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 (18)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.

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this for years but never knew it had a name! My pasta preference is linguine. Sometimes I add a good amount of crushed garlic. Add a side salad or just a mix of greens & I’m good to go. Thanks for your version, which is pretty much what I’ve been making. I don’t think I’ve met a pasta dish I didn’t like!!!

  8. 5 stars
    My 5 year old granddaughter is on her second helping as I write this. Excellent, a must have in my book. Now if only I could find a decent pasta pot, any suggestions?

  9. I made this tonight and the cheese clumped. I followed all the directions and had gobs of cheese. When I went to clean my pan there was most of the cheese stuck to the bottom. A mess to clean up.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Cheese clumping is a common issue with this dish. You will want to make sure to use high quality cheese and grate it yourself. Pre-grated cheese has additives that prevent melting. Use the finest holes on your grater to get a powdery grated cheese, which will melt better on the pasta. Try letting the starchy pasta water sit for a few minutes before adding it to the pasta. If the water is too hot, it can cause the cheese to seize up. Add the cheese gradually with a little of the pasta water at a time so it can melt into the sauce and form a silky coating on the pasta.

  10. Hi Meredith,
    Miss you on QVC but was wondering why you don’t include a link so people can add it to their Pinterest saves!?!

    1. Hi Darlene, Meredith will be back on QVC with one hour shows next month! There is a Pinterest icon on all of the photos on the website. Just click on the “P” circle or the red Pinterest Save button on any picture and it you can save it directly to your Pinterest board.

  11. I make this pretty often but use elbow or seashell macaroni. I cook the pasta and then add lots of butter ( or margarine) and salt to taste and lots of black pepper.

  12. One of my favorite pastas. I make it as above but add some chopped up pancetta and either baby spinach or arugula to satisfy my hubby.

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