JOIN! 12 Weeks for $1

Spaghetti with Lemon Pesto

4 Servings

25 minutes

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

This pasta dish is modeled on the spaghetti al pesto di limone that Giovanna Aceto made for us on her family’s farm in Amalfi, Italy. The lemons commonly available in the U.S. are more acidic than Amalfi’s lemons, so to make a lemon pesto that approximates the original, we use a little sugar to temper the flavor. For extra citrus complexity, we add lemon zest to the pasta cooking water; the oils from the zest lightly perfume the spaghetti, reinforcing the lemony notes of the pesto.




Don’t forget to remove the lemon zest from the boiling water before dropping in the pasta. If left in as the spaghetti cooks, the zest may turn the water bitter, and the strips are a nuisance to remove from the strands of cooked noodles.

25 minutes


  • 4


  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


Pardon the interruption

You need to be a Milk Street Digital Member to see the full recipe


and get access to all of our recipes and articles online, as well as in print.

How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your subscription. We will use it for customer service as well as other communications from Milk Street. We will not share, or rent your email address.

Mike S.
July 31, 2023
recipe worked very well as written, tasted like meals I had in Sorrento.
Serena S.
June 10, 2023
I promised I’d save some for the kids. I may have lied
Kids meaning my nephew and his girlfriend are who are in their twenties. But I don’t know if there’s going to be any when they get back and thankfully I did a half recipe The lemon wasn’t overpowering. It was absolutely beautiful. The sauce was creamy. I will no longer equate pesto with green. I still love basil pesto but my goodness this was absolutely fabulous.
Colleen K.
March 26, 2023
Tasty side dish
Made this twice - my lemon trees had a bumper crop I will miss it when the price of lemons goes out of sight but when they are in season we will enjoy great with chicken or salmon
James T.
December 9, 2022
It's a hit
A large family love it that its heavily requested!
David M.
October 28, 2022
Most Excellent
Best. Proof Simple can be better. Refreshing citrus notes. I tossed in a well grilled, coarsely chopped chicken breast before the chives to bump up the protein value.
susan a. R.

I do not see any nutrishinal info or calorie info

Kathryn A.

I plugged this into the MyFitnessPal recipe builder and came up with 733 calories per serving.

Deborah K.

The spaghetti with lemon pesto was amazing. I added one squeeze of lemon in the pesto but otherwise followed the recipe as written. A new go to pasta dish from Milk Street. Really delicious.

Buzz M.

Can the lemon pesto in the recipe SPAGHETTI WITH LEMON PESTO, be made and frozen, for use later?
Thank you.

Lynn C.

Hi Buzz-

We haven't tested this, but we think this would work fine!

The Milk Street Team

Kathryn A.

While tasty, I reduced the pasta to 2 oz dry per serving and it was still too caloric to keep as a staple.

Elizabeth H.

Somehow, this came out like almond butter. Re-reading the recipe, I realize why this would be the case. Did anyone else have this experience, or did I goof?

Jennifer B.

Um sorry, I love lemon bit this was just too much. Maybe some garlic would have evened it out. Sorry, milk Street, not this time.

Clare M.

Can you use this with fresh pasta or is dried better to use?

Lynn C.

Hi Clare -

Since fresh pasta cooks so much faster than dried we worry that there wouldn't be enough time for the lemon-y cooking water to infuse fresh pasta.

The Milk Street Team

Tatiana R.

I suspect a Meyer lemon, which is now widely available (I remember a few years ago, it really wasn't the case), is going to be a good substitute for the Amalfi lemon without having to resort to using sugar.

Sanford B.

Tried this last night. Relatively subtle but good sprinkled with a bit of extra Maldon salt. Might use a touch of red pepper in the pesto next time.

However, "remove the zest in long, wide strips" and "remove and discard the zest" are much easier said than done. Some suggested technique here would have been a big help.

Astra F.

Far too lemony. I think next time I’ll roast the almonds, add far less lemon and some basil