Creamy salmon pasta with tons of lemon and garlic is the perfect marriage of comfort and protein. If you want a dinner that feels fancy but is easy enough for a weeknight, this is absolutely the recipe for you!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
When it comes to food, I like to keep things simple.
You don’t need to go out to a fancy restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal. You can make it yourself—and this salmon pasta in a delightfully creamy sauce is living proof.
While the pasta boils, all you need to do is make a simple sauce that uses easy-to-find ingredients — I bet you have most of them already!
Toss it all together and you’ll have an elegant dinner that tastes fancy enough for a date night or dinner party but easy enough to make every day. You’re going to love it!
- It has a vibrant, fresh flavor that’s perfect for Spring but can definitely be enjoyed year-round
- Salmon is a delicious lean protein that’s rich in omega-3s. This recipe is easy to make using frozen salmon or even canned salmon
- Creamy and delicious, like a grown-up Alfredo sauce
- On the table in under 30 minutes!
Ingredients for creamy salmon pasta
There’s nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta.
With just a few ingredients and simple preparation, this salmon pasta is sure to find a place in your dinner rotation.
Penne pasta: You can use any pasta shape to make this dish, but I love the thick, chewy texture of penne pasta, and the ridges help the sauce cling to each and every piece. I usually grab a high protein pasta for an added nutritional boost, but you can use gluten-free or whole-grain pasta if that fits with your lifestyle.
Garlic cloves: Like most great recipes, this one starts by cooking plenty of fresh garlic in olive oil
Heavy cream: I use heavy cream for the base of this sauce — there’s really nothing quite like it in terms of rich, decadent flavor! Don’t try to substitute milk or nondairy cream in this recipe; the sauce will be much thinner and the acid from the lemon could cause it to curdle.
Low sodium chicken broth: This helps dilute the heaviness of the cream while adding even more flavor. Choose a low sodium variety so your pasta isn’t too salty!
Lemon juice and zest: For that bright, tangy lemon flavor
Baby spinach: For added nutrition and color!
Parmesan cheese: Be sure to grate your own or buy freshly grated cheese for maximum meltability.
Black pepper and fresh parsley: To break up the richness of the garlic-lemon sauce.
Substitutions and Variations
- Use your favorite pasta shape. Follow the directions on the box for al dente pasta. Remember, it will cook a little more once you add it to the sauce.
- Not feeling salmon? This pasta also is great with chicken!
- Replace the baby spinach with Swiss chard. You can also use frozen chopped spinach.
- If you don’t have a fresh lemon, you can use 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.
- Sub the chicken broth for veggie stock, or use turkey or seafood broth – the choice is yours! (You can use water in a pinch, but the sauce won’t be nearly as flavorful. I always keep broth concentrate in my fridge so I can mix some up as needed.)
How to make creamy salmon spinach pasta
Step 1: Start by bringing a big pot of water to a boil for your pasta
Step 2: If your salmon isn’t already cooked, go ahead and pop it into your air fryer or oven to get that started.
Step 3: Start making that delicious, creamy sauce. Get some oil or butter into a hot skillet and add your garlic. Cook for a minute or two until it’s golden brown and fragrant, then add the heavy cream and broth. Let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
Step 4: Stir in your lemon zest and juice.
Step 5: Add the cooked pasta and fold in the spinach and salmon flakes. Stir until the spinach is just wilted.
Step 6: Top it all off with tons of parsley and Parmesan cheese. Serve with extra lemon wedges, if desired.
Frequently asked questions
How to store and reheat salmon pasta:
This salmon pasta keeps well in the fridge for 3 days. Add a few tablespoons of cream or broth to loosen the sauce, then reheat on the stovetop over medium heat or microwave for 1 minute at a time until just heated through.
More delicious salmon recipes
- Salmon and Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Dinner
- Easy Lemon-Glazed Salmon
- Miso Salmon Salad
- Gluten-Free Salmon Skewers
- Smoked Salmon Fritatta
- Salmon en Manchamenteles
- Roast Salmon with Romesco Sauce and Pumpkin Grits
- Sriracha Salmon Salad
- Jerk Salmon Rice Bowls
More pasta recipes to try
- Chicken Caprese One Pot Pasta
- Lemon Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken
- One Pot Mushroom Pasta
- Caprese Pasta (vegetarian)
- One Pan Cajun Chicken Pasta with Artichokes and Lemon
- Crab and Corn Pasta with Avocado-Dill Sauce
- Instant Pot Chili Mac (Lactose Free, Vegetarian)
Creamy Salmon Pasta
- 1 Box (14. 5 ounces) high-protein penne pasta or pasta of your choice
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 cup diced or flaked cooked salmon (about 2 large fillets)
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Follow the minimum time suggested for al dente pasta (it will cook a little more in the sauce). Drain the pasta.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Stir in the heavy cream and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and let reduce for 4-5 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to cling to the back of a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Add the drained pasta, baby spinach, and salmon. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes (if your skillet is on the smaller side, you might need to add the spinach in batches).
- Stir in the parsley and Parmesan cheese and season with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with additional lemon wedges if you’d like!