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Spinach Lemon Pasta

5 from 1 vote
Time: 20 minutes
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This 20 minute Spinach Lemon Pasta is tossed in a garlic butter sauce and flavored with red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest. It is fresh, delicious, and the whole family will love it.

Serve it with a side salad or bread. You can also top it off with your favorite protein. We like pan-fried chicken or shrimp best.

If you like pasta for dinner, try my Baked Chicken and Broccoli Pasta while you’re at it.

Spinach Lemon Pasta served on two plates with forks ready to eat. Extra parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on the side.

Creamy Spinach Lemon Pasta

This spinach and lemon pasta recipe is my go-to, especially when I don’t feel like spending an hour cooking. In just 20 minutes I can whip up a delicious dinner that is full of flavor. You’ll love how it has…

  • NO CREAM – a lot of pasta recipes include a type of milk, whether it is cream or cream cheese, this one does not. It is still just as creamy and rich but lightened up a bit.
  • MINIMAL INGREDIENTS – This recipe is 9 ingredients, including the salt and pepper. They are also easy-to-find ingredients that you may have in your kitchen right now!
  • FRESH FLAVOR – With grated garlic, bright lemon juice, lemon zest, spinach, and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes, this pasta dish delivers.
  • CUSTOMIZABLE – You can tweak this recipe to your preferences. Leave off the red pepper flakes, use gluten free spaghetti, serve it with a protein, or add your favorite all-purpose seasonings.
Skillet of Spinach Lemon Pasta ready for serving.

Spinach Lemon Pasta Ingredients

When you taste this spinach and lemon pasta, you will not believe it is only 9 ingredients. Keep reading for a few notes and potential substitutions.

  • Pasta: This recipe uses spaghetti, but any long pasta like angel hair or fettuccini works as well. You can even use gluten free or spaghetti made with spinach, black beans, or hidden veggie varieties.
  • Unsalted Butter: Makes for a rich and creamy sauce. Do not use salted butter, it will be too salty.
  • Garlic: Use freshly grated or minced for the best flavor.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: This is completely optional but so delicious. It adds heat, not spice, which my family loves.
  • Lemon: We will use both lemon zest and lemon juice in this recipe. Just make sure you are using a very ripe and well washed lemon.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Shredded off the block is the best parmesan cheese, in my opinion.
  • Baby Spinach: Use fresh, bagged baby spinach that comes pre-washed.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Essential to a well seasoned dish. Feel free to season to your taste preferences or using my recommended amounts.

Equipment Needed

  • Large Pot: For cooking the pasta. I like this one that has a straining lid, you don’t need a colander with it.
  • Citrus Juicer: Makes juicing lemons so easy. I like using a handheld juicer.
  • Skillet: Make sure you choose a large skillet. It needs to be able to handle the volume of the pasta and spinach while being able to toss it all together.
  • Kitchen Tongs: These make tossing the pasta so much easier. I recommend stainless steel tongs with silicone, they grip the noodles without breaking them.
Ingredients. Spaghetti, lemon juice, lemon zest, spinach, unsalted butter, parmesan cheese, grated garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper.

How to Make Spinach Lemon Pasta

Here’s a quick overview, the recipe card below will have complete details.

1. COOK SPAGHETTI according to package instructions. Be sure to reserve a cup of the pasta liquid and do not rinse the spaghetti once it’s cooked.

2. MAKE THE SAUCE by melting unsalted butter and sauteing garlic and red pepper flakes. Add lemon juice and pasta water.

3. ADD THE SPAGHETTI AND SPINACH, toss a few times until it’s well coated and the spinach has wilted.

4. TOSS IN lemon zest, freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Serve!

Pasta finished cooking and in a pan, topped with extra parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest.

Storing Information

Any leftover spinach and lemon pasta should be stored in an airtight container. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Making this ahead or freezing is not recommended.

3 Recipe Tips to Read

1. YOUR LEMONS MATTER! The lemons we buy from the grocery store are typically days to weeks away from being ripe. An under ripened lemon will give small amounts of juice and bitter zest. I check lemons by looking at their color and texture, it should be a deep yellow and slightly squishy when rolled on the counter.

2. COOK THE PASTA AL-DENTE. If it’s cooked too long, the spaghetti will become soft. As we toss the spaghetti with the sauce and wilting spinach, it will continue to cook.

3.TOSS PASTA WITH EASE. I have found that kitchen tongs or salad tongs are the best tool for tossing pasta. You don’t get pasta noodles falling out of the pan, or sauce flinging everywhere. So ditch the kitchen spoon, you’ll thank me!

Spinach and Lemon Pasta on two plates with forks ready to eat. Extra parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on the side.

A Few Fun Additions or Variations

SWAP THE PASTA WATER FOR MILK. If you’re looking for a rich and creamy sauce, you can substitute the pasta water for half and half, whole milk, or even cream cheese.

ADD A PROTEIN. This spinach and lemon pasta tastes great on it’s own, but sometimes dinner needs protein. It’s great with shredded chicken, shrimp, grilled steak, or even salmon.

MAKE IT WITH NO BUTTER. Olive oil is a really great alternative to butter because it is has less saturated fats. It does slightly alter the flavor, so if you don’t like the flavor of olive oil don’t try it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Spinach Lemon Pasta

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes, frozen spinach that has been thawed and squeezed of all excess moisture will work. I prefer the taste and texture of fresh over frozen but use what works best for you and your family.

What do I serve with Spinach Lemon Pasta?

This pasta dish is great served by itself, but I also love it with a side salad, roasted vegetables, or some bread. I love making my Black Pepper Focaccia with this recipe.

Hand holding a forkful of Spinach and Lemon Pasta eating it right out of the hot pan.

More Easy Dinner Recipes You Might Like

There is nothing better than a delicious dinner with minimal ingredients. Here are more ideas for you.

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Enjoy Entirely, Elizabeth
Spinach Lemon Pasta served with a fork and ready to eat. An extra plate of pasta and red pepper flakes in the background.

Spinach Lemon Pasta

Elizabeth Swoish
Make this easy, 20 minute Spinach Lemon Pasta for a quick weeknight dinner. It's crowd-pleasing, bursting with flavor, and a recipe the whole family will love.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 4
Calories 304 kcal



  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic - grated or finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon - zested and then juiced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese - freshly grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt - plus more for salting pasta water
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add and cook the spaghetti according to package instructions (typically 9 to 10 minutes). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the spaghetti, do not rinse.
  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt the unsalted butter. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, stir and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).
  • Add the lemon juice and ½ cup of pasta water. Once it begins to bubble, add the spinach and pasta. Toss together until spinach wilts and the sauce coats the noodles.
    NOTE: If the pasta sauce seems dry, add a ¼ cup of pasta water.
  • Remove skillet from heat, add lemon zest, parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper. Toss a few times before serving.


Storing Information

  • Refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • Making ahead or freezing is not recommended.

A Few Fun Additions or Variations

  • Swap the pasta water for milk. For a rich and creamy sauce, substitute the pasta water for half and half, whole milk, or even cream cheese.
  • Add a protein. It’s great with shredded chicken, shrimp, grilled steak, or even salmon.
  • Make it without butter. Olive oil is a really great alternative, use same amount as the butter.

Metric conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.

Tried this recipe?Feel free to share a rating and comment below. Don’t forget to tag me on social media, or use the hashtag #EntirelyElizabeth – I would love to see what you’ve made!
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By Elizabeth Swoish on February 28th, 2024
Elizabeth Swoish holding a camera up to her eye taking a photo.

About Elizabeth Swoish

Elizabeth Swoish is the founder and CEO of Entirely Elizabeth. She is a self-taught foodie and mocktail enthusiast with a business degree in data analysis. Read Elizabeth's food journey or connect on your favorite social media channels.

1 thought on “Spinach Lemon Pasta”

  1. 5 stars
    This was excellent and will become a staple in my cooking repertoire. I paired it with roasted salmon and it couldn’t have been better.


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