We Made Ina Garten’s Lemon Capellini—and It’s Her Absolute Best Weeknight Dinner

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You only need 15 minutes (and three ingredients) to make Ina Garten's lemon capellini. The result is a bright, fresh and flavorful pasta dish.

 Lemon Capellini Ina GartenJenna Urben for Taste of Home, Getty Images

We love Ina Garten’s recipes because she uses simple and seasonal ingredients. Her lemon capellini is no different! In fact, this recipe might be the Barefoot Contessa’s best quick and easy dinner ever.

This dish comes together with ultra-thin pasta, butter and the zest and juice from a couple of lemons. Ina uses capellini, also known as angel hair. It pairs best with a light sauce, making it perfect for this 3-ingredient dish.

Ina Garten’s Lemon Capellini Recipe

This light pasta recipe cooks quickly, so pull everything out beforehand. This is called mise en place, or “everything in its place.” Ina has more cooking tips where that came from!

Ingredients

Lemon Capellini Ingredients AdeditJenna Urben for Taste of Home

  • 1 pound dried capellini
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • Zest and juice from 2 large lemons
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Tools You’ll Need

  • Microplane Zester: This Microplane is the perfect tool for zesting citrus and grating Parmesan cheese.
  • Pasta Spoon: Transferring the cooked pasta to the sauce is a pivotal step in this recipe, rather than draining the starchy pasta water from the pot. A pasta spoon will be your friend.
  • Nonstick Saute Pan: This high-sided pan comes in handy for tossing the pasta and sauce together.

Directions

Step 1: Zest and juice lemons

Start by zesting then juicing the lemons and setting each aside. I used a Microplane, but there’s more than one way to zest a lemon.

Step 2: Cook pasta

Cook the capellini or angel hair pasta for about 3-4 minutes, until just al dente. This pasta is super delicate and will fall apart or mush together if it gets overcooked. You’ll also be tossing it with the sauce, so it will continue to cook.

Step 3: Make lemon sauce

To make the butter lemon sauce, start by heating a saute pan over medium heat. Add sticks of butter and let melt. Once melted, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then turn heat to low.

Step 4: Transfer pasta to sauce

Lemon Capellini Pasta In SkilletJenna Urben for Taste of Home

As soon as the pasta is done, lift out of the water with a pasta spoon and transfer to the skillet with the sauce. Toss together, adding reserved pasta water to keep the pasta moist.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t be afraid of adding too much pasta water! It’s a secret ingredient that adds a rich silkiness to the sauce and acts as a thickening agent.

Step 5: Serve

Lemon Capellini With Fresh Lemon And ParsleyJenna Urben for Taste of Home

Portion the lemon capellini into six servings and serve warm. Garnish with additional lemon zest, salt, pepper or fresh herbs. I like garnishing with fresh parsley but basil would be delicious too!

How to Make This Recipe Your Own

While Ina’s lemon capellini recipe is fantastic as-is, there are a few ways to make it your own:

  • Serve with a portion of grilled chicken to make it a hearty meal.
  • Prefer seafood? Top with scallops, salmon or sauteed shrimp.
  • Saute garlic or shallots with the melted butter and lemon to add extra flavor.
  • Toss in roasted vegetables or turn it into a seasonal angel hair primavera.

Here’s What We Thought

This lemon capellini recipe is a total winner in my book! I’ll be serving this light meal all summer long.

The thin noodles tossed with lemony butter practically melt in your mouth. I love the versatility of adding in any kind of protein to beef up the dish, or leave it as-is for quick but elevated comfort food.

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Jenna Urben
Jenna is a food blogger focused on sharing allergy-friendly recipes. Her favorite ingredients include sweet potatoes, chickpeas and squash.