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Published February 4, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This 4-ingredients pasta cacio e pepe recipe is a delicious creamy dish of pecorino Romano cheese and pepper with spaghetti pasta for an easy weeknight meal.
Italian food is some of the most delicious food on the planet. Often the classic recipes we know were created based on what was available. If you want to expand your Italian recipe repertoire then check out my cacciatore or steak pizzaiola.
Cacio E Pepe is 1 of the 4 traditional Roman pastas along with All-Amatriciana, pasta alla Gricia, and carbonara. It translates to cheese and pepper because essentially those are the main ingredients in the sauce that gives it so much flavor.
Outside of pasta, Cacio E Pepe can also be expanded into making things such as risotto. Regardless, this simple pasta dish comes together in under 15 minutes making it an excellent weeknight meal for the family.
Be sure to follow my instructions exactly because the techniques to ensure you have a creamy lump-free sauce are crucial to the success of this recipe.
Cacio E Pepe Ingredients
- Pepper – Freshly ground black pepper is classic, although you can use a mixed color pepper combination.
- Cheese – Pecorino Romano is the traditional cheese in this pasta.
- Pasta –Spaghetti pasta is classic to use in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite.
- Water – Hot pasta water is needed for this dish.
How to Make Pasta Cacio E Pepe
Use these easy-to-follow instructions to make this classic spaghetti Cacio e Pepe recipe:
Toast some peppercorns over low to medium heat for about 2 minutes or until it becomes very aromatic.
Set aside to cool slightly before grinding it down using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and the size of it varies from small grind to coarse grind. Set aside.
Add some of the pecorino cheese to a medium-size sauté pan along with some crushed pepper.
Pour in some pasta water into the pan and mix using a rubber spatula or spoon until it is combined and emulsified. Set aside.
Boil the pasta according to its package and then add it in potions to the pan with the cheese sauce so as to not overload it with pasta water.
Mix using the spatula until combined and then add on more cheese, pasta water, salt, and pepper, and continue to mix until thick and creamy.
Add to a plate and serve with more grated pecorino Romano cheese and more pepper.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be served as soon as it is done cooking.
How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This will not freeze well.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of pasta to a medium-size pan over low heat along with ¼ cup of water and heat until creamy and hot.
chef notes + tips
- You should definitely use Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe, but if not, you can easily swap out for dried.
- The main reason there are clumps of cheese in the pasta is because the pan gets to hot. Be sure to stir constantly and make sure to turn the heat off if the cheese begins to clump. You can remove the clumps by carefully bringing down the temperature.
- If pecorino Romano is not available, then substitute with Parmesan.
- The technique of stirring the pasta is very similar to stir-frying.
- You may need more pasta water so ensure it stays creamy and the pasta noodles don’t suck up too much of the sauce.
- No you will not use all the peppercorns in this recipe, I just figured while making this why not make a little extra?
More Pasta Recipes
Pasta Cacio E Pepe Recipe
- 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
- 1 ¼ cups pecorino romano cheese
- 8 ounces of hot pasta water
- 8 ounces fresh spaghetti pasta
- salt to taste
- Toast the peppercorns over low to medium heat in a medium size sauté pan for about 2 minutes or until it becomes very aromatic.
- Set aside to cool slightly before grinding it down using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and the size of it varies from small grind to coarse grind. Set aside.
- Divide the cheese into 3 piles. A large pile, a medium size pile, and a small size pile. The sizes of each do not need to be perfect.
- Add the large pile of cheese to a medium frying pan along with a ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper, a ½ cup, or 4 ounces, of hot pasta water and mix using a rubber spatula or spoon until it is combined and emulsified. Set aside.
- Boil the pasta according to its package and then add it in potions to the pan with the cheese sauce so to not overload it with too much pasta water.
- Mix using the spatula until combined and then add the medium size pile of cheese along with ½ cup more, or 4 ounces, of pasta water, salt, and continue to mix until thick and creamy.
- Add to a plate and serve by garnishing with the last small size pile of pecorino Romano cheese and additional ground pepper.