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A plate of Cacio e Pepe sprinkled with cheese and pepper.
Cacio e Pepe
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

Cacio e pepe, the classic Italian pasta dish that translates to "cheese and pepper" is the perfect example that simple doesn't have to mean boring.

Course: Main Dish/Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cacio e pepe
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 423 kcal
  • 1 lb bucatini (or other long shaped pasta)
  • kosher salt
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz Pecorino Romano
  • 2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano
  • additional grated cheese for topping
  1. Bring well-salted water to a boil (about half the water you would normally use to boil pasta). Add the bucatini and cook al dente (1-2 mins less than fully cooked).

  2. While the pasta cooks, grate the cheese either with a microplane or a the fine side of a box grater.

  3. Reserve 2 cups pasta water and then drain the pasta.

  4. In a large skillet (that can accommodate all of the pasta), melt the butter over medium heat and add the pepper. Add half of the grated cheese while stirring and then add 2/3 cup reserved pasta water while consistently stirring.

  5. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, using tongs to toss and mix in. Sprinkle in the remaining cheese with a tablepsoon of the pasta water at a time until the sauce is creamy and the pasta is well coated. Taste and adjust seasoning.

  6. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of cheese over the top.

Recipe Notes
  • Cacio e pepe doesn't traditionally have butter in the recipe, but I love the creaminess it adds to the sauce as well as how it helps the cheese melt and blend easily. Cacio e pepe purists simply omit!
  • Any long shaped pasta will work, but I especially love the way the cheese clings to the tubular shape of bucatini.
  • I use half the water than I typically would if simply boiling pasta, because less water means extra starch resulting in a creamier sauce.
  • Be sure to cook the pasta al dente as it will continue to cook when you toss it with the cheese.
  • Reserve two cups of pasta water, but doubtful that you will use all of it. I like to have extra on hand just in case.
  • Work quickly when adding the water to the butter/cheese mixture to be sure the cheese melts. Working quickly with hot water will prevent clumping.
  • I love the blend of pecorino and parmesan, but use all pecorino if you prefer.
  • Prefer a more peppery pasta? Add an extra half teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Serve with additional cheese grated over the top for added flavor and texture.
Nutrition Facts
Cacio e Pepe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 423 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 37mg12%
Sodium 270mg12%
Potassium 185mg5%
Carbohydrates 57g19%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 349IU7%
Calcium 231mg23%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.