Cacio e Pepe

Classic Cacio e Pepe

When my husband asked me what I wanted for dinner on my last birthday, which fell on a humdrum Tuesday, cacio e pepe was my answer. Besides the fact that it’s basically grown up macaroni & cheese, it’s creamy and decadent and delicious without (ironically) any cream. Paired with a massive green salad and a bottle of Sangiovese, my birthday was made.

This 4-ingredient pasta dish is nearly foolproof, 100% restaurant-worthy, and turns an ordinary Tuesday into a celebration.

2 kids eating Italian cacio e pepe pasta from 2 bowls with chili flakes & lemon water on a white marble surface

So my husband got my boys in the kitchen, and they worked together to make my cacio e pepe wish come true.

So, What does Cacio e Pepe mean?

Cacio e pepe translates to ‘cheese and pepper’ and can be found on almost every menu in the city of Rome. (As if there weren’t already enough reasons to love Rome!) There are only 4 ingredients in classic cacio y pepe recipes. Some people like to add a bit of butter, and adjust the pepper to taste.  With a hefty 2 teaspoons of ground pepper, it definitely packs a kick that spice lovers will enjoy. It’s not your standard chili spice kind of heat, but a more subtle, earthy heat that you feel at the back of your palate — that I adore.

Two boys cooking pasta noodles in a white stockpot & grating parmesan cheese in a white marble kitchen

In my directions below, you’ll see the in the first step to boil pasta in “water that is salty like the sea.” You’ll want to really give your water a heavy dose of salt not only to flavor the pasta, but because that starchy water gets reserved to create the silky sauce, and it needs to have some flavor to it.


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Simple Cacio e Pepe Recipe

If you’re looking for an elegant, easy and delicious dinner, you can’t go wrong with this creamy, cheesy peppery cacio e pepe pasta!

If you make this recipe, we’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #THEFRESH20 so we can see what’s cooking in your kitchen.

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Cacio e Pepe

  • Author: The Fresh 20
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Tender pasta in a creamy, cheesy and peppery sauce.



  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 1½ cups pecorino cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan reggiano
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • Reserved water from pasta boiling


  1. Boil pasta in water that is salty like the sea.
  2. Cook until just before al dente (according to package), then use tongs to quickly transfer it to the bowl, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water.
  3. Add half cup of cooking water to pasta and ¼ of cheese.
  4. Flip pasta around til cheese is combined.
  5. Add another quarter of cheese and repeat.
  6. If needed, add more reserve cooking water.
  7. Keep adding cheese and flipping to coat. The sauce will build to a creamy texture and cling to the pasta. It should not be watery.

  • Category: dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian
Two boys cooking pasta noodles in a white stockpot & grating parmesan cheese in a white marble kitchen Two kids cooking & eating classic Italian cacio e pepe pasta with chili flakes & lemon water in a white marble kitchen

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