Classic Cacio E Pepe Recipe

Fine Italian dining is right at your fingertips, thanks to this classic cacio e pepe recipe. If you are a pasta lover or simply a lover of Italian cuisine, then you've likely heard of cacio e pepe, which means "cheese and pepper." According to Foodicles, this is one of the oldest dishes in Italy, and there's a reason why it's been around for so long — it's easy to make, and it's delicious. Cacio e Pepe is filled with cheese, specifically, the pecorino Romano, which adds a lot of flavor to the pasta. Add a little grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and it's a cheesy pasta party.

Recipe developer Kate Shungu came up with this recipe, and trust us when we tell you that you're going to want to bookmark it. "I love that this recipe has just a few simple ingredients, but it tastes luxurious, like something you'd find at a fancy Italian restaurant," Shungu raves. And if you'd like, you can add protein. "You can easily add strips of grilled chicken to this dish to make it a complete meal," Shungu suggests.

Gather the ingredients for this classic cacio e pepe recipe

This recipe requires just a few ingredients, making it a no-brainer to try. Head to the store and grab salt, butter, freshly cracked pepper, bucatini, Pecorino Romano cheese, and finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Once you have those things, you can make this classic Cacio e Pepe.

Prep the pasta water and melt the butter

Take out a large saucepan and fill it with water. Add a little salt, and crank up the heat to bring the water to a boil. 

While you are waiting for the water to boil, take out a large skillet and place it on your burner. Turn the heat to medium and toss in the butter. Once the butter melts, you can add the freshly ground pepper and cook for 30 seconds. "The other key to this dish is blooming the pepper in the hot butter," Shungu shares. "It releases the flavors of the freshly ground black pepper and really makes it pop."

Then, remove the pan from heat and set it aside.

Cook the pasta

Once the water bubbles, throw the pasta into the saucepan. Since each brand varies, just check the back of the box for suggested cooking times.

Continue cooking the pasta until al dente. "In order to see if the pasta is al dente, taste it! Grab a noodle with a pair of tongs. It should still have a slight chewiness to it," Shungu suggests.

Add pasta to the skillet

Once you finish cooking the pasta, use tongs to transfer it to the skillet with butter. If a little bit of pasta water sneaks into the skillet, don't sweat it! The water will actually help create a cream sauce, which is precisely what we are looking for.

Next, throw in both cheeses and use tongs to toss the pasta to coat with the butter and the cheeses. If the pasta seems to try, add a little more of the pasta water and then toss again. "The key to this dish is using finely grated cheese. If the cheese isn't finely grated, it won't create a silky sauce for the pasta," Shungu notes.

Garnish and serve

Scoop the pasta into a serving bowl of your choice and add freshly cracked black pepper and a few more cheese sprinkles on top if you wish.

Shungu also shares a few great additional serving suggestions if you want to try them. "I love serving this on its own, with a simple leafy green salad on the side," she notes. Be sure to keep any leftovers. "Leftovers will keep 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave," Shungu suggests.

We hope this dish satisfies your pasta craving! 

Classic Cacio E Pepe Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
Learn how to make this classic cacio e pepe recipe that transforms a few ingredients into a dish you'd expect from a fine Italian restaurant.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cacio e pepe in bowl
Total time: 25 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon salt (for the pasta water)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 oz uncooked bucatini (or spaghetti)
  • ¾ cup finely grated pecorino romano
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the salt.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the freshly cracked black pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta until al dente (typically the lower end of package recommended cook times).
  4. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the butter in the skillet. It's ok if some pasta water gets in there — it'll help create a sauce. Add both cheeses and toss the pasta with the tongs until coated. If the pasta seems dry, add a ladle of pasta water and continue to toss with the tongs until the pasta is coated.
  5. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and garnish with additional freshly cracked black pepper and cheese, if desired.
Calories per Serving 791
Total Fat 31.4 g
Saturated Fat 19.2 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 94.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 88.0 g
Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
Total Sugars 3.6 g
Sodium 973.8 mg
Protein 37.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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