Super Easy Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Super Easy Cacio e Pepe Pasta

The Spruce / Qi Ai

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings

It's true: You can have a delicious dinner on the table in 15 minutes with this staggeringly quick three-ingredient cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) recipe. Simply boil a pot of spaghetti, grate a chunk of cheese, and crush toasted peppercorns. The result is a creamy pasta sauce that packs a punch, thanks to the coarsely ground black pepper.

Cacio e pepe originated in Rome, and though simple in its making, relies heavily on the quality of ingredients. The cheese must Pecorino Romano; nothing else will work as well. Seek this out, you will be glad you did. Pecorino is salty and tangy, but more importantly melts very quickly—which is what makes this recipe so quick to make.

Use regular spaghetti, but if you can find it, tonnarelli, also known as spaghetti alla chitarra, will make for a thoroughly authentic experience.

Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Super Easy Cacio e Pepe Pasta ingredients

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  2. Heat a heavy skillet on the stove over high heat. Tip in the peppercorns and gently shake the pan over the heat for 1 minute.

    black pepper in a pan

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  3. Transfer the peppercorns to a mortar and pestle, and crush well; you do not want a powder, the peppercorns should have a little bite to them. Alternatively, crush them under the weight of the heavy bottomed skillet. Set aside.

    crush the black peppers in the mortar and pestle

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  4. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, and add the spaghetti or your chosen pasta. After 5 minutes of cooking, pour 1½ cups of the cooking water into a large, heat-proof bowl and allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Let the pasta continue cooking according to the package instructions.

    pasta water in a bowl, pasta cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  5. While the pasta is cooking, using a small whisk and whisking continuously, slowly add the water to the cheese to create a thick creamy sauce.

    water and cheese in a bowl

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  6. Once you have your creamy sauce, add almost all the crushed pepper, reserving a little for garnish.

    black pepper and cheese mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  7. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and tip into the bowl with the cheese and pepper sauce. Stir thoroughly to coat and garnish with additional freshly cracked pepper.

    Super Easy Cacio e Pepe Pasta in a bowl

    The Spruce / Qi Ai