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Cacio e Pepe has become my go-to dish when my list of things to do is longer than the number of hours in the day. This budget-friendly, quick, and delicious pasta with cheese and pepper is the perfect dinner. Four ingredients are needed to make my foolproof Cacio e Pepe: spaghetti, butter, Parmesan, and black pepper. Bonus: This recipe can be made in less than 20 minutes, and it will feed your whole family.

What does CACIO and Pepe mean?

Cacio e Pepe means Cheese and Pepper Pasta in Italian. This famous Roman dish was invented by shepherds, who had to travel light and could not carry large quantities of food. This meant that they wanted their meals to be easy to prepare but also filling. It’s no wonder this dish is so popular with kids. I don’t say that kids are sheep. Sheep are quiet and listen. Shepherds were lucky. #truthtopower #momlife


Traditionally, Cacio e Pepe is made with:

Pecorino Romano

Black pepper coarsely ground


To keep it simple and on budget, I use grated Parmesan and a little butter with spaghetti. This is not a traditional recipe for Cacio e Pepe. Purists, don’t bother me.

I am just trying to simplify things for people who don’t want to spend time grinding black peppercorns. While butter may be a sin in certain parts of Italy (the North), I find that it stabilizes the cheese sauce and is perfect for people who want to serve without fuss. You can omit butter and smash the peppercorns to your heart’s desire.

What pasta can I use for CACIO E Pepe?

Cacio E Pepe’s creamy, peppery cheese sauce needs a long, thin noodle with some texture and a bit of toothiness so that it can adhere to the sauce without overwhelming it. Although tonnarelli, the traditional pasta in this recipe, is used, spaghetti and bucatini work just as well. Avoid linguine or angel hair, as they will break down quickly and turn into a gummy mess.

How to Make CACIO E Pepe

Cacio E Pepe is deceptively easy to make with just a few ingredients and a single pan. If you want to create a creamy sauce, you will need to do two things:

When boiling pasta, use a smaller pot and less water. This will concentrate the starch in the water and help you create a smooth sauce.

If you want to make the sauce, use low heat. Otherwise, the cheese will glop up and become stringy. If your sauce starts to steam, it’s fine. But if you notice that the bubbles are starting to form, remove the pan from the heat.


3/4 tsp salt ($0.02)

1/2 lb dry spaghetti ($0.67)

Divided into 4 Tbsp of salted butter ($0.60).

1 tsp coarsely grounded black pepper plus extra for garnish* ($0.16)

1 cup grated Parmesan plus additional for garnish* (USD 1.75)


BriIn a large pan, bring cups of water to a rolling boil in h 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add spidery spaghetti and d cook it for two minutes less than specified on the package.

Before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of water. Set the bowl of spaghetti near the stove so that it stays warm.

Melt 2twottwoblespoons butter and the black pepper in the same pan that you cooked the spaghetti. Cook until fragrant.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the pasta water you have saved to the pan until the sauce is glossy.

Add the spaghetti and turn the heat to low. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and two tablespoons of the remaining butter to the top.

Tongs are used to quickly combine the butter, parmesan cheese, pepper sauce, and spaghetti until a creamy sauce is formed. Serve immediately, garnished with more pepper and Parmesan.

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