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Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

December 13, 2020 | By Jeremy Scheck | 40 Comments

Can you tell I like pasta? This recipe is loosely inspired by cacio e pepe with a creamier, lemonier (is that a word?) twist. Italians: don’t worry, when I make real cacio e pepe, I do NOT add any cream, butter, or mascarpone. I made it in a recent TikTok video, which you can find here:


if u see this, follow [scheckeats] on insta or you’ll be cursed w/overcooked #pasta for 10 years!#creamylemonpasta #lemon #dinner #cooking #lemonpasta

♬ Bronze – Chris Alan Lee

This recipe is super simple requires no more time than the spaghetti needs to boil.

Yield: 1 serving

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti


  • Abundant kosher salt (to salt the pasta water)
  • 1/2 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 oz freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (parmigiano reggiano is fine, but pecorino romano has a better flavor for this dish)
  • 1-2 lemons
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ~2 tablespoons cold butter
  • ~3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, or heavy cream


  1. Read the whole recipe through before starting, or watch the video. Otherwise, it might be confusing.
  1. Heat a pot of water over a high flame. Meanwhile, grate your pecorino romano cheese in a bowl. Zest your lemon and add the zest to the pecorino cheese. Juice your lemon in a separate bowl.
  2. When your water is at a rolling boil, generously salt it and add the pasta. Cook as per the package instructions, subtracting ~3 minutes from the al dente cook time. For example, if the package says "cook 11-13 minutes", cook 9-10 mins. When the pasta has about 3 minutes left, get a dry skillet going over medium heat and continue to the next step.
  3. Use a ladle to add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water to your pecorino-lemon zest mixture. Mix it well with a spoon or fork to dissolve it.
  4. Crack some pepper into the dry skillet and let it toast briefly. Add a couple ladlefuls of hot pasta water to the skillet with the pepper (about 2/3 cup). Add in the butter and continually shake the pan to let the butter slowly melt in and emulsify.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet (I prefer to use tongs over draining it). Add the pecorino-lemon-water mixture into the skillet and the mascarpone. Mix everything really well and let the pasta simmer in the sauce for the last minute of its cook time. Add more pecorino cheese and keep agitating the pasta if it is not emulsifying.
  6. Finally, turn off the heat and add in the reserved lemon juice. Mix well. Enjoy with more black pepper on top!

Add a Comment


  1. Had some leftover lemons and made it today. Used a bit of cream cheese and cream instead of the mascarpone as you recommended, and I loved it. Will cook again!

  2. Just made this and wow! So simple yet delicious. Alfredo was my favorite pasta but now I think this took its spot. I used penne instead of spaghetti but it was equally delicious.

  3. So easy to make and tasted AMAZING! Perfectly creamy, citrus-y and the pepper adds a great touch. I added a bit of garlic to mine and ate it with scallops. Absolutely loved it.

  4. Just made it and it was so good! Extremely easy, took like 15 minutes and was very simple and fresh tasting. My very picky mother gives it an 8/10. Will definitely be making this again!

  5. I make this recipe whenever I’m having a bad day because it’s the most delicious thing in the world and it makes everything better. I’ve also made it for family and friends!! thank you jeremy <3

  6. This is going to be my pasta meal on Christmas Eve night and I’m making the red velvet cake (with ombré frosting) for dessert on Christmas night! Thanks for the suggestions!!

  7. My family loved this!! It is super fast to cook, we tried to start the sauce before the pasta and left it waiting because of how quick it was. My mom said it was a very “summer pasta” and we can’t wait to make it again on a warm summer evening.

  8. I am trying to practice making recipes before heading back to my apartment. I really loved this recipe, but I would say using only half a lemon or maybe getting rid of the zest. It was just a bit strong for me lemon wise.

  9. I’m going to try to go vegan for a little bit so today I made this pasta and the roast chicken and both were amazing!

  10. This was so quick and easy, I added leftover salmon and spinach in place of lemon because I don’t love the flavor and it was great!

  11. This is one of the best things I’ve ever cooked!! It’s a little fast paced, so be extra sure you have all your ingredients ready to go. This is definitely going in my rotation of favorite recipes! Thank you Jeremy <3

  12. As someone who gets a lot of anxiety in the kitchen I feel so proud for being able to successfully complete this recipe and it was DELICIOUS!! Will definitely be making this for my family all the time

  13. So good! Made it for my family and everyone loved it! Definitely will make it again. Used half & half instead of mascarpone because that’s what I had in my fridge and it worked well! Looking forward to trying it again with mascarpone or heavy cream

  14. Honey this recipe was so good, and perfectly explained that even I did not mess it up. For once everything was eaten up by the family that same night. Loved it!!

  15. Another easy recipe that I love more than his other ones. Anything lemon and creamy is my favorite. Followed to a T And came out perfect

  16. Ugh the first couple times I made this it came out perfect but the last few times I’ve had this issue where the cheese melts into clumps when I add it to the pasta. I though it was because the pan was too hot but it still happens when I turn off the heat before I put the pasta in. (I’ve also made it without the cream so I’m guessing that was the issue that time, but still, so annoying)

  17. What would be the best way to add some veggies into this meal? The pasta is so delicious I don’t want to take away from that!

  18. Absolutely love this recipe!! Any advice for getting the cheese to not just stick to the bottom of the pan? I feel like I’m doing something wrong…

    I’ve made it 5 times now and it’s delicious but I feel like I’m wasting so much cheese when I get to the end and it’s not really sticking to the pasta but my pan and tongs instead.

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