Cacio e Pepe Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Weeknight Cooking

by: Sara Jenkins



2 Ratings

  • Serves 4 to 6

Jump to Recipe

Author Notes

Although cacio e pepe is merrily served all over Rome as a quick and easy dish, the technique for making it right is a little tricky. The key is to emulsify the cheese into a little bit of reserved starchy pasta cooking water so you get a creamy, luscious sauce that coats the pasta. Unfortunately, if you don’t get it right, the cheese clumps up, but the good news is that it’s still perfectly delicious if that happens.

I heard a lot of variations when trying to figure out how exactly to make this dish—most of which didn’t work. I made one with a slurry of cheese, fizzy water, and cracked black pepper that was supposed to sit in the bottom of the bowl so the hot pasta would melt the cheese to coat the pasta strands. It didn’t work. Butter is a common addition in American versions of the recipe, and while it might work, it’s not Roman.

After all my experiments, this recipe was the winner. Enjoy. —Sara Jenkins

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

Watch This Recipe

Cacio ePepe

  • 2 tablespoonswhole black peppercorns crushed in a mortar and pestle or 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoonssea salt
  • 500 gramsspaghetti
  • 3/4 cupgrated Pecorino Romano
  • 3/4 cupgrated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • About 3/4 to 1 cup of cooking water
  1. In a pot over low heat, heat the crushed peppercorn with the olive oil.
  2. In a pot large enough to cook the spaghetti, bring water to a boil.
  3. Turn the heat off under the olive oil and add about 1/2 cup of the hot cooking water from the pot into the pan, then set aside.
  4. When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add the salt, stir, then add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti until 2 minutes under the lowest time recommended on the package. Using tongs (you don't want to get the rid of the water), add the pasta to the pot with the pepper. Turn the heat onto very low and turn the pasta continuously until most of the water is absorbed. At this point, remove from the heat and transfer to a warm bowl.
  5. Still tossing, begin adding the two grated cheeses, a couple handfuls at a time. If it starts to get dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Keep turning and turning, adding cheese and pasta water, a little at a time, until all the cheese has been incorporated and you have a lovely creamy sauce coating each strand of pasta. Eat immediately.


  • Pasta
  • Italian
  • Cheese
  • Weeknight Cooking
  • Spring
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Entree

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • RavensFeast

  • rob weaver

  • Niki Checketts

  • Mike Murphy

  • Sara Jenkins

Popular on Food52

14 Reviews

MacGuffin November 23, 2020

Parmesan in cacio e pepe?

Sara J. November 23, 2020

yup and no apologies

MacGuffin November 24, 2020

I guess none for the EVOO, either.

RavensFeast June 6, 2020

This is a relatively fool-proof cacio e pepe and a really solid recipe. I’ve managed to screw up cacio e pepe before, producing a clumpy sauce that couldn’t be saved. It all comes down to temperature and timing - more so than most recipes. This one gets it right. I followed it word for word and eccolo qua! Delicious cacio e pepe!

PtG February 20, 2018

I made this without the oil and it's delicious. I agree with wetting down the cheese with just a little hot pasta-water to make it into a thick paste. It will incorporate a little easier. I also boil the pasta in a shallow pan in only 2 litres of water to just cover it. This gives a really starchy water that really helps emulsify the cheese. To avoid the clumping, make sure you toss the pasta off the heat for 45sec-1min to cool it and the pan down enough. The heat will tighen the cheese up and keep it from making a smooth sauce.

When it comes out right, this dish is heavenly.

angie January 4, 2017

Just made it. The cheese clumped a bit but overall it turned out well. It's really delicious and has a little bite from the pepper. I will definitely make it again. I added about 1/2 cup of pasta water in total. I wonder if I should have put more.

rob W. November 24, 2016

in a bowl cream together the 2 cheeses and hot pasta water to form a sauce then toss with the pasta

Barb M. February 16, 2018

Great idea - tried it and it works perfectly! Thank you!

Dr.Insomnia July 25, 2016

Hard to pronounce? C'mon.

Niki C. May 9, 2016

This was absolutely delicious! The only snafu I ran into was how badly my pasta stuck together. I was able to get the creamy sauce depicted in the instructions, but separating my spaghetti into individual portions was a task. Any suggestions?

Sara J. May 12, 2016

stir the pasta about 2 minutes after you put it in the water. If its the sauce that made the pasta stick together add a couple more tablespoons of water

Elizabeth L. December 18, 2016

Pasta needs to be added to rolling boil water. Also, gently stirred continuously, and kept at rolling boil. It will then never stick together

Mike M. April 4, 2016

Although this isn't Roman (hope you'll like anyway), I substitute dried thyme for to black pepper (Someone in our house can't eat black pepper). Your instructions work for that as understandably well.

Mike M. April 4, 2016

Sorry, "...the black pepper...."

Cacio e Pepe Recipe on Food52 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Catherine Tremblay

Last Updated:

Views: 6513

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Catherine Tremblay

Birthday: 1999-09-23

Address: Suite 461 73643 Sherril Loaf, Dickinsonland, AZ 47941-2379

Phone: +2678139151039

Job: International Administration Supervisor

Hobby: Dowsing, Snowboarding, Rowing, Beekeeping, Calligraphy, Shooting, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Catherine Tremblay, I am a precious, perfect, tasty, enthusiastic, inexpensive, vast, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.