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A plate of cacio e pepe by a fork and pink linen.

Cacio e Pepe

Simple but delicious, this Cacio e Pepe recipe is quick, easy, and flavorful! All you need are five ingredients, and you'll have this classic Italian pasta ready in a flash.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 569kcal


  • Large Pot
  • Collander
  • Tongs


  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti pasta (340g)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (85g)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese plus more for serving (125g)


  • Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt. Add the pasta. Cook until almost tender (Taste a piece of pasta - the texture should be slightly firm and feel like it needs to cook for a minute or two longer). Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  • Return the pot to medium heat. Add the butter and swirl the pot until melted. (For extra flavor, cook until browned and nutty smelling.) Stir in the pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to low.
  • Carefully add 1½ cups of the pasta water and bring to a simmer. Add the drained pasta and toss with tongs to coat with butter. Sprinkle in half of the cheese. Toss until well combined and the cheese melts into the sauce. Remove from the heat. Repeat with the rest of the cheese. If the pasta becomes dry, add more reserved pasta water. Serve immediately topped with additional cheese and pepper, if desired.



  • Do not use pre-grated cheese. Pre-grated cheese comes coated in an anti-clump powder, so it will not melt nicely into your pasta, leaving it tasting gritty. It is worth the effort to grate the cheese yourself with a cheese grater.
  • If you are sensitive to pepper, you can reduce the amount of ground pepper.
  • For a bit of extra heat, add a few pinches of red pepper flakes.
  • Make sure to reserve pasta water before draining the pasta. The starchy water helps create a creamy sauce that perfectly coats your pasta. Plain water will not yield the same results.
  • The cheese will start to clump on the bottom as it sits and cools, so definitely serve immediately.
  • Feel free to add protein to the pasta, such as grilled chicken or sauteed shrimp. You can also bulk the pasta up with some vegetables such as spinach, kale, or broccoli.


Calories: 569kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 3347mg | Potassium: 250mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 642IU | Calcium: 302mg | Iron: 2mg