Here’s a quick and easy pasta dish that’s full of delicious flavor— linguine with a simple creamy lemon sauce, fresh tomatoes, and basil.

lemon pasta with tomatoes and basil on a plate in utensils

Of all the meals I make for my family, this lemon pasta with tomatoes and basil is rotated regularly, especially during the summer when fresh tomatoes and basil are in season (and even more especially if we have tomatoes and basil in our backyard garden). We all love it, even the kids!

The creamy lemon pasta pairs so well with the fresh tomatoes and basil. It’s the perfect flavor combo! And this dish makes for such a delicious light meal.

Table of Contents

Reasons to love this recipe

  • There’s just 7 easy ingredients and dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes.
  • The pasta and sauce both cook in the same pot, so it’s almost a one-pan meal.
  • This pasta is both cozy and light.
  • It’s delicious both during the summer when tomatoes and basil are in season, and also during the winter when you need a little bright pick-me-up.

Ingredients you’ll need

lemon pasta ingredients
  • Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti dried pasta
  • Lemons, for both zest and fresh lemon juice 
  • Olive oil
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

How to make lemon pasta with tomatoes and basil

  1. Marinate tomatoes. Halve tomatoes and slice basil, then toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the pasta and sauce.
  2. Cook pasta. Add pasta to a large skillet filled with cold water with a generous pinch of salt and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, them simmer until noodles are al dente, about 7-9 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain pasta in a colander. cooked pasta in pot
  3. Make the lemon sauce. Zest and juice lemons while pasta is cooking, and get the other sauce ingredients ready. Once noodles are done, set aside to drain in a colander, and work quickly to make the sauce in the same pot. Add lemon zest and juice, olive oil, heavy cream, salt and pepper to pot and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 1-2 minutes until it starts to thicken. adding pasta to sauce in pot
  4. Put it all together. Return pasta to pot along with parmesan cheese and toss in the sauce until combined. Add reserved pasta water as needed to keep the sauce loose and smooth. Toss in half of the marinated tomatoes and mix with the pasta, then add remaining tomatoes on top.
  5. Enjoy! This pasta is best served immediately.
adding marinated tomatoes to pasta in pot

Tips for cooking pasta

  • Add pasta to a pot of cold water, then set over high heat on the stove. The water should just barely cover the pasta. Cooking the pasta this way uses less water and time. Give it a try!
  • Generously salt the water. Use 1 tablespoon of salt per 5-6 quarts of water and/or 1 lb pasta. Though, I never actually measure, I just throw in a very heavy pinch.
  • Stir the pasta as it cooks to avoid clumpy pasta or pasta that sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  • Save some of the pasta water. When you drain the pasta, reserve roughly 1/2-1 cup of the water just in case your sauce is a little too thick once you’ve combined it with your pasta. Add the water a few tablespoons at a time until your sauce is the right consistency.
lemon pasta with tomatoes and basil on a plate

What to serve with this pasta dish

Looking to turn this into a complete meal? Here are a few side dishes that would go really well with this tomato basil pasta:

Get the recipe

lemon pasta with tomatoes and basil on a plate in utensils
5 from 2 reviews

Lemon Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A simple and light pasta dish, perfect for a summer weeknight meal!


  • 1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes , halved (about 350 grams)
  • ½ packed cup fresh basil , chopped (20 grams)
  • cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil , divided (80 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon salt , plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper , plus more to taste
  • 1 lb linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine pasta (455 grams)
  • 2 lemons , zest and juice
  • cup heavy cream (80 grams)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (100 grams)


  • In a bowl, toss halved tomatoes and chopped basil with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the pasta and sauce.
  • Add pasta to a large deep saucepan, cover with cold water, and add a generous pinch of salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook pasta until noodles are al dente, about 7-9 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, while pasta is boiling, get all of the sauce ingredients ready to go, zesting and juicing lemons, etc.
  • When pasta is done, reserve ½ cup of pasta water and drain the noodles in a colander.
  • Working quickly while noodles are in the colander, add the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, heavy cream, and salt and pepper to the now empty pasta pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring often.
  • Add the drained pasta back to the pot along with the parmesan cheese and stir until coated. Add enough pasta water to make a loose sauce. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Stir in half of the marinated tomatoes to the pasta, and add rest of tomatoes to the top. Serve immediately.


A wide, deep skillet is ideal for this pasta dish. You can break pasta if needed to fit into the pot, or use a deeper pot it you prefer.
To reheat pasta leftovers, add pasta to pot or skillet and place over medium low heat. Add a little water if needed, and toss pasta until warm and sauce is smooth.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
Calories: 532kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 680mg, Potassium: 444mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1107IU, Vitamin C: 30mg, Calcium: 253mg, Iron: 2mg
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Main Course
Author: Annalise
Have you tried this recipe?I’d love to hear about it! Leave a rating and review below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram @completelydelicious with #completelydelicious.

More pasta dishes to try