Lemon spaghetti with artichokes is a fresh and flavorful spring and summer infused pasta that’s full of flavor.

This easy vegetarian weeknight meal comes together in 20 minutes, using a handful of simple ingredients. The creamy lemon pasta sauce is light and fresh and the fried artichokes are to die for!

A pan full of lemon spaghetti with fried artichokes.
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After months of gloomy winter weather, we finally have days full of sunshine. That’s exactly how I’d describe this lemon cream sauce tossed with spaghetti and lightly fried artichokes!

It’s a ray of light and fresh flavors all wrapped up into one pretty dish.

I rarely fry, but these fried artichokes are worth a little smoke and splatter! I can eat them like candy.

The next time we make this dish we’re going to fry a few extras to save for our salads for the week! Frying them gets them wonderfully crispy and really brings out the flavor of this vegetarian dish.

If you haven’t noticed, I love inspired Italian. While I enjoy the occasional carbonara, vodka sauce or bolognese, (all winter favorites), I also crave inspired Italian dishes like Cacio e Pepe and this lemon spaghetti. Who doesn’t love lemon butter pasta?

One of the many things I love about a traditional pasta dinner is how everyone in our family pitches in. Chris zested the lemon, Adalyn crushed the pine nuts, the littles topped it with gremolata.

All of this in less than 20 minutes from start to finish, which is perfect for their short attention spans.

Lemon Spaghetti

Lemon Spaghetti is the perfect transition from winter to spring. It’s a vegetarian dish that leaves you feeling fulfilled and  your taste buds delighted!

A white plate with a serving of lemon spaghetti.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Full of Lemon Flavor – I love that lemon is one of those rare flavors that works just as beautifully in sweet and savory dishes.
  • Vegetarian – While you can certainly add your favorite protein, this dish is filling and wholesome, perfect for meatless Mondays.
  • Wonderful for Summer – The fresh lemon sauce keeps this dish light and easy, making it less heavy for the warmer months.

See printable recipe card for complete ingredients and instructions.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Spaghetti – I love to use spaghetti with this sauce, but linguini would also work well. Use your favorite brand or make your own pasta in minutes!
  • Lemon – Lemon juice is used for a really fresh and fragrant lemon sauce. Don’t be tempted to use bottled lemon juice, fresh is always best!
  • Olive Oil – Used for frying the artichoke hearts, you can also use a vegetable oil.
  • Artichoke Hearts – Canned and quartered artichoke halves. When fried they are deliciously crispy and a perfect accompaniment to the lemon sauce.
  • Cream – A touch of heavy cream gives it rich and creamy flavor.
  • Butter – Salted butter makes the lemon sauce so rich and creamy and pulls together the whole dish.

For the Gremolata Topping

  • Lemon Zest – Lemon zest is so delicious in gremolata!
  • Pine Nuts – They add a little protein and flavor.
  • Garlic – Minced garlic adds amazing flavor to this spring and summer pasta dish. You can also use garlic paste. Learn how to mince garlic here.
  • Parsley – Fresh parsley adds color and flavor. Combined with garlic, citrus and pine nuts it makes an incredible gremolata – a classic Italian condiment.
A pan full of lemon spaghetti with fried artichokes.

How to Make Lemon Spaghetti with Artichokes

This easy family weeknight meal comes together in just 20 minutes.

  1. Cook Spaghetti – Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare spaghetti al dente.
  2. Make Gremolata – Combine zest, pine nuts, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Set aside. INGREDIENTS FOR GREMOLATA ON A MARBLE COUNTERTOP
  3. Fry Artichokes and Make Sauce – Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, fry artichokes as directed. Add cream to pan and reduce, stirring in lemon juice and butter. Add cooked spaghetti, mixing well. Artichokes in a saute pan on a stovetop. Fried artichokes in a saute pan on a stovetop. Fried artichokes in a saute pan on a stovetop.
  4. Garnish – with gremolata and serve.
A pan full of lemon spaghetti with fried artichokes.

Tips

  • Cook the spaghetti al dente, it will continue to cook after it has been drained and when you add it to the sauce.
  • When frying the artichokes, make sure that the oil is hot before adding them to get them perfectly crispy. The oil should either be smoking or start to pop.
  • This dish is best served as soon as it is made, but if you do have leftovers you can keep them in an airtight container in the fridge and gently reheat on the stove top.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you put lemon juice in pasta?

Lemon juice adds acidity and bright citrus flavor to this lemon spaghetti.

Why is lemon so popular in Italy?

Southern Italy is known for their gorgeous lemons, and they’ve been a part of the culture (and the food) for centuries. Lemon juice is used for desserts and drinks, and even in more savory dishes like this lemon spaghetti!

A pan full of lemon spaghetti with fried artichokes.

How to Store

  • At Room Temperature – This recipe can sit out for up to two hours while serving.
  • Refrigerate – You can store this lemon spaghetti, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to three days.
  • Freeze – This lemon spaghetti can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat to serve.

Reheat

  1. Add a touch of heavy cream or half and half to thin the sauce back out. You can also thin it with a little vegetable broth if you’d like.
  2. Warm gently over low heat on stovetop for five minutes, or microwave in 30 second increments until heated through.
A pan full of lemon spaghetti with fried artichokes.

More Pasta Inspiration

A pan full of lemon spaghetti with fried artichokes.
5 from 32 votes

Lemon Spaghetti with Artichokes

A fresh, flavorful and filling lemon spaghetti with lightly fried artichokes and gremolata for a deliciously craveable spring and summer dish!
Prep: 4 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
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Ingredients  

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅛-¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts drained
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Gremolata Topping

  • cup pine nuts crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (approximately the zest of one whole lemon)

Instructions 

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare spaghetti al dente.
  • Combine zest, pine nuts, garlic and parsley in a bowl to make gremolata. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, pour olive oil (just enough to cover the pan well) over medium heat. Once it starts to smoke or pop, add artichokes face down until brown, about 3 minutes, using a spatula to ensure they don't stick if necessary. Flip and fry opposite side 1 minute.
  • Add cream to pan and reduce for 7 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and butter. Toss in drained pasta.
  • Garnish with gremolata and serve.

Tips

  • Cook the spaghetti al dente, it will continue to cook after it has been drained and when you add it to the sauce.
  • When frying the artichokes, make sure that the oil is hot before adding them to get them perfectly crispy. The oil should either be smoking or start to pop.
  • This dish is best served as soon as it is made, but if you do have leftovers you can keep them in an airtight container in the fridge and gently reheat on the stove top.
Gremolata is an accompaniment often including garlic, parsley and citrus. This gremolata is made from garlic, fresh parsley, lemon zest and crushed pine nuts. 
Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1440IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 2mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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55 Comments

        1. Hi Karen,
          We’ve only tested this recipe as it’s written, so we can’t say for sure about any modifications. It’s a delicious recipe, I hope you’ll give it a try!
          Enjoy,
          Julie