Cacio e Pepe

When I'm hungry and unprepared for dinner, this is one of my favorite pasta recipes to turn to. I always have butter and good hard Italian cheeses in my refrigerator. There's always pasta in the cupboard, so this recipe for Cacio e Pepe is always on the menu whether I've gone grocery shopping or not.

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Cacio e pepe is not just an emergency dinner, however. This is one of my favorite simple satisfying pasta dishes. Cacio e pepe simply means cheese and pepper. There’s not much to it, so make sure you use GREAT quality ingredients – that means true Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses and freshly cracked black peppercorns.

Green bowl with cacio e pepe twirled on a fork.

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Cacio e Pepe

  • Prep Time: 5 m
  • Cook Time: 12 m
  • Total Time: 17 m
  • Servings:


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns


  1. Pre-heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and melt. Turn the heat off under the sauté pan but keep the pan on the stovetop.
  2. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for the suggested time on the package, until the pasta is al dente.
  3. When the spaghetti is al dente, reserve one cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the sauté pan, along with ¾ cup of the reserved pasta water. Add the grated cheeses and the black pepper. Toss well, adding more of the reserved pasta water to the pan to lubricate the pasta as necessary.
  4. Serve in a large bowl with a pepper grinder at the table for those who want more heat. Compliment with a simple green salad.
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Comments (8)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I have made this for years. It’s my go-to when I’m low on groceries, not feeling so well, or as a simple side dish sometimes with steak.

  2. 5 stars
    I Make a variation of this often, I grind/shake lots of pepper in a hot pan and let it heat up for a few minutes. I then add about 1/2 stick of butter and a good pour of olive oil and a big spoonful of minced garlic. Let it simmer a bit to combine flavors. I also add a bag of sauteed pepper strips or mushrooms from time to time to change it up. Drain the spaghetti and mix in the pepper sauce, adding the reserved pasta water if needed. Let sit for a bit, Each person adds their own cheese after plating. It’s really delicious and easy, especially with the pepper strips

  3. 5 stars
    WoW ! A recipe that has been in our family for over 60 years. We’ve had it in bowls, fried in a sauce pan, on bread as a sandwich, you name it we have done it. Also just plain old store bought Kraft Parmesan Cheese in a shaker. Anyway you serve it, it’s always a welcomed old friend ! So Tasty ! I remember enjoying this one as a baby in my high chair, picking up the noodles off of the tray and Smashing them into my mouth! Such sweet memories !
    Thanks for taking me back in time !

  4. I’ve been making this for years too. I use EVO instead of butter. Don’t you just love cooking without a recipe?

  5. I made this with cooked & cleaned shrimp-just add to pasta & it will heat be itself. Don’t forget the EVOO at the end. Delicious & easy to make. Our family “loves” this.

  6. A favorite – I add equal amounts of EVVO and butter, but that the only difference. Wonderful on a cold and snowy night with a lovely glass Pinot Noir.

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