Dinner, Pasta

Caramelized Lemon Pasta

This creamy Caramelized Lemon Pasta is packed with fresh flavors and uses only a few simple ingredients! The silky sauce is made with a whole lemon (rind and all!) and takes just 20 minutes to prepare. Easily adapted for dairy-free and vegan.

Caramelized Lemon Pasta

I am a huge fan of caramelized onions and shallots in my pasta, like in this amazing One Pot French Onion Pasta, so I thought I’d give the same technique a try with lemons. It’s not something you see very often, most recipes use lemon juice or zest, but why not just use the whole lemon? I was initially worried that it might be too overpowering, but the flavors actually mellowed out quite nicely and created a really unique and delicious dish!

Caramelized Lemon Pasta

The thinly sliced lemon rind softens and caramelizes with a bit of sugar which helps cut the acidity and bitterness. The lemon juice reduces and you’re left with a sweet lemon flavor that infuses the shallot and garlic. Pasta water and grated parmesan cheese help create a silky smooth sauce that makes this pasta even more delicious. The ingredients are super simple too! Chances are, you already have most of the them on hand!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this Caramelized Lemon Pasta:

  • A whole lemon (rind and all)
  • Shallot & garlic
  • Sugar
  • Linguini, spaghetti or other long-cut pasta
  • Parmesan cheese (I used dairy free)
  • Olive oil
  • To serve: freshly ground black pepper, parsley and toasted breadcrumbs (optional, but delicious)
Caramelized Lemon Pasta

Tips for making Caramelized Lemon Pasta

  • Make sure you slice the lemon rind very thin. I recommend using a sharp knife to cut the lemon into rounds, then slice each round into quarters or sixths.
  • To make this Lemon Pasta recipe vegan and dairy-free, simply use a non-dairy parmesan cheese. You can omit the cheese entirely but the sauce won’t be quite as rich and creamy.
  • Make sure to remove the pasta from the heat and transfer it to the sauce a minute or two before it’s done cooking. There should be a small dot of white in the center of each noodle when you bite into it. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce and absorb all that lemony goodness.
  • Salt your pasta water! I’ve found that this is one of those recipes that requires a little extra seasoning to really bring out the flavors. If the final product tastes a little bland, chances are it needs more salt to balance out the acidity.
Caramelized Lemon Pasta

Serving Suggestions

This Caramelized Lemon pasta goes wonderfully with toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. I like to toast Panko breadcrumbs in a little olive oil until they’re golden brown. Homemade breadcrumbs would also be delicious! The pasta also goes well with arugula which has a nice peppery flavor and compliments the lemon.

If you’re looking to add a protein, try grilled chicken, steak or shrimp. Stirring in a can of drained chickpeas or white beans would make for a heartier vegetarian meal.

Caramelized Lemon Pasta

More pasta recipes to try

Made this Caramelized Lemon Pasta recipe? Tag @wandering_chickpea on Instagram to be featured in my stories and follow along on Pinterest for more delicious recipes!

Yield: 4 servings

Caramelized Lemon Pasta

Caramelized Lemon Pasta

This creamy Carmelized Lemon Pasta recipe is bursting with flavor and made with just a few simple ingredients. Easily adapted for daity free and vegan.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz linguini or spaghetti
  • 1-1 1/2 cups pasta water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or non-dairy alternative
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted breadcrumbs (optional)


  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the lemons and cook over medium-high heat until most of the moisture has cooked off—about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sugar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the lemons are caramelized.
  3. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook until softened—about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat until the pasta is ready.
  4. Bring about 2 quarts of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta 1-2 minutes shorter than the indicated time on the package.
  5. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet along with 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Bring to a boil and cook until al dente, adding more pasta water if needed.
  6. Stir in the Parmesan, parsley and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs if desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 358Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 252mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 11g

All nutritional info is an estimation

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a review below and tag @wandering_chickpea on Instagram!

Leave a Reply