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Lemon Caper Pasta

This lemon caper pasta is creamy, briny, and surprisingly bright. The best part? It only requires 6 ingredients (that you most likely already have in your pantry), and 20 minutes making this the perfect weeknight dinner.

Listen, I am the queen of making extremely elaborate and complicated meals, in fact one of my favorite pasta dishes is a 4-hour Bolognese. However quite often nobody has time for that. This lemon caper pasta is perfect for those nights where you are short on time, but take out isn’t in the cards. I should also mention there is no chopping involved (yes for once there is no garlic in one of my recipes).

If you do have a little more time and still want a great pasta dish I highly recommend you check out the Spicy Vodka Rigatoni recipe.

plate of lemon caper pasta

You’ll be surprised to hear that although this pasta is super creamy, there is no heavy cream. The whole point of this recipe is that it can be made from ingredients that you have on hand, and most people don’t have heavy cream in their fridge. Instead the creaminess comes from making a béchamel sauce. Sounds complicated, but it is just flour + butter = roux + milk = creamy sauce without heavy cream.

What You’ll Need

  • Capers – I love these salty little things. Reserve the juice, you are going to need it to give this pasta that extra bright note.
  • Lemons – You’ll need both the juice and the zest!
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Pasta– Any pasta works here. I love this recipe with bow ties, but whatever you already have on hand will work.
  • Parmesan Cheese – The optional 7th ingredient for garnish.
plate of lemon caper pasta

A Few Extra Tips

  • A bit of a WARNING, this recipe requires you to add lemon juice to milk. If you don’t already know, when milk becomes too acidic it curdles. As you can imagine a curdled sauce is NOT what you want here. To avoid this from happening or reduce the amount of curdling add the lemon juice when the milk is still cold. Did your sauce curdle anyways? Don’t fret, this happened to me the first time I made it and I continued to cook the sauce down whisking it vigorously.


Lemon Caper Pasta

Print Recipe
6 ingredients, 20 minutes, and you have a super creamy and bright pasta.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Pasta
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 8 people


  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Flour
  • 2 Lemons zest & juice
  • 2 oz Capers + juice
  • 1 box Pasta
  • 1 1/2 cup Milk whole preferred


  • In a pot cook the pasta as per instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • In another large pot on medium-low heat melt the butter and add capers. Reserve the juice for later. Cook for 5 minutes crushing some of the capers.
  • Add flour so it creates a paste and cook, stirring constantly. The paste will begin to bubble, but don't let it brown or burn – about 3 minutes.
  • Add milk, caper juice, and lemon juice whisking to combine the roux. Cook until reduced and thick – 5-7 minutes
  • Add cooked pasta, stir, and enjoy.


  • While normally i would say add salt, capers are extremely salty. If you still aren’t happy with the salt level at the end then add sparingly. 

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