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one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon

One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

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One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon


One-Pot Pasta With Ricotta and Lemon

Simple creamy and so refreshing, this one pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta is a 20 minute meal that is so effortless. Dinner comes together in just one dish and is full of flavor and even veggies. Serve with fresh bread and a salad and dinner is complete!


  • 20 minutes and dinner is ready! Aside from stirring the ricotta sauce mixture and boiling the pasta, you pretty much toss and serve. Such a simple, flavorful pasta and it will easily make a whole meal or pair with a salad and a nice piece of meat even.
  • You only need a handful of ingredients. I have all of the ingredients used in this lemon ricotta pasta on hand at all times aside from the ricotta. I regularly have ricotta, it’s just not always around. The fact that dinner can come together with less than 10 ingredients is a bonus as well.
  • Added spinach gives you a nutrient boost. Who doesn’t love a little green in their pasta? Some freshly chopped spinach gives this pasta dinner some pretty color and of course some always necessary vitamins.
  • Lemon and ricotta pair so perfectly! Lemon was made for ricotta. Muffins, pancakes, pasta sauce, and so much more. It is the combination that is so delicious!


  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 pound short, ribbed pasta, like gemelli or penne
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino (2 ounces), plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  •  Black pepper
  •  Red-pepper flakes, for serving
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced or torn basil leaves, for serving (optional)


Start out by gettin the water on the oven to get the pasta ready.

While waiting for the water to boil, whisk together the ricotta, parmesan, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. This mixture will be pretty thick. The starchy reserved pasta water is what will smooth this out into a creamy sauce.

Before your drain your pasta, scoop out at least a cup and a half of pasta water and reserve it for the sauce. I pull 2 cups to play it safe.

Once you have boiled the pasta al dente according to package instructions, drain the pasta in a large colander and toss it with the chopped spinach to allow the spinach to wilt.

Set this aside while you prep the lemon ricotta sauce.

Using the same pot you boiled the pasta in, add one cup of the reserved pasta water and the ricotta lemon mixture. Set the heat to medium low.

Stir well until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add more water depending on desired thickness of the sauce. Go a touch thinner than you prefer as it will thicken slightly when you toss with the pasta and heat.

Add the pasta and spinach into the pot with the lemon ricotta sauce and stir to evenly coat.

At this time, you can add more salt, pepper or seasoning to taste. Or garlic–cause I feel like more garlic is always a good idea. You can also add some more lemon zest to bring out a stronger lemon flavor.

If the pasta sauce seems too thick, add some more reserved pasta water or olive oil to thin it out slightly.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan, extra lemon zest and chopped parsley or basil and enjoy!


Calories: 607kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 946mg | Potassium: 358mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 497IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 381mg | Iron: 2mg
One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon


Don’t overcook your pasta. Cook pasta until there are 1-2 minutes left of cooking time. Since we’re cooking the sauce with the pasta, this will ensure the pasta will not be overcooked.

Use whole milk ricotta. Lower fat versions will be too watery for this recipe.

Try to use good quality whole milk ricotta for a creamier texture. Some generic supermarket brands aren’t as luscious.

Once you have added all the ingredients to the pasta, stir well on medium-low heat. As you stir more and more, all of the the ingredients will come together. This will create the pasta sauce.

My favorite pasta shapes for this recipe are Casarecce, Gemelli or Cavatappi.

This recipe yields 4 large portions. If you are enjoying this pasta as a side dish, I recommend cutting the recipe in half.


  • Add some cubed white wine chicken into your pasta for more protein! You can even add some rotisserie chicken if you have some in the fridge.
  • Toss in some sliced Italian Sausage.
  • Stir in ⅓ cup chopped basil leaves.
  • Switch up the greens and use kale or arugula instead.
  • Add in some sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts.


There are so many great dishes you could serve alongside this vegetarian pasta dish. For example, this garlic bread would be amazing, so would this zucchini dish, or these blistered cherry tomatoes (which you could even just stir right in!).

If you’re looking for some protein dishes to serve along side (or even on top of) this pasta dish, this grilled chicken would be perfect, so would this easy baked salmon.


No, I don’t advise preparing this recipe in advance. This dish is best served immediately. If you store leftovers in the fridge, the pasta will dry out over time. I recommend adding a little water, olive oil and parmesan cheese when reheating the pasta.


Do we really need both lemon zest and lemon juice for this recipe?

Yes! The lemon zest provides a really potent lemon flavor, while the lemon juice is a bit more mild and brings a great acidity.

Do I really need to grate my own cheese?

Honestly, no. But is it better? Yes. It’s better because pre-grated cheese usually has preservatives, and therefore doesn’t melt/combine as easily as freshly grated cheese.

Why are we reserving and adding pasta water to the dish?

Adding the pasta water helps the sauce emulsify and become ultra lush and creamy, ultimately bringing the sauce together and helping it thicken and wrap around the pasta.

How should I reheat this dish?

You can simply add a dash of water and reheat in the microwave. It loses a bit of its creaminess, but is still delicious.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

I would recommend making it right before you’re going to eat it so the sauce is as creamy as possible. It loses a bit of that when re-heated.

What kind of pot is best to use for this dish?

Any heavy-bottomed pot would be great, just make sure it’s large enough to boil water and cook the pasta. The sauce won’t add more space. I really like to use my Le Creuset Round Wide Dutch Oven.

Can I use any other kind of citrus instead of lemon?

I would not, lemon is such a huge flavor profile for this dish that using any other citrus would completely change it.


Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Simple, fresh, and tasty, you will love how easy but delicious this Lemon Ricotta Pasta is! This one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon is full of flavour and comes together in next to no time.


One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon
One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon



  • 450 grams tortiglioni pasta
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 small lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 8 oz baby spinach
  • ¾ to 1 cup reserved pasta water


  1. Bring salted water to a boil and cook your pasta and cook until al-dente. Mine takes 6 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, before draining it and set aside. Do not rinse the pasta.
  2. To the same pot, add the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add the pasta and ½ to ¾ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot and mix to combine.
  5. With the pot on medium heat, add in the spinach and mix until the spinach has wilted. Usually, the residual heat from the pasta will help cook the pasta but turning on the stove helps the spinach wilt faster.

Recipes Variations

  • Add a few tablespoons of hot sauce or sriracha sauce to the ricotta mixture to make this pasta spicier.
  • Add a protein to this to make it more hearty. Try grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, or sliced steak. You can also make some tofu if you’d like to keep this meatless.
  • Try using arugula or kale instead of spinach if you prefer.

Tips and Notes

  • Don’t rinse your pasta as the starchiness from the pasta will help thicken the lemon ricotta mixture.
  • Always zest the lemon before juicing as its much more difficult to do it the other way around.
  • Roll the lemon on the counter under your palm to loosen the juices of the lemon so you can get more juice from it.



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