Cacio e pepe, or “cheese and pepper”, may be on the simpler side of things when it comes to Italian cooking. That said, a meal doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious! Cacio e pepe was one of our favorite dishes while visiting Italy; whether we enjoyed it at a restaurant or made it for ourselves in our Airbnb, this dish never disappointed. So we’re sharing our cacio e pepe recipe with you!
But let’s be real, eating cacio e pepe in Rome is a little cooler than just making it at home. But we can’t be in Rome all the time, right? We wish! If you’re headed to the Eternal City, check out our guide on how to spend an amazing day in Rome!
Before You Start
Cacio e pepe is all about the cheese. The traditional choice (our favorite) is pecorino romano, but you can use parmesan cheese if pecorino isn’t available. We’ve used either cheese to make cacio e pepe before, as sometimes our home grocer doesn’t have pecorino romano in stock.
Grating your cheese off the block using a fine-grated cheese grater will give the best results. However, if the only pecorino or parmesan you can find is pre-grated, that’s okay!
A note or two about the pasta. Our favorite pasta for cacio e pepe is bucatini. Bucatini pasta is similar to spaghetti except it’s thicker, which enriches the creamy sauce. However, there are several pastas that you could use to complete your cacio e pepe. Spaghetti, tonnarelli, linguine, fettuccine, there are quite a few substitutes. A good general rule to follow: use a thicker pasta.
Cacio e Pepe (Serves 2)
168 grams/6 ounces of bucatini pasta, tonnarelli, or spaghetti (or any thick pasta)
50 grams/1 cup of pecorino (or parmesan)
½ cup reserved pasta water (details below)
Fresh ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, stirring occasionally.
- While the pasta is cooking, use a fine cheese grater and grate the pecorino romano (or parmesan) onto a plate or a large shallow bowl. If you don’t have a cheese grater available, then finely grated pecorino or parmesan from the store will work.
- Add fresh ground black pepper and mix it with the pecorino.
- Once the pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer it from the pot to the cheese and pepper mixture. With two forks, toss the pasta in the mixture until the cheese is melted and evenly coats the pasta.
- Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water and mix until a creamy sauce forms. If needed, add the remaining pasta water little by little.
- Top with more cheese, serve immediately and enjoy!
Simple but delicious! Buon appetito!
We hope you enjoy making this taste of Italy in your own kitchen! If food inspires you to travel like it does us, then check out our 2 week Italy itinerary for some tips on how to taste authentic Italy!