Soups + Mains

Quick and Easy Fried Lemon Pasta with Chili Flakes

A easy-to-whip-up pasta dish — olive oil, grated Parm, arugula, fried lemons & chile flakes.

This is another under :30 recipe, my favorite kind! This is an easy-to-whip-up pantry pasta dish. It has olive oil, grated Parmesan, flaky sea salt, crisp arugula, fried lemons for brightness, and chili flakes for heat.

I think this pasta with fried lemon and chili flakes would be great with scallops, clams, or shrimp on top as well — although I have just shown it here in its pure form. And if you like this savory lemon dish, check out my recipe for a sweet lemon dessert here.

I modified a New York Times recipe in making this. I’m going to link to the original recipe here because it has a video alongside it, and I think it’s helpful to see how she’s preparing the lemons. I cut out some of the lemon in mine because the reader’s comments seemed to warrant it, and I added some other things.

Pasta with Fried Lemons & Chili Flakes

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword lemon, pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 4 lemons
  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil more for drizzling
  • Large pinch of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cup Baby Arugula
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes more to taste
  • cup grated Parmigiano cheese more to taste
  • cup parsley coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside. Trim the tops and bottoms off the other 2 lemons and cut lengthwise into quarters; remove seeds and pith by running your knife down the center of each quarter to shave it off. Thinly slice the quarters crosswise into triangles about ¼ inch wide. Blanch the lemon pieces in the boiling water for 4 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a dish towel. Blot dry with paper towels.
  2. In the boiling water, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat. Add the dried lemon pieces and season with a pinch each of salt and a large pinch of sugar. Cook until the lemons are caramelized and browned at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Melt the butter with the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the chile flakes and almost all of the lemon zest; cook until fragrant. Whisk in the reserved pasta water.
  5. Toss in the pasta and grated parmesan cheese, and garnish with salt and pepper. Cook until pasta is well coated with sauce. Toss in the caramelized lemon, chopped parsley, and arugula. Let the arugula wilt just slightly. Serve, topped with a drizzle of oil, more cheese if you like, the remaining zest, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Recipe Notes

• I think this pasta would be great with the clams, scallops, or shrimp that I mentioned up top, if you are looking for a more complete meal.
• I also think a few toasted pine nuts on top would add a nice touch!
• Don’t skip the step of blanching the lemon slices before frying. It may seem fussy, but it eliminates bitterness in the lemons and takes only a few extra minutes. Then blot the lemon slices well with paper towels before adding them to the hot oil; this helps them brown more deeply.

Bon Appétit!
xx — BB


4 comments on “Quick and Easy Fried Lemon Pasta with Chili Flakes

  1. Eve Pappas

    Thanks for a recipe for tonight’s dinner that looks delicious!!

  2. Ellen Gardner

    This food post might break my streak — you’ve piqued my interest! 😉

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