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Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Need a quick weeknight dinner perfect for a hot summer night? This zesty lemon ricotta pasta is the perfect recipe. Featuring ripe cherry tomatoes and fresh basil in a creamy garlic lemon ricotta sauce, it’s comforting yet light at the same time.

Lemon ricotta pasta on a white plate with a fork and cherry tomatoes and fresh basil on the side.

I love a good summer pasta and this recipe epitomizes exactly that. With ripe and juicy cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, it’s everything to love about late summer.

The star of this pasta show though is by far the creamy lemon ricotta sauce that coats it all.

Lemon juice and zest keep things bright and zingy while the ricotta balances everything out with its smooth and indulgent texture and taste.

When fall rolls around, I love using it in these butternut squash noodles but in August, let’s keep the tomatoes and basil front and center, shall we?

If you’re looking for a weeknight meal that’s ready in under 30 minutes with just a few ingredients, this lemon ricotta pasta is for you!

Ingredients to make ricotta lemon pasta: cherry tomatoes, fresh ricotta, basil and linguine on a cutting board.

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE RICOTTA LEMON PASTA

  • linguine (or pasta of choice – use gluten-free if necessary)
  • ricotta
  • juice and zest of a lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • salt & pepper

WHAT KIND OF RICOTTA IS BEST?

Not all ricotta is the same or created equal!

Like I advocate for most ingredients, choose quality when it comes to selecting the ricotta for this recipe as it’s really the star ingredient.

I like brands that use simple ingredients without any fillers, additives or other junk in theirs and if possible, certified organic.

Make sure to always read the label on dairy products, you’d be surprised at the crap that gets added in there! There are also brands that make lactose free ricotta if that’s helpful for those you’re feeding.

Good quality ricotta is smooth and creamy with a subtle sweet flavor not grainy or bitter like some cheaper store brands can be. If you can find it freshly made at your store or deli, even better!

I went through a fresh ricotta kick a few years back and these grilled zucchini ricotta stacks were one of the meals I made on repeat back then along with our family favorite, ricotta spinach torte.

It’s also important to go with whole milk ricotta for this pasta recipe not the part-skim varieties.

Making lemon ricotta sauce in a glass bowl with fresh lemon and basil on the side.

HOW TO MAKE PASTA WITH A LEMON RICOTTA SAUCE

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the linguine (or other pasta) and cook until al dente (usually a minute or two under package directions).

While the water comes to a boil, make the no-cook lemon ricotta sauce.

Add the ricotta to a medium bowl along with the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain then return to the pot. Pour the ricotta sauce on top and add the cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

Toss until all the ingredients are combined and the pasta is evenly coated in the ricotta sauce.

Serve and enjoy!

FRESH LEMON AS A KEY INGREDIENT

While you may be tempted to skip the zest or worse yet, use bottled lemon juice, fresh is really key in this recipe.

With so few ingredients, it’s important every one of them is fresh for the best taste!

The zest is key as it imparts so much bright and zingy lemon flavor without turning the pasta sour from using too much juice.

Zest can be such a shining ingredient in simple dishes (like in these whipped lemon burrata shrimp crostini) and that’s definitely the case with this pasta.

Creamy ricotta lemon garlic sauce in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon.

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE THIS RICOTTA AND LEMON PASTA

If you want to make this outside of summer and fresh basil isn’t as easy to grab, try using baby spinach in its place.

There’s no need to cook the spinach, it will wilt when added to the pot with the hot pasta keeping things simple and easy.

This recipe is also a great jumping off point to add your favorite protein on top.

Some sliced grilled chicken or even air fryer frozen chicken breasts would be a nice addition to create a more filling meal.

Shrimp, scallops, salmon and steak are also good additional protein ideas.

Or, just enjoy it like this as a simple light vegetarian meal.

Easy lemon ricotta pasta recipe with cherry tomatoes and basil on a plate with a fork on the side.

STORING AND REHEATING

The pasta is really best when eaten immediately as the sauce stays nice and creamy.

However, if you think you’ll end up with leftovers, here’s a simple trick so you don’t end up with dry pasta once reheated: save some of the pasta water when cooking.

To store the leftovers, place in an air-tight glass container. Transfer the leftovers to a bowl and add in 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta water before reheating in a microwave or sauce pot on the stove.

Stir the pasta once warmed and the pasta water will reconstitute the ricotta sauce to its glorious original creamy texture.

Ricotta tends to dry out with heat and refrigeration but this easy tip will liven it right back up!

Leftover pasta will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Lemon and ricotta pasta recipe with tomatoes and basil twirled on a fork on a white plate.

MORE RICOTTA RECIPES TO TRY:

Ricotta Almond Fig Cake
Orange Basil Ricotta Pancakes
Orange Cardamom Whipped Ricotta Bowls with Roasted Pears
Zucchini Ricotta Bake

Lemon Ricotta Pasta.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

A light a zesty summer pasta dish featuring ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a creamy lemon ricotta sauce that can be made in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine (use gluten-free if desired)
  • 15 ounces ricotta (*see note)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • small bunch fresh basil leaves (about 1 loosely packed cup), chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add linguine and cook according to package directions until al dente.
  2. While water boils and pasta cooks, make the ricotta sauce by combining the ricotta, lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a medium bowl. Whisk until creamy and smooth.
  3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and transfer back into the cooking pot.
  4. Add the cherry tomatoes, basil and ricotta sauce. Toss together until well combined and the pasta is fully coated in the sauce.
  5. Season with more salt and pepper to taste then serve.

Notes

*full fat/whole milk ricotta is best in this recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 433Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 639mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 19g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen

Casey

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

I LOVE ricotta in pasta! It's super light and delish! I'll be making this one over and over!!

Ana F.

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

The combination of flavors for this lemon ricotta pasta turned out amazing! I'm already dreaming of making it again!

Shadi Hasanzadenemati

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

It looks so delicious and easy!This is such an easy and delicious recipe, I cannot wait to make it again!

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