Cheese & Pepper Pasta (Cacio e Pepe)

Andy Anderson !


I will confess that it took me several years to get this recipe right. My aunt Josephine used to make it all the time, but I never watched how she did it.

The ingredients are simple: cheese, pepper, and pasta… so what’s so hard about that?

Well as one of my teachers used to say: Oftentimes the simplest dishes are the easiest to get wrong. She spoke from years of cooking wisdom.

So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.

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10 Min
20 Min
Stove Top


14 oz
spaghetti, or tonnarelli
8 oz
pecorino romano cheese
black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

How to Make Cheese & Pepper Pasta (Cacio e Pepe)


  • 1Chef’s Note: Just one thing about traditional Cacio e Pepe
    It does not have any:
    Heavy Cream
    Vegetable Oil
    Parmigianino Reggiano

    This was a simple dish invented by the Romans… It’s designed to get it on the table quickly, with good hearty flavor, and that’s it… full stop.
  • 2Gather your ingredients.
  • 3Grate the Pecorino Romano, and reserve.
  • 4Bring 3 quarts of water to the boil, and add a bit of salt.
  • 5Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package directions.
  • 6Drain the pasta and reserve some of the pasta water.
  • 7Place a serving bowl over a pot of hot water and warm the bowl up.
  • 8Chef’s Tip: This is an important step, and will help with the mixing of the cheese and the pasta.
  • 9Add the pasta to the warm bowl.
  • 10Gradually add Pecorino Romano cheese and a bit of hot water tossing vigorously until you get a creamy consistency.
  • 11Chef’s Tip: If the sauce becomes too watery, add more cheese; if it becomes too dry, add some of the pasta water.
  • 12Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and toss.
  • 13Serve while still nice and warm. Enjoy.
  • 14Chef’s Note: I did make this dish using a spaghetti squash in place of the pasta, and it was awesome. You might want to give it a try.
  • 15Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

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About Cheese & Pepper Pasta (Cacio e Pepe)

Course/Dish: Pasta
Main Ingredient: Pasta
Regional Style: Italian
Other Tags: Quick & Easy, Heirloom