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a fork taking a bite of cacio e pepe from a bowl
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4.45 from 29 votes

Cacio e Pepe

This Cacio e Pepe is a traditional, authentic Italian dish that needs only 4 simple ingredients and about 20 minutes of your time to cheesy noodle heaven! Dinner couldn't get any easier!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cacio e pepe
Servings: 3
Calories: 614kcal


  • 8 ounce pasta such as bucatini or spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoon butter unsalted, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese or Pecorino or Grana Padano, freshly grated


  • Cook the pasta: Fill a large pot with water and generously salt it, use at least 1 to 2 tbsp of salt. Bring it to a boil then add the pasta and cook it until just barely al dente. Do not overcook the pasta as it will continue cooking a bit more in the sauce itself. Reserve 1 to 1 ½ cups of water, then drain the pasta.
  • Make the sauce: While the pasta is cooking and has been cooking for 5 minutes, start on the sauce. In a large skillet, large enough to hold your pasta, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted add the pepper and saute the pepper for a good 1 minute. We just want to "bloom" the pepper to deepen the flavor. Add about 1 cup of the pasta water to the skillet. You'll notice it will immediately bubble up. Stir it to combine with the butter. Remove the pan from heat.
  • Finish the pasta: Add the pasta to the skillet and about 1 cup of the cheese. Toss everything together well and add remaining pasta water if the pasta starts looking a little dry. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and more freshly ground pepper.



  1. The pepper should be toasted in with the butter or olive oil. Don't just add it to the finished dish, you want to toast with that butter to ensure the flavor is as deep as possible. Freshly ground the pepper, do not use pre ground, makes a world of difference.
  2. Use the best cheese that you can afford here. This dish is all about the cheese and pepper after all, so you want to make sure you're using a good sharp Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano. Don't forget to grate it yourself, don't buy the pre grated cheese, not for this dish.
  3. The pasta water is the secret. Not only is this pasta water a magic ingredient in this dish, but it really is what makes this dish creamy. Don't reserve the pasta water too early, we want to make sure there's enough starch in that water, it really is the secret to a rich and saucy consistency. Also, don't be stingy with the water, use the full 1 ½ cups of it, if needed.
  4. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 614kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 808mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 864IU | Calcium: 612mg | Iron: 1mg