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Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

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Literally "cheese and pepper", this minimalist cacio e pepe recipe is like a stripped-down mac and cheese.


  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino

Recipe Preparation

  • Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

  • Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

  • Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen,

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 640.9 %Calories from Fat 41.5 Fat (g) 29.5 Saturated Fat (g) 17.0 Cholesterol (mg) 71.8 Carbohydrates (g) 64.9 Dietary Fiber (g) 4.0 Total Sugars (g) 1.3 Net Carbs (g) 60.9 Protein (g) 26.9 Sodium (mg) 560.6Reviews SectionI LOVE this recipe and so does my very picky boyfriend. It's my new go-to comfort food. I actually just cook the pasta for the time on the package (didn't notice the 2 minutes in this recipe) and it works great. I've used all parm before, and it's still wonderful!Anonymousaustin texas08/07/20I had a terrible time making this awful dish. All the cheese melted out and I was left with a watery sauce with no cheese. I hope the author feels great guilt for ruining my nightAnonymousSanta Cruz 07/27/20Can't find a pecorino in any stores I went to. Is it okay to use parmesan only? I'm craving for this so much.AnonymousSan Diego07/25/20look, it's the coronavirus after-times. And I'm not thrilled with everything that's been happening around BA the past few weeks, either. But when I had a terrible day and a pantry with only gluten-free spaghetti, black pepper (pre-ground, gasp) and a cheap block of parmesan-style cheese from TJ's, this recipe was a savior. from zero to done in 20 minutes (even shredding the cheese, though I used a stand mixer with attachment). No regrets.delicious. I was a bit surprised to only boil the pasta for two minutes, but it turned out great after sauteeing in the pasta water, oil and butter. al dente really works here. my son ate it up in a minute.brushjlsolon, ohio07/07/20Excellent recipe!! Top it with fresh truffles or a little truffle paste and this recipe will change your life!!! It's a FAVE of my family and friends and is excellent with a filet or excellent cut of salmon with a green vegetable on the side!!I make this all the time, but as usual I do things a bit differently. I use about half and half olive oil and butter, and sometimes I add thinly sliced garlic. I thus create something in between this and aglia e olio, another classic Italian pasta dish. I have stomach issues which mean tomato sauce gives me great pain, so whenever I make a red sauce for my family, caci e pepe is my go-to.Great dinner even when running late. I’ve been reading lately the butter is not really that bad for you anyway, there are lots worse ways to go.Perfect recipe, no adjustments necessary.Coming down on the pro-butter side: I acknowledge that this is not a ~*~traditional~*~ C+P, but here's the thing: I traditionally HATE black pepper, but I totally honor that it balances this dish. Toasting the pepper in the butter allowed for a subtle pepperiness (and no I didn't use as much as was called for) to the dish, without hitting me with that concentrated pepper smack. So thanks to this, a whole new world of using ground pepper has opened up before me!AnonymousNorthampton, MA04/24/20Alright all you cacio e pepe purists, it’s GOOD and EASY. And quite frankly that’s all that matters. So let people have their cheesy, peppery pasta with a wee bit of butter. We don’t have many joys in life at the moment. But this pasta gave me my one serotonin molecule for the day.add goat cheese, cinnamon and slivered almonds (if you've got them) and HOLY MOLY!! "Pasta Yia Yia" like the dish at Lula cafe in Chicago <3princessmopsyivChicago, IL04/11/20This was our favorite dish when we visited Italy a couple of years ago. Quarantine week one and we finally got some spaghetti noodles from a neighbor. We had a large piece of a peppered Tuscan cheese and some quality parmesan I'm the fridgeWhipped up this bon appetit recipe last night using what we had And it was delicious!Less pepper; more cheese!MathieuMessinaSaskatoon03/27/20I have some leftover chicken breast. Anyone ever tried adding. I know it’s great by itself. Just looking to add some proteinTHIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. i can't stop making this dish i've gone through 3 small bags of parmesan in the past month someone needa help memunirahalhabshiKuala Lumpur, Malaysia03/23/20I think a comment to one of the moltissimi recipes for C&P I've read is that slight variations to the prep outside if Italy can be justified because of the different quality of the pecorino. Just sayin'. È tutto.I made this for dinner tonight with my partner. We used more pasta than the recipe called for, so we added more cheese, butter, and pepper accordingly. Oh my God, what a decadent meal. I can honestly say I've never made such a good pasta before in my life. For a side, we added charred green beans and lemon herb prawns, which elevated the meal to a godlike status. To all of you whiny purists complaining there should be no butter: shut up and add it anyways, it makes the pasta 10000X better. Just because a recipe is traditionally made a certain way doesn't mean you can't improve it.cacioepepeneedsbutterButterland01/03/20Good stuff. Sauce combines perfectly.I’ve been wanting to try Cacio e Pepe - though according to some reviewers I still haven’t. Ha! But I thought this was so delicious. I really enjoyed the process of toasting/frying the pepper in butter. My grinder only does a fine output, so I crushed the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to match the picture. I used the best cheeses I have access to. Eating this made my soul happy. So good.AnonymousLos Angeles09/21/19I am going to picky here.... Cacio e Pepe has 4 ingredients: pasta, Pecorino (or Parmesan), salt and pepper. Mix Pecorino and fresh ground pepper in a bowl, boil pasta in salted water, lift pasta into the bowl with cheese and pepper and toss with splashes of reserved cooking liquid until thick and creamy. Done. BA prides itself on having simple, direct recipes that anyone can make. That’s why I read it. But in this case I feel readers are being cheated of a truly revelatory cooking experience. The magic of Cacio e Pepe is that it is you can make this drunk at 1 am, when you have impromptu guests (or dates), when you are broke and waiting for pay day, or when you are just learning to cook. It’s magic. And every time you make it you will marvel at how you turned the last things in your cupboard and fridge into pure luxury. And you really don’t need butter or toasted pepper to do that.AnonymousPrinceton, NJ08/03/19Butter makes the dish way better, also a touch of heavy cream takes it over the top. Just because the original recipe doesn’t call for butter and cream, doesn’t means us chefs can’t make things better...AnonymousVernon , nj 07/15/19I had NO idea I was eating so gourmet every day of my pregnancy. Sometimes Ivalso squeezed lemon on top? Is that Level 4 Chef?AnonymousMemphis 05/29/19Wow you people are annoying.I've renamed this recipe. It's now officially called Cacio e pepe e burro e sale e pasta e un piatto e una forchetta e un tovagliolo e un'insalata e qualcosa da bere.Accurate enough for you? Happy? Great. Now go find some other site to troll.AnonymousNofarkstogiveland05/19/19The addition of butter makes for a luxurious, well coated pasta and it is not in any way sacrilegious. If you really want to be a purist about it, then skip the butter; but don’t complain about your half assed cacio e pepeAnonymousBaltimore, MD01/04/19

Cacio e Pepe 7-Minute Eggs

Love cheesy eggs? Then this recipe is for you! Mayo stands in for pasta water to give these eggs the extra-creamy richness that you usually find in traditional Cacio e Pepe. Using two different grating methods for the cheese allows some of it to melt while some stays firm, providing a variety of textures. I give my preferred ratio of cheese and mayo to egg in this recipe, but play around and add more or less depending on how rich you’d like these to be.


2 oz [55 g] shaved Parmesan cheese

2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper


Bring a saucepan filled with water to a rapid boil over high heat. Using a slotted spoon, lower the eggs into the water and lower the heat to medium or medium-low so that the water maintains a simmer. Let simmer for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, make an ice bath by placing 2 cups [280 g] of ice in a medium bowl and covering with water. When the eggs are done, transfer them to the ice bath and let cool for at least 2 minutes.

Crack and peel the eggs. Slice them in half and smear 1/2 tsp of the mayonnaise on the cut side of each half. Top each with 1/2 oz shredded Parmesan, 1/2 tsp grated Parmesan, and a half-turn of pepper. Serve right away.

Eggs can be cooked and stored, unpeeled, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before serving. Peel and assemble them right before serving.

Reprinted from Tables & Spreads by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel with permission by Chronicle Books, © 2021

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Recipe Summary

  • 8 ounces uncooked linguini
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 ounces Grana Padano cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 2 tablespoons of the salt to the water. Drain and reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Remove shrimp mixture, reserving drippings in skillet.

Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking water and remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet, and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low stir in Grana Padano and cracked black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until cheese melts and sauce thickens, about 1 minute.

Add cooked pasta and shrimp mixture, and toss to coat, adding remaining 1/2 cup pasta water as needed for desired consis­tency. Remove from heat add pecorino, zest, and juice, and stir until combined. Divide evenly among 6 bowls. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and garnish with cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Rich cheese, bronze-extruded pasta, and freshly-ground pepper — the ultimate comfort food, spaghetti cacio e pepe is a simple Roman dish that depends on the quality of just a few ingredients.

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Pasta with Cheese and Black Pepper)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly

1 pound spaghetti di Gragnano
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, or more to taste
1½ cups Pecorino Romano PDO, freshly grated, to taste

Bring a large pot with 6 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil.

Grind the peppercorns very coarsely, preferable crushing them in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder.

Warm up a big bowl for serving the pasta. Use some of the pasta water to heat the bowl, if you like.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Quickly lift it from the pot with tongs, let it drain for an instant, then drop it into the warm bowl.

Immediately scatter a cup of the grated cheese and most of the ground pepper on the pasta, and toss in quickly. As you mix, sprinkle over a spoonful of hot water from the cooking pot to moisten and amalgamate the pasta and condiments — add more pepper or cheese to taste.

Serve right away, while the spaghetti is very hot.

Pick up the ingredients at your local Eataly or online! Buon appetito!

Get a taste of Pecorino Romano PDO, along with Asiago PDO and Speck Alto Adige PGI, this month at Eataly! We're partnering with Uncommon Flavors of Europe to bring you the most unique flavors of Italy.

The cheese

Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy’s cacio e pepe. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

It is traditionally made with sharp, salty pecorino romano, but Rose Gray and Ruth Roger’s recipe in River Cafe Easy adds parmesan too – delicious, of course, but it lacks pecorino’s distinctive tang, and makes the dish too aggressively cheesy for some testers.

It’s vital to grate the cheese as finely as possible and, as Michael Price helpfully informs me online, ensure it is as close to room temperature as possible to reduce the difference in temperature between it and the pasta.

Hildebrand and Kenedy sprinkle the cheese on top of the hot rigatoni, as is apparently traditional, rather than melting it into the sauce in the modern style. It’s nice (of course it’s nice, it’s cheesy fried pasta), but lacks the satisfying creaminess of the others.

Cacio e Pepe

You can wow &rsquoem with phyllo-topped mac and cheese or carrot gnocchi. But sometimes simplicity wins out. That&rsquos why everyone should know how to make cacio e pepe, pasta with cheese and pepper. (What could be bad about that?)

The Italian classic requires just six ingredients (four, if you don&rsquot count salt and pepper) and takes 20 minutes to whip up&mdashincluding the time it takes to boil the water. Even better, you likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen ready to go. Our tip? Pecorino Romano, a sheep's milk cheese, is traditional, but if you only have Parmesan, that&rsquos just as delicious. The freshly ground black pepper, however, is nonnegotiable.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until just al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. While the pasta cooks, mash the soft butter with the olive oil and Pecorino in a large bowl to form a paste.

3. When the pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti directly to the bowl with the butter mixture. Toss well to coat, adding the pasta water as needed to make a thick, creamy sauce that coats the pasta strands. Season to taste with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Divide the pasta among four plates serve immediately.

Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

Agree a springform pan leaks, probably a regular cake pan would work just as well. But it was delicious.

I made it exactly as is for a re-creation of Stanely Tucci's "Big Night", using high-end spaghetti--delicious. The only changes I made was to toss the pasta with the cheeses, and beat together the milk, eggs, salt and pepper separately before adding to the pasta. I ground the pepper right before I added it, trying for a variety of courseness. It came out perfectly and was absolutely outstanding in texture and flavor. I should have greased the bottom of the pan a little more and put aluminum foil collar around the bottom. There was one tiny leak of about tablespoon or two. I'll definitely make it again.

Cacio e pepe recipe

It doesn&rsquot get much simpler than cacio e pepe. The dish relies on the starchy pasta cooking water, which combines with Parmesan cheese and pepper to form a silky, luxurious taste-bomb of a sauce that clings to the pasta.

If you cook your pasta in a smaller saucepan with less water, the starches in the cooking water become more concentrated, making a beautiful sauce. You can use whatever saucepan you have available to cook your pasta &ndash even a small saucepan will do the trick, although you might have to snap your spaghetti in half so it fits. As always, it&rsquos your kitchen&hellip nobody is checking up on you, so do what you like!

It's best to prepare everything ahead so you can really get your cooking flow on. From there, it will only take about 10 minutes to have dinner on the table.


  • 200 g spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 pinch sea salt, for the cooking water
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve
  • 60 g Parmesan or pecorino or a mixture (or a vegetarian alternative), finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 7.1 oz spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 pinch sea salt, for the cooking water
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve
  • 2.1 oz Parmesan or pecorino or a mixture (or a vegetarian alternative), finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 7.1 oz spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 pinch sea salt, for the cooking water
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve
  • 2.1 oz Parmesan or pecorino or a mixture (or a vegetarian alternative), finely grated, plus extra to serve


  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Recipe Type: Pasta
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 5 mins
  • Cooking Time: 10 mins
  • Serves: 2


  1. Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 6&ndash8 minutes, or until it is not quite tender and still has some bite remaining. Drain and reserve the pasta water.
  2. Quickly return the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the butter and, when melted, add the pepper and heat for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Add a ladleful of pasta cooking water (about 100 ml/3.5 fl oz/scant 0.5 cup) to the pan and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat, return the pasta to the pan with three-quarters of the cheese, then stir and shake the pan to melt the cheese and create a sauce that clings to the pasta.
  5. Add the remaining cheese and toss the pasta until it melts and you have a silky smooth sauce, adding a splash more of the cooking water if the sauce seems dry.
  6. Divide between warmed dishes and serve immediately with extra cheese and pepper.

This recipe is from The Shortcut Cook by Rosie Reynolds (Hardie Grant, £15). Photography by Louise Hagger.

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Mastering Cacio e Pepe

So what's the problem? The main issue is that we're trying to make a creamy sauce out of a very hard, dry, aged cheese.

The problem with older cheeses is twofold. First, they're relatively low in moisture, which means that they're more prone to breaking—their internal fat wants to escape. Second, they have a much tighter protein structure. The first problem is easy to fix: Just add more water to the mix. Using the water you've cooked your pasta in is especially effective, as it adds starch, which can help to thicken and emulsify the sauce.

Fixing the problem of clumped proteins is more difficult. As the cheese is heated, those proteins, with the help of calcium, have a tendency to stick to each other in long, tangled chains. Heat up your cheese too fast and you end up with large balls of protein that refuse to break down no matter how vigorously you stir, and heating them only makes them tighter.

You can clearly see this happening if you try to cook cacio e pepe in a pan that's too hot: The cheese proteins form a film on the bottom of the pan.

The only real solution is to not let it happen in the first place. There are a few ways you can go about this. Some recipes call for a few tablespoons of heavy cream, but I find it can dilute flavor more than I'd like. Butter can also help the cheese melt smoothly, but, if you use too much, it can have the same dulling effect as heavy cream.

Grating your cheese finely can help, too. Switching to the smallest holes in a box grater or using a Microplane upped my success rate a great deal—the ground cheese gets heated more evenly and melts faster without clumping. It's still not 100% successful, though.

I found my solution by switching to a two-pan method: Cook the pasta in one, then build the sauce in the second and add the pasta to it. With the lower heat of a second pan, it's easy to make a creamy sauce that doesn't clump or break, and, once the cheese is properly incorporated, you can then reheat the whole shebang without fear of the cheese clumping up.

There was a second, unforeseen advantage to using a second pan: better flavor development. We all know that toasting our spices can improve their flavor, creating new volatile aromas that add complexity and smoothing out the harsh edges, right? Anyone who's had a great steak au poivre knows that the flavor of pepper can change when you toast it in oil, becoming sweeter and more mellow. Toasting pepper in oil also distributes its flavor more evenly throughout the dish.

I tried it out on my cacio e pepe, toasting black pepper in a little olive oil and butter in a separate skillet on the side (and cooking it far enough in advance that the pan would cool sufficiently while the pasta cooked). The flavor improvement was immediately noticeable, especially when I stacked it with more freshly ground pepper at the end, giving me both sweet and sharp flavors. In order to avoid accidentally browning the butter, I decided to keep it out of the skillet until after the pepper was toasted.

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.