The beauty of Cacio e Pepe is that it’s simply made with just 4 ingredients! Pasta is tossed in the best creamy sauce that’s created with butter, freshly grated pecorino romano and cracked black pepper. The water that the pasta is cooked in is used to create the smoothest sauce. It all comes together in no time!

Cacio e pepe is presented in a blue bowl.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe doesn’t receive enough flowers, metaphorically speaking! It’s a cheesy, creamy pasta that features just enough black pepper to earn it the name it has. Cacio e pepe translates to “cheese and pepper,” and that’s the wonderful part of this recipe! It’s so delightfully simple. If you ever see other recipes calls for ingredients that aren’t listed here, you aren’t looking at an authentic dish.

The key to success with cacio e pepe is the technique. In order to achieve the best creamy sauce, a few things must happen. And no worries – I’ve detailed it all below! You pretty much want to make sure that you don’t toss it all together in a pot and hope for the best. There’s an order to things in this recipe to really make sure you get the very best sauce every single time.

Cacio e pepe is a delight to serve on date nights at home, dinner parties, and just weeknight dinners with family when you’re feeling ever so slightly fancy. It’s fun to say and even more of a pleasure to eat! Plate it with a fresh side dish like caesar salad or a protein like parmesan crusted chicken breasts to really round out your plate.

Cheese and pepper are placed next to a skillet filled with pasta.

How to Make Cacio e Pepe

Make the best cacio e pepe recipe every time with these simple steps. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see more info!

  1. Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta (either spaghetti or bucatini) in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Cook until al dente, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain.
  2. Make the sauce. Place the cooked pasta back into the pot or skillet over low heat. Add the butter and pour in the reserved pasta water. You’ll want it to still be hot/warm so it helps to quickly melt the butter.
  3. Toss it. Give everything a good toss to combine, then stir in the cheese and pepper until a creamy sauce forms.
A block of cheese is placed with a grater next to pasta.

Ingredient Notes

There are only 4 ingredients, so it’s important that all of them are the best they can be. Check out these quick tips:

  • Pasta – It can be bucatini or spaghetti, either will work well.
  • Butter – I prefer to use unsalted butter. That way, I can control the amount of sodium on my plate and decide if I’d like to add a sprinkle of salt or not.
  • Pecorino Romano – It is VERY important to note that this needs to be freshly grated! Freshly grated cheese not only tastes best, it also melts into the rest of the dish beautifully to create that creamy sauce we’re aiming for.
  • Black Pepper – Your regular container of table pepper just won’t cut it here. For the best cacio e pepe, use freshly cracked black peppercorns that have been lightly toasted.


Here’s the deal – cacio e pepe is a dish best enjoyed right away. If you do happen to have some leftover pasta, keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Note that when you reheat it, it might dry out a bit and not have that same creamy element to it that it originally did.

A fork has twirled a bite of pasta.

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A fork has twirled a bite of pasta.

Get the Recipe: Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Easy, creamy Cacio e Pepe is made with butter, pepper, pasta and cheese for a simple, quick dinner that's ready in just 10 minutes.
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  • 8 ounces dried bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, lightly toasted


  • 1 skillet


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Add the pasta to the pot and stir. Cook until al dente, approximately 7-8 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta water
  • Return the pasta back to the pot or a skillet and place over low heat.
  • Add the butter to the pasta and pour the reserved water over it to melt. Toss the pasta to combine.
  • Stir in the cheese and pepper continuing to toast until the cheese becomes a creamy sauce.
  • Top with more cheese and serve immediately.


Cacio e pepe is best served soon after making.
Pecorino is traditional but you can substitute with parmesan or other hard cheese for variations on flavor.
Calories: 322kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 31mg, Sodium: 262mg, Potassium: 150mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 212IU, Calcium: 215mg, Iron: 1mg