How to Make Cacio e Pepe: The Cooking Process I Swear By Every Time | Knowledge and joy

Of all pasta dishes, this cacio e pepe recipe is one of my favorites to make and of course eat. When the dish comes together “just right” it is a creamy, cheesy masterpiece.

Even though the ingredient list is relatively simple, that doesn’t mean it’s a simple dish to make! This dish takes practice and an understanding of how the sauce should come together. That being said, it’s worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a dish you can whip up easily.

Today I’m sharing my cacio e pepe recipe. This is the process that works well for me, but if you have other variations you swear by for this dish, I’d love to hear them in the comments! And if you want an extremely detailed recipe with lots of helpful advice for a smooth sauce, check it out this link.

Cacio e Pepe recipe


  • 16 oz bucatini (or similar long pasta)
  • 1 ½ cups Pecorino Romano, grated by hand, plus more for garnish (I’ve also used Parmesan if you don’t have Pecorino Romano on hand.)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
  • Salt

Cooking tool

  • Pan in stainless steel
  • Pasta pot
  • Grater
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
  • Pliers

Cooking process

  1. Start by filling the pan with water and make sure to salt the pasta water really, really well. Don’t skimp! When you taste the water, it should taste like the sea. (The salt you put in the water also ends up in the sauce, as you use some of the pasta water in the dish.)
  2. Bring the water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
  3. A few minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, melt the butter and olive oil in the pan over medium heat. When the butter melts, add a ton of freshly ground black pepper on top (I add about 20 grinds of pepper). This process is called “flowering”. Stir the mixture for about 1 minute.
  4. About 1 minute before your pasta is done, take 1/4 cup of the pasta water, put it on top of the butter/olive oil/pepper mixture and stir until it thickens into a sauce.
  5. Using tongs, remove the pasta directly from the pan, add it to the pan with the sauce, add the cheese on top and mix thoroughly. It should look like each noodle is glossy and covered in pepper spots. If it doesn’t, you can add more cheese and/or pasta water until you get the right consistency. The goal is to keep everything warm while constantly stirring. The end result should be a squishy-sounding pasta that glistens in the sauce.
  6. Put the pasta in bowls and top with a little more cheese and grated pepper. Enjoy!

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