Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti ~ a no cook sauce!

Giada's lemon spaghetti twirled on a fork

Giada’s lemon spaghetti is the ultimate in easy summer eating ~ it’s hot pasta tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, a little starchy water, and lots of fresh basil to seal the deal.

lemon spaghetti twirled on a fork

lemon spaghetti with a refreshing no cook pasta sauce

No cook pasta sauces are such a blast. The only thing you need to do is boil up some pasta, drop it dripping wet into a bowl with your sauce, and toss. Dinner doesn’t get any easier, or more delicious. This recipe is from Giada De Laurentis, who got it from a restaurant in Capri. Funny how fabulous recipes get around. The simple lemon spaghetti went on to become one of the most popular dishes in her restaurants, and ultimately the dish that defined her career.

It’s basically spaghetti tossed with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, basil, and Parmesan cheese. The sauce is raw, and all the more vibrant because of it. You don’t want to miss this one, trust me 🙂

Want another summery no-cook pasta sauce? Try my Easy Pasta Alla Checca

a bowl of no cook lemon spaghetti

ingredients you (hopefully!) already have on hand

As long as you have a bowl of lemons on the counter, a pair and a spare of good olive oil in the pantry, a chunk of Parm in the cheese drawer, and plenty of fresh basil, you’ll never go hungry again.

  • spaghetti ~ regular or thin
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice ~ no substitute
  • extra virgin olive oil ~ the more robust the better
  • Parmesan cheese ~ freshly grated from a chunk
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • fresh basil ~ lots.
making lemon spaghetti no cook sauce

the no cook lemon spaghetti method

You can apply this same method to lots of different no cook pasta sauces. Whisk together the sauce while the pasta cooks and you’re done!

  1. Boil up a big pot of well salted water and cook spaghetti until tender. (We’re not looking for super al dente here because it will not cook further in the sauce.)
  2. In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.
  3. When the pasta is done transfer it to the bowl, dripping wet (a little pasta water helps the sauce come together.)
  4. Toss well with shredded basil (and lemon zest if you like.)
  5. Serve garnished with more cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
tossing lemon spaghetti with tongs


Although this recipe is perfect as is, there are a few SIMPLE tweaks you can make to change lemon spaghetti up just enough so you can enjoy it every night of the week.

  • mascarpone cheese ~ just add about 1/2 cup to the oil and lemon juice and it will melt right in as you toss your pasta. You could also do fresh ricotta.
  • cream for a lightly cooked sauce
  • a clove or two of minced garlic
  • some halved cherry tomatoes
  • steamed asparagus or broccoli
  • anchovies
  • grilled or steamed shrimp, or chicken
No cook lemon spaghetti with basil on a plate

more uber easy dinner ideas

Giada's lemon spaghetti twirled on a fork
3.80 from 5 votes

Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti

Giada's lemon spaghetti is the ultimate in easy summer eating ~ it's hot pasta tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, a little starchy water, and lots of fresh basil to seal the deal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Calories 541kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (packed) sliced basil leaves
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • lemon zest for garnish


  • Cook the spaghetti in lots of well salted water.
  • Meanwhile whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.
  • When the pasta is cooked, transfer it with tongs to the bowl (it's ok if some of the pasta water comes with it.) Immediately toss vigorously to get all the pasta coated in the lemony olive oil mixture. Add a little more pasta water if needed. Add salt to taste, if necessary, and black pepper. Note: as you toss the spaghetti it will absorb some of the sauce.
  • Add the fresh basil and give everything a last toss, and serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of cheese, lemon zest, and more fresh cracked black pepper.

Cook’s notes

For an even quicker meal you can whisk the sauce together and stash in the fridge for a day or two. Do not slice the basil until ready to serve.
*recipe slightly adjusted from Giada de Laurentis


Calories: 541kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 183mg | Potassium: 206mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 193IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
e book

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2022 at 10:49 am

    1 star
    I’m sorry to say that this was definitely not a keeper. The consistency of the sauce was lovely, but the taste was not.. I would not make this again, unfortunately.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 20, 2022 at 1:54 pm

      Was it too lemony for you Marcella? I love the intense lemon flavor!

    • Reply
      August 8, 2022 at 6:01 am

      3 stars
      Hi Marcella, yes the lemon was too much, it over took the basil by a yard. I liked the recipie though, I will reduce the olive oil, and the lemon by 1/2 next time, leave room for the lovely basil flavouring. Let the flavours ‘marry’ more. At current measurements it was like hitting an oil slick, and slamming into a lemon wall. LOL. but nice combo of ingredients just have to adjust to personal tastes and textures.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    5 stars
    I happened to have just made this for a family party around the 4th of July and it was a really easy hit.

  • Reply
    Cindy N.
    July 12, 2022 at 8:38 am

    Yum! I shared this recipe with my 93 year old mother who is looking forward to fixing for herself on those days she’s needing an easy meal ~ so thank you!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      July 12, 2022 at 9:09 am

      Perfect! I hope I can make it for myself when I’m 93 😉

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