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Cacio e Pepe | Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper

Introduction & method

This simple recipe only has three or four ingredients - in theory it's really simple to make, but in reality you might need to practice a few times. Don't worry though, even your failures will be delicious - spaghetti, cheese and tons of pepper - just amazing!

Cacio e Pepe | Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper Recipe


Make sure you use pecorino romano cheese rather than the younger and softer pecorino fresco. Remove it from the fridge about an hour before starting so that it has time to warm to room temperature. Grate the cheese as finely as you can. In a hot, dry cast-iron pan or skillet, toast the peppercorns for a couple of minutes until they start to pop and release their aroma. Remove them from the pan, allow to cool down, then crush them in a mortar and pestle - you want to have a mixture of coarse and fine particles.

Cook the spaghetti

In a shallow pan bring some salted water to the boil. You need less water than you would usually use for pasta - just enough to cover the spaghetti by about a centimetre (half an inch). Add the spaghetti and simmer it for about 3 minutes less than the packet advises. We want the spaghetti to be quite al dente because it will continue to cook when it is added to the sauce and nobody will thank you for overcooked spag. Strain the pasta but keep the starchy cooking water.

The fun part

Making the sauce happens off the heat. Melt the butter/heat the oil in a large bowl or pan. Off the heat, beat in most of the cheese and most of the crushed pepper with some of the pasta water to make a paste. Keep going until you get a texture like bechamel, then add the pasta and beat furiously until all strands are coated - you might need to add more water if the sauce is too thick. Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pepper.


Ingredients & Info

 150 grams spaghetti
 75 grams pecorino romano
 2 tsp black peppercorns
 50 grams butter or olive oil (optional)

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 2 
Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 15 minutes.
Total time: 20 minutes.