Creamy lemon spaghetti, a quick and healthy recipe using 3 egg yolks. My kind of fast food, which can easily be adapted to all kinds of seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus, courgettes, peas, artichokes and roasted pumpkin. Although vegetarian, it’s also good with prawns, roasted chicken or leftover cooked turkey.

Save the egg whites for plenty more recipes below.

creamy lemon spaghetti with asparagus

What Can I Make With 3 Egg Yolks?

Looking for a quick recipe that use 3 egg yolks?

This is a handy recipe if you’re planning on making macarons or other cakes that need the whites!  I mentioned this recipe briefly in the annex on egg yolks in my book, Mad About Macarons, but here it is in more detail.

So save the egg whites and store in a jam jar in the fridge for about 3-5 days and the whites will be ready for making macarons, financiers, coconut macaroons or crispy sesame tuiles. Don’t forget egg whites freeze well too.

For more, see my index of egg yolk recipes.

How do I Spice up My Simple Spaghetti?

This recipe has just evolved over the years of making macarons. I’ve always loved the mix of lemon in pasta – Antoinio Carluccio had a wonderful recipe in his book, “Passion for Pasta” served with Angel’s Hair pasta but I digressed and served it with spaghetti. Life in the fast lane, eh?

So when Nigella Lawson came on the scene with her similar Creamy Lemon Linguine using 2 yolks, I was smitten. Instead I omitted the butter and full fat cream and increased it to 3 yolks with a small tub of half fat crème fraîche. However, you can use light or heavy cream if you prefer. It’s perhaps not a classic Italian pasta dish, but it’s a fast-food family favourite when I need egg whites to bake.

To spice it up, add a little saffron to the sauce, to bring out the lemon flavours.

What’s more, a little kick of heated spice such as a good pinch of cayenne pepper works well too.

adding lemon cream sauce to cooked spaghetti

Using Egg Yolks to Thicken Pasta by Tempering

Using egg yolks in dishes and pastry helps thicken a sauce – such as at the end of cooking our favourite French veal stew, Blanquette de Veau. They act as an emulsifier and give that extra glossy appeal.

However, adding egg yolks to a sauce has to be done at the end of cooking and just heated through.
Too much cooking and the sauce will end up like messy scrambled eggs.

So to avoid this, reserve a little of the hot pasta water when draining the spaghetti (about 3-4 tablespoons) and pour into the sauce.

This is tempering the yolk to the creamy pasta sauce, meaning it raises the yolks’ temperature by gently cooking before it goes in to the pan.  Just heat through the sauce on a gentle to medium heat for up to a couple of minutes, turning and tossing the spaghetti around to coat the pasta completely in it.

creamy lemon spaghetti with black sesame seeds

Add some seeds too before tossing in vegetables

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Vegetables

This lemony cream sauce goes so well with asparagus.  However, when asparagus isn’t in season, toss in cooked peas (fresh or frozen) instead. It’s also delicious served with fried artichoke hearts, courgettes or chunks of roasted butternut or pumpkin in Autumn. Scatter over some rocket (arugula) leaves or fresh watercress in Winter. I love to add some black sesame seeds too.

Add freshly chopped parsley at the end of cooking, or chopped fresh basil or chives. This way it not only keeps the herbs’ flavours but their vitamin content too. Even top with edible herb flowers.

See the French market pages for more on edible herb flowers and fresh aromatic herbs.

Quick Recipe For Leftover Turkey

This is also delicious served with prawns or roasted chicken. It’s ideal during the festive season, as it goes so well with any leftover cooked turkey.

creamy lemon spaghetti with white asparagus and topped with chive flowers

creamy lemon spaghetti with asparagus

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time22 mins
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : French, Italian
Keyword : creamy lemon pasta, recipe 3 egg yolks
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 572kcal


Creamy lemon sauce is great with spaghetti and all kinds of pasta. Quick and delicious recipe uses 3 egg yolks - good with cooked prawns, roasted chicken, leftover turkey, or other vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, courgettes or peas.


  • 1 unwaxed lemon (juice and zest) organic
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20 cl (small tub/ ¾ cup) half fat crème fraîche (12-15% fat) or single/heavy cream
  • 1 sprig fresh lemon thyme (optional)
  • 50 g (2oz/½ cup) fresh parmesan finely grated
  • 400 g (14oz) dried spaghetti
  • 200 gr (7oz/1 cup) fresh asparagus or peas optional
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (chives or basil) finely chopped


  • In a separate bowl, mix the yolks, the lemon juice and zest, crème fraîche (or cream), lemon thyme if using, and the parmesan.
  • Prepare the pasta. Cook dried spaghetti or linguine in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes or until al dente, according to packet instructions.
  • If using with fresh vegetables, cook them for about the last 5 minutes until al dente in the boiling water with the pasta.
  • Drain the pasta and asparagus and keep a little of the hot pasta water. Pour the hot cooking water (about 3-4 tbsp) into the sauce and stir together to temper it. In the same (drained) pasta pan, quickly add in the sauce and toss the pasta and asparagus in it. Only gently heat for no more than a minute, as overheating and cooking will cook the eggs.
    Add the fresh chopped herbs (such as flat leaf parsley, basil or chives).


Serve immediately and add more fresh herbs (finely chopped). Good with a glass of chilled Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay white wine to bring out the lemon flavours.
Variations: when asparagus not in season, good with artichokes, peas, prawns, roasted chicken or turkey.
Reserve the remaining 3 egg whites in a jam jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week or freeze. Great for making macarons, coconut macaroons, financiers or tuiles.
Nutritional Information: 572 calories for 250g serving with 35g protein and 80g carbohydrates.
Measures: Please note that all my recipes are best made using digital kitchen scales in precise metric grams. Both ounces (and cups) are given as a guide. 

This recipe was first published 22 June 2011 but has now been completely updated with more explanatory text.

From the market

From the kitchen

17 responses to “Creamy Lemon Spaghetti”

  1. I never thought about egg in a cream sauce. I have no doubt this is going to go over very well at my house. Thanks for the tip on fb, or rather the “tips”. I love that you have an entire browse section dedicated to egg yolk recipes. 🙂

  2. Oh Jill, that sauce sounds wonderful!!! What an amazing meal… hubs would be all over this! 🙂

  3. The sauce on this sounds great, I can imagine it would be such a great contrast to the shrimp. I like parmesan on my seafood pasta too!

  4. I’ve been so behind on visiting blogs, and I starting doing the rounds to see that I’ve missed SO much in one week. This recipe sounds incredible, Jill! So yummy… I love those flavors. And ‘no cheese’ is not even an option for me with such a fabulous pasta dish – seafood or not! Next time you make this, sprinkle some extra parmesan on your plate just for me! 🙂 LOL

  5. Oh, Jill! What an ideal meal you have here… I haven’t made prawns in months and my son has been asking for them. And yes, we love our cheese on the pasta too!

  6. Oh Jill! Thanks so much for your lovely words! You are such a good friend! 🙂 And guess what?! I like cheese on some fish pasta too, especially creamy pasta like this. I think it goes great with the lemon cream!!!! Well done my dear, brava! <3

  7. Jill this pasta dish sounds absolutely delicious! I love creamy pasta, and with lemon thyme that just makes it even better! Thanks for sharing!

  8. I wouldn’t mind extra Parmesan cheese too, as I love it on any pasta dishes even with a prawns:) Fantastic recipe Jill, and congrats on well deserved award!

  9. Jill, those prawns are huge!! what a perfect summer pasta dish, the combination of lemon and asparagus with those lovely prawns has my stomach grumbling wishing it could have shared that meal with you!

  10. Hey, if you love parm with seafood dishes, tradition be damned! If it tastes good to you, get on it! Certainly looks to me like it would taste amazing.

  11. Oh, man, I wish I was making this incredible pasta for dinner tonight…but it will be on our menu soon! Jill, I just love the simplicity of this beautiful dish…it looks amazing! xoxo

  12. I ignore the no cheese with seafood rule too – as they say “rules are for the guidance of wisemen/women and the obedience of fools”. This is right up my street – both the prawn and chicken version. You’d wonder how McDonalds came into existence with “fast food” like this to choose instead. You’ve hit another dish right out of the park Jill!

    p.s. congrats on The Versatile Blogger award – I’m a big Manu’s Menu fan too.

  13. wow, i love shrimps in pasta. that is such an easy dish to whip up especially when pressed for time. it looks yummy and definitely worth a try 🙂

  14. There’s a Nigella recipe for lemon pasta with egg yolks that I’ve always wanted to try. You’ve just reminded me of it and I love the addition of asparagus, gorgeous with the parmesan!! 😀

    • Interesting, thanks Natalie. I’ve got one of her recipes using lemons but with garlic, mushrooms and olive oil – don’t know of this one. Zut! Here was I thinking this was cleverly easy, too, using a Normandy classic sauce (altered a fish recipe from my tattered Crème Fraîche Cookbook) for pasta.

  15. Load up on the parmesan. Go on, you deserve it 🙂 This is an outstanding dish, great use of those pesky egg yolks as well!

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