This traditional Cacio e Pepe recipe only takes about 20 minutes to make, with 4 easy ingredients! Feel free to double the recipe if you would like to use a standard-size package of pasta.
- Cook the pasta. In a large stockpot of generously-salted water, boil your pasta according to package instructions until it just barely al dente. (Try to avoid overcooking the pasta.)
- Grate the cheese. While the pasta water comes to a boil, finely-grate the cheese by hand.
- Reserve some of the starchy pasta water. Once the pasta is about 1 minute away from being al dente, carefully scoop out 2 cups of the starchy boiling pasta water and transfer the water into a separate heat-proof container. Set aside.
- Drain the pasta. Drain the pasta using a colander. Then transfer the pasta back to the hot stockpot, placed off of the hot burner.
- Add the butter, starchy water, cheese and black pepper. Add in the diced butter and 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and toss quickly to combine. Add in the cheese and black pepper and quickly toss to combine. Continue to gradually add in extra starchy pasta water, as needed, until the cheese has completely melted and turned into a silky sauce that coats the pasta evenly.
- Serve. Dish up the hot pasta and serve immediately, garnished with extra cheese and black pepper if desired.
Butter: Feel free to use less butter, if you prefer. Or you could also omit the butter and just add in a little extra starchy pasta water, as needed.
Optional black pepper step: The directions above are definitely the easiest — and my preferred — way to make this recipe. But if you would like a more prominent black pepper flavor, you can toast the pepper on its own in a separate sauté pan for a few minutes or sauté the pepper in melted butter for a few minutes, and then add the pepper/butter to the pasta as directed. That said though, after testing this recipe with and without the extra pepper-toasting step, we honestly could hardly taste the difference. And the one-pot method definitely saves you from having to wash an extra sauté pan! But I wanted to mention this option for those of you who might be interested. Of course, if you’re craving extra black pepper flavor, you can also simply add a few extra shakes of freshly-cracked black pepper to the pasta too. ♡)