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Cacio e Pepe

close up shot of a bowl of Cacio e Pepe topped with parmesan cheese
A cheesy smooth sauce, spaghetti and black pepper are all you need for this cacio e pepe; one of the simplest recipes around.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 423 kcal


  • ½ pound spaghetti noodles (8 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • cups freshly grated parmesan cheese finely grated from a block is best
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons salted and starchy pasta water reserved from the boiling of the spaghetti noodles


  • In a large stock pot, filled with about 4 quarts of boiling water, add the salt. Once the salt has dissolved add the spaghetti noodles and continue to boil for another 8 to 9 minutes or al dente.
  • About a minute or so before your pasta is done boiling, add the butter and black pepper to a large skillet, on medium-low heat to toast the pepper for 30 seconds in the melted butter. Turn off the heat to the skillet.
  • Add the freshly grated parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of the pasta water and vigorously stir with the back of a wooden spoon until the cheese forms a loose sauce. You can add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons if needed.
  • When your pasta is done cooking, using a large strainer, transfer the pasta to the skillet with the cheese sauce and quickly toss to completely coat the pasta with the sauce.
  • Transfer your cacio e pepe pasta to a serving dish and garnish with additional freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.


PRO TIP: Fresh grated from the block of cheese is the only way to go with this!
PRO TIP: This spaghetti cacio e pepe is not a very “saucy” dish, and the cheese melts into the pasta pretty quickly, so I highly suggest serving immediately for best results. If you like a little more sauce, then you can add a little bit of additional cheese and pasta cooking water to create more sauce.
PRO TIP: When you get a block of parmesan or pecorino romano cheese and grate it yourself, make sure to save your cheese rind. You can freeze it in a zip-top bag and use it to flavor soups and sauces at a later time.


Calories: 423kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 22gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 1741mgPotassium: 182mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 502IUCalcium: 433mgIron: 1mg