top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichelle Iannelli-Rubin

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese & Pepper)

Translated "cheese and pepper" this dish is the deconstructed Italian mac and cheese. My recipe only takes about 20 minutes to make, with 4 easy ingredients making it a perfect recipe for pasta night. You might be wondering why cheese is referred to as cacio and not formaggio in this plate. Cacio is a more familiar term, while formaggio is more general. You might opt to use cacio when referring to local cheese, and formaggio when talking about cheese from other regions or outside of Italy. The further South you go in Italy, the more likely you are to hear people using the term cacio.

I should mention that in the authentic dish, butter is not used. I did use butter in my recipe and found that it enhanced the sauce, tremendously. This dish is simple to put together. I would highly recommend that you grate your cheese well before you put your pot up to boil your water to cook your pasta! And keep in mind, that finely grated cheeses and very hot water are essential to a smooth sauce, while the fresh, coarsely ground black pepper gives the dish flavor and texture. The most important component of a flawless cacio e pepe, however, is speed. If the water cools before melting the cheese, the sauce will clump.

Wine Pairing: A new favorite in our house, simple, warm, rich and cheesy, I would recommend a rich, robust Cabernet Sauvignon.


Cacio e Pepe


(serves 2)

  • Kosher salt

  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided

  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan

  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino


  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven or other large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

  3. Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

84 views1 comment

1 Comment

Aug 06, 2021

We make this a lot. So easy and super delish.

Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page