My boyfriend Reed LOVES pasta, he would probably eat it for almost every meal. Now, don’t me wrong I love it too, but sometimes it can just be so heavy. I wanted a cheesy pasta recipe that didn’t make me feel as full as a mac and cheese. Enter the magical power of lemon juice – FRESH lemon juice.

The lemon cuts the fat of the ricotta and the pancetta to produce a much brighter pasta that works in the summer but is still comforting and filling enough for the winter. Not kidding, the week I developed this pasta, I ended up making it twice it was so good.

Now, substitution-wise, you can certainly replace the goat cheese with a full cup of ricotta and you can omit the pancetta if you’d like to do this dish meat-free (you can also add chicken if you want to add more protein!). The one thing I don’t recommend is not using whole-milk ricotta. That is really the backbone of the cheese sauce so I highly recommend sticking to whole-milk.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Lemon Ricotta One Pot Pasta with Crispy Pancetta

Perfect for when you're feeling fancy but short on time this pasta recipe will have you and your guests going OMG with every bite and leaves you with minimal cleanup in the kitchen.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Servings 6


  • 1 box large tube shaped pasta ex. rigatoni
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup herb goat cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 2 cups spinach or arugula


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta – once cooked reserve 1 cup of the water then drain the pasta
  • In the same pot, sauté the pancetta until crispy then place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep about a tbsp of the rendered fat in the pot then add garlic and cook until just brown
  • Add all the cheeses, the basil, pancetta, and the zest and juice of the whole lemon. Stir to combine then add about a half cup of the pasta water and whisk together until smooth
  • Add the pasta and stir to ensure all pieces are coated with the cheese mixture, add more pasta water if the sauce starts to clump
  • Add spinach and stir to combine until the spinach begins to wilt – serve and enjoy!
Keyword 20 minute meal, easy dinner, easy pasta recipe, lemon ricotta pasta, one pot meal, one pot pasta, under 20 minutes