Pappardelle Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Cacio E Pepe is a traditional Roman-born pasta dish that uses pecorino romano and ground black pepper.

Pappardelle Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Cacio epe (translated to ‘cheese & pepper’ and pronounced “kaa*chee*oh peh*pay”) is a delicious Roman-born pasta dish that uses pecorino romano and ground black pepper. No, seriously. It’s a creamy, peppery, and cheesy dish similar to real fettucini alfredo or pasta carbonara. This dish is quick to prepare, and you almost always have all the ingredients.

Our cacio e pepe is made from freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, pappardelle pasta, and freshly ground black peppercorns. Reserved starchy pasta water is the only other important ingredient. This is used to extract the pepper flavor and provide the backbone of the cheese.

Although this recipe has many variations, it calls for butter and oil. However, this is the traditional way to prepare the dish.

Tips for Making Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe is a simple dish, but it’s worth ensuring you have the right ingredients and process. Very fine cheese grade is the ideal one.

  1. A large nonstick skillet or dutch oven is a good choice. Nonstick surfaces make the process easier, but you should use the largest pan to toss the pasta with the cheese sauce properly.
  2. Use freshly ground whole peppercorns. Most people have a pepper grinder or pepper mill in their kitchen. This is better than pre-ground black pepper or any other similar product. Whole peppercorns were traditionally pre-toasted (whole) before being ground and then added to the pan. It is possible to toast the peppercorns after they have been ground, but this is not always possible. Always choose a coarse grind.
  3. Use a whole block of pecorino Romano cheese, nothing pre-grated. This will ensure a fresher taste and better melting. Use the best cheese grater to ensure that the cheese melts evenly and quickly. Pre-shredded pre-shredded cheese tends to clump because of the preservatives. Parmigiano reggiano can be substituted. These rules apply as before.
  4. When you are adding the cheese, take the pan off the heat. The cheese will clump if it is overheated. This cannot be reversed.
  5. Boil pasta just under al dente. You can continue cooking the pasta in the pan, and it will retain its texture. This dish is sure to be memorable. Because it is larger, I like to use pappardelle or bucatini. The most authentic would be regular or thick spaghetti.
  6. Make sure you read the entire recipe before you start. Starchy pasta water is the key ingredient of this recipe. This is a vehicle for cheese and adds creaminess.

Bucatini Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Pappardelle Cacio e Pepe

Quick Overview

  • PREP TIME 10
  • COOK TIME 15
  • YIELD: 4

Cacio E Pepe is a traditional Roman-born pasta dish that uses pecorino romano and ground black pepper.


  • 12 ounces of spaghetti, pasta, or bucatini
  • 2 cups (0.5 lb) of very finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Do not buy pre-ground
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black peppercorns (coarse cracked)
  • Reserved pasta water (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • Salt for pasta water

Cooking Steps & Instructions

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is a bit firmer than al dente. It is important to keep the pasta water in your fridge for any subsequent steps. For the best results, read my tips!
  2. Heat the ground black pepper on a large nonstick skillet or dutch oven over high heat for about 1 minute.
  3. After the pasta has cooked for 6 minutes, add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the saucepan. Allow the pasta to simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced slightly. You should get a strong aroma!
  4. When the pasta is just al dente (undercooked), use tongs and transfer it to the pan with pepper sauce. Toss the pasta to coat it in the pepper sauce.
  5. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/2 cup pasta water, and cook for another 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until the pasta is al dente.
  6. Turn off the heat. Take the pan off the heat if your range has an electric burner.
  7. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese and stir until it is melted. Continue with the rest of the cheese, and stir until well combined. If the sauce is too thick, you can add more pasta water.
  8. Add extra grated cheese and cracked pepper to the sauce immediately.
  9. If the dish is left out too long, it loses its creamy texture.

Important Notes

  • The dish doesn’t require any salt. The cheese and pasta water provide plenty of salt.
  • Cheese should be finely grated and almost powdered. Pre-grated cheese can cause clumping.

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