Skip to Content

Cacio e Pepe Pasta Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links which means we receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cacio e Pepe is a pasta recipe that has only three main ingredients, pasta, pepper, and cheese. It’s one of the simplest and most delicious dishes you will ever make.

Cacio e pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper and makes the most incredible pasta dish ever. Simple, easy and quick pantry meal to have during a busy week.

I was first turned on to this meal when visiting the SoLo restaurant; a beautiful farm-to-table gem tucked into a tiny parcel in Vermont. I was with three other fabulous friends enjoying a much-needed girl’s weekend and this was our dinner destination one snowy evening.

SoLo makes everything to order and when I learned my dinner choice was no longer a choice, I glanced back at the menu to make another selection.

I had originally skipped over the pasta course, because, well, I have pasta all the time and wanted to explore something new. Not sure what else to choose-I “settled” on the plain homemade pepper pasta.

When dinner arrived, I looked at my small, slate grey pottery bowl filled only less than half full, and felt it lacking. However, once the first fork twirl hit my lips, I was in pasta heaven. Not only was it the perfect portion size, but the flavor was so incredible it has stuck with me ever since.

spaghetti with fork

I have tried to recreate this dish more times than I can count; I’ve come close a couple of times, but nothing has resulted in the creamy, decadent homemade goodness I enjoyed that evening.

Aside from that memorable experience, I still enjoy this basic pasta dish, especially on busy days. In 10 minutes, you can have dinner on the table.

What is Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe in Italian means “cheese and pepper” and that’s all this pasta, in its truest form has. It is the Italian version of “Mac N Cheese.” You can certainly take liberties and add whatever you want, but to stay as minimalist as possible, cheese and pepper is all you need.

When I made Cacio e Pepe last week and as you may see in the photos, I did take some liberties and added frozen peas.

It was still fast (I cooked the peas in the pasta water) and delicious.

Other addition suggestions

  • Vegetables- you can add peas like me or any vegetable you like such as broccoli, asparagus, etc. Any and all varieties will work. 
  • Bacon– try adding some cooked bacon or if you want to keep an Italian theme going, try pancetta.
  • Protein– chicken, shrimp, or thin slices of beef would be a tasty version of this cheesy pasta
  • Egg– I do believe that the pasta I had at the restaurant had egg in it. Maybe they tossed a scrambled egg into the hot pasta and let it cook and stick to the noodles
Pepper pasta with cheese

What type of pasta to use

When it comes to the type of pasta to use for this dish, the answer is still whatever macaroni you like! I prefer to use a long noodle, like spaghetti, linguini or angel hair because I always have this in my pantry, but this simple recipe really takes to anything. 

These are my favorites to use, but anything will work! 

  • Spaghetti– Regular or thin is fine. The only difference between them other than one being a tad thinner is cooking time. 
  • Linguini or Fettucini- This is a flat noodle and pairs really well with alfredo or something like shrimp scampi, but also allows for the cheese in this dish to stick and taste in each bite! 
  • Bucatini- This is a long noodle as well, like spaghetti, only hollow like a straw! This thicker variety is yummy because you get all the flavor on the inside AND outside! 
  • Angel Hair Believe it or not, this is probably one of my favorite kinds of pasta to have in my pantry. It cooks super fast (4 minutes!) because it is so thin and it really goes a long way. 
  • Farfalle– also known as “bowtie” pasta is a fun way to enjoy this dish. Broad noodles pinched in the center are delicious. 
  • Penne- Another pasta variety I have on the shelf! I like to have these short thick tubes for casseroles, soup, and of course for Sunday sauce. 

A printable recipe for Cacio e Pepe is below

Ingredients

  • Pasta: For this recipe, I used 1 box thin spaghetti, cooked according to package directions.
  • Grated cheese: I use 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano- (Locatelli to be exact). If you have grated Parmesan that will work too. 
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted butter is fine. 
  • Black Pepper: 1 tsp fresh black pepper. 
  • Peas: 1 cup frozen peas (optional)- I like peas in my pasta. If you don't, you can leave this out! 

Instructions

  • Boil water: Bring a pot of water to a boil, THEN add enough salt for it to be VERY salty- like the ocean. If you add salt too soon, it can pit the bottom of your pot. 
  • Add pasta: and cook al dente. (If using peas, add in the pasta water last 2 minutes of cook time)
  • Melt butter: While pasta is cooking, in sauté pan, (I love my All-Clad pan!) melt butter and add freshly ground black pepper to infuse.
  • When pasta is finished, remove 1/2 cup pasta water and set aside before draining.
  • Add cooked pasta to the sauté pan and the reserved pasta water. Stir to coat.
  • Add grated Romano cheese and gently stir until noodles are coated and creamy.

This simple pasta dish is perfect for busy days when you come home super hungry and don't feel like cooking. It's true comfort food and I know you will love it. 

Cacio e Pepe Recipe
Yield: 6

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper and makes the most incredible pasta dish ever. Simple, easy and quick meal to have during a busy week.

Cacio e Pepe is a simple "Cheese & Pepper" pasta and will be your go-to dinner solution on busy days when you're hungry and don't have a lot of time to cook a big meal.

Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box Thin spaghetti, cooked according to package directions.
  • 1 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated ( I use Locatelli)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas, optional

Instructions

  1. Bring pot of water to a boil, THEN add enough salt for it to be VERY salty- like the ocean.
  2. Add pasta and cook al dente. (If using peas, add in the pasta water last 2 minutes of cook time)
  3. While pasta is cooking, in sauté pan, melt butter and add freshly ground black pepper to infuse.
  4. When pasta is finished, remove 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
  5. Add pasta to the sauté pan and the reserved pasta water. Stir to coat.
  6. Add grated Romano cheese and gently stir until noodles are coated and creamy.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 7g

Did you make this recipe?

We would love for a share on Pinterest! You can also leave us a review in the recipe card. Click the buttons below to share on FACEBOOK too! Thank you!

If you like this pasta recipe, here are a few more you may enjoy!

Fresh Bruschetta Pasta

bruschetta pasta is simple and full of fresh tomatoes and basil!

Vegetable Pasta Easy One Pan Meal

colorful vegetable pasta sauce in pan

Original post: 4/10/16

Updated 3/14/20

Best Low Carb Cereal
Previous
Best Low Carb Cereal to Buy!
How to Freeze Berries
Next
How to Freeze Berries
.
Skip to Recipe