Easy Cacio e Pepe

LAST UPDATED: Aug 03, 2020 | PUBLISHED: Jul 06, 2016 | By: Julie Blanner

Easy Cacio e Pepe recipe, a simple Roman dish meaning cheese and pepper, which is pretty much all I need in life! This easy Italian pasta dish comes together in just 20 minutes making it perfect for a family weeknight meal. Made with just 5 ingredients, the simplicity of this dish is pure perfection!

Cacio e Pepe served on a white plate with a fork

Cacio e Pepe is a simple Italian pasta that means cheese and pepper. Little else is needed to make this dish outstanding, so of course we choose those two ingredients wisely. This recipe is so creamy, similar to an alfredo, but in my opinion, more refined and flavorful. Say goodbye to garlic and hello to Grana Padano, my personal favorite. Pecorino or parmesan also work well.

Sometimes, I just need a great plate of pasta to complete my day. Pasta is my comfort food. It reminds me of my childhood and eases me into the evening. For me, not much compares. You can have your fried chicken, casseroles and pot pies, but for me, pasta is where it’s at.

The girls love when I make Cacio e Pepe. The first time I made it for them, I was prepared for a fight. I thought they’d see the pretty little black specks and melt down in tears. They loved it and consider it a special treat (as do I).

This pasta doesn’t need any accompaniments, it’s just so perfect by itself, but you can of course serve it with a vegetable side like Green Beans or go all out with some homemade bread and dipping spices.

Cacio e pepe pasta served on a white plate

Cacio e Pepe Ingredients

  • Pasta – Tonnarelli is the traditional pasta to use in this authentic recipe, but spaghetti works really well too. I like to make my own pasta, or you can buy fresh or boxed at the store.
  • Butter – Salted butter is my go to for this pasta dish, but you can use unsalted if you prefer. If you use unsalted, you may want to add a pinch of salt to the melted butter.
  • Black Pepper – Thick flakes of black pepper add immense flavor to this simple dish. Use freshly ground or coarsely ground pepper.
  • Cheese – Grana Padano and Pecorino – the cheeses are interchangeable, you can use one or both. Grate the cheese finely so that it melts quickly and easily into the pasta.

How to Make Easy Cacio e Pepe

  1. Boil pasta, drain and reserve ½ c pasta water {set aside}.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add pepper and swirl to toast. 
  3. Add pasta and a ½ c pasta water and stir. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Toss with Grana Padano.
  5. Remove from heat and toss with Pecorino.
Pasta with cracked black pepper on a white plate

What Is The Best Wine To Serve With Cacio e Pepe?

I like to enjoy a cold and light white wine with this pasta dish. Something with a little acidity to help balanced out the creaminess. A Sangiovese is perfect and a chenin blanc will also work well. If you prefer red wine, a fruity cabernet sauvignon will work well.

Cracked black pepper on the cacio e pepe

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Tips 

  • Cook the pasta al dente. It will continue to cook once it has drained, and again when it is added to the butter. No one like soggy spaghetti!
  • This pasta dish is best served as soon as it’s made. If you do have leftovers though, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days. Reheat the pasta gently on the stovetop or in a microwave.
  • Melt the butter on a medium heat so that it doesn’t burn. It should melt but not bubble.
A fork in the middle of the pasta

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cacio e pepe is an easy, creamy, irresistible pasta recipe

Cacio e Pepe

Julie Blanner
Cacio e Pepe is a simple pasta dish that is rich and full of flavor for an easy weeknight dinner! Made with simple ingredients, this dish comes together in 20 minutes.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 654 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 6 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Grana Padano
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino*

Instructions
 

  • Boil pasta, drain and reserve ½ c pasta water {set aside}.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add pepper and swirl to toast. 
  • Add pasta and a ½ c pasta water and stir. Reduce heat to low.
  • Toss with Grana Padano.
  • Remove from heat and toss with Pecorino.

Notes

Cook the pasta al dente. It will continue to cook once it has drained, and again when it is added to the butter. No one like soggy spaghetti!
This pasta dish is best served as soon as it’s made. If you do have leftovers though, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days. Reheat the pasta gently on the stovetop or in a microwave.
Melt the butter on a medium heat so that it doesn’t burn. It should melt but not bubble.
Cheeses are interchangeable…you can use one or both.
I grate the cheeses on the finest side of my grater so that it melts quickly and easily to coat the pasta for that comforting creamy texture. The opposite applies for pepper – I turn the grinder to adjust for larger cracks of the peppercorns for texture and added flavor.

Nutrition

Calories:654kcalCarbohydrates:86gProtein:22gFat:24gSaturated Fat:15gCholesterol:64mgSodium:440mgPotassium:264mgFiber:4gSugar:3gVitamin A:642IUCalcium:261mgIron:2mg
Keywords authentic cacio e pepe, cacio e pepe pasta recipe, easy pasta dish
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