.

  1. Allison Meadows

    I don’t think the previous reviewer read the instructions. Maybe adding the pasta water to the ingredient list would be helpful. Its a great dish, and the addition of the panko is a great idea.