Light Lemon Spaghetti with Spinach

This lemon spaghetti makes me joyful.

While not overly saucy (which is why I love it), this simple and quick lemon spaghetti is incredibly tasty with the bright lemon flavor, hearty spinach and perfect little pinch of fresh Parmesan cheese. I’ve been making a variation of it for years and finally wrote down the amounts so I could share it with you. It totally epitomizes what I love about food – how everyday ingredients come together to create something so delicious. And in a weird way, I think it’s like the dish that characterizes my food personality. This and caramel brownies, of course.

This is my favorite go-to dish to make when:
a) what I had planned for dinner does not sound as good as it did whilst menu planning,
b) Brian has taken all the boys on a blessed Father and Sons campout and it’s just me and Cam hanging out (insert angels singing),
c) I want something a bit more elevated than PB&J for lunch (don’t worry, PB&J, I’ll always love you, but sometimes, you and I, we need a break)
d) a simple pasta dish is the one thing that will please the entire fam. And this does. Majorly.

What To ServeYou could make it more of a substantial meal by adding in a little grilled chicken or the like, but I usually don’t and instead serve it with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, sometimes a little cottage cheese for extra protein, many times with steamed broccoli or roasted cauliflower, or often just by itself.

Super simple. Super fantastic.

PS: I’ve added FOUR new menu plans focused on healthy recipes in case you are interested. As always, happy menu planning!

Light Lemon Spaghetti with Spinach

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies
Two Years Ago: The Best Chicken Enchilada Soup
Three Years Ago: Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad

Light Lemon Spaghetti with Spinach

Yield: Serves 4-6

Light Lemon Spaghetti with Spinach

I know generally it's looked down on to rinse noodles but after making this dish over and over and over, I hated how the noodles were sticky and gummy and found that a quick rinse (not a soak, just a rinse) in cool water after draining gives them the perfect texture for the dish. PS...I've used olive oil and coconut oil in place of the butter at times but usually come back to the bit of butter because of the flavor; however, you could definitely use what you prefer for the oil.


  • 12 ounces spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 6-9 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon or so)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse briefly with cool water and set aside.
  2. While the noodles are boiling, in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, careful not to let the garlic burn.
  3. Toss in the chopped spinach and pour in the chicken broth. Simmer the mixture 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Toss in the cooked noodles, using tongs or two forks to lift the noodles up and over to distribute the spinach mixture.
  4. Add the lemon zest and juice. Toss the noodle mixture and heat through, 1-2 more minutes.
  5. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

32 Responses to Light Lemon and Spinach Spaghetti

  1. Mollie says:

    Have you ever tried this with spaghetti squash? I’ve got one sitting on my counter I need to use, and so I’m looking for something new to try. I don’t have zucchini, so I can’t do the other dish I found on your site. Any suggestions?

  2. Barbara H says:

    Fantastic recipe. I made this with a cheesy pesto stuffed prosciutto wrapped chicken & it was delicious. Such a nice, light, fresh tasting dish!

  3. Sallie says:

    This would taste great with zucchini noodles!
    I make them all the time with my Vegetti and I promise I can’t tell the difference between pasta and zucchini.

  4. Sarah says:

    I tried to find this in the pasta section, but it doesn’t look like its there. Had to go back in your previous posts. Just thought you should know! Making it again tonight!

  5. Shannon says:

    I fixed this tonight and it was really good. Totally different from anything I typically make. One of my daughters decided to become a vegetarian a couple of months ago and that is what led me to pin and try this recipe. Glad I did. Thank you!

  6. Mel says:

    Oh my word Mel, Brian made this for me tonight with some sliced roasted chicken on top and it was so good! I want to go back for more, but would have to do another Turbo workout to justify it and I’m too tired for that. I think having good spaghetti noodles is key! Just wanted to thank you for another truly super fantastic dish!

  7. Emily Marie says:

    So would this be as tasty with whole wheat pasta? It seems like some of the lightness of the dish would be lost, but that’s all I have in my pantry currently…

    • Mel says:

      Emily Marie – I rarely use whole wheat pasta because I don’t like the density of it, but it’s surely worth experimenting. Good luck!

  8. Jackie says:

    Declared a success by 2 parents and 3 little boys!

  9. I am making it tonight with arugula! I love, love, love arugula especially with lemon an Parmesan!

  10. Sheila says:

    Quick, easy, and so delicious! I made this tonight and added shrimp for my meat loving husband and it seriously tasted like an “Olive Garden” entree. I was a little shocked myself after tasting this dish that it really did come out of my kitchen. You are so talented, Mel, and your creations are always my family’s favorites.

  11. Shalynn says:

    You saved me! It was a Friday night with no dinner plans and dinner due in half an hour. I went to your site and there it was–magic! I actually had all the ingredients (minus the spinach–no love lost there). It was even better reheated in the microwave the next day as the butter oils spread and made it very moist. Thanks!

  12. Wendy says:

    I made this for dinner last night with broccoli since I didn’t have any spinach. It was wonderful!

  13. Kim in MD says:

    This looks so yummy…sometimes the most simple recipes are the most delicious!

  14. Sarah says:

    THANK YOU for posting this! I made it tonight for dinner and added some chicken. I am in my first trimester of pregnancy and this is the first meal in WEEKS that I have been able to eat a whole plate of without gagging! Sorry, that’s gross but I’m sure you can probably relate. This was so good. Another winner!

  15. Jodi says:

    Mel, I just wanted to let you know that you make my job much easier. I’m a RD and over the last two years after discovering your blog, I have sent countless people to your site for some specific recipes for them to try and I always get great feedback. Thanks for taking the time to help others discover that cooking from scratch is simple, tasty and so much better for them.

  16. Rebecca says:

    This sounds wonderful! Have you ever tried adding shrimp?

  17. Jennifer says:

    I bet this pasta would be delicious with tuna. I occasionally make your white bean and tuna salad for lunch, and love the lemon with the tuna. Thanks for all your great recipe ideas.

  18. Julie Poidevin says:

    Just tried it last night and it was a hit! I added grilled chicken with lemon pepper seasoning and my husband & I gobbled it up. Such a refreshing change and lighter than a red sauce. Will make again!

  19. Emily says:

    Made this tonight and I’m in loooooove! Thanks!

  20. Renay says:

    This looks delicious! And now I know what to do with that giant tub of spinach that was so cheap at Costco…

  21. This looks so simple and SO delicious

  22. Whitney says:

    My husband taught me to put a little splash of olive oil in with the pasta water so when straining the noodles, they don’t stick, and there is no need to rinse. Thought this might help! 🙂
    I loooove your recipes! Blessings.

  23. ashley says:

    Love the new menus. They include many of my very favorite recipes from your site. We especially love the healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!

  24. Jess in ND says:

    You knocked it out of the ballpark with your healthy menu plans. Thanks for making whipping up great healthy meals for my family so easy!

  25. This spaghetti sounds dreamy! love this recipe!

  26. If I could get kiddos to eat one of their favorite foods, spaghetti alongside spinach I’d be a happy woman! 🙂

  27. I love making a dish similar to this, too! I use garlic infused olive oil instead of butter and garlic, but I’m sure your butter version is awesome!

  28. Sheila says:

    This makes me happy! 🙂 Hubby will HAVE to have pork chops on the side to make him happy. Your creations are the best and our favorites. This sounds and look so yummy. Thank you.

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