Cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper," is a classic Roman pasta dish named for two of its main ingredients: Pecorino cheese, which in Roman dialect is known as cacio, and black pepper. Don't be fooled by its simplicity; cacio e pepe is a dish that, when made with quality ingredients and the right technique, will stop you in your tracks. Ready to find out? You're only five ingredients away from something otherworldly: a cheesy, creamy, peppery trifecta that’s made with foods you likely have in your pantry right now. Here's the best cacio e pepe pasta recipe you'll find.

Gallery

Credit: Vladislav Chusov/Getty Images

Recipe Summary

hands-on:
25 mins
total:
25 mins
Yield:
Serves 2
Advertisement

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add your pasta.

    Advertisement
  • When the pasta is a few minutes from al dente, place the black pepper in a dry skillet and gently toast over medium-low heat, swirling the pan to keep the spice moving (to keep it from burning). Toast the pepper until it’s fragrant and warm, about 1 minute.

  • Add the butter to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium and, gently swirling the pan over the heat, cook until the butter is melted.

  • At this point, your pasta should be ready to drain, but before you drain it, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta cooking water. (If you need a minute or two to continue cooking your pasta at this point, remove your butter mixture from the heat but be sure to warm it up again for a minute or so before you continue with the next step.)

  • Add 1/2 cup pasta cooking water to the butter mixture, along with your drained pasta, and another tablespoon of cold cubed butter to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low/low and add 3/4 cup of finely grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano cheese, stirring constantly with tongs until the cheese is melted. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1/3 cup of finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, stirring and tossing until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Add more pasta cooking water if the sauce seems dry.

  • Transfer the pasta to warm bowls and serve immediately, topping with more cheese and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Advertisement