Easy Cacio e pepe recipe (perfect results!) - The Burnt Butter Table (2024)

Published: | By Emilie Pullar

Jump to Recipe·5 from 7 reviews

THIS is the easiest cacio e pepe method with perfect results every time. The best tips and tricks for an insanely delicious and simple peppery sauce. I use butter in my recipe and make no apologies, I never claim to be traditional! A few simple ingredients for a 10 minute dinner, perfect for a busy weeknight.

Easy Cacio e pepe recipe (perfect results!) - The Burnt Butter Table (1)

Hello! This is my simple recipe for cacio e pepe. It's my death row dish and I love that you can make it any night of the week as the ingredients are most likely in your cupboards. I have tried so many methods and this is the one I have settled on and it is fool proof.

I love this dish so much I have used it for a base for a couple of variations. My new cacio e pepe with caramelized onion is pretty divine, as is my cacio e pepe with basil and olives. For a more luxurious creamy version try my easy creamy peppery pasta. I love pepper OK?!

Ingredients:

Pasta - this is traditionally made with pici so check out my guide on how to make hand rolled pici pasta. It will work with any shape, fresh or dried. Spaghetti works perfectly.

Butter - I just prefer making cacio e pepe with butter, I know it's not traditional. Use unsalted butter or regular.

Pepper - Freshly cracked black peppercorns are best. I have specified 2 teaspoons but use more if you like!

Starchy pasta water - The key to thickening the sauce. It pays to not overfill your pot of water as the starchier the water the better.

Parmesan cheese - I have used all parmesan as that is generally what I have. You could use pecorino romano cheese (more of a sharp flavor) or a 50/50 mixture of both. Please don't buy pre-grated cheese, it's usually full of additives.

Easy Cacio e pepe recipe (perfect results!) - The Burnt Butter Table (2)

Expert tips for the perfect silky sauce

Cacio e pepe is one of the most simple pasta dishes as it has such few ingredients, but it happens to be one of the hardest to make. There are SO many methods for getting the cheese to melt into the sauce and this method will become your go to.

When made incorrectly, the parmesan can turn into a clumpy mess and go stringy, it won't happen with this cooking process.

  • Firstly, I like to blend my parmesan cheese in a smoothie maker (I use a mini bullet one). The blade cuts the cheese up into a crumb/powder and it melts so much easier. Finely grated cheese is an absolute must so use a microplane or the star side of your box grater if you don't have a smoothie maker.
  • When you add the starchy pasta water it needs a really good shake and whisk to make an emulsified sauce with the butter. I like to use a flat whisk.
  • Shake the pan and whisk at the same time to get the liquids to blend. Don't be afraid to really agitate quite vigorously.
  • When you add the pasta in, give it a really good toss then let it bubble away for a minute or two on a medium heat to thicken slightly.
  • Then on a very low heat, sprinkle the cheese in an even layer on top of the pasta and leave it alone! Let it melt very gently for a minute and then go in with tongs and toss it over and over until a silky smooth sauce appears! Having it on a low heat here will make sure the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
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Variations and substitutions

Cacio e pepe really is my favorite recipe so I have a couple of other recipes that use it as a base. You should add these two recipes to your list! The first has slow cooked caramelized onions and is the perfect addition to the peppery sauce. Secondly the combination of olives, basil and lemon really is heaven on a plate!

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Recipe FAQs

How much pasta per portion?

I always weigh pasta portions, it takes the guess work out and ensures a perfect sauce to pasta ratio. Fresh and dried pasta need different amounts. For dried pasta I allow 100 grams per person and for fresh 150 grams per person.

What pasta shape it best for cacio e pepe?

Hand rolled pici pasta is the most traditional but use whatever you have in the cupboard! Spaghetti, linguine or a short shape like orecchiette - anything!

How do I stop the cheese clumping together?

Like I state in recipe card, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the pasta and let it melt gently before tossing. This is the KEY to a smooth and silky sauce.

Want some other pasta dishes to try?

If you love quick and easy pasta recipes, I have a lot! My other cacio e pepe variations are a must, with caramelized onions and basil and olives. I like to think I'm the queen of butter sauces for pasta so make sure you check out my 10 minute brown butter for pasta or my easy anchovy butter pasta. For another quick weeknight meal my creamy pesto pasta is perfect.

Made this recipe and loved it?

I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo oninstagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!

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Easy Cacio e pepe recipe (perfect results!) - The Burnt Butter Table (10)

Cacio e Pepe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Emilie Pullar
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 people
Print Recipe

Description

An easy cacio e pepe recipe that will become your go to comfort pasta dish. A cheesy peppery delight.

Ingredients

  • 70g unsalted butter, cubed (salted is fine if that's all you have)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (see notes)
  • 70g cheese, finely grated, it can be all parmesan or a split of parmesan and pecorino
  • 200g pasta of your choice

Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta in a pot of well salted water according to packet instructions. I tend to undercook dried pasta by a minute so it can finish cooking in the sauce. If you cook the pasta before the sauce, reserve a cup of the pasta water.
  2. Melt the butter in a large fry pan/skillet over medium - high heat and add the pepper.
  3. Let it sizzle together for a minute then turn down the heat to low.
  4. Add ¼ cup pasta water and whisk vigorously to emulsify. It will bubble up a lot. I like to shake the pan with my left hand and whisk with my right to really agitate it well. A flat whisk is brilliant here.
  5. Repeat with another ¼ cup pasta water.
  6. On a medium heat let it bubble gently for a minute to thicken slightly.
  7. Add your cooked pasta in and give it a toss in the sauce. Arrange the pasta in a nice even layer.
  8. Lower the heat to the lowest possible and sprinkle the cheese directly on the pasta and let it melt on top, don't touch or mix until it has melted. (should only take 30 secs - 1 min)
  9. Give it a good vigorous toss over and over quickly until you have a nicely emulsified and thickened sauce.
  10. Add more pasta water to loosen if you need.

Notes

  • Pepper -feel free to add more!
  • Cheese - Make sure your cheese is really finely grated, a microplane is ideal. I find the most effective way is to use a little mini smoothie maker as the blade cuts it up into a crumb consistency.
  • Serving size -Double to serve 4
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 mins

« Hand Rolled Pici Pasta (great beginner shape!)

How to Make Easy Homemade Pasta Dough »

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave a Reply

  1. Alex says

    Great recipe, feel like the butter really helps bring the sauce together. Tasted very authentic. I added a little too much pepper but will modify next time.

    Reply

    • Emilie Pullar says

      Hi Alex! Thank you so muxch, butter makes everything better! The amount of pepper is tricky, you'll have it sussed next time 🙂

      Reply

  2. Alex Fuchs says

    Love this recipe! Thank you for breaking it down so well! I had a quick question, everytime I try and make it I notice that my cheese still gets a little clumpy instead of creamy... is that because my parmesan quality might not be the best? or because my temp is too high?

    Thanks so much!

    Reply

    • Emilie Pullar says

      Hi Alex, so sorry for my late reply! I turn my heat to the lowest when I add the cheese and really let it slowly melt on top before giving it the quickest toss. I have a highlight on my instagram showing the process 🙂

      Reply

  3. Evie says

    When I die, just bury me in cacio e pepe. Your tips for getting a silky sauce are SO helpful - thank you!

    Reply

  4. Liz says

    I tried to make a cacio e pepe once (not this recipe) and it was so peppery it was inedible, but I wanted to give it another go and since not a single one of Em's recipes have ever steered me wrong, I knew this had to be the recipe to use! I made this for my parents when I was visiting them and it turned out absolutely perfect - there were no leftovers from that meal!

    Reply

  5. Kathy Marvin says

    This silky perfect sauce is amazing!! No cheese clumping and great taste. I did add a bit more pepper and I toasted the fresh ground pepper before anything else. Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Emilie Pullar says

      Hi Kathy! So glad you loved the sauce! I always put more pepper in too! 🙂

      Reply

  6. Cindy says

    Absolutely delicious. I have always had clumping. Emilie’s step-by-step is so helpful. Will make again and again!

    Reply

  7. Rosie says

    I can't cook for sh*t and have always been too scared to attempt anything beyond a basic mac n cheese. I've now made this so many times and it's SO easy and perfect every time. Em's instructions and tips are the magic I've been missing. Cannot recommend enough.

    Reply

  8. Gemma says

    This is on weekly rotation in our house now, it’s actually the freakin’ best. My pepper loving partner rates it so highly!

    Reply

    • Emilie Pullar says

      Yaayyy! So glad you love it!

      Reply

Easy Cacio e pepe recipe (perfect results!) - The Burnt Butter Table (2024)
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