This cacio e pepe bucatini recipe is easy to make in about 30 minutes with just four ingredients.
Creamy, cheesy pasta with freshly grated cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.
Reminiscing on our last summer vacation in Italy, here is a quick yet delicious recipe for Cacio e Pepe.
I have been craving it since my last bite in Italy.
A pasta dish like no other.
What does cacio e pepe mean in Italian?
This regional dish from Rome, “Cacio e Pepe” means “Cheese and Pepper” pasta.
This Roman pasta dish is not as well known as other Italian dishes, and this dish transcends cheesy indulgence.
As the name suggests, the ingredients of this dish are straightforward and include only black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta.
Difference between Pecorino Romano and Parmesan
The main difference between the two types of cheeses is the milk. Parmesan cheese is from cow’s milk. Pecorino is from sheep’s milk.
They both differentiate in flavor. Parmesan is fruity and milder. The Pecorino is more robust in taste and spicier.
Pecorino cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in Italy, dating back to the Roman Age.
However, lots have changed since it is produced on the island of Sardinia, a small production in Lazio using whole fresh milk from local sheep.
Both kinds of cheese are a staple in my refrigerator as dairy food is concerned.
Do, however, purchase your pecorino cheese in a large piece and grate it at home with the help of a microplane grater or a fine grater to finely grate the cheese just before adding it to your recipe.
Here are a few helpful tips or the ingredients needed
You can find the printable recipe with all the suitable ingredient amounts at the bottom of this post.
Bucatini: Thicker than your traditional spaghetti, the sauce will adhere to it better as it has rougher edges.
Butter: Butter is the perfect binding agent between the pasta and the cheese.
Cracked pepper: Essential that you use freshly ground black pepper to bring that rich flavor to this dish. You can use as much as you feel comfortable. Please feel free to use as much or as little as you feel comfortable having in this dish.
Pecorino Romano: This is the traditional cheese used in this Roman dish. It brings that earthy flavor to this dish. Please do not buy the pre-grated as it will not taste the same.
Microplane My favorite to grate the cheese but any small hole graters will do the trick also.
Large skillet: You will need a skillet with ample room to toss the pasta by combining it with the sauce.
Strainer or tongs to transfer the pasta from the boiling water into the sauce skillet.
Cooking tips and step-by-step instructions to create this excellent Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
This cacio e pepe bucatini pasta recipe is super fast to prepare, and I want to share a couple of tips I have learned to perfect this dish.
- Do not overcook the pasta. The pasta must be al dente or firm to the bite in Italy.
- Since the pasta will continue cooking while tossing it with the sauce, keeping a close eye on the bucatini pasta towards the end of cooking is crucial so it can be immediately transferred to the sauce skillet.
- Add the starchy pasta water to keep the pasta’s moisture content moist. It will adhere to the pecorino and pasta, keeping it wet.
- Recommend using bucatini or spaghetti.
- Grind fresh cracked pepper into the pasta to intensify the Pepe or pepper flavor. There is no comparison with the taste.
- Pecorino Romano, a sheep milk cheese that is aged. Freshly grated will bring so much flavor to this dish.
- Do not overheat the sauce. If your cheese clumps or sticks to the pan, was because the pan was too hot. Ensure that the burner is off entirely before adding the pasta.
- Continue tossing the pasta after you add the cheese.
How do I prevent the cheese from clumping or sticking to the pan?
This dish is famous and prone to clumping if the cheese sauce does not correctly emulsify.
As mentioned above, grate your cheese at home by hand.
Be sure that your saute pan with the melted butter is entirely off the heat source before adding the pasta.
Quickly toss the pasta and continue doing so as you keep adding the cheese.
When the cheese emulsifies and melts into a smooth sauce, serve the pasta immediately.
This dish is best served hot out of the pan.
What do you eat with cacio e pepe?
This simple dish pairs well with Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing.
If you enjoy this delicious Cacio e Pepe recipe, look at some of my other recipes.
Ravioli with Artichokes Hearts, Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinach
Caramelize Onion and Bacon Tarte
Orzo with Basil Butter, Peppers, Tomatoes
Eggplant Pasta and Ricotta Salata
Figs and Seared Duck Breasts
This pasta dish is best served hot from the pan, so please enjoy it immediately.
Equipment needed to make this cacio e pepe recipe.
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to packaging direction to “Al Dente”
- Reserve ¾ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper and cook, swirling the pan until the butter melted and the pepper is slightly toasted. Add half of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and bring to simmer.
- Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce the heat to low and add pecorino cheese stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry.
- Transfer to a bowl and serve hot.
Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.
Did you make this?
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Originally published on March 23, 2018. Updated on February 27, 2023.