The Best Cacio E Pepe Recipe

Cacio e pepe
Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash

The name of this pasta dish literally translates to “cheese and pepper”, and it is just as delicious as it is when it’s prepared in a minimalist way. After all, they always say that less is more, and this recipe shows how delicious simplicity can be. Here’s how to prepare the perfect cacio e pepe.


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino


  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about two minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook until toasted, about one minute.
  3. Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until all the cheese melts, and sauce coats the pasta. (Add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry)
  5. Note that pasta itself should be cooked al Dante.