Cacio E Pepe

This is as 'authentic' a Cacio e Pepe as I can conclude. Just 3 ingredients - spaghetti, pecorino and freshly ground black pepper.

Key Details

  • Serves: 2
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Challenging


  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, toasted and freshly ground
  • 200g spaghetti¬†
  • 85g pecorino, at room temperature, finely grated

This is as ‘authentic’ a version as I can conclude, and though it is the very simplest of ingredients, it can be a tricky one to get right! There are lots of recipes out there with the addition of butter. This is clever thinking as the fats in butter help stabilise the melting of the pecorino (avoiding the dreaded split!) by encouraging the protein and fat molecules in the sauce to bond rather than separate. When cooking it in its simplest form – black pepper, pecorino and water – temperature control is key!

Top Tips:

  • Finely grate your pecorino and make sure it’s room temperature.
  • Always use freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cook your spaghetti in a wide shallow pan (using less water) for extra starchy pasta water
  • Ensure your pasta water isn’t too hot for the sauce by scooping it out halfway through the cooking of the pasta.
  • Make sure your pepper pan has cooled before starting the sauce.
  • Allow your spaghetti to cool a little before adding to the sauce.
  • Never let the sauce come into contact with anything more than a low heat/tiny flame


  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, toasted and freshly ground
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 85g pecorino, at room temperature, finely grated

Cook your spaghetti in a wide pan with a shallow amount of water. This will increase the starch content of the water for your pasta sauce. Salt it slightly, but less than normal, as we’re adding lots of salty pecorino later on.

Halfway through cooking remove a generous mugful of water and set it aside.

Drain your pasta and set it aside to cool a little. If you’re not a multi-tasker, you can drizzle in a touch of olive oil to avoid it sticking together whilst it sits.

Toast off your freshly ground black pepper in a pan until it starts to release a fragrance.

Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding your pecorino and a splash of the pasta water. Keep adding the pasta water (about a ladle full), beating continuously until you have a smooth but loose white sauce.

If your sauce splits your water is too hot. If your pecorino doesn’t seem to be doing anything you may have been a tad too cautious and need to pop it on a very small flame (low heat) to get it back to a meltable temperature.

Add your pasta and pop back on a very low flame, tossing constantly to ensure it’s evenly coated and that the heat is evenly distributed. Once the sauce has thickened to a double cream consistency, remove and serve immediately with more pecorino and pepper.





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