Goat Cheese Pasta

Goat cheese pasta with lemon, garlic, basil, and spinach.

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins
Servings: 4 servings

This goat cheese pasta is an excellent alternative to a heavier Alfredo sauce. The tangy flavor of the goat cheese complements the lemon and garlic notes, while fresh basil and spinach add to the color and texture of the dish.

It's a quick and easy option for a meat-free meal. The cook time depends on the kind of pasta used, and whether it is fresh or dry. Dry pasta takes up to 12 minutes to cook, while fresh pasta takes just 2 to 3 minutes. Fettuccine is a great pasta to toss with a creamy sauce, but feel free to substitute with a similar pasta shape, such as tagliatelle, linguine, or spaghetti.


  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed, minced)
  • 5 cups spinach leaves (coarsely chopped, about 5 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (coarsely chopped)
  • 10 to 12 ounces fettuccine (fresh or dry)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces goat cheese (fresh, crumbled, divided use)
  • Optional garnish: chopped basil or parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for goat cheese pasta.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and add 4 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

    Salt the water for pasta
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and basil and cook for about 2 minutes, or until wilted. Remove the pot from the heat.

    Add the spinach and basil to the garlic
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Add the pasta to the water and bring back to the boil—cook the pasta following the package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta thoroughly.

    Drain the fettuccine
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Add about half of the hot cooking water and the pasta to the spinach mixture along with the lemon zest, juice, the pepper, and about 4 ounces of the goat cheese. Place the pot back over medium heat and cook, stirring gently, until the cheese is melted and the pasta is hot. Taste and add salt, as needed.

    Combine the pasta, goat cheese, and other ingredients.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl.

    Goat cheese pasta with basil and lemon.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Garnish servings with the remaining crumbled goat cheese and chopped basil or parsley, if desired.

    Goat cheese pasta with lemon, garlic, basil, and spinach.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray


  • Make sure to salt the pasta cooking water with about 1 teaspoon per quart and bring the water to a full rolling boil before adding the pasta.

Recipe Variations

  • Toss about 1 cup of halved grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes into the pasta along with the lemon zest, juice, and goat cheese.
  • Garnish the pasta with toasted pine nuts. To toast the nuts, spread a handful in a dry skillet and place the skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Or toast them in a 375 F oven for about 6 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.