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Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto Spaghetti

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Packed with fresh basil and bright lemon flavor this creamy lemon ricotta pesto spaghetti is the perfect marriage between pesto sauce and cream sauce.

side angle of Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto stacked on a plate

Basil, oh you beautiful herb you. It’s mild and slightly sweet, but with so much flavor packed into one leaf. You can use it in sauces, on appetizers, as garnish or in a cocktail. An herb so flexible, we’re bringing it back into a classic with a creamy and bright twist. Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto, coating al dente strands of spaghetti pasta.

Quick and easy, this is a simple busy day dinner that’s about to bring smiles to the hungry ones at the dinner table. Extra ricotta cheese on top of hot Lemon Ricotta Pesto adds extra creamy, dreamy texture.

You won’t believe how quick you can whip up this restaurant quality pasta dish.

forkfull of spaghetti over a plate

30 Minute Pasta Night

Admittedly, pasta night doesn’t happen too often around here. Seriously, I am at a loss as to why. It’s probably because I would eat all the pasta before anyone got a forkful.

Mmm, sorry not sorry guys….but when the day is hectic and long and there is no plan for dinner, it’s so nice to just put on a pot of water and boil some water.

We grew up eating this Simple Tomato Sauce my mom would make that takes minutes to throw together. Now, I think Shea might grow up eating this Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto on the reg because it’s even easier.

close up of ricotta on top of pesto spaghetti

Pine nuts toasted in the toaster oven results in a darker, roasty, nutty flavor. But in all honesty, you can be like, “toaster oven, smoaster oven” and end up with a pesto that is lit.

Fresh grated parmesan cheese? Pick it up in the cheese section already grated and ready to go.

How to make Lemon Ricotta Pesto Spaghetti

If I could summarize the recipe in three steps it would be this:

  1. Dump all ingredients in the food processor and turn on.
  2. Add to hot spaghetti.
  3. Eat.

Okay, okay, if you actually look at the recipe, there are a few more steps. That’s only to make sure your basil and garlic are really fine. If you want the cliff notes version above, have at it my friend.

ingredients for lemon ricotta pesto in a food processor

Are you on team pesto? It’s a pretty awesome team. Personally speaking, I’m on team anything that’s covered in sauce, but pesto is my particular brand of pasta happiness. So fragrant and flavorful.

Not to mention full of bonus health benefits like stress reduction (need), anti-inflammatory (want), and an immune booster (have to have it), among other things.

So let’s blend it up with zesty lemon and a few other things and tell our bodies, “here, I’m doing this for you man.”

If pasta is a no go for you, whether it’s tummy troubles, Celiac, or you’re not into carbs, Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto is perfect for zoodles. Check out this Avocado Pesto with Zucchini Noodles recipe for a little more on zoodles.

overhead of Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto with pea shoots

At the end of the day, the vehicle for this sauce is up to your hearts desire. Spaghetti, rigatoni, zoodle, or even smeared on toasted bread for an appetizer.

What we can all agree on is that whipping up something tasty in 30 minutes or less is busy life food goals.

close up of ricotta on top of pesto spaghetti

Creamy Lemon Ricotta Pesto

Powerful sweet basil, rich toasted pine nuts and bright fresh lemon whipped together with creamy ricotta cheese for a zesty spin on traditional pesto.
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Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy pesto recipes, lemon ricotta pesto, ricotta pesto, ricotta sauces
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 949kcal
Author: Lauren


  • ¼ cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese divided
  • 1 lemon zested
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ box or package spaghetti


  • Toast pine nuts in 350°F oven, or toaster oven, for 3 to 4 minutes.  Set aside.
  • Set a medium saucepan with salted water to boil.  Once at a boil, cook spaghetti until al dente - about 7 to 8 minutes - or by package instructions.  If cooking in advance, lightly oil to prevent clumping while it cools.
  • In a food processor, add pine nuts, garlic cloves and basil.  Pulse 10 to 15 times.  Add parmesan, lemon zest, ¼ cup ricotta cheese and salt.  Turn the food processor to 'On.'
  • With food processor running, slowly add olive oil and blend for 1 minute.
  • In a large sauce pan, add cooked spaghetti and creamy lemon ricotta pesto.  Sauté over low heat until pasta is evenly coated.  Plate and top with remaining ¼ cup of ricotta cheese.


Calories: 949kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 552mg | Potassium: 550mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1021IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 343mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating

Cait Weingartner

Tuesday 31st of October 2017

I'm a big pesto fan, and this recipe looks incredibly delicious! I also appreciate the face that it seems simple and quick enough to make on a busy week night.


Monday 30th of October 2017

Yum, lemon ricotta pesto sounds amazing! This is such a fun twist on standard spaghetti.


Monday 30th of October 2017

Ooh this looks SO good! I love pesto - I could have it every day haha! I need to try this!

La Shell

Monday 30th of October 2017

Can't wait to try this. Pesto looks and smells so intimidating that I never tried it. Thanks for the recipe! Will try it out!


Monday 30th of October 2017

It's MUCH easier than it tastes! :)

Marci Smith

Monday 30th of October 2017

This recipe looks delicious! I’m going to have to come back and pin it to my “recipes to try” board!


Monday 30th of October 2017

Hope you love it!