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Spaghetti cacio e pepe is one of the most typical dishes from Rome, the capital of Italy. Spaghetti is usually the pasta type that is used for this dish which consists of spaghetti or spaghetti alla chitarra with grated Pecorino cheese and black pepper.

Origin and name of the dish

The dish is really easy to understand: cacio e pepe is literally the translation of cheese and black pepper, which are the two main ingredients of this dish. In fact, in addition to these two ingredients, only spaghetti, salt, and water are needed to make it.

The ingredients of this dish are easy to conserve for long periods of time and so it was an easy dish for shepherds who had to move around with their herds, without a fixed place to stay. Ingredients are also pretty easy to find, and this contributed to the spaghetti cacio e pepe being a very common dish in older times.

How to make spaghetti cacio e pepe

Making spaghetti cacio e pepe might seem pretty easy, but it is not. We have classified this recipe as intermediate because even though ingredients are only a couple, most Romans won’t accept any kind of pasta dish as the real cacio e pepe. They will be very critical about this, so pay attention if you make it for your Italian friends! You do not want to make huge mistakes (nor little!). The fact that it only contains four ingredients, makes the use of them even more important. It is important to follow the steps carefully because the dish depends on the correct texture and balance of pepper, Pecorino, and the cooking water of the pasta (which is very important in this dish!).

To make the dish, start by boiling the pasta. Use less water than what you would usually use in the pot. The cooking water needs to be very starchy from the pasta because it will be used throughout the recipe, including when making a cream when combined with the cheese. In the meanwhile, take a generous amount (at least 1 tbsp) of ground black pepper. Toast the pepper on a large pan over medium-low heat. Then add two ladles of cooking water of the spaghetti.

When spaghetti are cooked (very much al dente, slightly too hard), drain them. Add the spaghetti into the pan with the pepper. Mix the spaghetti well and add some more cooking water if the pan is dry.

In a separate bowl, add one ladle of the cooking water with half the Pecorino and whisk to create a cream. If needed, add a bit more cooking water. Then whisk in the rest of the Pecorino (save a small amount). Finally, if needed, add more cooking water to create a creamy texture without lumps. Once the pasta is cooked, add the cream into the pan, turn off the heat and mix extremely well. Then add the remaining amount of Pecorino, mix, and serve.

Do not make the Pecorino cream before because it will lose its texture when it cools down. Adding more cooking water is ultimately up to your judgment because it depends on the cheese and the starchiness of the cooking water – remember that you are making a creamy sauce that doesn’t have lumps so use the water following this rule.

spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe

Variants

Even though this is one of the most classic Italian recipes, variants do exist. Here’s some:

  • Risotto cacio e pepe
  • Spaghetti cacio e pepe with truffle
  • Spaghetti cacio e pepe with bacon

Can I store it?

We highly recommend you eat the dish at the moment, to better taste the ingredients and fully enjoy it. If you want to make this dish in advance, you can eat it the day after storing in the refrigerator stored in a container or in a plate, well wrapped. The consistency will be different, and not ideal, after being in the fridge but it is completely edible!

More pasta dishes


Have you ever made and eaten this dish? Do you like the classic version or some variants? Let us know in the comments!

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5 from 8 votes

Spaghetti cacio e pepe

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 10 min Total Time 20 mins Servings: 4 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil. To make sure the cooking water is very starchy, use much less water than you would normally use for cooking spaghetti.

  2. When boiling, add salt to taste. Then add spaghetti and cook very much al dente (so a little raw still).

  3. In the meanwhile, take a generous amount (at least 1 tbsp) of ground black pepper. Toast the pepper on a large pan over medium-low heat. Then add two ladles of cooking water of the spaghetti.

  4. When the spaghetti are done, drain them, saving all the cooking water.

  5. Add the spaghetti into the pan with the pepper. Mix the spaghetti well and add some more cooking water if the pan is dry.

  6. While cooking the spaghetti like this on the pan, in a small bowl, add half of the Pecorino romano. 

  7. Add one ladle of the cooking water into the bowl and whisk to create a cream. If needed, add a bit more cooking water. Then whisk in the rest of the Pecorino (save a small amount). Finally, if needed, add more cooking water to finally create a creamy texture without lumps.

  8. Once the pasta is cooked, add the cream into the pan, turn off the heat and mix extremely well. Then add the remaining amount of Pecorino, mix, and serve.

Keywords: how to make spaghetti cacio e pepe, the best cacio e pepe recipe, spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe

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  1. Natalie

    A simple pasta dish that is so delicious. I will make it again, for sure.

  2. Lillian

    I love the simplicity of this recipe. It’s perfect for my low energy days!

  3. Alexandra

    One of my favourite simple and delicious pasta dishes.

  4. Agnieszka

    This is a perfect dish when you have NOTHING in the fridge.. Kids loved it, too!

  5. Megan Ellam

    Yummo! Thanks for a deliciously simple and tasty recipe.

  6. Oscar

    Cacio e pepe is one of my favourite pasta dishes. I love pecorino cheese so this recipe is something I can enjoy very often. Thank you.

  7. Amanda Scarlati

    One of my favorite recipes! Simple, yet delicious 🙂

  8. Kayla DiMaggio

    This spaghetti cacio e pepe is delicious! The perfect easy but delicious dinner! The whole family loved it!

  1. Natalie

    A simple pasta dish that is so delicious. I will make it again, for sure.

  2. Lillian

    I love the simplicity of this recipe. It’s perfect for my low energy days!

  3. Alexandra

    One of my favourite simple and delicious pasta dishes.

  4. Agnieszka

    This is a perfect dish when you have NOTHING in the fridge.. Kids loved it, too!

  5. Megan Ellam

    Yummo! Thanks for a deliciously simple and tasty recipe.

  6. Oscar

    Cacio e pepe is one of my favourite pasta dishes. I love pecorino cheese so this recipe is something I can enjoy very often. Thank you.

  7. Amanda Scarlati

    One of my favorite recipes! Simple, yet delicious 🙂

  8. Kayla DiMaggio

    This spaghetti cacio e pepe is delicious! The perfect easy but delicious dinner! The whole family loved it!

    Ruoka on valmis