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Cacio e Pepe

A classic Italian pasta dish, cacio e pepe, or cheese and pepper pasta, is homey, cheesy, and utterly comforting. Recipe slightly adapted from Mark Bittman’s for NYT Cooking.

cacio e pepe nyt new york times recipe

Think of your favourite pasta dish – chances are, it’s a creamy and cheesy one. I know one or two of my favourites are! Cacio e Pepe has now officially entered the rankings as one of my favourite comfort dishes, hitting all of the notes of the best mac ‘n cheese without any of the faff. 

This Cacio e Pepe recipe is simple as can be and comprises only 3 simple ingredients you can buy at any supermarket. Quick and easy, this recipe has rapidly become a new weeknight favourite. Ready in 20 minutes or less – could you ask for more?

Three simple ingredients

That’s all you need to make this! 

  • Cheese
  • Pasta
  • Black pepper

Use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on, as always! Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano form the foundation of the dish and the sauce. The flavour of the two cheeses, plus the black pepper, is simply sublime. You’ll be wanting more with every bite! 

You can use any long pasta you have on hand to make this – tonnarelli is traditional; however, linguine or spaghetti will do in a pinch. 

This dish really comes together so quickly – you’ll combine the cheeses and pepper, make the pasta, toss the hot pasta with the cheese and pepper mixture, and finish everything off with a good glug of high-quality Italian olive oil.

Serve hot and fresh, and enjoy! 

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. To view our recipe video on Instagram click here. Happy cooking!

cacio e pepe nyt new york times recipe
cacio e pepe nyt new york times recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make the sauce smooth and creamy (cremina)?

The key to a silky smooth sauce (cremina in Italian), is to cook the pasta until al dente, and use the starchy pasta water to emulsify the sauce. Using tongs while tossing will greatly help ensure the success of this step. 

Can I make Cacio e Pepe ahead of time?

Unfortunately, the answer here is no. This pasta is best served immediately, otherwise, the sauce will become dry or may split. 

Why do you toast the peppercorns? Can I not use ground black pepper?

This dish relies on the ingredients shining at their best. Toasting the whole peppercorns in the pot you will use to cook the pasta takes an extra 2-3 minutes, and yields fragrant, floral peppery notes in the final dish. 

Why do you suggest a microplane for the cheese?

A microplane will grate the cheese very finely, helping it incorporate better into the sauce.

Why do you use less water than usual cooking the pasta?

Less cooking liquid means your pasta water will be extra starchy, helping to emulsify the sauce. 


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cacio e pepe nyt new york times recipe

Cacio e Pepe

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 20 Minutes
  • Yield: 2 Servings
  • Diet: Vegetarian


A classic Italian pasta dish, Cacio e Pepe, or cheese and pepper pasta, is homey, cheesy, and utterly comforting. Recipe by NYT Cooking.


  • 60g finely grated pecorino Romano, plus more for dusting the completed dish
  • 30g finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 220g fresh pasta OR 180g dried
  • salt to taste


  1. Place the pepper into a saucepan on high heat and toast until fragrant, then pour into a pepper mill or pestle and mortar and grind.
  2. Add water to the same pot and bring to a boil. Use less water than you would usually use for pasta as this will help emulsify the sauce. Season the water lightly with salt. The pecorino will add more saltiness to the dish.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cheeses and black pepper and stir it together with just enough cold water to bring it together into a thick paste.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook until very al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce), then drain, reserving about 1 cup of the starchy water.
  5. Add the cheese and pepper mix into the warm pasta pot. Add the drained pasta then gently, but vigorously stir in the reserved pasta water, and a little olive oil, until the sauce emulsifies and sticks to the pasta. Don’t add too much water.
  6. Ladle the pasta into bowls and serve with more cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 600.89kcal
  • Sugar: 3.1g
  • Sodium: 1189.42mg
  • Fat: 14.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.97g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2.29g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 85.33g
  • Fiber: 4.58g
  • Protein: 26.46g
  • Cholesterol: 40.8mg
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