This Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta is completely dairy-free and vegan but you would never know it! A creamy lemon garlic sauce that’s a little spicy, yet fresh and springy. After the first bite, you’ll want to add this simple pasta recipe to your weekly rotation.
Why You’ll Love This Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta
- It’s an easy weeknight dinner! This simple pasta dish is perfect for busy weeknights when you need a quick dinner because it is ready start to finish in 25 minutes of less. It’s also made in just 2 pots, making it easy to clean up after the meal.
- Made with simple ingredients. All you need is 10 main ingredients, plus your favourite side dishes like Vegan Garlic Bread or a Balsamic Greens Salad!
- Suitable for date nights. If you’re enjoying a date night at home or looking for a cozy meal to enjoy on Valentine’s day, this delicious meal is a great fit. It’s an easy meal to cook with a loved one and is best followed by a Vegan Molten Chocolate Lava Cake for Two.
- Homemade pasta sauce made with fresh ingredients. Although this lemon garlic pasta recipe is not a one pot pasta, it really couldn’t be more straight forward. Simple boil the pasta and make the sauce in a separate pan in under 10 minutes using fresh ingredients! If you’re looking for pasta recipe that are made in one pot, try my Chili Cheese Pasta or this Vegan Pumpkin Mac & Cheese.
- Pasta: My favourite pasta to use is rigatoni, but any short pasta shape or long pasta noodles like spaghetti or angel hair pasta will work here.
- Oil: Both extra virgin olive oil and vegan butter work well in this creamy pasta sauce. If you are using salted vegan butter, season with just 1/4 teaspoon of additional salt, then taste and add additional salt if needed.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves are best for that fragrant, garlicky flavour. I find two cloves to add enough garlic flavour for me, but if you’re a true garlic lover, don’t be afraid to use lots of garlic.
- Coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk is the perfect substitute for heavy cream in cream-based pasta sauces because it’s richer and thicker than any other plant-based milk. Light coconut milk is not a great alternative for a lower fat option – it is too watery and lacking in flavour.
- Spices: You’ll need a simple blend of onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt, and red chili flakes (red pepper flakes) to taste!
- Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice adds the perfect brightness and acidity that balances the richness in the cream sauce and enhances the flavours in the garlic lemon pasta sauce altogether. If you’d like tasting lemon sauce, add lots of lemon zest to taste!
- Tapioca starch: I highly recommend using tapioca starch for that stretchy, cheesy look and feel, but if needed, corn starch or flour can be substituted. Scroll down to the full recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact measurements of these substitutions.
How to Make Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions, or until al dente. Drain and set aside until the creamy pasta sauce is ready.
- Sauté the aromatics. While the pasta cooks, begin the pasta sauce. In a deep frying pan or large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Once warm, add the garlic, shallots, and chili flakes. Fry for a few minutes, or until the garlic and shallots begin to brown.
- Add liquids and seasonings. Pour in the coconut milk, water, and season with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir until incorporated.
- Add the pasta. Add the drained and cooked pasta to the creamy sauce along with the nutritional yeast and lemon juice, then stir to coat.
- Stir in tapioca starch. One tablespoon at a time, stir in the tapioca starch until dissolved. Bring the pasta to a simmer to help thicken the creamy sauce.
- Serve. Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, remove the lemon garlic pasta from the heat and garnish with fresh dill and additional red chili flakes, or as desired. Enjoy!
Can I make this pasta gluten-free?
Yes! Use your favourite gluten-free pasta and cook it according to its specific package instructions.
Does this creamy pasta sauce taste like coconut?
Although the base of this cream sauce is made with coconut milk, I don’t find the coconut flavour comes through much in this pasta dish. If you really don’t enjoy full-fat coconut milk, feel free to sub another creamy nondairy milk such as Homemade Cashew Milk (without the added sweetener!).
Why did my cream sauce separate?
This happens most often when a sauce is being cooked over high heat for too long. If a creamy sauce begins to boil or is cooked for too long, it can cause the fats and liquids to separate and is difficult to fully emulsify again. It will still taste okay, but it won’t be as creamy looking!
I thickened the sauce too much. How can I make the sauce thinner?
If you’ve accidentally thickened your sauce too much, the easiest way to thin it out again is to add additional liquid to the mix until your desired consistency is reached. I’d recommend slowly adding vegetable broth or a splash of starchy pasta water as needed.
- Turn down the heat, as needed. If you’ve sautéed minced garlic before, you know it can burn quickly. While it cooks, keep a close eye on it, stirring frequently and reducing the heat as needed to keep it from burning. A lower heat will also prevent the sauce from separating or thickening too quickly.
- Garnish with fresh herbs. I personally love this simple lemon pasta recipe garnished with fresh dill, but it would also be delicious served with fresh parsley or fresh basil.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Since the pasta will continue to cook a bit in the lemon garlic butter sauce, cook it until al dente. If it is fully cooked before it is added to the cream sauce, it may become mushy.
More Easy Pasta Dishes to Try Next:
- Healthy Green Pasta Sauce
- Single Serve Cheesy Pasta Bake
- Red Wine Angel Pasta
- Vegan “Scallop” Cream Sauce Pasta
- Spicy & Cheesy Red Pepper Vodka Pasta
- Garlic Butter Corn Pasta with Basil