Gimme Some Oven

Cacio e Pepe

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This cacio e pepe recipe is easy to make in about 30 minutes with just 4 simple ingredients.

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Cacio e Pepe

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 -3 servings 1x


This cacio e pepe recipe is easy to make in about 30 minutes with just 4 simple ingredients.




  1. Boil the pasta water. Fill a large stockpot about halfway full of water (roughly 2 quarts) and bring it to a rolling boil. Generously season the water with sea salt (about 2 tablespoons).
  2. Bloom the pepper. Meanwhile, as the pasta water heats, melt the butter in a large sauté pan (preferably nonstick) over medium heat. Add the pepper and let it cook for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.
  3. Cook the pasta. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is just barely al dente.
  4. Toss the pasta. Use tongs* to quickly transfer the pasta directly to the sauté pan with the melted butter and pepper. Add 1/3 cup of the starchy pasta water to the pan and toss the pasta briefly to combine. Add in half of the cheese and toss the pasta briefly to coat. Add in the remaining half of the cheese and continue tossing the pasta, adding in a few extra tablespoons of starchy pasta water if needed, until the cheese is melted and forms a thick and glossy sauce.
  5. Serve. Serve the pasta immediately, garnished with an extra twist of black pepper and/or extra Pecorino if desired.


Butter: Feel free to use less butter, if you prefer. Or you could also omit the butter and just use extra starchy pasta water, which is the traditional way to make cacio e pepe.

Black pepper: I like my cacio e pepe heavy on the “pepe” (black pepper) and often add a bit extra as a garnish. If you are sensitive to black pepper, however, I recommend starting with half as much. And please note that the 1 teaspoon measurement is for coarsely-ground black pepper. If you are using finely-ground pepper, I recommend using less.

Tongs alternatives: If using a shorter pasta shape (such as rigatoni), I recommend transferring the pasta with a spider strainer instead. Or if you do not own either, you can scoop out a few cups of the starchy pasta water and reserve it in a heat-safe bowl, then drain the rest of the pasta in a colander and transfer it to the sauté pan.

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115 comments on “Cacio e Pepe”

  1. word of caution- pecorino cheese is very gamey and not for everyone

  2. We had this last night with home made spaghetti (also your recipe), and we loved it! I think this will be on a very regular rotation in our home.

  3. Well, tbh I read about a dozen recipes and the comments online before freaking out about making this simple recipe that I love in restaurants. All of them were full of comments agonizing over clumpy messes. This one seemed straightforward and a good place to start. We used a good quality dried spaghetti and I used Pecorino Romano and parmesan both grated on a microplane grater. Once the pasta was done my butter was starting to brown so I poured some of the pasta water in to stop that and then added the pasta. I just started grabbing some of each of the parm and pecorino and throwing it into the dish while stirring it vigorously. Added a touch more of the water and it was in a really good place.

    My only guess is that a lot of the clumping is coming from people using pre-grated cheese from the store. Seriously, for something this simple, I think you need to just grate it at home yourself. Fresh cracked pepper is also a must.

    Thanks for a very good recipe!

  4. The only thing I didn’t like was the butter. The Caccio e Pepe I had in Italy was not that oily. I appreciate the mention at the end that you can cut butter out entirely, and use only starchy water (the traditional way) but I wish I saw this information up top.

  5. Perfect!

  6. So delicious!!!

  7. Our family is OBSESSED with this recipe. The kids request it at least once a week, and I’m happy to oblige because it’s so simple. The sauce always turns out for us too thanks to your tips. 10 stars from our kitchen!