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Perfect Lemon Basil Pasta

Lemon Basil Pasta is a bright and tangy side dish with fresh lemon, basil, and melted butter. All you need is one pot to make this vegetarian recipe!

Pile of lemon pasta with fresh basil leaves on a marble plate over cutting board.

I love the taste of fresh lemon!

When you combine it with fresh basil and pasta, you have a match made in Heaven.

Lemon Basil Pasta is a super simple side dish you can have on the table in 15 minutes. 

And the best part is it only uses one pot so clean up is a breeze!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Bowls of lemon basil pasta ingredients including basil, parmesan cheese and butter.

COOK 8 ounces thin spaghetti according to package directions, omitting salt in the cooking water. DRAIN and return pasta to pan.

Cooked thin spaghetti in metal pot on wood cutting board next to bowl of basil leaves.

In a small bowl, COMBINE 2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 4 large basil leaves. TOSS with cooked pasta

White bowl of lemon basil sauce on wood cutting board next to bowl of basil leaves.

SPRINKLE 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese over pasta and SERVE immediately.

Lemon basil pasta in pot with tongs all on wood cutting board.

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Lemon herb pasta with fresh basil leaves and lemon slices on marble plate.

You can really use any pasta to make this recipe. I’m not a huge fan of angel hair, so that’s why I opt for thin spaghetti, but like I always tell my husband, pasta tastes about the same no matter the shape. Ha!

This recipe tastes the best if you use fresh ingredients like fresh lemon juice and fresh basil. But if you don’t have those on hand (I rarely do), you can sub in bottled lemon juice or dried basil.

There’s really no substitute for basil, but if you are completely out, you can use some of these basil substitutes.

If you don’t like the taste of grated Parmesan (no judgment!), you can use shredded Parmesan. Make sure to use melted butter and not margarine with the shredded Parmesan for the richest flavor.

You can make this pasta recipe a main dish by throwing some grilled or breaded chicken on top.

Perfect Pairings

Lemon parmesan pasta with fresh basil leaves and on marble plate and cutting board.

This Lemon Basil Pasta goes well with:

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Lemon basil pasta with fresh basil leaves on a marble plate next to lemon wedges.
Does lemon and basil go together?


Lemon and basil are a classic pairing in Italian cuisine. This duo adds a freshness and brightness to any dish and pairs especially well with pasta and chicken.

You’ll also find this delicious pairing in pesto sauce!

Can you put basil in pasta?

Both fresh and dried basil can be put in just about any pasta dish.

Basil is a popular ingredient across many cultures and is found in a wide variety of dishes with or without pasta.

Should you chop basil?

That depends on how particular you are!

Professional chefs proclaim that fresh basil should always be torn and never chopped. Chopping basil breaks open the cell membranes which leaches out the flavor.

If your basil will be cooked in a sauce or baked, tearing or cutting won’t make that much of a difference. If you plan to use the basil in its raw form in a salad, try tearing the leaves and see if you notice the difference.

Do you need to wash fresh basil?

All fresh herbs and produce should be washed.

You can wash fresh basil by running it under cold water and drying gently with a paper towel.

Be sure to discard any brown leaves.

I hope your family loves this recipe! If you make it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!


And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!

Lemon herb pasta with fresh basil and lemon slices.

Lemon Basil Pasta

The Ashcroft Family Table
Lemon Basil Pasta is a bright, tangy side dish with fresh lemon, basil, and melted butter. All you need is one pot to make this vegetarian recipe!
4.20 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Additional Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 290 kcal


  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 large basil leaves, chopped (or 1½ teaspoon dried basil leaves)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt in the cooking water. Drain and return pasta to pan.
  • In a small bowl, combine butter, lemon juice, garlic salt, pepper, and basil. Toss with cooked pasta.
  • Sprinkle cheese over pasta and serve immediately.


Serving: 1gCalories: 290kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 10gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 585mgPotassium: 147mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 251IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 1mg
Keyword lemon and basil pasta, lemon basil pasta, lemon herb pasta, lemon parmesan pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Pinterest graphic with text and plate of lemon basil pasta.
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