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Spaghetti cacio e pepe in a metal pan.
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Spaghetti cacio e pepe

Spaghetti cacio e pepe is an amazing Italian pasta dish made with just 2 main ingredients: pecorino cheese and black pepper. It's very quick to make and so flavorful! With my well-tested method it will work every time.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cacio e pepe, how to make cacio e pepe, spaghetti cacio e pepe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 924kcal
Author Aleksandra


  • 9 oz (250g) spaghetti
  • 5 oz (135g) Pecorino cheese, aged Pecorino Toscano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water it's good to have more on hand
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


  • Prepare all the ingredients: grate the cheese on the microplane zester (it's the best) or on the smallest holes of a box grater, grind the pepper. Set aside.
  • Toast the pepper: Heat the olive oil and butter in a big frying pan over low heat. When the oil and butter are hot, add the pepper. Cook, stirring, for about a minute or until the pepper is fragrant. Take the pan off the heat.
  • Cook the pasta: In a medium pot bring water to the boil. Water should be well-salted, don't add any oil to the water, use the smallest amount of water that will cover the pasta. Cook the pasta about 1-2 minutes less than it says on the package.
  • Reserve the pasta cooking water: About 3 minutes before the end of the cooking time reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water. We will need only 1/2 cup for this recipe but it's always good to have more on hand if you need to dilute the sauce.
  • Add the 1/2 cup of the water to the pan and whisk intensively to combine it with butter and olive oil. Set aside. Reserve the remaining pasta cooking water.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss it with the sauce. Let stand for about a minute or two, letting it cool slightly before adding the cheese.
  • Add the cheese and stir very intensively with kitchen tongs or two forks until the cheese is melted, creamy, and creates a smooth silky sauce. You can put the pan on the burner while you do this and heat it over very low heat to help melt the cheese. If the cheese doesn't melt easily add some more reserved pasta cooking water. Heat the sauce gently over low heat until all the cheese is melted.
  • Taste the pasta and season with more pepper if necessary.
  • Serve immediately!


  • How much pepper to add: I like to add about 1 teaspoon of pepper when using Pecorino Romano cheese and 2 teaspoons of pepper when using Pecorino Toscano (this cheese has a milder taste you can use more pepper). You can add less at first and always add more at the end. The amount of pepper may be different depending on how coarse you've ground your pepper.
  • 5 oz (135g) Pecorino cheese is about 2 1/2 cups cheese grated on a microplane or 1 1/2 cups cheese grated on the small holes of a box grater. Microplane zester works best for this recipe.
  • Choose the right cheese: My personal favorite is aged Pecorino Toscano cheese, the second one (and more authentic) is aged Pecorino Romano. Make sure to use an aged cheese (labeled stagionato) and not softer varieties. If the cheese is not properly labeled just press the cheese with your finger. The cheese should be completely hard, like a block of Parmesan cheese, you should not be able to make an indentation in it. If the Pecorino Romano is too salty for you, you can sub 1/3 of its amount for Parmesan cheese or just use Pecorino Toscano. Parmesan cheese can be theoretically used in this recipe as a substitution of Pecorino cheese but the dish will taste very different.
  • Using butter and olive oil is not traditional. You can omit toasting the pepper with oil if you wish but I find it adds lots of flavor to the recipe.
  • Don't add the cheese to hot pasta or pasta cooking water or it will clump.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/2 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!


Calories: 924kcal