Cheese and Pepper Pasta

Cacio e Pepe, or Cheese and Pepper Pasta, is a classic and ultra simple Italian dish that really illustrates what I love so much about Mediterranean food. This is lunch you can throw together from the pantry, assuming you keep a block to top quality hard cheese in the fridge at all times. You will love this one!

This pasta is a perfect example of uncomplicated, pared down food made with just a few ingredients. It’s a classic Italian dish made with pasta, black pepper, and cheese.

Wherever you find your best cheese, pick up a couple of hard Italian varieties like Pecorino or Parmigiana Reggiano. If you can find them, Grana Padano or Piave are other aged Italian grating cheeses. Aged Asiago would work as well. You can use a mixture for this dish, depending on what you find. Just keep in mind that you want to use a good quality Italian cheese. The nice thing is that once you invest in a chunk of one of these cheeses it lasts forever in your fridge. Just rewrap it tightly in waxed paper to store.

A good peppermill and a microplane grater are essential tools for this dish. The microplane will give you finely grated cheese that is perfect for melting. It also yields a very fluffy airy pile of cheese, which explains the 3-plus cups of cheese in the recipe. You want a pepper grinder that allows you to get a nice coarse grind.

My family gave this dish high marks. The pepper is surprisingly flavorful without being overpowering, and the cheese mixed with the pasta water makes a gorgeous creamy sauce.

Cacio e Pepe, or Cheese and Pepper Pasta

4 from 2 votes

Minimal Monday: Cheese and Pepper Pasta

Author Sue Moran


  • 12 oz of whole grain thin spaghetti I like Barilla Plus
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 heaping cups finely grated Grana Padano Pecorino, Piave, or Parmesan cheese (you might even want more depending on how fluffy your grated cheese is)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • lots of fresh parsley finely chopped


  • Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted water until just barely al dente. I usually shave off 3 minutes from the package directions.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and toast the black pepper for a couple of minutes over medium low heat.
  • When the pasta is done, pull it out with tongs and into the pepper pan. A little of the cooking water will go along with the pasta.
  • Add in the butter and lemon juice and toss thoroughly with the cheese, a handful at a time and tossing to coat the pasta evenly between each addition. Add in ladles of pasta water as needed to create a creamy smooth sauce. I think I must have added at least a cup. Toss in the parsley at the end.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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  • Reply
    November 17, 2013 at 4:13 am

    This is such a gorgeous bowl of pasta! I haven’t made black pepper pasta in so long and now I know I have to. Beautiful pictures, too.

    • Reply
      November 18, 2013 at 7:24 am

      This pasta is such a surprise, you’d never guess how amazing it is from the title!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Since I am single, I made a half recipe. I got 2 yummy dinners from this. It is just SOOO delish! I love it!

    • Reply
      September 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      I’m so glad, I just LOVE this pasta!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    This is a lovely, simple but exquisite dish! I’m another fan of Barilla Plus (I think all Barilla pastas have the best flavor, and cook up beautifully). Though the Barilla Plus tastes deceptively like regular pasta, it’s high in protein, fiber and Omega 3s. I’m going to make this recipe again this evening – a perfect easy but satisfying Sunday supper…

  • Reply
    January 5, 2012 at 3:38 am

    Thanks for your beautiful pictures and easy-to-follow instructions. Made this tonight–my husband gave it an A+!!

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    January 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    if i could just eat pasta with a tad of butter AND LOTS OF PEPPER AND CHEESE I WOULD! its my favorite way to serve it. this looks amazing

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    what would you say if i told you that i carry a miniature pepper grinder in my purse? it’s true. once you’ve had fresh-cracked, you can’t go back. 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    January 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I love this idea and am a giant pepper fan. I’ll give this a try! Best wishes to your daughter and to you. Empty nester – hope it goes great.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    What a great concept. I love the idea of minimalist Monday and minimalist recipes! This is a great one to kick it off. Will have to give it a try. Thanks Sue!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Mmmm simple pastas are always the best – I can almost taste it! Looking forward to more minimal Monday’s x

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 12:52 am

    oddly enough…this is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. I make mine using a little freshly grated pecorino and freshly ground black pepper…there is just something about the simplicity of this dish that has amazingly complex flavors that gets me every time I make it. I usually make it when my husband is traveling or when we arrive home late, but hungry after a trip. By the time you bring the bags into the house, the water is boiling and dinner is ready in less than 10 minutes. Your photos are always stunning and I just have to say this is making me very hungry…right now!

  • Reply
    Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes
    January 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Looks delicious and comforting! I like your style! I may adopt Minimal Monday, now what are your going to do for Tuesday, Wednesday . . . etc? LOL!

    Sorry to hear your daughter has to go back so early! Most kids don’t go back until mid-January.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    this was sooooooo good. Teddy had some too.

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