One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

Are you looking for a quick and easy pasta recipe that is bursting with flavor? Look no further than this one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon. In just a few simple steps, you can create a creamy and tangy dish that will delight your taste buds. This recipe is perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions. Let’s dive in and discover the key ingredients, preparation steps, tips, and variations for this delightful pasta dish.

This elegant and bright pasta dish is incredibly easy to make. With a no-cook sauce made of ricotta, Parmesan, and fresh lemon zest and juice, you can create a creamy and flavorful coating for your pasta. This recipe is versatile, and you can add peas, asparagus, spinach, or fresh arugula to make it even more satisfying. Whether you’re cooking for yourself or entertaining guests, this one pot pasta is sure to impress.

Key Ingredient Notes


Cavatappi noodles, also known as corkscrew pasta, are the ideal choice for this recipe. Their unique shape allows them to grab onto the sauce, ensuring that each bite is full of flavor. The creamy ricotta sauce clings perfectly to the spiral grooves of the cavatappi, creating a delightful texture and taste.


Using whole milk ricotta is the key to achieving a creamy and velvety sauce. Its rich and smooth texture blends effortlessly with the other ingredients, providing a luscious base for the pasta. The minimal effort required to create this sauce makes it an excellent choice for busy individuals who still want a delicious meal.


Freshly shredded Parmesan adds a salty creaminess to the sauce, enhancing the overall flavor profile. The nutty and tangy notes of Parmesan complement the ricotta and lemon, creating a harmonious combination that will leave you craving more.


Tender sweet peas add a touch of vibrant green to the dish. Not only do they provide a pop of color, but they also contribute a hint of natural sweetness that balances the richness of the creamy sauce. Consider adding peas during the last few minutes of pasta boiling to ensure they remain tender and bright.

Red Pepper Flakes

Although optional, red pepper flakes can add a subtle heat to the dish. For those who enjoy a bit of spiciness, serving red pepper flakes on the side allows each person to customize their level of heat. It’s a wonderful way to add an extra layer of flavor and excitement to the meal.


Follow these simple steps to create your delicious one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon:

Boiling the Pasta

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
  • Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Making the Sauce

  • In the same pot, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.
  • Stir the ingredients until well combined and smooth.

Coating the Pasta

  • Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce and stir until it becomes smooth.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the pot and vigorously stir until the noodles are well coated.
  • If needed, add more pasta water gradually to achieve a smooth and creamy sauce consistency.


  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls.
  • Top each serving with some of the sauce that has pooled at the bottom of the pot.
  • Garnish with grated Parmesan, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (if desired), and basil leaves for added freshness and aroma.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make it a complete meal by serving the pasta with pan-seared chicken thighs. You can also pair it with a side salad and freshly baked crusty Dutch oven bread for a satisfying and well-rounded dinner.
  • Serve the dish family-style by placing the pot in the center of the table, allowing everyone to serve themselves. Keep additional toppings like red pepper flakes and extra Parmesan within reach for customization.
  • While you can leave out the peas if desired, they add a delightful touch of sweetness and color to the dish. In taste tests, they were found to perfectly balance the other flavors, so consider including them for a well-rounded experience.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Experiment with different pasta shapes to change the texture and appearance of the dish. Penne, gemelli, or rotini are excellent alternatives that pair well with the ricotta sauce.
  • Switch out the peas for other greens such as chopped broccoli florets or asparagus pieces. This variation adds a different dimension of flavor and nutrients to the pasta.

Storage & Reheating


  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


  • For the best results, warm a bit of the reserved pasta water, plain water, or even milk in a pot over medium heat on the stove.
  • Add the pasta to the warm liquid and toss until heated through (approximately 30 seconds).
  • Remove from heat and serve immediately.


This one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon is also true delight for pasta lovers. With its creamy and tangy sauce, it’s a quick and easy dish that will impress both family and guests. The simplicity of the recipe allows you to enjoy a flavorful meal without spending hours in the kitchen. Don’t hesitate to try different variations and experiment with your favorite ingredients to make this recipe your own.


1. Can I use low-fat ricotta instead of whole milk ricotta?

 Yes, you can use low-fat ricotta if you prefer. However, keep in mind that the texture and creaminess of the sauce may vary slightly.

2. Can I substitute lemon juice with bottled lemon juice?

 Freshly squeezed lemon juice is also recommended for the best flavor. Bottled lemon juice may not provide the same level of brightness and freshness.

3. Can I freeze the leftovers?

 It’s not recommended to freeze this dish as the texture of the ricotta sauce may change upon thawing and reheating.

4. Can I use other types of cheese instead of Parmesan?

 While Parmesan contributes a unique flavor to the dish, you can experiment with other hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano.

5. Can I add other vegetables to the pasta?

 Absolutely! This recipe is versatile, and you can add vegetables like cherry tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, or sautéed mushrooms to enhance the flavor and nutritional value.

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