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Lemon Caper Pasta

Lemon Caper Pasta is a quick, easy flavorful pasta. It uses only a handful of ingredients and can be on the table in 15 minutes. 

Talk about quick and easy. This Lemon Caper Pasta just screams busy weeknight dinner. Whether you have to run the kids around, run errands or just really don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, this pasta is for you. It’s packed full of flavor and can be on your dinner table in about 15 minutes.

Let’s talk about what you need:


One key to a quick and easy dinner, is a small ingredient list. And when you have a small ingredient list, it’s essential that the ingredients pack a flavor punch. That is exactly what you get with this pasta.

  • CAPERS: Capers are the bud of a flower. They are a salty and sour flavor power house.
  • LEMON: You’ll use both lemon juice and lemon zest in this recipe. Fresh works the best!
  • GARLIC: Like the lemon juice, you’ll want to use fresh garlic here instead of the jarred version.
  • OLIVE OIL: Whichever olive oil you prefer! I like to use Kalamata Olive oil because it’s slightly less bitter than other olive oils.
  • PASTA: I use linguine for this dish but any long pasta will do.
  • PARSLEY: Adds a pop of color and freshness to the dish.


STEP #1: Cook your pasta. I like to use linguine or other long noodles like spaghetti or fettuccine. Reserve some of the pasta water.

STEP #2: Cook capers and garlic in olive oil just until fragrant. Add in lemon juice, lemon zest and then pasta. Stir to coat completely. Stir in reserved pasta water if pasta seems too dry.

SEE! I told you it was easy? If you want to make it a bit heartier you could also add some cooked chicken or shrimp. It would be divine!


What are capers?

It took me a bit to warm up to capers but now I love them. I even find myself craving the salty little devils and will reach for one or two as a snack while I’m cooking dinner. They come in a couple different varieties. I prefer the non pareil variety because they are smaller, more fragrant and not quite as strong as the larger varieties. You should be able to find them in the condiment aisle of the grocery stores.

Why do recipes ask you to reserve pasta water?

When pasta cooks, it releases starch which can be used to help bind sauces together. This will help make a smoother sauce.

Looking for more recipes that use capers? They are one of my favorite ingredients so I’ve got you covered!

Artichoke Tapenade makes a great addition to your wine and cheese night!

Easy Chicken Piccata is a classic and a family favorite!

Skip the jarred stuff and make your own Homemade Tartar Sauce. The capers are my secret ingredient!

Note: This post was originally published in 2011. It was updated with new photos, FAQ and nutrition information in 2022.

Lemon Caper Linguine

A bright, light pasta with lemon and capers ready in 15 minutes or less.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 416 kcal



  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 3.5 ounce jar non pareil capers
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally (about 1 - 2 tablespoons). Cook pasta according to pasta directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook garlic and capers in oil just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir in pasta and toss to coat completely. Add reserved pasta water 1/4 cup at a time if pasta seems dry. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.


Capers can be "briny". I love the flavor so I don't rinse them. If it is too salty for you, give them a quick rinse before using them. 
Speaking of salt, capers can be salty so don't add salt until you've tasted the pasta first. 
Nutrition information for estimation purposes only. 


Calories: 416kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 11gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 10mgPotassium: 213mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 26mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: caper, capers, easy, Food, lemon pasta, pasta, quick and easy, recipe. italian

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    August 14, 2023 at 1:31 am

    I am going to try it tonight with grilled shrimp added

    • Reply
      August 14, 2023 at 3:44 pm

      That sounds like a great addition, Tom! Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2023 at 12:54 pm

    Made this dish last night and it was excellent. Instructions do not say if capers are drained or not. I drained mine and added salt to taste.

    • Reply
      August 12, 2023 at 4:03 pm

      Oh I will fix that, thank you! I usually drain but never rinse :)

  • Reply
    Angela Schmitt
    April 27, 2023 at 8:17 pm

    5 stars
    Delish. I added white wine and crushed red pepper for a bit of zing. Amazing.

    • Reply
      April 27, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      So happy to hear that!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    5 stars
    I love this recipe!! I used angel hair pasta and added some white wine in when adding the lemon juice. It turned out really well!

    • Reply
      March 1, 2023 at 10:10 am

      So happy to hear that, Ali! And I love the addition of wine. Going to try that next time!

  • Reply
    Madison G.
    October 25, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    5 stars
    A-MAY-ZING!!!! Not feeling great and so I wanted something light but still pasta. This is perfect! I don’t think this needs a thing. Love it!!!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    5 stars
    I added asparagus and a chicken breast on top. So yummy!

    • Reply
      March 12, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Oh yum! What a way to make it a heartier meal!

  • Reply
    Darren Stevens
    April 19, 2016 at 2:00 am

    This is a very good recipe, in my opinion. Salt the pasta water (after it boils, of course) as directed. The hint here is “large pot of water,” folks. Three-quarters of a pound of pasta would be a minimum 6-8 quart pot, so it’s not too much salt. Pasta must be seasoned no matter what you’re putting on it. I believe that even 2 oz of capers (drained) is probably enough, but try making a recipe as written, I always say, instead of reading it like you’re James Beard and pontificating changes in advance. Next time I’ll add a soupçon of minced flat leaf parsley, and a FEW threads of microplained lemon zest for a very subtle punch.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    You would have to be insane to use an entire jar of capers for this recipe! For the pasta amount stated above, I used one “round” tablespoon of capers (about 1/6th of the jar. Also, don’t use 2 tablespoons of salt in your water. That also seems off. I would use one teaspoon, as the capers will be PLENTY salty. It seems as though they confused some ingredients with a 4 person and 8 person recipe. Last, I’d recommend 3 cloves instead of 5.

  • Reply
    Sandra L.
    September 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Another success!!! I made this and served it with salmon and asparagus. My husband loved it, he even got seconds.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Wow, this is truly minimalist. Not even any cheese? But, I love lemon, I love capers, I love linguine. Now that I’ve moved I think it’s time to get my pasta roller machine out and make linguine.

  • Reply
    Erin A
    March 30, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Looks great! I recently posted a Linguine with Sundried Tomato, Spinach and Lemon Sauce (with pine nuts) that was pretty easy and delish! Made it to go with Chicken Piccata with capers.

    Love your simple take on kind of the same type of dish! (Boy that was articulate wasn’t it LOL). I think next time I might just try this, as its so easy!

  • Reply
    Cookin' Canuck
    March 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

    What a light and pretty pasta dish. Capers are one of my favorite briny treats.

    • Reply
      Meryl Bravo
      October 8, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Capers are a wonderful ingredient :)


    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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