Bursting with fresh, bright flavor, this Lemon Broccoli Pasta is one of our absolute favorite fast meals. It’s ready in less than 20 minutes, you can use fresh or frozen broccoli, and it’s perfect for little kids and us adults.

Lemon broccoli pasta in two bowls with spoon.

Lemon Broccoli Pasta

I’ve been on a mission to create a stable of recipes that are seriously fast, so that I have easy homemade options for my own family and to share with yours for those days when cooking is the last thing we want to do. I started with my Rice Noodle Soup, did Chicken and Stars Soup, then Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, and now this lemony pasta as a go-to fast weeknight meal.

I love this recipe because it takes just about 20 minutes, we only use one pot, and the flavor is so bright and fresh. It’s been a perfect vegetarian meal for my family—well, I sometimes make chicken nuggets to go with it—and I sometimes even make it for myself for lunch when the mood strikes.

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Ingredients You Need

Here’s a look at what you need to have on hand in order to make this recipe to share with your family.

Ingredients for lemon broccoli pasta.
  • Broccoli florets: You can cut broccoli off of a full head, use a bag of florets, or use frozen broccoli. They all work similarly.
  • Stelline pasta (or star pasta or orzo): I prefer a small shape of pasta here so it’s easy to eat this meal with a spoon, with some pasta and some broccoli in each bite. You can of course use a larger shape of pasta if that’s what you have or prefer.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter adds richness and flavor in the mix with the rest of the ingredients in this pasta recipe.
  • Fresh lemon zest: Fresh lemon zest adds a bright lemon note without overpowering the pasta. I grate mine on a microplane to remove just the yellow, and not the white, part of the peel.
  • Parmesan cheese: A finish of Parmesan cheese adds pleasant saltiness and flavor. You can use Pecorino Romano if that’s a less expensive option, too.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the basic process involved in making this recipe so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full amounts and timing to make the recipe.

how to make quick lemon broccoli pasta in grid of images.
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the broccoli and cook until the stalks are tender when poked with a knife. Transfer broccoli to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Mince with kitchen scissors.
  3. Add the pasta to the broccoli cooking water and cook according to package directions. Drain.
  4. Return the pasta to the pot with the broccoli. Add the butter, Parmesan, and lemon. Stir to combine well. Serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

How to Store

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway through, to warm.

Best Tips for Success

  • Sub in gluten-free orzo or other pasta as needed.
  • Use nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan and olive oil in place of the butter to make this dairy-free.
  • Add white beans, peas, diced chicken, or shrimp to the pasta if desired.
  • Look for stelline or orzo at your supermarket, or you can shop for it online. (Any shape works with this recipe, though we prefer small shapes so the broccoli and pasta is the same size for easy eating with a spoon. Ditalini or mini shells work too.)

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I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please rate and comment below!

Lemon broccoli pasta in two bowls with spoon.

Quick Lemon Broccoli Pasta

Bursting with fresh, bright flavor, this Lemon Broccoli Pasta is one of our absolute favorite fast meals. It's ready in less than 20 minutes, you can use fresh or frozen broccoli, and it's perfect for little kids and us adults.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 304kcal
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 8 ounces stelline pasta (or star pasta or orzo)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • additional Parmesan cheese, salt, and/or pepper (optional to taste)

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes, or until the stalks are tender when poked with a knife. Transfer broccoli to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Mince with kitchen scissors.
  • Add the pasta to the broccoli cooking water and cook according to package directions. Drain.
  • Return the pasta to the pot with the broccoli. Add the butter, Parmesan, and lemon. Stir to combine well. Serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired and add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway through, to warm.
  • Sub in gluten-free orzo or other pasta as needed.
  • Use nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan and olive oil in place of the butter to make this dairy-free.
  • Add white beans, peas, diced chicken, or shrimp to the pasta if desired.
  • Look for stelline or orzo at your supermarket, or you can shop for it online. (Any shape works with this recipe, though we prefer small shapes so the broccoli and pasta is the same size for easy eating with a spoon.)

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 129mg, Potassium: 288mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 514IU, Vitamin C: 44mg, Calcium: 94mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is so fabulous! My preschooler actually ate some! And the adults enjoyed too! Thank you Amy, as usual, for saving dinner!

  2. 5 stars
    This was a hit! Both my toddler and my broccoli hating mother enjoyed this! Plus, it was quick and easy.