An easy lemon caper pasta recipe that combines a lemon caper butter sauce and your favorite pasta whether it be something like angel hair, penne, or a vegetable type noodle-like zoodles or palm noodles. Serve it as a side dish or top it with fish or scallops for a simple yet elegant meal. It's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Pasta with Capers and Lemon
There's just something about the combined flavors of lemon, capers, and butter that form together and create a perfect balance, especially when made with a thin pasta and topped with seafood.
We served the easy lemon caper pasta with air fryer broccolini and blackened cod for a special occasion dinner and it was definitely a hit that's highly recommended. Even my lemon-hating husband raved about the lemon caper sauce.
Why You'll Love This!
- The brined salty capers combined with zesty lemons and butter create the perfect flavor for a variety of dishes.
- Our lemon caper pasta sauce is so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.
- The caper pasta sauce comes together in just 5 minutes making this a super quick pasta dish for busy weeknights or special occasions, all you need to do is boil the pasta and dinner will be on the table in less than 30 minutes.
- The sauce is easy to customize if you have any dietary considerations. Want to cut back on butter? Use olive oil instead. If you're craving pasta but can't have gluten, swap the noodles with gluten-free pasta or try zucchini noodles, palm noodles.
What are Capers?
Capers are the flower bud of a bush native to the Mediterranean. These little flowers look like tiny pine cones and taste very tangy, salty, and acidic. They make a great sauce or can be used in many dishes from pasta to salads. You can purchase them from the grocery store in a small jar submerged in a briny liquid. They are the main ingredient in making fish or chicken in a piccata creamy sauce.
While it's easy to get into a meal planning rut and cook spaghetti with marinara sauce over and over again, change things up this time! You truly won't believe how much flavor is packed into such an easy and simple sauce.
While many recipes seem to include wine, our recipe is alcohol-free and makes a kid-friendly lemon caper pasta without wine.
- butter (or mix with a combination of olive oil)
- fresh lemon juice - freshly squeezed juice is essential, please do not use concentrate.
- capers- from the jar in brine
- lemon zest - be sure to zest the lemon before squeezing the juice!
- garlic clove, minced - we love the Trader Joes frozen garlic cubes, minced fresh garlic or minced jar garlic works well too.
- black pepper
- fresh parsley, chopped- flat leaf parsley is our favorite for cooking with. Cilantro is a great alternative.
- type of pasta- thin pasta like angel hair, penne, or bow tie work so well with this recipe.
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
Use the sauce with- Instead of making pasta with lemon and capers, drizzle the lemon caper sauce over white fish, salmon, scallops, chicken, or vegetables. Use the sauce to mix with cold pasta salad, doubling it if needed and using extra virgin olive oil for all or part of the butter.
Add to the dish - One of our favorite protein additions is to use oil-based canned tuna for lemon caper tuna pasta. It's an inexpensive way to add seafood without the cost. Adding cooked shrimp, succulent sweet scallops, lobster, and clams are also delicious when you're feeling a little fancy.
Make it creamy - Make the lemon caper pasta recipe chicken piccata style by swapping out some of the butter for heavy cream. Sour cream is another alternative to add a creamy consistency.
white wine sauce- while our caper pasta is made without wine, you can add a splash if desired.
- Small skillet to make the sauce
- Large pot for boiling the pasta
- Vegan- use vegan approved margarine like Earth Balance or use olive oil in place of butter
- Whole30/Paleo- swap the butter for olive oil and use zucchini or palm noodles instead of pasta
- Gluten Free- swap with your favorite gluten-free pasta variety
- Keto/Low carb- swap the butter for olive oil and use zucchini or palm noodles instead of pasta
Step by Step Instructions
In a medium pot to large pot over medium-high heat to high heat bring 8 cups of water to boil to cook the noodles of your choice according to the package directions until they're al dente. While the pasta cooks prep any ingredients needed.
Once the pasta water is boiling and you add the pasta noodles, get started on the lemon caper sauce.
Once the ingredients are prepped, the sauce itself only takes 5 minutes and is best served immediately since butter starts to harden once it cools down.
To make the sauce, start by rinsing the capers in cold water.
In a small skillet on medium-low heat, in a hot pan melt the butter (or add the olive oil if you're using that instead). Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook the sauce for 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and remove it from the heat. Adjust seasonings and add another pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan cheese and chopped fresh herbs if desired.
Serve immediately with seafood, chicken, pasta, or vegetables. Enjoy!
- Top the dish with additions like shrimp, scallops, or canned tuna packed in oil.
- It's easy to make this a one-pan dish by first cooking the pasta, then draining the water, combining all of the sauce ingredients off of the stove (melt the butter in the microwave first), and then simply tossing the sauce right in the pot with the cooked pasta.
- The sauce is easy to double if desired, however, a little goes a long way since capers and lemon both have bold flavors.
- Too lemony in your opinion? Just add a little more melted butter or olive oil, plus more salt and pepper to taste.
- Instead of using standard pasta, the sauce is fantastic with zucchini noodles or palm noodles for a lower carb version.
What to serve with the pasta?
Lemon and capers definitely give nods to spring and would make a fantastic special Sunday dinner or as a side dish for Easter. Other ideas to serve with lemon caper pasta would be ham, pork chops, chicken thighs, seafood like shrimp, clams or fish, roasted vegetables like asparagus or broccoli, or make a vegetarian dinner and serve the pasta with a salad on the side.
How do you cut lemon sauce?
A little bit of lemon sauce goes a long way! But if it's still too lemony for your liking you can cut the lemon flavor down by adding more liquid whether it be melted butter, oil, or broth. You can also balance out the sour with sweet and add a touch of honey. Baking soda is a great way to neutralize the acidity of lemon.
How to store?
The caper pasta sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
More Sauce Recipes
We hope you love our caper pasta with lemon butter! Next time your looking for pasta dishes, we know this will become one of your new favorite way to use up a jar of capers.
Please leave a review if you make our recipe! We love feedback from readers, plus it helps others too.