THIS is the easiest cacio e pepe method with perfect results every time. The best tips and tricks for an insanely delicious and simple peppery sauce. I use butter in my recipe and make no apologies, I never claim to be traditional! A few simple ingredients for a 10 minute dinner, perfect for a busy weeknight.
Hello! This is my simple recipe for cacio e pepe. It's my death row dish and I love that you can make it any night of the week as the ingredients are most likely in your cupboards. I have tried so many methods and this is the one I have settled on and it is fool proof.
I love this dish so much I have used it for a base for a couple of variations. My new cacio e pepe with caramelized onion is pretty divine, as is my cacio e pepe with basil and olives. For a more luxurious creamy version try my easy creamy peppery pasta. I love pepper OK?!
Pasta - this is traditionally made with pici so check out my guide on how to make hand rolled pici pasta. It will work with any shape, fresh or dried. Spaghetti works perfectly.
Butter - I just prefer making cacio e pepe with butter, I know it's not traditional. Use unsalted butter or regular.
Pepper - Freshly cracked black peppercorns are best. I have specified 2 teaspoons but use more if you like!
Starchy pasta water - The key to thickening the sauce. It pays to not overfill your pot of water as the starchier the water the better.
Parmesan cheese - I have used all parmesan as that is generally what I have. You could use pecorino romano cheese (more of a sharp flavor) or a 50/50 mixture of both. Please don't buy pre-grated cheese, it's usually full of additives.
Expert tips for the perfect silky sauce
Cacio e pepe is one of the most simple pasta dishes as it has such few ingredients, but it happens to be one of the hardest to make. There are SO many methods for getting the cheese to melt into the sauce and this method will become your go to.
When made incorrectly, the parmesan can turn into a clumpy mess and go stringy, it won't happen with this cooking process.
- Firstly, I like to blend my parmesan cheese in a smoothie maker (I use a mini bullet one). The blade cuts the cheese up into a crumb/powder and it melts so much easier. Finely grated cheese is an absolute must so use a microplane or the star side of your box grater if you don't have a smoothie maker.
- When you add the starchy pasta water it needs a really good shake and whisk to make an emulsified sauce with the butter. I like to use a flat whisk.
- Shake the pan and whisk at the same time to get the liquids to blend. Don't be afraid to really agitate quite vigorously.
- When you add the pasta in, give it a really good toss then let it bubble away for a minute or two on a medium heat to thicken slightly.
- Then on a very low heat, sprinkle the cheese in an even layer on top of the pasta and leave it alone! Let it melt very gently for a minute and then go in with tongs and toss it over and over until a silky smooth sauce appears! Having it on a low heat here will make sure the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Variations and substitutions
Cacio e pepe really is my favorite recipe so I have a couple of other recipes that use it as a base. You should add these two recipes to your list! The first has slow cooked caramelized onions and is the perfect addition to the peppery sauce. Secondly the combination of olives, basil and lemon really is heaven on a plate!
I always weigh pasta portions, it takes the guess work out and ensures a perfect sauce to pasta ratio. Fresh and dried pasta need different amounts. For dried pasta I allow 100 grams per person and for fresh 150 grams per person.
Hand rolled pici pasta is the most traditional but use whatever you have in the cupboard! Spaghetti, linguine or a short shape like orecchiette - anything!
Like I state in recipe card, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the pasta and let it melt gently before tossing. This is the KEY to a smooth and silky sauce.
Want some other pasta dishes to try?
If you love quick and easy pasta recipes, I have a lot! My other cacio e pepe variations are a must, with caramelized onions and basil and olives. I like to think I'm the queen of butter sauces for pasta so make sure you check out my 10 minute brown butter for pasta or my easy anchovy butter pasta. For another quick weeknight meal my creamy pesto pasta is perfect.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print