Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe is the most divine pasta dish made with simple, quality ingredients. Tender pasta in a two-cheese mix and a touch of cream make for delicious forks. Freshly ground black pepper adds tiny bursts of spicy flavor in every bite.

Preparing a great Italian pasta dish doesn’t have to be complicated. Cacio e pepe satisfies all cravings and combines al dente pasta with a creamy pepper sauce. It’s the ultimate comfort food.

The use of quality aged cheese, extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle of whipped cream and crushed pepper just before serving creates a flavorful sauce and delicious dinner.

What is Cacio E Pepe?

Cacio e pepe literally means “cheese and pepper,” so there’s no need to guess which ingredients to grab from the fridge! It has Roman origins and traditionally uses pecorino romano cheese made from aged sheep’s milk and freshly ground black pepper as the base for the sauce.

It was the first dish I ordered when I visited Rome years ago and while simple, the spicy and salty cheese with peppercorns and perfectly cooked pasta was life changing.

How to make Cacio E Pepe

This recipe only contains a handful of ingredients; However, making this dish work isn’t about just tossing the noodles together. The timing is crucial.

After the noodles are cooked, some of the cooking liquid is retained. A portion of the hot water is then mixed with Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, cream, olive oil and black pepper to create a sauce.

The pasta is then tossed with the cheese mixture and a little more starchy pasta water is added to ensure the sauce is luxurious. The sauce isn’t heavy—it has just enough richness to coat any pasta.

This will prevent the cheese from clumping

When people make this dish, the tricky part seems to be clumping cheese together. I have a few simple tricks to prevent this:

  • First, start with quality wedges of aged hard cheese and grate it yourself. Don’t buy imitation cheeses. With so few ingredients, quality matters.
  • Use a microplane or small hole grater to get small shreds of cheese so it melts faster.
  • Use starchy pasta water. When mixed with the aged cheese, the starch coats the proteins and prevents the cheese from sticking together when heated. This will melt the cheese and create a smooth texture. It’s similar to making a very light roux for a bechamel.
  • Finally, add whipped cream, which will make the sauce a smooth and homogeneous mixture.

What is the best pasta for Cacio E Pepe?

Long strands of pasta such as spaghetti, tonnarelli (a fresh square pasta) or bucatini are top choices.

I used bucatini for this recipe because I like the wider width compared to spaghetti and the bucatini pasta is hollow in the middle. This allows more sauce to be trapped in the center for unexpected but deliciously chewy bursts of sauce.

It’s really the cook’s choice, but make sure it’s long noodles so turning is maximum.

A velvety consistency that clings to long noodles is the goal! I highly recommend cracking some extra black pepper on top before serving. The pungent flavors are so alluring that it’s hard to wait to grab!

Looking for more great pasta recipes?

  • Lemon spaghetti with peas and ricotta
  • Pasta Carbonara
  • Creamy pasta with salmon and peas
  • Pasta with butternut squash, bacon and brown butter
  • Wholemeal pasta with kale pesto

Cacio and Pepe

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
20 minutes

total time
30 minutes

2 servings


  • 1 lb spaghettiBucatini or thick spaghetti

  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher saltdivided

  • 3 ounces (1 3/4 cups) Pecorino Romano cheesefresh and finely grated

  • 1 ounce (1/2 cup) Parmigiano Reggiano cheesefresh and finely grated

  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream

  • 2 teaspoon Extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperplus extra for garnish


  1. Cook pasta:

    In a large saucepan add water and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente (follow manufacturer’s cooking times). Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water. Drain the noodles in a colander, then place the noodles in a large bowl.

  2. Make the sauce:

    In a medium bowl, add the finely grated Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the hot reserved pasta water until smooth or almost smooth. Stir in heavy cream, olive oil, black pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  3. Mix pasta and sauce:

    Slowly pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, tossing gently to combine. Continue to mix the pasta for 1 to 2 minutes, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup pasta water as needed until desired consistency is reached.

  4. Surcharge:

    Divide pasta among bowls and garnish with additional cheese and black pepper.

nutritional information (per serving)
658 calories
27g Fat
73g carbohydrates
30g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!