Cacio e Pepe” is a simple, spicy, delicious recipe from central Italy that you can’t help but share with friends and family. It’s easy but will come out perfectly with a few tricks!

Want more Italian dishes? Try Chicken Cacciatore, Homemade Lasagna, or Tomato and Basil Bruschetta.

A bowl filled with homemade Cacio e Pepe, ready to enjoy.

Why we Stef and Alex love this recipe:

  • Creamy: There is no sauce creamier than a Cacio e Pepe sauce! Try it and see!
  • Flavorful: Pepper is at the top of the list of this flavor-filled recipe.
  • Affordable: It has just a few simple ingredients, just pasta, pepper, and pecorino cheese!

How to make Cacio e Pepe:

The creaminess of this recipe is not due to the addition of cream but is made with pasta water, which contains a large amount of starch and gives the final dish the right softness. So don’t drain it in the sink but keep it until the end of the preparation of this dish. 

Boil Pasta: Remember that making this pasta is all about timing. It’s best to note the time when you add the pasta water to make the creamy cheese. Set the timer and use the water two minutes after the pasta is cooked because that’s the time that has the most starch to make a smooth, creamy cheese mixture.

A pot filled with boiling noodles and dry spaghetti noodles added.

Toast Pepper: Use a steel pan and toast the freshly ground pepper. The heat should be very low. When you smell the aroma, add some hot pasta water.

Two images showing how to make the pepper water for easy Cacio e Pepe pasta.

Make Sauce: Grate the pecorino cheese in a bowl; use a microplane so that the cheese is fine like powder. Two minutes after cooking the pasta, add a small ladleful of pasta water and whisk it until it forms a lump-free cream. Should it be too stiff, add a little water at a time, but just enough because you don’t want a sauce that is too runny.

Two images showing pecorino cheese being grated into a bowl, then pasta water added to make a creamy sauce.

Serve: With the heat off, combine the ingredients. Add the pasta to the pepper water, then the cheese mixture. Mix it well and vigorously; add a little more water if it has any lumps. Serve the best Cacio e Pepe recipe hot, adding some more grated pepper for decoration. 

A close up image of homemade Italian Cacio e Pepe, topped with fresh black pepper.

Pro Tips:

  • No Oil: The cheese provides enough fat; therefore, no extra oil is needed.
  • Pasta Water: Use only the hot pasta water, which contains the starch and that which makes the cream silky and smooth without any lumps. Do not use too much water to cook the pasta because the starch itself makes the sauce smooth and creamy. 
  • Don’t Cook Pasta Completely: Drain the pasta before it is finished cooking. Finish cooking it in the skillet with the ground toasted peppercorns so that the spaghetti will absorb the full taste.

Can you store the cacio e pepe for the next day?

No, you can’t. Cacio e pepe must be prepared and eaten right away. It cannot be stored in the refrigerator, so prepare the right serving for each person.

Serve With:

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Recipe

A bowl filled with homemade Cacio e Pepe, ready to enjoy.
Prep 8 minutes
Cook 12 minutes
Total 20 minutes
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Equipment

  • 1 microplane

Ingredients
 
 

  • 7 oz spaghetti noodles , or long pasta, fresh Spaghetti alla Chitarra; or use the dry version by Barilla or De Cecco spaghetti
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese , grated ,(200g)
  • peppercorns , to taste
  • tbsp salt , for the pasta water
  • 3 liters water

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for the time indicated on the package (about 10-12 minutes). Use 3 liters of water and 30g of coarse salt.
  • To make the pepper water, toast pepper in a saucepan. When you smell the aroma of the pepper, add a ladleful of pasta water and turn off the heat.
  • Grate the pecorino cheese in a bowl; use a microplane so that the cheese is fine like powder.
  • Two minutes after cooking the pasta, add a small ladleful of pasta water and whisk it until it forms a lump-free cream. Should it be too stiff, add a little water at a time, but just enough because you don’t want a sauce that is too runny.
  • With the heat off, combine the ingredients. Add the pasta to the pepper water, then the cheese mixture. Mix it well and vigorously; add a little more water if it has any lumps.
  • Serve hot, adding some more grated pepper for decoration. 

Nutrition

Calories: 562kcalCarbohydrates: 76gProtein: 29gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 681mgPotassium: 264mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 208IUCalcium: 598mgIron: 2mg

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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