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fork twisting a spoonful of pasta in a low bowl with creamy fettuccine pasta with kale

20-Minute Creamy Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This vegetarian pasta recipe features a deliciously creamy lemon garlic sauce and nutrient-dense kale! Made on the stovetop in about 20 minutes, this creamy kale pasta is a comforting and cozy weeknight meal. Use your favorite long, wide noodle like fettuccine for this recipe.



Creamy lemon garlic pasta sauce

  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Juice of half a lemon

Kale pasta

  • 1 lb fettuccine or other long noodle
  • 6 packed cups of curly kale
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Bring 4 quarts of water salted with a spoonful of Kosher salt to a boil in a stock pot. When water is boiling, cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In another pot or saute pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the flour and spices to the butter. Cook for 60-90 seconds stirring frequently to create a roux. *detailed instructions in notes.
  4. To the roux, slowly begin whisking in the whole milk, a little bit at a time.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes for the sauce to thicken, continuing to stir regularly.
  6. Once thickened, stir in the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. When pasta has 1 minute left of cook time, add the kale directly to the pasta. Give it a gentle stir to mix it in.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Stir it into the sauce to loosen it up a bit.
  9. Drain the pasta and the kale.
  10. Add the cooked pasta and kale directly to the pot with the sauce.
  11. Stir everything up well so all the noodles are coated in the sauce.
  12. Serve in bowls with freshly cracked black pepper and shredded parmesan cheese. 


How to make a roux

A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour and is used to thicken sauces. For this recipe, you’ll need to make a light roux so the sauce gets thick and creamy, and silky smooth. Here’s how to make a roux:

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a saute pan or pot. For this sauce, you will also add minced garlic and fresh time. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add an equal amount of all purpose flour. For this sauce, you will also add paprika and cayenne pepper.
  • Cook for 60-90 seconds, stirring constantly. Normally, the roux would be white or very light in color, slightly puffed, and somewhat pasty. Since we add spices in this recipe, the roux will be a reddish orange color.

Storing and reheating creamy kale pasta

If you have leftovers, you can store this pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1 minute, or until the pasta is warmed through.

Keywords: creamy kale pasta, kale pasta recipes, vegetarian pasta recipes, healthy pasta recipes