Cacio e pepe is a pasta dish that hails from Rome. It means “cheese and pepper” and for such a simple dish, it is incredibly delicious.
If you’ve ever traveled to Rome, you are already well educated in the greatness of Cacio e Pepe. It’s one of the most popular pasta dishes in Rome, and you can find it on just about every restaurant menu. Here’s a great history of the dish from Eating Europe.
As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple: grated Pecorino Romano cheese, cracked black pepper, and spaghetti. It’s simple, but it’s delicious. I am unable to resist it when I’m in Rome.
However, for how simple it is, I’ve never found a decent version of it anywhere else in the world. It’s almost like it’s too simple to make well.
People are out there making it with cream and the wrong cheese. It doesn’t have to be that hard. If you’ve ever wondered how to make this highly gratifying dish at home, we’ve got the recipe you need.
This is about as close to the “real thing” as I can make it. The only thing I’ve changed is the noodles, because pici pasta (which it’s traditionally made with in Italy) is very difficult to find in the U.S. The closest noodles are bucatini, but spaghetti works well too.
Serve it with a glass of Chianti and you’re good to go.
Tips for Perfect Cacio e Pepe
There are a few things to remember when making this dish.
- You should cook the spaghetti al dente. Don’t overdo it or it’ll get soggy. It’s meant to be served al dente, with a bit of chew left in it.
- Use real, aged Pecorino Romano cheese. Yes you can substitute the cheese for Parmesan, if that’s all you can find, but aged Pecorino Romano is truly where it’s at its best.
- Don’t add cream! The pasta water and the cheese work together to make a very creamy sauce that coats the pasta perfectly. There’s no need to add cream.
Other Pasta Dishes You Might Like
We love pasta around here. We’ve got a few other Italian recipes you might want to try.
- Chicken Caprese Pasta Recipe
- Linguine with White Clam Sauce
- Caprese Ravioli: A Dish That’s Perfect For Summer
- How to Make Perfect Potato Gnocchi
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Cacio e Pepe
- 4 oz fresh spaghetti
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese Aged 18+ months
- Salt to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Season with salt.
- Add spaghetti to the pot and stir occasionally until al dente, around 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine grated Pecorino Romano cheese, olive oil, and ¼ cup of the boiling water in a heavy skillet over medium heat, creating a cream. Grind black pepper into the skillet to taste.
- Once the pasta is fully cooked, drain it in a strainer and add it to the skillet. Mix the pasta with the cream sauce. Add more olive oil or black pepper to achieve a lighter consistency.
- Finish the dish with a dusting of Pecorino cheese and additional cracked black pepper.
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