Spaghetti cacio e pepe is an easy and delicious Italian pasta dish with just 3 ingredients! So simple, but if you do it right, it will be packed with flavor. Quick dinner idea for your family that is ready in 30 minutes or less.
It’s a classic Italian pasta recipe. Simply spaghetti pasta with cheese and pepper. If you imagine cooked spaghetti with just pepper and grated cheese on top, you’re wrong.
Cacio e pepe is a perfectly cooked spaghetti with tangy cheese sauce and pepper piquancy. Easy Italian recipe for easy and quick dinner at home!
However there is a certain technique to make this Italian pasta dish. Follow the instructions in the recipe card and watch the video to make restaurant worthy spaghetti cacio e pepe.
If you want to know how to cook authentic cacio e pepe, you are in the right place! And it is a good Italian recipe, if you’re tired of serving pasta with tomato sauce. You don’t need vegetables or greens for this easy recipe.
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Pronunciation and place of origin of cacio e pepe
Cacio e pepe pronunciation is “ka-chow ee peh-pei” and it means cheese and pepper in Italian.
This recipe comes from central Italy Lazio region.
Spaghetti cacio e pepe is one of the ancient Italian recipes from Roman Empire. It was easy to carry and not spoil dried pasta, aged cheese and peppercorns to make a meal for Roman shepherds.
Ingredients for spaghetti cacio e pepe
To make this Italian pasta dish you will need spaghetti pasta, whole peppercorns and Pecorino Romano cheese! That’s all needed to make quick dinner! Ok, a pot with water and salt to cook the pasta, too.
Authentic cacio e pepe does NOT contain any oil, butter, milk or cream. But starchy water with grated Pecorino cheese creates a perfect pasta sauce!
Pecorino Romano cheese is a hard and salty goat cheese. You can substitute it to Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, but traditionally Pecorino is used for the authentic Cacio e Pepe recipe.
To my mind, Pecorino is more salty, tangy and more prominent. So this is a go-to sheep’s milk cheese for this spaghetti recipe.
Romano has a higher moisture and fat content, that’s why you don’t need butter in this pasta recipe.
Grate your cheese, don’t use pre-shredded product, as it won’t melt smoothly into the delicious cacio e pepe sauce. Store-bought shredded cheese can be one of the reasons why your cacio e pepe clump. Many commercially shredded cheeses contain anti-caking ingredients.
To make vegetarian spaghetti cacio e pepe, use Pecorino cheese that is made with plant rennet. You can find this information on the package.
You will need about 2 cups of grated cheese, which is about 5.6 ounce or 160 grams.
Traditionally whole black peppercorns are used for this recipe. Pre-ground pepper lacks the flavor. I used the mix of peppers. And the more spicy you want it, use smaller black peppercorns.
Bigger Tellicherry peppers are more robust and fruity, while smaller Lampong are more spicy, intense and citrusy.
Use a combination of those, or a mix of different peppercorns, including white, green and pink. This will add a more complex flavor to the simple pasta dish.
Toast the peppercorns on the pan, so they will have more flavor. You will need about a tablespoon of whole peppercorns for
It’s one of Roman recipe that is rich with pepper. So if you love to put heavily pepper on your pasta, this is a perfect quick dinner idea for you!
There are different types of spaghetti available. And they all have different cooking time. I used normal spaghetti, but you can use thicker spaghetti, such as ciriole or bucatini.
Traditionally Tonnarelly spaghetti is used in this authentic Italian recipe.
Use instructions on the package of your spaghetti. Cook it 1 minute less than needed for Al dente, as they will continue to cook in a pan.
Keep in mind, when cooking your pasta, 2 ounces or 57 grams of dry spaghetti per person is a good rule to follow. I don’t weight the pasta, just use half or quarter of package.
Italian recipe or how to make authentic cacio e pepe
Put a large pot with salted water to boil. Cook pasta 1 minute less al dente. Drain the pasta, but leave the starchy water in a pot.
While pasta is cooking, freshly grate the cheese and left aside. Add a ladle of hot starchy pasta water to melt the cheese. Mix with spatula until Pecorino turns into thick and smooth sauce.
Cook whole peppercorns on a dry pan and low heat for 1 minute. Use pestle and mortar or pepper mill to grind the pepper to your liking.
Add ground peppercorns to the large pan, add cooked pasta and about two ladles of starchy pasta water. Mix pasta with pepper for 1 minute on medium heat, reducing the water.
Finally remove from heat and add Pecorino sauce. Stir and toss well with spaghetti until the sauce coats the pasta. Serve this Italian pasta dish immediately.
How to reheat cacio e pepe
Spaghetti cacio e pepe pasta is the most delicious freshly served. However, you can store in the air-tight container up to 5 days. The sauce will thicken in the fridge.
You can reheat this Italian pasta dish with a splash of water on the pan for couple minutes. Or microwave with a splash of water for 1-2 minutes. Don’t forget to stir!
Half of the package is about 9-11 ounces or 250-300 grams of spaghetti, which serves up to 5 people.
What goes with cacio e pepe
You can also serve spaghetti cacio e pepe with eggs, seafood, bacon, mushrooms or vegetables. But it’s not traditional way to serve cacio e pepe. It’s a lovely comfort food that you can adjust to your liking.
It’s a good Italian pasta dish to serve with red wine. I think Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir is the best wine with cacio e pepe. Depending on the size of serving, this pasta dish recipe has up to 5 servings.
If you are looking for romantic dinner idea, check our collection of 30 + Fabulous Valentine’s Dinner Ideas. By the way, cut this recipe ingredients in half to serve for 2 persons.
Let us know in the comments below have you tried authentic cacio e pepe and how you like this Italian pasta dish!
If you make this Roman dish, tag us with #cookingjourneyblog or @cookingjourneyblog to let us know. We love to see what you are making for dinner! And don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
- 300 g dry spaghetti or 5 servings, about ½ pound or 10 ounces
- 2 cups Pecorino Romano cheese finely shredded, 160 g or 5.6 ounce
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns mixed or black
- ½ tbsp salt
- Bring a large pot with salted water to the boil.
- Add dry pasta and cook according to package instructions, but 1 minute less than needed for al dente. Drain the pasta, but leave starchy water aside.
- Cook whole peppercorns on a dry pan and low heat for 1 minute.
- Add a ladle of pasta water to the grated Pecorino cheese and mix with a spatula to create a thick sauce.
- Use pestle and mortar or pepper mill to grind the peppercorns to your liking.
- Add grind peppercorns to the large pan, place on medium heat.
- Add cooked pasta and about two ladles of starchy pasta water to the pan. Mix pasta with pepper for 1 minute, reducing the water.
- Remove the pan from heat and add Pecorino sauce.
- Stir and toss well with spaghetti until the sauce coats the pasta.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.