I first had this tasty pasta at a trattoria in Trastevere in Rome. It was utterly simple, but so delicious. Cacio e Pepe literally means “cheese and pepper” so if you are a fan of those, you will love this dish. The heat melts the cheese and the addition of some of the cooking water helps to emulsify it into a creamy sauce that coats and clings to the pasta.


This traditionally Roman pasta is not only delicious, but super quick and easy. As an added bonus, it is inexpensive and only requires 5 ingredients, many of which you may find you have on hand. If your cheese is already grated, dinner can be ready in a snap!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian


  • 1 ½ TBSP Black Pepper coarsely ground
  • ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound Bucatini
  • ½ Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese grated
  • ½ Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese grated


  • Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta. When boiling, add 1 TBSP salt and the pasta and cook according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, warm the pepper in the oil over low heat in a saute pan large enough to accommodate the cooked pasta.
  • When the pasta is ready, increase the heat on the oil to medium-high.
  • Working quickly, drain the pasta (reserving a cup of the water) and add to the oil and pepper.
  • Add a ladle full (1/2 cup) of pasta water and the cheese and stir vigorously until it starts to become creamy.
  • If it seems a little stiff, add a bit more pasta water and continue to stir until the pasta is well coated.
  • Serve immediately with extra grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.


  • Make sure to use dried pasta, as fresh does not create enough starch in the water which helps emulsify the sauce.
  • You may also use spaghetti, but I prefer Bucatini as it gives off more starch and has a nice toothsome bite.
  • Pop your serving bowls in a warm oven while you prepare the pasta.  It will keep the pasta warm for every last bite.  
  • Cacio e Pepe traditionally only has Pecorino Romano, but I like the combination of half Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • If you can find it (and you are really a fan of pepper), try using Pecorino Pepato.  It is a Pecorino with black peppercorns and very Roman.  
  • A real Roman would not mix seafood and cheese, but I’m not Roman, so I frequently add grilled or sautéed shrimp to make it a complete meal. Grilled chicken would work well, too.
Keyword Cacio e Pepe

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