Healthy/ Pasta/ Popular/ Quick and Easy/ Seafood

Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Here’s one of my favorite light, summery, sunny type pastas. This light lemon garlic pasta with salmon also has the good fortune of being healthy!

It’s all about simplicity and freshness. With fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, capers and salmon, you practically have summer on a plate.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

And to top it off, for a tiny bit of decadence, we’ll sprinkle some Parmesan loving on it. There’s no cream sauce to carry it so this is all about the goodness and tastiness of high-quality olive oil mixed with fresh, awesome flavors.

Shall we?

How To Make Light Lemon Garlic Pasta With Salmon (1 Min Video)


Start off by cooking the pasta. I went with rigatoni for this recipe but you can use any kind of pasta you like: spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, pappardelle, or other tube-type pasta. If you want it even healthier, sub with whole wheat pasta instead.

While the pasta cooks, season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper to taste and bake it until cooked. You can also pan-sear the salmon for something crispier, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. However you decide to prep your salmon, make sure to flake or cube it into bite-sized pieces so there’s enough to go around once we mix it all up later.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Mince the garlic, chop the basil and get your lemon rind ready while the pasta and salmon cook. As usual, I’m gonna advocate using a microplane for grating your rind and Parmesan cheese. It’s worth it.

Drain the pasta and mix it all up with some good-quality olive oil. You’ll want something high quality because this will be the ‘sauce’ that binds the flavors together, so it has to be delicious. I used extra virgin olive oil here. If you don’t know the difference between regular olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, here’s a great guide explaining it. Feel free to add more olive oil if you feel the pasta is a bit too dry for your liking and be sure to add some while heating up any leftovers.

Now it’s time to add some fresh basil to the pasta. If you can’t justify getting fresh basil for just one dish and don’t have any growing in your garden, an alternative is to use lightly dried basil from Gourmet Garden. It looks like this and you should be able to find it in the fresh vegetable aisle in your grocery store. They smell fresher than the usually dried herbs and keep long in the fridge. Throw in some freshly minced garlic with some salt and pepper to taste, then toss the pasta to mix.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

Then we add fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and capers to the pasta for some citrus flavor. By now the salmon should be cooked, so flake it, then add it to the pasta. Be gentle during the tossing so you don’t end up with salmon shreds.

The baking time of the salmon will vary depending on how thick your fillet is. The standard rule of thumb is to cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness which is measured from the salmon’s thickest point. If you start getting too much whitish stuff, you’ve cooked it too long.

Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!

And you’re ready to serve. Now the fun part begins by plating the pasta and topping it with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese. I prefer shaved cause every now and then I find a Parmesan shaving and it feels like you’ve discovered some treasure. Also, if you happen to like olives, this pasta really goes well with it!

Happy eating!


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A plate of salmon pasta with fresh basil and lemon wedges.

Light Lemon Garlic Pasta with Salmon

  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x


Get into summer full swing with this light lemon garlic pasta with salmon. Full of fresh, summer flavors!


Units Scale
  • 16 oz. rigatoni/pasta
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. salmon fillet
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, season salmon with salt and pepper to taste and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with garlic, olive oil, basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add lemon juice, zest and capers to the pasta and toss to mix.
  5. Flake the salmon into bite-size pieces.
  6. Gently toss salmon with the pasta.
  7. Dish and serve hot topped with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.


If the pasta feels too dry when reheating leftovers, add more olive oil after heating it up.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins

♡ Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn commissions from qualifying purchases from You can learn more about it here.


  • Reply
    October 20, 2019 at 8:23 PM

    My dad needs to follow a limited diet for a few months and cannot have tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and spicy foods. He likes salmon but I normally make it pretty spicy and remembered a pasta and salmon dish I tried years ago and this recipe came up in my search. I don’t think this was it but this is better. I used farfalle, which was really tasty and made the dish look really pretty. Next time I will add more lemon zest; the lemons I had were slightly on the small side and I really couldn’t taste it much. Fresh basil is the best and adding fresh Italian flat leaf parsley at the end is also really good. Good quality dried basil is very aromatic (organic) and could be substituted in winter but it wouldn’t taste as fresh. Adding fresh parsley would help.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:19 AM

      I’m glad we managed to help your dad on his diet. Farfalle pasta is a fun thing to eat. It has so much texture and shape that it just adds a bit more to regular pasta dishes. Fresh basil will always win over dried. It’s just one of the herbs that just has to be fresh because it smells so wonderful. If I can’t find some I manage to get away with some Gourmet Garden lightly dried basil. It keeps well in the fridge and still retains some scent.

      • Reply
        January 6, 2021 at 7:13 AM

        Thanks for the tip on the lightly dried basil. It is an interesting product. I read it is from Australia! The stores I shop in the northeast do not carry it but it would be nice to find a similar product grown closer to home in the winter months. I do buy small pots of organic basil (I have one now but it doesn’t produce the large amount my summer plants do in my garden but I love to use it for cooking so many different types of cuisine that I like to always have some around.

        • Reply
          The Cooking Jar
          January 6, 2021 at 10:00 AM

          I usually keep tubs of Gourmet Garden parsley, cilantro and basil in my fridge. I just bought a new basil plant (tried planting it before but there were a lot of white bugs that kept killing it and I didn’t know what to do). I’m slight better as a gardener now so I’m giving it a go again. I plant to start a herb garden one day with basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, cilantro, thyme, parsley, green onions and some others.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2019 at 3:08 PM

    Made this once before and it was a hit. Making it again tonight (for dinner on my rooftop, NYC) and adding peas! Can’t wait.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:15 AM

      Peas are a great addition! I just love seeing random green bits floating in a bed of pasta. It really brightens up the mood for eating! I might add peas next time too when I make it. Sorry for the late reply but I hope your rooftop dinner was a hit!

  • Reply
    julie croft
    August 10, 2019 at 2:16 PM

    Just made this for 1 – me 🙂 Absolutely lovely. Delicate flavours and a real change from pasta dishes that normally contain cream or tomatoes, thank you.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 14, 2020 at 10:14 AM

      Perfectly okay to make it for a party of one. More Parmesan shavings for you! I’m happy you appreciated the subtleties of the pasta. 🙂 It’s a challenge to get lots of flavor without drowning pasta in some sauce or other.

  • Reply
    Patsy Rogers
    July 8, 2019 at 1:32 AM

    As of right now, I have not made the recipe, yet. But ingredients and preparation sounds great! I also learned something new, as I rarely cook salmon, the “whitish stuff” signifies overcooking! I am planning to use this recipe for an event I was asked to cater. I have time to try it first, but I doubt that will happen…I’m going for it, Farah!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 8, 2019 at 2:42 PM

      I hope it’ll be received well. That will be a new milestone for me to achieve vicariously. Catering! Best of luck to you, Patsy!

  • Reply
    Christi Babington
    July 5, 2019 at 9:26 PM

    Looking for a lemon pepper pasta recipe and came across your recipe. I added lemon juice, lemon pepper and lemon zest along with cut up salmon patties. The teenage boys LOVE it. Thank you.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 8, 2019 at 2:40 PM

      Whoo that’s a lot of lemon! I love lemon pepper anything, recently discovered lemon pepper dry rubbed wings. I know I have a lemon pepper Alfredo pasta recipe but maybe I should make a lemon pepper light one. Thanks for the idea!

  • Reply
    Stina Wade
    June 10, 2019 at 9:17 PM

    Late home…in a hurry for supper. Done! And delightful!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 8, 2019 at 2:39 PM

      I’m happy to have helped! Thanks for trying it out 🙂

  • Reply
    April 9, 2019 at 10:39 PM

    I made this for dinner tonight and I couldn’t stop eating it. It’s so good. My husband even went back for seconds!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 17, 2019 at 4:32 PM

      Happy to hear you both liked it! I usually make this batch and it’ll last a couple days for my husband and I. The only thing I do different is add fresh basil as needed to each reheat.

  • Reply
    DIane Marston
    February 24, 2019 at 5:41 PM

    This was perfect, thank you!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 17, 2019 at 4:30 PM

      You’re most welcome, Diane. Thank you for trying it out 🙂

  • Reply
    Yusuf Harris
    January 13, 2019 at 6:56 PM

    The recipe called for 1/2 Cup of Basil finely chopped, well that was way too much Basil so mine turned out awful! I truly believe that with 1 tablespoon of Basil it would be delicious! Please tell me what I did wrong? Thank you

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 14, 2019 at 12:31 AM

      The amount called for is for fresh basil. If 1 tablespoon seemed the perfect amount for you, it sounds like you were using dried basil, the stuff that comes in little shakers and jars. There’s a huge difference between fresh and dried and usually you use a lot more of the former and less of the latter as dried herbs are more concentrated. If you were to use dried basil, I would agree with you on 1 tablespoon being enough. If you used fresh, maybe you’re just not a big fan of basil?

  • Reply
    Abigail Ella
    January 12, 2019 at 6:39 PM

    yummy. thanks
    ill be making this more great for dieting

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 3:44 PM

    It’s even good cold! Thank you for the idea.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 18, 2018 at 3:45 PM

      I haven’t tried it cold before but thank you for letting us know! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 4, 2018 at 9:00 PM

    Just tried this with some leftover salmon…left out the garlic because my husband can’t deal with it, AND, it was still seriously delish! Thanks for the recipe….
    janet F

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 18, 2018 at 3:44 PM

      You’re welcome, Janet. It’s good to know it still holds its own without garlic!

  • Reply
    Chery hayes
    July 18, 2018 at 8:50 PM

    Thank you. Super healthy, subbed fresh dill for capers, but an extra squeeze of Meyer lemon. We liked it a lot!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 18, 2018 at 3:43 PM

      I love fresh dill. I pair it a lot with smoked salmon on crackers over chives cream cheese. It works very well with salmon.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2018 at 10:39 PM

    I made this using fusilli pasta, really fruity olive oil and leftover salmon. It was delicious. I especially love the almost no cooking; other than the pasta, there was no cooking involved. Since the weather was exceptionally hot today, this was a plus. Light and full of flavor, it’s a perfect summer meal. I will make this again for sure.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 18, 2018 at 3:41 PM

      It’s a great way to re-purpose leftover salmon. Or if you have a ton of salmon from that trip to Costco. Since my Parmesan wedge that I use for Parmesan shavings needed to be used up, I made this a lot this year. I found Gourmet Garden dried basil (which still smells fresh) in tubs that kept very well so I had that on standby too for whenever we wanted to whip this up for a quick meal.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    This great a great recipe, like other readers I wanted a combo without cream(s). All 3 of us loved it and it’s a keeper. My only change was to add about 1 TB of butter and doubled the garlic, because, well, butter & garlic. And used maybe a TB of dried basil since we didn’t have fresh. My husband and I sprinkled a little crushed hot pepper after serving. We make lemon garlic shrimp often and will use this sauce for that too

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 18, 2018 at 3:37 PM

      I have made this several times this year and I’ve found I love doubling the garlic and fresh basil ratio. So much kick! Lemon garlic shrimp sounds delicious 😉

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