This classic cheesy and peppery Cacio e pepe requires only 3 ingredients and 20 minutes which makes it an ideal meal for weeknight dinners. It is an incredibly flavourful and absolutely delicious creamy pasta dish without cream.
I love how fast it comes together and how simple and flavourful it is. I should admit it one of my favourite pasta dishes.
Cacio e Pepe Recipe
It a fool proof cacao e pepe recipe. If you’ve ever had any issues with Pecorino cheese sauce clumping and getting soggy pasta, you should try this recipe. I will try to explain the chemistry behind the BEST Cacio e Pepe.
What is Cacio e pepe?
It is one of the most famous pasta dishes of Lazio cuisine. It is made of cheese and pepper like mac and cheese. The authentic Cacio e pepe requires only 3 ingredients: pasta, cheese and black pepper. No BUTTER or CREAM! If you have come across a recipe that calls for butter or cream, be sure it is not a classic Italian Cacio e peppe.
How to make the classic Cacio e Pepe?
To make cacio e pepe you can’t use any cheese you like because only Pecorino cheese can give you the most authentic result. Furthermore, Pecorino has a quality to turn into a cream once mixed with HOT water and heated at the right temperature. Cheeses with high water content like Swiss, Monterey Jack, Provolone and Gouda melt better. But aged cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino most likely will clump instead of melting. The solution is to mix grated Pecorino cheese with hot water before heating and add cheesy mixture at the end of the cooking process when pasta is cooked.
How do you prevent cheese from clumping ?
- Always bring Pecorino cheese to room temperature to avoid sudden temperature change. If cheese is too cold, the protein will coagulate quickly and as result you will get clumps and greasy texture.
- Finely grate it. You can’t achieve even melting with irregular chunks of cheese. Again cheese will become clumpy.
- Add Pecorino mixture at the end of cooking. Cheese needs to reach just its melting point and not exceed it.
Another key to the best cacao e pepe is cooking pasta. Cook pasta until al dente. Check instructions on your package. It was written 9 minutes for al dente on my package. But I drained it before the indicated time because later I cooked it in in a pan with pepper and water. This prevents pasta from becoming soggy and losing its texture.
So I cooked pasta about 6 minutes in boiling water and another 3-4 minutes in a pan with black pepper.
Best Pasta for cacao e pepe
Spaghetti is the perfect choice for cacao e pepe. I love to use my Homemade pasta in this recipe. The result is super! But even rigatoni or classic pepe will work well too.
For a classic Cacio e Pepe recipe, cheese mixture is added at the very end of cooking. When pasta is cooked, turn off the heat or reduce to a very low heat and add it. The cheese mixture should not be exposed to very high temperature and melt with the heat of cooked pasta and addition of hot water.
I am really surprised to see lot of recipes calling for butter. Yes, I haven’t forgotten to include it in my ingredient list. The classic Italian cacao e pepe doesn’t have butter or cream. The cheese + starch from pasta give the right amount of creaminess.
Whole Black Pepper
Another secret to the best and most flavourful cacao e pepe is using whole black pepper. The recipe calls for whole black pepper not black pepper powder. Crash peppers with a knife or using mortar and pestle. Heat them in pan until fragrant, then add a ladle of pasta cooking water and allow to release flavours. Later al dente pasta is cooked in this pepper broth till it is completely done.
Try other Italian recipes:
If you make this Cacio e pepe be sure to leave a comment or give this recipe a rating! I will be happy to hear from you!Print
CACIO E PEPE
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4
This classic cheesy and peppery Cacio e peppe requires only 3 ingredients and 20 minutes which makes it an ideal meal for weeknight dinners. It is an incredibly flavourful and absolutely delicious creamy pasta dish without cream.
- Spaghetti- 320 gm
- Fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese (medium aged)-200 gm
- Ground black pepper- 1 ½- 2 tsp.
- Salt - as needed
- Grate Pecorino Romano, using a cheese grater and grind whole black peppercorns. I used mortar and pestle. Keep aside.
- Take a roomy saucepan/pot that gives pasta space to move around in, fill with water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente as per package instructions.
- In the meantime, begin to prepare creamy Pecorino cheese sauce. Transfer the grated cheese to a large bowl and add some hot water from the saucepan/pot. Whisk to combine and get cream without lumps.
- In a large skillet/ pan toast ground peppercorns until aromatic, about 1 minute, then add a few ladles of hot water and cook another 1-2 minute to allow peppercorns release all the flavor.
- Once pasta is al dente, transfer into the pot with peppercorns. Add 2-3 ladles of hot water and mix well to combine. Complete cooking pasta in the pot.
- When the pasta is cooked, remove from the stove and give a nice stir.
- Now add the Pecorino cream and another ladle of HOT water if necessary. Keep stirring until you the sauce gets through the pasta. You might need to add more hot water if it is too dry for your taste.
- Serve with some fresh ground black pepper and Pecorino cheese.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Pasta recipes
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 491 kcal
- Sugar: 2.5 g
- Sodium: 1239 mg
- Fat: 14.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 66.4 g
- Fiber: 2.3 g
- Protein: 23.4 g
- Cholesterol: 52 mg
Keywords: cacio e pepe, pasta recipes, pasta, creamy pasta, easy pasta recipes
All rights reserved. CHEF JAR. All images and content are copyright protected. PLEASE do not use my images without my permission. If you want to share this recipe, PLEASE provide a link back to this post.
If you make this recipe, take a photo of your creation and hashtag it # CHEFJAR on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Eden Cayamanda says
This recipe is a keeper, I’ve made it a few times now. What I love about this dish: it’s a quick and easy pasta recipe that is perfect for dinner. With only three ingredients in just twenty minutes, you can already enjoy a simple but heavenly taste pasta. I super love the exquisite flavor of Pecornio cheese that makes Cacio e Pepe an authentic and classic Italian pasta dish. Thank you Tati for sharing tips in your blog. They are so helpful in making this awesome dish.