Simple Italian Cacio e Pepe Pasta Recipe

Today David shares his recipe for one of my favorite foods in the world — cacio e pepe. This is the dish that made me fall head over heels in love with Rome. The dish that makes me yearn for Italy, even though I ended up living in Spain. It’s everything Italian cuisine can be — so simple, yet also powerful. It’s a dish that makes me think, and that makes me appreciate everything great food can be. David’s recipe for cacio e pepe is traditional and delicious, I hope you’ll try it!

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Must try foods in Rome - Cacio e Pepe
My favorite Cacio e Pepe

Italian pasta dishes are my go-to comfort foods.

They have everything I’m looking for! Take delicious carbohydrates and add simple, delicious ingredients for some amazing homestyle cooking. The best ones also take no time at all to prepare!

And the one pasta recipe I keep coming back to is cacio e pepe. This is one of the classic Roman pastas, made with long pasta noodles, pecorino cheese, and fresh black pepper. That’s it! Even the name is simple, cacio e pepe literally means “Cheese and Pepper”.

Even better, it only needs one pot to make. My authentic cacio e pepe recipe is like a grown-up mac ‘n’ cheese, and tastes even better! To make this recipe properly, you’ll need good-quality basic ingredients. If you can’t find Pecorino cheese, Parmesan will do, just make sure you grate it yourself. The pre-grated stuff just won’t melt properly, and doesn’t taste as good!

freshly-grated pecorino
The secret ingredient to cacio e pepe; freshly-grated cheese. Source: David Pope.

Traditionally the Romans use bucatini noodles, but spaghetti works fine. I add a touch of butter along with olive oil as well, to help ramp up the creamy quality of the dish! But if you’d prefer to leave it out, you can make it the truly classic way — only pasta, pasta water, and cheese.

So here it is, my classic Roman cacio e pepe recipe!

Classic Roman Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Authentic Italian Cacio e Pepe Pasta Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This classic Roman pasta dish takes 20 minutes to prepare and tastes amazing! Cacio e pepe is the best thing to do with pasta, cheese, and black pepper.
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2-3 servings
  • 8 ounces (225g) bucatini pasta (spaghetti also works)
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup (100g) freshly grated Pecorino cheese (Parmesan also works)
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, to garnish.
  1. Fill a large stockpot about ⅔ with generously-salted water. Bring to the boil, and add your pasta, cooking until only just al dente. (You can grate your cheese while you wait for the water to boil!).
  2. Right before your pasta finishes boiling, carefully scoop out about 2 cups worth of starchy water and reserve.
  3. Drain the pasta using a colander. Transfer the pasta back to the stockpot (take off the heat).
  4. Add the butter, olive oil, and 1 cup of the starchy water, and quickly toss to combine. Next, add the grated cheese, black pepper, and toss again. Keep adding the remainder of the starchy water until all of the cheese has melted and a silky sauce starts to form.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley.

What do you think of this classic Roman pasta dish? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re interested in tasting the real thing from the comfort of your own kitchen, check out Devour Tours’ live and interactive virtual cooking classes!

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