Traditional recipes

Spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe

Spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe

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  • Pasta
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  • Spaghetti

This Italian 'cheese and pepper' spaghetti is a deliciously simple dinner. It's a great weeknight option that uses 5 ingredients and takes about 20 minutes to make.

7 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 450g spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g grated Pecorino cheese, or more to taste

MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:18min ›Ready in:23min

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until tender yet firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Scoop out some of the cooking water and reserve. Drain spaghetti.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper; cook and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add spaghetti and grated cheese. Ladle in about 120ml of reserved cooking water; stir until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Add more cooking water until sauce coats spaghetti, about 1 minute more.


For a thicker or thinner sauce, adjust how much pasta water you add. If you add too much water, add some more grated cheese.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(158)

Reviews in English (126)

by Barbara Liebowitz DeLaurentis

It was so good that my daughter just asked for it again, simple and quick to make. A good cheap meal.-01 Jul 2016

by JessBwilliams

Super simple and quick to make! If you're a college student like I am, this is a thousand times better than ramen!I just added a pinch or two of red pepper flakes to add some heat and voíla!-17 Apr 2016

The perfect cacio e pepe

The traditional Roman pasta recipe for cacio e pepe – ‘cheese and pepper’ in Italian – could not be more simple and only requires three ingredients: spaghetti, pecorino romano and black pepper, therefore it is often referred to as an adult mac and cheese. These are ingredients I usually always have in the house and I used to make this quick dish so often when I didn’t have time to pop to the supermarket and needed to quickly whip something up in the kitchen.

While an authentic cacio e pepe recipe includes pecorino cheese only, it is also often made with parmesan, or a mix of both. In my version I use predominantly pecorino, though I do love to add a hint of parmesan cheese too.

The perfect cacio e pepe is deliciously creamy, and in order to achieve this you need to follow a few simple steps. Firstly, it’s important you grate the pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano extremely finely, a microplane is perfect for this, though you could of course use any fine grater. A fine grate means the cheese will melt fully and quickly, ensuring your sauce is smooth and silky, rather than clumpy and full of cheesy bits.

Secondly, you need to reserve a generous amount of pasta water, which together with the cheeses will emulsify in a super rich and creamy sauce. My final tip is adding a healthy amount of unsalted butter. Though the classic recipe does not include this ingredient, it does really help bring it all together and makes this recipe practically fool-proof.

History of cacio e pepe pasta

Cacio e pepe has its roots in transhumant shepherding . In Roman times shepherds had to make long journeys with their flocks, and they needed to fill their saddlebags with long-lasting foods packed with calories that would give them strength for the journey. Among the foods that the shepherds brought with them were dried tomatoes, bacon, pecorino cheese, hand-prepared and dried spaghetti, and black peppercorns.

Black pepper is a spice that stimulates heat receptors, and therefore it helped shepherds to fight the cold. The seasoned pecorino was chosen for its long shelf life, and spaghetti for its high levels of carbohydrates and calories.

Cacio e pepe pasta thus became a dish spread throughout the Lazio countryside as well as the Umbrian and Abruzzo pastures, until it became a typical dish of Roman taverns.

Recipe Summary

  • ¾ pound spaghetti
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Salt

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cheeses.

Return the pasta to the pot. Working quickly, add 6 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, alternating with the cheeses toss well to thoroughly coat the pasta between additions. Sprinkle on the black pepper and season the pasta with salt toss again.

Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking water, as necessary, tossing until a creamy sauce forms. Serve right away.


Step 1

Preheat oven to 375°. Pierce squash all over with a knife to vent.

Step 2

Roast on a rimmed baking sheet, turning every 20 minutes, until tender (knife will easily slide through), 60–90 minutes.

Step 3

Let cool slightly. Halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds discard. Scrape flesh with a fork to remove in long strands. Spread out on paper towels to drain.

Step 4

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook squash, lemon zest, thyme, Pecorino, and ½ cup Parmesan, stirring to combine, until squash is heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in pepper and season with salt. Serve topped with more Parmesan.

How would you rate Spaghetti Squash “Cacio e Pepe”?

Do yourself a favor: heat up the butter, lemon, thyme and BP with a few cloves of garlic on med heat until everything is fragrant and toasty. Add squash and a little water if necessary to emulsify everything. When the squash is heated through and flavors incorporated, fold in the cheese off heat. Season with more BP, parm and flaky salt. HUGE improvement on this pretty good recipe.

Delicious! Served with garlicky turkey meatballs

This is a sensational recipe. A little fiddly but tastes out of this world. I served it with a baby kale and finely sliced fennel salad, with apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing.

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Grilled Shrimp Tacos With Sriracha Mayo Slaw

1. Bring a large pasta pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

2. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente.

3. Add the freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt to a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Toast the pepper until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add one cup of pasta water to the pan, then add the cold butter and olive oil and bring to a simmer.

5. Stir the sauce so that the olive oil and butter combine.

6. When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving a little bit of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pan and toss to combine with the sauce.

7. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the cheese, constantly tossing so that the cheese melts evenly into the sauce.

8. Add reserved pasta water if needed to adjust the sauce to the right consistency, it should be coated in a velvety sauce, not clumpy or watery.

Giorgio Locatelli's simple spaghetti recipes: cacio e pepe, carbonara and more

Aglio, olio e peperoncino: spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli. Photo: Lisa Linder

In an extract from his new cookbook, Made at Home, UK-based Italian celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli provides the recipes for his favourite late-night spaghettis.

These spaghettis are not just convenient, quick and easy dishes they can also be seductively brilliant, a perfect example of how a dish can be so much more than a sum of its parts.

Each recipe makes enough for six. With the exception of the cacio e pepe, allow one litre of water to every 100g of pasta, and add a teaspoon of salt per litre of water. The quantity of pasta we seem to have settled on these days is around 70g per person, but anywhere between 70g and 100g is about right for these recipes, depending on how hungry you are and if you are eating anything else to follow.

/>Giorgio Locatelli, Made at Home, RRP $49.99. Photo: Supplied

Aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli)

Don't be scared to add three, four or five sliced cloves of garlic per person, and don't be shy with the chilli either I would use a scotch bonnet, seeds and all, but how hot you make it is up to you. Chillies in red and green are nice, too.

The real trick to this is to start with just a little extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan and put in your sliced garlic while the oil is still cold. Raise the temperature slowly and just before the garlic starts to fry, pull the pan off the heat, add a little more cold oil, then put it back on the heat. Keep doing this several times, adding a little more of the cold oil each time, so that you keep the temperature down and the garlic is not frying, but just infusing the maximum amount of its flavour into the oil before you put in the chilli.

1. Start cooking 500g of spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water, and slice your chilli (around a tablespoonful, or more if you prefer) and around 4 cloves of garlic about a millimetre thick.

2. You need around 200ml of good extra virgin olive oil, but start with a little of it, cold, in the pan. Put in your garlic, then keep taking the pan off the heat and adding a little more cold oil, then returning it to the heat so that you don't burn the garlic.

3. Once all the oil is in, you can let the garlic begin to take on a little bit of colour and put in your chopped chilli. Let it cook very briefly, stirring it into the garlic, then pull the pan from the heat and stir in a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water from the pasta – take care, as it may spit.

4. When the pasta is cooked but still al dente, lift it out and drain it, but keep back the cooking water.

Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe

Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe is a procedure that we have prepared in our family for many years everyone likes it. It’s a necessary and natural change on mac ‘n cheese. Cacio e Pepe alters to “cheese and pepper,” and while those are the great flavours here, this dish is so much more. It’s transformative. And what causes it so excellent? Its clarity. This old Cacio e Pepe recipe only needs about 20 minutes to prepare, with few natural elements. It’s the unique impromptu ingredients for pasta night. Remember the days when we did to overcook pasta, mindlessly strain it, and maybe even wash it with cold water? Now, it’s moderately necessary information to do just the reverse. Prepare your pasta, and we’d suggest spaghetti, bucatini, or extra long, thin noodle till al dente in quickly boiling, salt added water.

Let it rest for about 3 minutes less than what the package cooking time suggests. Then, right before you’re ready to remove, dip a liquid measuring cup in there and grasp some of that wonderfully starchy, salty water. This mysterious stuff is the backbone of this dish and will make your sauce smooth, glossy, and emulsified. Cacio e Pepe is a favourite Roman dish prepared with items you can easily find in your closet, but there are as many ways to perform it as there are sous-chefs in Italy. In this story, olive oil joins a light grassiness and Parmigiano-Reggiano, in addition to the standard Pecorino-Romano, is done to round out the essences and combine umami plenty. If you don’t own Parmigiano in the house, prepare the food with all Pecorino and reduce the salt into your pasta water by a tablespoon.

Nutritional Chart

Nutrition information per portion


Shows how much energy food releases to our bodies. Daily caloric intake depends mainly on the person’s weight, sex and physical activity level. An average individual needs about 2000 kcal / day.

Fatty Acids

Are essential to give energy to the body while helping to maintain the body temperature. They are divided into saturated "bad" fats and unsaturated "good" fats.

Saturated Fats

Known as "bad" fats are mainly found in animal foods. It is important to check and control on a daily basis the amount you consume.


The main source of energy for the body. Great sources are the bread, cereals and pasta. Use complex carbohydrates as they make you feel satiated while they have higher nutritional value.


Try to consume sugars from raw foods and limit processed sugar. It is important to check the labels of the products you buy so you can calculate how much you consume daily.


It is necessary for the muscle growth and helps the cells to function well. You can find it in meat, fish, dairy, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds.


They are mainly found in plant foods and they can help regulate a good bowel movement while maintaining a balanced weight. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber daily.

A small amount of salt daily is necessary for the body. Be careful though not to overdo it and not to exceed 6 grams of salt daily

*Based on an adult’s daily reference intake of 2000 kcal.

*To calculate nutritional table data, we use software by

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

It’s no secret I like easy recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional cathartic 5 hours in the kitchen, but usually anything under an hour has my heart!

Tim and I really take pride into trying our hands (mostly my hand, but he does help with the dishes!) at different cuisines at home. Sometimes it will be a journey, like our Thai Massaman Chicken Curry attempt that included visits to 5 different grocery stores just to (try to) find the massaman curry. But most of the time it’s a breeze, like this Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe that requires only 5 main ingredients and is done in 20 minutes!

Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper in Italian. As the name suggests, cheese and pepper are the main ingredients of this classic Roman dish. It is Italian comfort food at its best and all you will need is Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, freshly ground black pepper, spaghetti, butter, olive oil and salt. If you’re anything like me, you already have all those things in your pantry/fridge.

After trying this pasta, you will have no excuse to eat boxed mac & cheese gunk anymore! This dish is proof that having no time doesn’t mean you can’t make delicious meals at home.

I still remember the first time I tried this dish. My mom was visiting me in New York and we decided to grab lunch at Eataly, a very famous Italian food emporium in the Flatiron District. After waiting around 30 minutes for a table at La Pasta and La Pizza – the most popular restaurant in there -, we sat down, ordered some wine and proceeded to choose our entrees.

As y’all know, I’m obsessed with pizza, so I went for the Margheritta. My mom ordered the Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, against my comments on the line of: “You’re coming to the most famous food emporium in NYC to order a simple spaghetti with cheese and pepper?”.

You probably already know what happens next, right? Our foods arrive. I proceed to devour my pizza but notice my mom’s face of pure delightfulness followed by an offer to let me try her dish. I try it and it’s one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had in my life. Buttery, cheesy, peppery heaven! One of those rare food moments when something is so so good that you wanna cry happy tears of joy!

I immediately put on my sad puppy eyes to try and convince her to switch plates with me. I mean, that works like a charm with my husband… But my mom has years ahead of him and knows my tricks like the palm of her hand. No way she will ever give in to my ‘spoiledness’! So no luck for me!

Needless to say that, after trying her spaghetti, my pizza tasted like the most unappealing thing in the universe. Not that it was bad, on the contrary. But it wasn’t the Cacio e Pepe!

‘Til this day, the Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe is what I order at Eataly! But now that I know how to make it myself, maybe I can start exploring their other dishes.

The secret to this dish is the perfect balance between cheese and pasta water. The water where you cooked the spaghetti is full of starch and will help you achieve a very creamy sauce. Add the water and the cheese, little by little, tossing vigorously, until the desired consistency is achieved!

For an even creamier sauce, don’t forget to heat your serving dish. 2 minutes before the spaghetti is done cooking, just set the dish on top of the pot and you’re good to go! Adding the hot pasta to a cold serving dish will make the sauce to thicken and the pasta will stick together. You do not want that, believe me!

Also, make sure to serve your pasta immediately. A 30 minute photo shoot will cause it to get sticky and you will have to go back to the stove and add some more pasta water to save it. That might or might not have happened to me… Oops!

Don’t forget the extra Parmigiano Reggiano and the black pepper at the table. Both red and white wines work with this kind of pasta dish. I served mine with some cold crisp Frascati!