Creamy One-Pot Pasta With Ricotta and Lemon

Casey Rooney
by Casey Rooney
6 servings
20 min

This Creamy One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon is a quick and easy weeknight meal ready in 20 minutes. This delicious pasta dish is packed with flavor, featuring ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and vibrant lemon.

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A large spoonful of this pasta with ricotta and lemon.

This delicious one-pot pasta dish is made with a creamy sauce featuring ricotta cheese and infused with bright, fresh flavors of lemon. Add some greens for a nutrient boost and a pop of color, and you have an easy and affordable dinner that will become a regular on your dinner rotation.

This one-pot ricotta lemon pasta is perfect for any night of the week because it doesn’t take much time to prepare. It makes an easy weeknight dinner or a delicious pasta side for a special occasion.

Either way, it’s an easy pasta recipe that requires just a handful of ingredients and 20 minutes of active prep time.

Love one-pot pasta dishes?! Try this One Pot Spaghetti with Sausage and this amazing, decadent Velveeta Hamburger Helper!


  • An easy, one-pot pasta dish that the whole family will love. It boasts all the comfort food flavors of starchy pasta and creamy cheese that even the pickiest of eaters cannot resist.

  • Great meatless weeknight dinner thanks to the protein content in ricotta cheese. But if you want to beef it up, it’s easy to do so by adding your favorite protein like blackened chicken or air fryer pork chops.

  • A truly easy dinner in 20 minutes. Minimal effort and simple ingredients are a must for a stress-free dinner time.


You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Creamy One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon:

Ingredients needed for one pot pasta with ricotta and lemon.

Pasta – I used a 16-ounce box of rotini pasta but any short pasta will work well.

Ricotta cheese – Go with full-fat or whole-milk ricotta cheese for the best flavor and texture. This will create the base of the delicious creamy sauce. Homemade ricotta and fresh ricotta will both work too.

Heavy cream – This is added to thin out the creamy sauce and will help hold the ricotta together.

Fresh lemon – To give the creamy sauce those bright lemon flavors, we’ll use both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice.

Fresh spinach – Chopped baby spinach will add wonderful subtle flavor and extra fiber to this simple pasta dish.

Parmesan cheese – A cup of grated parmesan cheese completes this perfect meal and adds savory and salty flavor.


Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!

Step 1: In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, heavy cream, lemon zest, and juice, salt, and garlic powder. Set aside.

Ingredients for the one pot pasta with ricotta sauce stirred together in a small bowl.

Step 2: In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook pasta in the boiling water for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Stir pasta often for best results. Stirring will help prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot and each other.

Rotini pasta cooking in a large stockpot.

Step 3: When the pasta is cooked al dente, and water should be mostly evaporated or absorbed, reduce the heat to low and add spinach. Stir to combine and cook over low heat until wilted.

One Pot Pasta being cooked in a large stockpot.

Step 4: Then, add the ricotta cheese mixture and Parmesan cheese to the cooked pasta and stir until well-coated.

Lastly, season with salt, if needed, and top with fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.

One Pot Pasta with ricotta and lemon with ricotta and cheese being added.
One pot pasta with ricotta and lemon mixed together and ready to serve.

  • Don’t cook to package instructions: This one may be hard but avoid the temptation to cook pasta according to the package directions. Stir the pasta often as it cooks, so it doesn’t clump up and stick together. This will help to evenly incorporate the starch into the creamy ricotta cheese sauce later.

  • Add more water as needed: If the water is absorbed too quickly before the pasta reaches the desired al dente texture, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water and continue to cook, stirring often.

  • Cooking time will vary: Depending on the type of pasta you use, you may need to cut your cook time by 1-2 minutes or add a few minutes to achieve al dente consistency.


For an elegant finishing touch, add a drizzle of olive oil, coarse black pepper, shaved Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil leaves to this pasta dish.


  • Storage: Leftover ricotta lemon pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

  • Reheating: To reheat a single serving of ricotta pasta, warm it in the microwave for a few minutes until thoroughly heated. To reheat a large amount, gently warm it in a small or medium saucepan or skillet on the stovetop over low heat. Add a splash of milk, water, or cream to thin it out, and keep it on low heat, stirring frequently.

  • Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing this one-pot pasta dish as the texture and flavor may be affected when thawed and reheated. Dairy becomes grainy and watery; therefore, this dish is not recommended for freezing.



Pasta: Use your favorite short pasta in this one-pot meal. Try penne, bow tie, or fusilli pasta to change things up. Remember to watch as the pasta cooks and stir often to achieve that al dente texture.

Greens: No spinach on hand? Switch it up and use baby kale or arugula.


Spice it up: With zesty lemon flavors and creamy ricotta cheese, adding some red pepper flakes is an easy way to spice this dish up and add extra flavor.

Add protein: Make it a meal and add your favorite meat like leftover roast chicken for extra protein.


Will ricotta melt into the lemon ricotta sauce?

Unlike most cheeses, ricotta cheese does not melt when heated. It is great for holding its texture and combines beautifully with other ingredients. That’s why it’s essential to include heavy cream, lemon flavors, Parmesan cheese, and starchy pasta water to create a smooth sauce.

When is the best time to add spinach to pasta?

Spinach cooks quickly on the stovetop, so don’t overcook it, resulting in a mushy flavor and lackluster green. The best time to add spinach to the pasta dish is when all the pasta has been fully cooked. Ensure the pasta is on low heat, stir the spinach in, and cook just enough for the greens to wilt.


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Pasta with ricotta and lemon on a white plate.


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Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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  • 16 oz. full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream can substitute half and half
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 16 oz. Rotini pasta
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3-4 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

Prep: In a small bowl, stir together: ricotta, cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and garlic powder. Set aside.
Boil Pasta: In a large pot, add water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Stir the pasta often so it doesn't stick. There will seem like there isn't enough water, but it will work! When the pasta is al dente, the water should be mostly gone. Troubleshooting: If water absorbs too quickly before the pasta is cooked to al dente, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and continue to cook, stirring often.
Add: Over low heat, add spinach and stir until wilted. Then, add the ricotta mixture and Parmesan cheese. Stir until pasta is well-coated.
Finish: Season with salt to taste (if needed). Top with fresh basil, freshly ground black pepper, if you like!
  • Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator
Casey Rooney
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