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Rich and creamy One Pan Lemon Ricotta Pasta with kale is easy to whip in about 20 minutes. With tender pasta, creamy Ricotta, and vitamin packed kale, this kale pasta is a delicious meatless meal made in minutes, and with just one pan for cooking, clean up is a snap!

large silver saute pan, pasta, kale, lemon, blue napkin

I have not always been a fan of kale. While it may have taken me a while to jump on the kale bandwagon, but I’m slowly opening up to the possibility that this superfood might be worth adding to our weekly menu.

I have really grown to love kale, adding it to soups like Ground Turkey and Rice Soup and White Bean and Sausage Soup, and salads like Kale and Quinoa Salad and Lemon Kale Caesar Salad. This Lemon Ricotta Kale pasta is also a great way for using up a big bunch of kale.

How do you make kale taste good?

Let’s be honest. Kale isn’t the easiest leafy green to eat. But there are ways to make it taste better. For salads, you can massage the leaves with an oil based dressing. This breaks down the fibers, changing the texture and making the kale easier to chew.

How long should kale be cooked?

Kale doesn’t take long to cook, or actually wilt. Like spinach, it softens quickly when added to soups, so I don’t add it until the last several minutes of cooking. This ensures that the kale keeps it’s texture and doesn’t become slimy and overcooked.

When adding it to pasta dishes, like my Lemon Ricotta Pasta, I add it when cooking the pasta (which takes less that 10 minutes). The kale is flavored by the lemon and salt in the water and becomes soft.

collage of two images showing how to add kale to pasta

One Pan Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Kale

We love our one pan meals here on the blog, and I’ve been really wanting to add more to our recipe box. I love them because they are so easy!

How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pasta

It starts with a little garlic, lemon juice, pasta and water. Bring it to a boil and add some kale. Cook it for 10 minutes or so, then add some ricotta, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.

It doesn’t get any easier than that, and on a busy weeknight with my busy family, I need things to be easy. This meatless dish will become a new favorite for sure. It would serve a lot as a side dish with your favorite protein like Oven Baked Chicken Breasts, and makes a great lunch as well as a filling and protein packed meatless meal.

silver large skillet with lemon kale pasta

Serving Suggestions

As a vegetarian meal, this Lemon Ricotta Pasta can totally stand on its own. It’s great for lunch or as a light dinner. Add some more veggies and serve with Wedge Salad with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing. Homemade Garlic bread is always a welcome side to any pasta. If you want to serve ricotta kale pasta as a side dish, it will go with a variety of proteins like chicken, pork or beef.

Storage and Reheating

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I recommend reheating on the stovetop over low heat so you can constantly sir it. If using the microwave, set it at 50% power.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Ricotta is not a melty cheese, so don’t expect a smooth, creamy sauce. The sauce will coat the pasta and kale – think of a lasagna filling, it similar to that.
  • If you don’t like kale, you can certainly use spinach instead.
  • Feel free to add a protein, like chicken or salmon to the pasta.
  • Fresh lemon is best. I don’t personally like bottled lemon juice because it doesn’t’ taste as good and is much more acidic.

black plate, ricotta lemon pasta, kalem fork, parmesan cheese

More pasta recipes to try


One Pan Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Kale

4.67 from 3 votes
One Pan Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Kale is a simple, healthy and fast 20 minute recipe. Serve is as a meatless side dish or entree, or add your favorite protein.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups small dry pasta (I used mini penne)
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 cups kale roughly chopped, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup skim Ricotta
  • 2 ounces softened cream cheese
  • Salt & pepper
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  • Heat olive oil in a 10-12" saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant; about 45 seconds.
  • Add water, pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest. Bring to a boil and stir in kale and 1 teaspoons of salt. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine Ricotta, Parmesan and cream cheese. Set aside.
  • Check pasta for doneness. Add ¼ cup more hot water if needed. There should still be some starchy liquid in the pan.
  • When pasta is tender and liquid id reduced, remove from heat and stir in the Ricotta mixture.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Serve hot.
Keyword kale pasta, lemon ricotta pasta


Calories: 288kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 13gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 202mgPotassium: 366mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 5264IUVitamin C: 67mgCalcium: 223mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of "Yellow Bliss Road" is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.


Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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  1. R. Yacoub says:

    Tasty, but don’t use orzo–it gets a little gloppy.

  2. Alissa says:

    Yum! This was a delicious way to use up some of the extra kale I bought. I used GF pasta, which I find can leave the water very starchy. I was hesitant to cook the ingredients all together, so I cooked the pasta separately and reserved some pasta water to use as needed when I added the cheese. I topped it off with pepper, tobacco salt, and red pepper flakes. Would definitely make again!

  3. K says:

    How does this dish turn out as a leftover? Wanted to pre make it for lunches thru the week.

    1. Kristin says:

      Like most cheesy pasta meals, it’s not the best for leftovers. But if you heat it at 50% and add a little milk or cream to it, it might be great!

      1. K says:

        Thanks Kristin!

  4. Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers says:

    This was great! I used chickpea pasta to make it (had some samples and love it for extra protein/fiber). Loved the lemony flavor with the smooth and creamy ricotta. Thanks!

    1. Kristin says:


  5. Ansley says:

    Update…I think I fixed it and didn’t want to leave without rating 🙂

  6. Ansley says:

    We made this tonight and it is just amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe. In addition to the kale, I had a little bit of swiss chard and fresh broccoli that needed to be used up and it was still great. I served this with tomato bisque and toasted / lightly buttered sourdough bread strips for dipping. YUM!

    P.S., For some reason, it won’t let me rate the recipe, but it’s certainly 5 stars!

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, and thanks for the 5 star rating!!

  7. Natasha says:

    can the kale be substituted for spinach?

    1. Kristin says:

      Yes, you could swap for spinach. I’d just be careful not to over cook it.

  8. Tabitha says:

    I made this tonight and it was SO simple and tasted awesome!