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Lemon Garlic Pasta

A simple and flavorful pasta dish with crispy brown butter bread crumbs. Use any pasta shape you like!

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6
Author Laura Doerr


  • 1 lb pasta any variety
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley minced
  • Red pepper flakes optional for heat

For the brown butter bread crumbs

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2-3 slices sourdough, French baguette, any stale bread
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt


For the brown butter bread crumbs

  1. Tear bread into pieces. Place in a food processor and pulse until you get medium ground bread crumbs. Some larger chunks are OK too. Set aside.

  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over med-low heat. Once melted, butter will bubble, foam, and become brown in color with little brown specs at the bottom of the pan. Once the butter is browned, stir in bread crumbs and garlic salt. Stir to coat, and continue to stir over med-low heat until breadcrumbs are toasted and crispy. Remove from heat, and transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

For the pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of kosher salt. Cook pasta about 2 minutes UNDER al dente from package instructions. Pasta will finish cooking in the sauce. Do not drain, you'll use some pasta water, and transfer pasta right into sauce from boiling water.

  2. In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil, garlic, and shallot over medium heat, cook for about 2 minutes. Add about 1 cup of pasta water (from almost done pasta so you get the starchy water). Using a tongs or slotted spoon, transfer pasta into the butter sauce.

  3. Stir in grated cheese, cream cheese, and juice and zest of 1 lemon. Stir until cheese is melted. Add additional pasta water as needed for moisture. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want a little heat.

  4. Serve each portion with toasted brown butter bread crumbs and fresh parsley.

Recipe Notes

This recipe works great with any pasta type. For long pasta, spaghetti, linguine, fettuccini, or bucatini are great varieties. For short pasta, penne, rigatoni, fusilli, mafalda, or bowtie. Whatever is your fav!

Grilled chicken or shrimp would be delicious add-ins to this recipe, as well as spring vegetables like peas or asparagus.