What!? Another “authentic Cacio e Pepe recipe”?!
Yeah, I know (but not sorry, ha!). In my defense, I’m a sucker for anything under 20 minutes and even though I literally have hours to spare in the kitchen, I still prefer not slaving myself for too long in it. Trust me, I’ve done my fair share when I was a chef and I’m not entirely sure I’m willing to do that long shifts all over again.
Anyways back to the topic, yes! Another Cacio e Pepe recipe published on the internet yet again (won’t be the last I’m sure). It is just really one of those recipes that seemingly have thousands of variations yet truly, it is the same exact thing. You get my jiz? It is like Beurre Pasta – it is just butter and pasta but loads of people add some “twist” to it like, I don’t know, maybe use organic butter instead of regular butter, but in the end… It is pasta with butter.
FYI, I am going to write a Beurre Pasta soon-ish. I’m creating a cluster of recipes under 20 minutes for you busy folks out there!
Not only I’m a sucker for anything quick, apparently, but I am also so unoriginal. Totally fine with it.
Anyways, enough blabber.
Easy Cacio e Pepe Recipe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta)
What is Cacio e Pepe?
I first tasted this pasta dish when I was traveling in Rome with one of my friend, Chen, and we were looking for a restaurant where we can sit down and still see a glimpse of the Colosseum (so touristy, I know) and we eventually found one and we were famished!
I’ve been to Rome before and heard about this dish and noticed that a lot of guides tell me I should try it but didn’t on the first visit. So, on the next one, I did and I was honestly unimpressed.
It was just boiled pasta with cheese and pepper! I mean, it was €10 for a pasta smothered with lots of cheese and pepper. Honestly, what the heck.
Then I took my first bite and boy, it almost felt like the universe was talking to me telling me to only eat this for the rest of my life.
Okay, an exaggeration but Cacio e Peppe guys, it is good.
So yeah, maybe 100 words later what I’m just trying to say is that Cacio e Pepe is basically a three-ingredient pasta and the pasta is one of the ingredients.
Pasta, cheese, and pepper.
Done and dusted.
What is an authentic Cacio e Pepe recipe?
If you want a real authentic Cacio e Pepe, like for reals, then you’ll have to fly to Rome. However, if you want to cook a real authentic Cacio e Pepe recipe at home then you must scour for the correct ingredients, and truly, you only need to look for ONE specific ingredient.
A true Cacio e Pepe recipe consists of three main ingredients: Pasta, Pecorino cheese, and grated black pepper.
That’s all the three ingredients you’ll need to re-create a true Roman authentic Cacio e Pepe recipe.
This recipe calls for parmesan cheese because I’m a rebel and it was minus degrees here in Finland when I cooked this recipe and so did not want to go out just for one ingredient.
Anyways, parmesan works too but it just isn’t as authentic as it can be.
Cacio e Pepe ingredients
To make this Cacio e Peppe recipe, here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Pasta. You can use whatever pasta you have in your pantry or you can be fancy and buy Bucatini or any Italian long pastas (like spaghetti, tagliatelle, etc.)
- Pecorino. As mentioned above and in the recipe box below, you can use parmesan, as well. However, if you can get your hand on pecorino, the better! I personally think that parmesan is a tad bit too salty for this dish. Also, make sure that you do not use pre-grated cheese. That stuff serves its own purpose and it is not for this pasta.
- Black pepper. Make sure that you use freshly crush them for this recipe! Freshly crushed, especially for this type of dish, is crucial as most of the flavors are coming just from three main ingredients which are the creaminess from the cheese, saltiness from the pasta water, and aroma from the black pepper. Pre-crushed black pepper already lost most of its aroma. If you don’t own a pepper grinder, rub the pre-crushed black pepper on your palms using your thumb to activate its aroma again.
How to make this Cacio e Pepe recipe
This recipe literally takes as long as your pasta is cooking so make sure to work in order and systematically.
- Cook the pasta. My proportion for this is always the same: boil 1L of water with 1/2tsp of salt per 100g of dry pasta and cook it as long as what the package says.
- Grate your cheese in a bowl. Meanwhile, your pasta is boiling, get your cheese crackin’ and grate it up in a bowl where you plan to mix everything up or eat from. I often do the latter, saves me some dishes to wash!
- Crack some pepper in the bowl. Get some grease action there and crack a lot of pepper in the same bowl you grated your cheese. If you’re eyeballing, you should be able to see a lot of crushed pepper on top of the cheese but if you don’t like guesswork, for one portion you should see about two pinches worth of pepper. And be generous with your pinches.
- Add your pasta in the bowl. A lot of people would drain their pasta in a colander but for this recipe, I would usually just fish out the cooked pasta using my tongs onto the bowl. However, if you do not have a tong then before you drain your pasta, make sure to reserve some of it for this dish.
- Add some pasta water. Once your pasta is in the bowl, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Mix everything. Mix everything until well combined
- Serve and enjoy!
Enjoy this dish with a glass of medium-bodied red wine.
Possible alterations and modifications
- Butter. For more flavor, you can add some butter or leave it as simple as it is.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Just like butter, you can add a bit of olive oil as finishing touches if you wish!
- Garlic. You can grate some fresh clove of garlic and mix it with this dish or infuse some butter or olive oil for a more intense flavor.
- Chili flakes. You can sprinkle some chili flakes on top if black pepper is not enough heat for you.
- Gluten-free. This Cacio e Pepe recipe works well with any gluten-free pasta! I’ve tried it with lentil and chickpea kinds of pasta, really good.
- Keto. This is one of the amazing dishes you can easily make into keto! Just use a spiralized zucchini instead of pasta. Simply melt the butter in a pan, add the grated cheese and black pepper, some hot water, and mix until creamy and add in your zoodles.
Are you on Pinterest? Pin this for later!
Do you want more pasta recipes?
- Easy Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata Pasta Recipe
- Garlic, Lemon, Parmesan, and Broccolini Pasta Recipe
- Delicious Chorizo and Blue Cheese Pasta Recipe
- Easy and Gluten-Free Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Pasta Recipe
Easy Cacio e Pepe Recipe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta)
- 1 L Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 75 g Dried Pasta - i.e Spaghetti, Fussili, or Penne
- 4 tbsp Parmesan - Grated. Alternatively, you can also use pecorino
- 4 tbsp Pasta water
- 2 pinches Black Pepper
- In a pot, add water and salt and let it boil
- Once the water is boiling, add your dried pasta and cook it as long as what the package indicated or until al dente
- Set aside 4 tbsp of pasta water in a bowl
- Drain the pasta and DO NOT rinse it
- In the same bowl where you have your pasta water, add the parmesan cheese, black pepper, and cooked pasta. Mix until well combined!
- Crack a bit more pepper on top and enjoy!