Cacio e Pepe Pasta

from 7 votes

You’re only four ingredients and less than 25 minutes away from this easy, creamy recipe for Cacio e Pepe Pasta.

A green pot containing Cacio e Pepe Pasta and tongs

What the forms say: W-2, 1099, IT-201, W-9, 1040.

What I read: KFC, BLT, M&Ms, CPK, PB&J.


Green pot with cooked spaghetti and tongs

There may not be crying in baseball, but there is without a doubt crying in taxes. I’ve never been big on “math,” so every year when tax season rolls around, you better believe there is a flurry of emails to my accountant with a lot of of who-what-when-where-and-how’s.


Green pot with cooked spaghetti topped with grated Parmesan and black pepper

Cooking, and let’s be honest, eating for a living, leads to a whole lot-o-food bills. So every April I take a long, hard look at my grocery receipts and restaurant bills and decide that next year, I’ll dial it back.

So here’s my first attempt: noodles, butter, cheese and pepper; a.k.a. Cacio e Pepe Pasta.

Large pot containing Cacio e Pepe Pasta and tongs

This recipe is my go-to budget-friendly, big-flavored favorite that’s not so great for the skinny jeans but unbeatable for the wallet. My sister first introduced me to this dish during dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant in Chicago, Davanti Enoteca. One taste, and I, nor my food budget, have ever looked back.

Tune in to the video below to see me whip up this quick and cost-conscious favorite!

Craving more? Subscribe to Just a Taste to get new recipes, meal plans and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.

Main Course

Cacio e Pepe Pasta

All you need is four simple ingredients for this quick and easy recipe for Cacio e Pepe Pasta.
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 7 votes
A green pot containing Cacio e Pepe Pasta and tongs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, small diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely grated black pepper


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the spaghetti and cook it until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • Return the pasta to the pot. Add the grated cheese, butter, black pepper and roughly ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot, stirring until combined. If necessary, add more pasta water to thin out the cheese and butter until the spaghetti is well coated.

Kelly's Notes:

  • I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to reserve a portion of the pasta water when draining the spaghetti. The starchy water is critical to the consistency of the sauce, so while hot water will work in a pinch, avoid forgetting this step!
  • The cheese must be grated, rather than shredded, as the shredded consistency has the tendency to clump together when added to the pot.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


Calories: 439kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 37mg, Sodium: 387mg, Potassium: 206mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 390IU, Calcium: 297mg, Iron: 1.3mg


Did you try this recipe?

Share it with the world! Mention @justataste or tag #justatasterecipes!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.

Feeling social?

Share this recipe!


Related Recipes

Check out more crave-worthy favorites

Kelly Senyei holding a copy of The Secret Ingredient Cookbook

love the recipes on just a taste?

Check out my cookbook!

Order your copy of The Secret Ingredient Cookbook featuring 125 brand-new family-friendly recipes with surprisingly tasty twists!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Join the Conversation

Rate and Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is the best Cacio e pepe recipe I have found! I’ve tried several to get it right and this is now my go to. The secret I think is the grating of the cheese… genius! I have made this several times, always with whole wheat linguine and it’s a family favorite. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my. So easy, even more delicious.
    I chose Cellentani pasta instead of spaghetti. Scrumptious!! We even roasted broccoli separately and tossed some in for variation. My kids were happy to eat veggies tossed into this incredible pasta meal. We’ll be eating this again SOON. Thank you!!!

  3. Do you believe it’s critical to include the pepper? I have some rather picky eaters in my house. This recipe sounds delightful!

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! Even my hard to impress little ones kept saying how good it was. It was the perfect side to grilled chicken. I will be making this again. Thank you so much!

  5. 5 stars
    I was a bachelor for 20 years, played heaps of sport and rarely home for long. Made many versions of this… Asiago cheese makes a nice variation as does olive oil and pesto

  6. Noticed the lid on pot when water coming to a boil -do you also keep lid on during boiling noodles? Just want to make sure I get it right :) since never put lid on when boiling water so not sure if makes difference. And maybe will help if I take it off burner when adding in all extras like you showed. Thank you for recipe and video

    1. No need to keep the lid on while cooking the noodles! I just had it on so the water would come to a boil more quickly. Enjoy!

  7. And to spice it up for that perfect ‘special’ meal just add some garlic prawns and chilli – yum yum!

  8. This is AWESOME……. I have made it several times and the whole family loves it….. Cheap and so so GOOD and takes about 20 minutes to pull the whole dish together , set the table and get the drink & ice in glasses….. Sometimes, I do add a some chicken but in general, usually this is so good that NO ONE even ask about any meat…… LOVE THIS EASY PLEASY MEAL…….throw a side salad in also within the 20 minutes…. I cook, we eat, & clean up the kitchen in about a hour and it is so so GOOD……

    1. LOVE hearing this, Deborah! I’m thrilled you and your family have been enjoying the recipe!

    1. Hi Georganne! Next time add more pasta water to thin out the cheese and butter until the spaghetti is well coated. :)

  9. Is the canned cheese appropriate for this, or do I use the cheese in the tub from the refrigerated section?

  10. Hi! Your post inspired me to try this recipe and loved it ever since. I even posted one in my blog and I thought I posted a message her but I realized I haven’t so I’m here thanking you.


  11. Argh! I am not looking forward to next year taxes as we just established a company and that would take more time in taxes from here on.

    Sometimes, simplicity yields delicious pasta :)

  12. Congratulations on publishing your book (and getting your taxes done)! I enjoyed the post you did last week about artificial food setups, and I’m interested in reading your book, particularly for your insights on food photography for blogs. Photography is not my storng suit. For my blog, I’ve taken an approach of shooting lots of photos and then hoping a good one falls out. Sometimes it does, but I’m not always satisfied with what I get. In looking at the shots for this post, for example, I like that you have a mix of showing the final product, arty ingredient shots and an instructional shot (the last one). Is that an intentional mix? Also, in the first shot, it looks like you’ve nested two bowls for the pasta. I’d be interested in any of insights for how you make these decisions.

  13. Looks great, Kelly–I love this kind of meal. That shot of the spaghetti looks very familiar too! :)

  14. I love this recipe…I only did parm & butter but I’ll add pepper next time. I used to make this all the time in high school…it’s definitely easy comfort food! Love it!

  15. lol we just got our taxes back from our CPA–too funny. I said the same exact thing you said–need to reduce that grocery bill. Love this recipe, it looks and sounds amazing!

  16. I eat this nearly weekly, we used to call it “naked noodles”! And it’s the perfect remedy for taxes, yuck. So glad those are over for another year. Gorgeous photos!

  17. Love this dish! And I know what you mean about forgetting to reserve the pasta water – I always kick myself when I forget (which is often).

    Many congrats again on the book! Just arrived yesterday. From now on when anyone asks me for food blogging advice I’m going to refer them straight to your book – you’ve covered it all from A to Z and so in depth too. Fabulous job! :-)

    1. Thank you so, so much, Kathy! That means the world coming from you! I hope you saw your mention on pg. 28 :)

  18. what a great & easy dish for a busy weeknight! I’m always looking for dishes like this :) awesome, Kelly!