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plate of pasta dish with cheese and pepper

Authentic Italian Cacio e Pepe Recipe

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5 from 7 reviews

A recipe every Italian keeps in their repertoire for a quick and delicious meal. Cacio e Pepe … Literally “cheese and pepper,” this minimalist cacio e pepe recipe is Italy’s true “mac and cheese”. Share with friends and family. From my cucina to your table, and always made with, Amore! 

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 12 oz (150 g) long pasta of choice spaghetti, bucatini
  • 3 oz Pecorino Romano (if you can’t find it use 4 oz of parmigiano)
  • 1 oz oz of Parmigiano, more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water


  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and season with salt. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. 
  2. Meanwhile, grate the Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano to a fine powder and set aside. In a medium sauté pan on medium heat- add the pepper and “toast” for 1 minute until you can smell it. 
  3. Drain the pasta and reserving 1 cup pasta water. Start by adding 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the hot pan with pepper and let simmer for 1 minute turn off heat. Immediately add the cheese and give it a quick stir creating the creamy cheesy sauce.
  4. Quickly add hot pasta and stir, stir, stir! If needed add a little more of the reserved pasta water to incorporate pasta with creamy sauce. 
  5. Top with extra Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano and extra black pepper to taste and serve immediately.  


  • Use Quality Cheese. Do not cut corners on this step.
  • Use Quality Pasta. This will make this recipe “restaurant-style.”
  • Fry the Pepper. I think frying the pepper brings out the aroma and flavor better. Don’t forget the pasta water. It’s what makes the sauce really “creamy”.
  • Save Pasta Water. Make sure to save the pasta at the END of the pasta cooking time so the water is starchy. This is essential in creating that “creamy” (without cream) sauce.
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian