This zesty and light One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon is made from simple ingredients and is perfect for weeknight dinners. In under 20 minutes, you’ll have a delicious pasta dish with minimal effort and fewer dishes.

Top view of a bowl with lemon ricotta pasta and 2 lemon round garnishes in the middle.

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One Pot Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Cooked pasta is combined with a creamy ricotta mixture and fresh lemon juice for an affordable dinner that’s great any night of the week.

On weeknights, most of us need easy recipes with little to no clean-up. Any time I can skip dishes is fine by me. (If only someone could figure out laundry, too…)

I love one pot pasta recipes like Taco Pasta and Chicken Alfredo because they are easy, can be made in one pot, and make cleaning up after dinner so much easier. A one pot recipe is great when you’re short on time.

One of my favorites is this Ricotta and Lemon Pasta. It’s creamy with a hint of zesty lemon and it totally hits the spot. 

This ricotta pasta is the perfect meal for wintertime, but it’s so light and bright, it works for summertime too. 

Why you’ll love this lemon ricotta pasta recipe

This easy pasta recipe with the creamiest lemon ricotta pasta sauce is going to be one of your new favorite recipes. 

It’s an easy weeknight dinner with a delicious creamy sauce. The lemon ricotta sauce gives the best flavor and you only need a handful of ingredients.

  • It’s so easy and it’s ready in 20 minutes! Most of the cooking time is while the pasta cooks.
  • One pot means fewer dishes. You don’t even need a colander. Win-win! 
  • It’s made with simple, every day and budget-friendly ingredients.

You won’t be cooking the pasta according to the package instructions in a large pot of salted water. The pasta cooks in broth, spices, and lemon for ultimate flavor.

With these bright flavors, no one will notice that this is a meatless, vegetarian pasta recipe, but you can totally top it with chicken, shrimp, or tofu if you’d like to add some protein. 

This delicious one-pot pasta makes a great meatless weeknight dinner the whole family will love.

What is ricotta cheese?

Ricotta cheese is a thick, creamy, white cheese that originates from Italy. It is made by boiling the whey that is left behind in the production of other cheeses.

Ricotta is one of my favorite things to add to Italian recipes. If you like ricotta too, these ricotta stuffed shells need to go on your to-make list immediately!

Difference between ricotta and cottage cheese

Though both are white, soft cheese, ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are different. 

Ricotta is made from fine curds, which gives it a smooth texture with a little bit of graininess. 

Cottage cheese is lumpier than ricotta and has a higher liquid content. Ricotta has less salt than cottage cheese, too. 

Ingredients needed to make lemon ricotta pasta.

Ingredients for one-pot ricotta lemon pasta

Here’s what you’ll need to make this creamy ricotta pasta: 

  • cavatappi pasta – any similar type of pasta will work great. Bow tie and fusilli pasta would both work well.
  • lemon – Fresh lemon is key. Lemon zest and juice are both used.
  • minced garlic – you can mince your own or buy the pre-minced kind
  • coarse salt & ground black pepper
  • broth – Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish. Otherwise, chicken broth works. 
  • whole milk ricotta cheese – Don’t substitute this for part-skim or fat-free — trust me! You want the creamy ricotta cheese.
  • heavy cream  
  • grated parmesan 
  • baby spinach – Totally optional but a great way to get in some greens!

The sweeter Meyer lemon is a great substitute for a less sour version of this dish, but use fresh not bottled if possible — it really does make a difference! Plus, we want that lemon zest for this dish too.

We eat meat at our house, so it doesn’t bother me to use parmesan (which isn’t vegetarian). However, if you need a truly vegetarian meal, skip the parmesan and sprinkle it with your favorite cheese or a cheese alternative like nutritional yeast.

Wooden spoon in the dutch oven lemon ricotta pasta with lemon slices on top.

Brands of ricotta cheese

Different ricotta cheese brands will have different textures. Some will be grainier and chalkier in texture, while others will be smooth and creamy.

If your ricotta is grainy, that’s okay. It just has to do with the way it is made from fine curds. 

I recommend trying different brands of ricotta cheese until you find the taste and texture you like best.

My favorite ricotta cheese to use is Miceli’s, but I also like Cappiello as well! I find that they are smoother and a touch sweeter than others. I can eat them straight out of the container with a spoon!

Pasta toppings

This pasta is so good on its own, but you are welcome to top it with your favorite protein and other toppings. Here are a few ideas to add some extra flavor: 

  • roasted chicken
  • shrimp
  • fresh basil
  • spinach
  • peas
  • red pepper flakes
  • hot sauce
  • arugula
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • chopped parsley
  • fresh herbs

How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pasta

This delicious pasta with bright lemon flavors is so easy! Here’s how to make it: 

  • Get out a heavy-bottomed pot, and add the uncooked pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, garlic, and broth over medium-high heat. (I like to use an enamel cast iron dutch oven.)
  • Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes, just until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. You want the pasta al dente and not too soft.
  • Turn the heat down to low and stir in the spinach if using. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in the ricotta and heavy cream. 
  • Top with parmesan cheese and your favorite proteins and toppings, if desired!

Tips & tricks to make this easy one-pot pasta

Real lemon makes a big difference, especially because you can add lemon zest. The bottled lemon concentrate just doesn’t compare, but it can be used in a pinch. 

Be careful not to zest too strongly on the lemons — you only want the yellow skin, not the bitter white pith underneath. I like this zester.

For a sweeter and less tart lemon flavor, use Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons. 

Use whole milk ricotta, not part-skim ricotta or low-fat ricotta. The real deal is the best way to get a creamy result in this pasta sauce.

How to store and reheat lemon ricotta pasta

Store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. 

To reheat, add it to a skillet with a splash of milk, water, broth, or cream to reinvigorate the sauce. You can also pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

I do not recommend freezing or preparing in advance since the sauce contains dairy. 

Lemon ricotta pasta in an airtight container.

What to serve with lemon pasta

This pasta works well as the main meal or as a side to roasted chicken, shrimp, or salmon. Try one of these recipes: 

For other side dishes, a great veggie dish would be garlic butter asparagus or roasted broccoli and cauliflower

But whatever you decide on: Don’t forget the garlic bread!

Top view of a dutch oven with parmesan cheese over lemon ricotta pasta, garnished with lemon slices.


Does ricotta cheese melt?

No, ricotta cheese contains heat-resistant proteins, so it can be heated without melting.

Is ricotta cheese gluten free?

Yes, ricotta cheese is gluten-free.

Is ricotta cheese pasteurized?

In most cases, ricotta cheese is pasteurized, but not all ricotta is. Check the packaging on ricotta cheese before you buy it if pasteurization is a concern. 

What does ricotta cheese taste like?

Ricotta cheese is thick, milky and creamy with a mild nutty flavor and a slightly sour tang. 

Do you have to cook ricotta cheese?

No, ricotta cheese can be warmed but it does not need to be cooked. It is usually added last in a pasta dish or served as a garnish.

Recipes using ricotta cheese

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One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

5 from 38 votes
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Servings: 8
This zesty and light One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon is made from simple ingredients and is perfect for weeknight dinners. In under 20 minutes, you’ll have a delicious pasta dish with minimal effort and fewer dishes.


  • 16 ounces cavatappi pasta or similar shape
  • 1 lemon you’ll need the juice and zest
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 cups broth vegetable or chicken
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup parmesan grated
  • baby spinach optional


  • Add the uncooked pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, garlic, and broth to a heavy-bottomed pot. I like to use an enamel cast iron dutch oven.
  • Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes, just until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Turn the heat down to low and stir in the spinach if using. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in the ricotta and heavy cream.
  • Top with parmesan cheese. Serve with lemon slices to squeeze over the pasta for more lemon flavor.



Tips & Tricks
  • for a sweeter (less sour) lemon taste, use Meyer lemons
  • use whole milk ricotta – it’s the best way to get a creamy result
  • careful not to zest too hard on the lemons, you only want the yellow skin


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 291kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 1137mg, Potassium: 182mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 465IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 106mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It should only be used for estimation purposes and is not a guarantee of any kind. Nutritional information varies widely between brands and types of ingredients used. It is recommended that you calculate the nutritional information based on your own ingredients and brands used. Sweetly Splendid, LLC makes no guarantees as to the exact nutrition information.

Hi! I’m Kara!

Kara loves all things food and spending time with her family and dogs. She has a passion for cooking and loves making yummy, family-friendly recipes.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars

    What do you think about using chicken bone broth to up the protein and using 2% milk instead of cream to lower the fat?

    1. Chicken bone broth would be delicious! You can use 2% milk if you’d like, but it won’t be as creamy.

    1. 5 stars
      This was a hit! I added chicken & artichoke hearts to the pasta dish with a side of Caesar salad and a crusty bread. I will definitely make this again!

  2. 5 stars
    I love cavatappi and this ricotta lemon sauce is perfect with that pasta shape. I made a huge batch with extra spinach and now we have lunch prepped for a few days!

    1. 5 stars
      I love this recipe. It’s quick and simple. The only modification I would make is I would not add salt. I do love salt, but using chicken broth and parmesan, there is definitely enough salt.