You make this delicious one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon in one pan which of course saves a lot of dish washing. It is deliciously creamy and easy to adapt.

One pot pasta with ricotta and lemon

One-pan pasta with ricotta and lemon

A while back I made a more low-carb version of this classic; a zucchini pasta with ricotta and lemon. Also very tasty, but I also wanted to make it with real pasta. If you are watching the carbs then I highly recommend the other version, but if you are a fan of pasta then this is the version you want to make. Honestly, it’s not very sexy in terms of looks. I had thought of that a little differently in my head but the flavors are delicious. It’s a very simple pasta and perfect for weeknight dinners.

By the way, I didn’t use penne here but rather that slightly longer macaroni. But any type of pasta will do. although I prefer to use a short pasta. Even long pasta like tagliatelle or spaghetti will do well because the sauce will “stick” well around the pasta. You can also spice up the one-pot pasta with ricotta and lemon with some extra vegetables. 

​Making the pasta

To start this recipe you begin with a large pot of salted water and bring this to the boil. You follow the package instructions to cook the pasta. Make sure you cook the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta and save about a cup of pasta water.

Now you use the same pan (on medium heat) to add some olive oil and you start by making the lemon ricotta sauce, that is a deliciously creamy sauce that will transform this pasta into something super delicious. You mix fresh ricotta, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, Italian herbs and salt and pepper. You fry the garlic gently before adding your ricotta mixture. Make sure you stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

If you like spicy it is also delicious with some extra red pepper flakes or black pepper.

One pot pasta with ricotta and lemon

I love the bright lemon flavors of this lemon ricotta pasta recipe which really uses simple ingredients to create a perfect meal. If you think the sauce is still too thick you can add a splash of milk or heavy cream to loosen it up or more of the starchy water. (see below for the reason why)

With extra vegetables

This one-pot pasta dish doesn’t exactly contain a lot of vegetables. If you don’t count the basil because that’s the only green thing you see here. Now you can change that very easily. Simple vegetables like peas go well with this dish, but you can also complement the pasta with ricotta and lemon with, for example, some briefly cooked broccoli florets, fresh spinach or baby spinach. And definitely serve it with fresh basil.

If you want to add something like broccoli you can add that while the pasta cooks. In general pasta needs about 6-8 minutes depending on the type of pasta you have. The broccoli – if small enough – needs just a 1-2 minutes to cook so you add it shortly before the last minute of pasta cooking is done.

Alternatively, you can make a nice green salad with tomatoes and corn salad, for example. Or bake some mushrooms and zucchini to add to the dish. That also works very well. The pasta with ricotta and lemon is vegetarian, but if you want meat in it, you can combine it with chicken or minced meat.

Add cooking water

One of the tricks to get pasta extra creamy is by adding a cup of the pasta water. When I have cooked pasta I always make sure I keep a container with some cooking water. So when you drain the pasta put a bowl under it to catch the water. 

One pot pasta with lemon and ricotta

Why do you need to keep the cooking water?

The reason is quite simple but to great effect. This is because the cooking water of the pasta with ricotta and lemon contains salt and starch. Adding some of this back to the pasta creates a chemical reaction between the fat (e.g. olive oil) and the cooking water. Try it out for yourself. It is delicious!

Can I prepare the one pot pasta ahead of time?

​This vegetarian pasta recipe is super easy to prepare ahead of time, but keep int mind that it will thicken considerably when you place it in the fridge. That is not a big issue but you will need some additional liquids to make the cook sauce loose enough again. I usually add just a bit of milk to get it back to a delicious creamy sauce. 

As always you keep the pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2-3 days.

What to serve with the one pot pasta?

You could add a simple salad like this lettuce and cucumber salad or a caesar salad to go along with the pasta.

More vegetarian pasta dishes

If you’re looking for more inspiration for vegetarian pasta dishes, check out the below recipes:

One pot pasta with ricotta and lemon

One-pan pasta with ricotta and lemon

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Deliciously creamy pasta with yummy ricotta and lemon
Decorative clock showing preparation time
Cooking time 20 minutes
Total time 20 minutes

4 people


  • 300 gr pasta penne
  • 250 gr ricotta cheese
  • 75 gr parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 60 ml lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian herbs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp chili flakes optional
  • fresh basil to garnish

  • Take a large saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil. Drain as soon as al dente and save at least 250 ml (1 cup) of the cooking water.
  • Now add some olive oil to the same pan and make the sauce in it by first frying the garlic briefly. Now add the ricotta, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, Italian herbs, salt and pepper. Stir everything well until combined.
  • Add about 100-150 ml of the pasta cooking water to the sauce and stir until smooth. Now add the pasta and stir until the pasta is well covered by the sauce. Add more pasta water if needed. Add the fresh basil at the end.
  • Serve the pasta in the pan and garnish with grated parmesan cheese, chili flakes, black pepper and basil.

Nutrition Information per portion

Calories: 469kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 358mg | Potassium: 287mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 391mg | Iron: 2mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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Simone van den Berg

Food blogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Likes to create healthy and easy recipes for daily use, but also loves the occasional sweet dish. Lives in the Netherlands with her two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer, food blogger, recipe developer and nutritionist