spaghetti with cheese + black pepper

[Psst: There’s a newer version of this recipe on the site.]

Alex and I had an accidental date a few weeks ago, accidental in that we set out to take a walk but the conversation quickly turned to “I wonder if we could get a table at Lupa.” The answer, by the way, should be no. One can never get a table at Lupa. They don’t take many reservations, they’re not very big and just about everyone in New York City loves to drop in there for a meal. It is for this pile of reasons that we’ve never been. Or we never had been. Because that evening, there was exactly one eensy little table free and there we were, having an impromptu dinner out on a weekday night, something that would have been nothing out of the ordinary, say, five months ago but as parents to a young dough ball, it was nothing short of earth shattering.

lots of freshly, finely ground black pepper
finely grated romano

I ordered a beer and the spaghetti, well, the bavette or linguini fini, but for the purpose of this story, it will be spaghetti because it was just that humble. When I trust that a place won’t disappoint, I have a tendency to order the plainest thing on the menu, hearkening back to my deep-seated belief that great chefs make you wonder why you’ve wasting so much time with gimmicky sea salts and foie anything when you could be eating a perfect bowl of spaghetti. And this cacio e pepe? It sang to me. Well, sang and then admonished, as food often does in my presence, “seriously, lady, why haven’t you made this yet?”

spaghetti, al denteish

Now, a little bit about cacio e pepe, which I have spent the last few weeks obsessing over and even auditioning a overpriced, lackluster version at a nearby restaurant named after the dish: someone who lived in Rome would probably laugh at the idea of using a recipe. It’s just grated Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly ground black pepper and pasta water. Many would argue that fat (such as oil or butter) doesn’t belong in it and you probably don’t want to know what they’d think of a Cooks Illustrated version that includes heavy cream. And mentally, I fought the dish because water and cheese? How does that gel together? It could not, it would not emulsify, no matter which method I auditioned.

cacio e pepe

And then I just let it go. I fell in love with the dish at a Batali restaurant, I looked up Batali’s recipe and in it, he does not tell you to miraculously merge oil and water, he tells you to throw it all together and let it happen. And so I did. And it did. And now I don’t have to pray for the extraordinary confluence of babysitters grandparents visiting plus a free table at Lupa to have it anymore. But I could go for a few more impromptu Wednesday night dates that involve beer.

i was bested by suggested portion size

One year ago: Toasted Coconut Shortbread and Devil’s Chicken Thighs + Braised Leeks
Two years ago: Seven-Yolk Pasta Dough and Best Chocolate Pudding

Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper [Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe]
Adapted very loosely from Mario Batali

As I’ve mentioned, for something with such a simple ingredient list this dish manages to fall all over the map. Some versions use just oil, no butter, some use neither oil of butter; some stud the sauce with large, barely cracked peppercorns and half-melted pebbles of romano; some opt for a smoother cheese, cacio de roma, which I located, auditioned and discovered I liked the saltier and more accessible Pecorino Romano better. There are a lot of ways to approach the dish and people who will find something inauthentic with each of them. I say ignore them all and just enjoy your spaghetti.

Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a first course

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Salt (optional)

Cook spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. (You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.) Drain spaghetti, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Dry out your pot, then heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add drained spaghetti and 1 cup of reserved pasta water and jump back, this will splatter mightily, also known as “I made this three times, and never once learned my lesson. Do as I say, not as I do.”

Add butter, 3 ounces cheese and ground pepper and toss together with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese, pepper or salt (which should not be neccessary, as Romano is very salty) to taste.

Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and an extra grind or two of black pepper.

Leave a Reply

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

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

401 comments on spaghetti with cheese + black pepper

  1. Kat

    Pasta with pepper and Parmesan a dab of butter (my preference) is one of my favorite dishes EVER. So simple, so satisfying. And the pepper and Parmesan play off one another perfectly. Perfect Pepper Parmesan Pasta!

  2. Tig

    This sounds like simple pasta heaven! I can’t wait to try it. Growing up in a Greek Family the dish that I most desired was Browned Butter with Mizithra (Greek Cheese For Pasta). It is so simple and so wonderful. It reminds me of this yummy dish!

  3. Megan

    My cheese-mule of a husband (he imports Italian cheese in his suitcase for me and a bunch of friends while on frequent business trips to Parma, Italy) brought back a so-so hunk of Parma-Reggiano bought at a rest stop on his way back to the airport in Milan. I’ve gotten so snobby about my cheese…but I think I will use some of it for this! He goes back to Milan in a few weeks and we’ll get a fresh supply!

  4. It constantly amazes me how simple food is just so darn good – the other night we had baked sweet potatoes for dinner. Just baked sweet potatoes with a little dollop of sour cream. Swoon. I usually add just a smidge of olive oil when i make cacio e pepe, and I like the way this “recipe” looks.

  5. Kelley

    Whenever I make pasta with sauce, I secretly put a few noodles in a bowl and sprinkle parmesan and black pepper over them. I scarf it down and serve the sauced pasta. I always thought it was my weird little thing and am delighted to find I’m not alone! Can’t wait to make it this way for real.

  6. That looks like a great weeknight recipe and triggers some serious carb cravings right now.. and its only 8am, lol. thanks for sharing, will definitely give this one a try this week!

  7. celeste

    My favorite meal! EVER! Nice to see Im not the only one. I also add a squeeze of lemon to mine and an obscene amount of butter + cheese, yummmm!

  8. SaraQ

    I received a pasta maker for a wedding gift a few years ago. One of my favorite dinners is fresh made pasta, a little butter, pepper, parmesan cheese!

  9. You know, I always say that cooking is LOVE made tangible and this is PROOF. Was it the simplicity of the dish or the sweetheart,daters,loving parents-of-young-dough-ball, free-for-the-night&nuzzling karma that put it OVER THE TOP?

    Cook it with love girls (be SMITTEN!)…and even simple will rock your socks.

    P.S. a dash or two of red pepper flakes will add some spice to the soothe!

  10. It’s amazing how a few simple ingredients can make such a killer pasta. I made spaghetti alla carbonara last week because I had a new pasta maker and needed to try it out (I did not, however, hava pasta rack, leading to the noodles drying on a clothing rack placed in my shower). Egg, panchetta, toss. Amazing.

  11. this looks divine and i actually don’t like pasta because it reminds me of being a poor college student (flash-back to $10 for 10 pasta noodle specials). well, maybe you’ve converted me back to a pasta lovah. we’ll see, i’ll have to try this simple recipe! thanks~

  12. Sam

    Here’s a tip to really deliver the pepe punch. Toast the cracked pepper in the pan for awhile before adding anything else. This was taught to me by the chef at Mia Francesca in Chicago.

  13. christinaK

    What a coincidence! Cacio e pepe is one of my most favourite dishes and we’re having this meal tonight!
    I cook it often but it never tastes as delicious as at the roman retaurants. I always order it when I’m in Rome!

  14. Sonia

    Absolutely my favorite comfort food of all time! It was almost the only Italian dish my mother would make for us growing up; not sure why but I think back then (this was the early 60s) plain spaghetti was considered a bland food and suitable for feeding children with upset tummies. Her version was with a pat of butter, good old Kraft parmesan in the shaker can, and pepper definitely optional. If tummies weren’t too upset, she’d top it with some cottage cheese. I do the same to this day.

  15. cybercita

    lupa is my favorite restaurant and this is my favorite dish there — i can’t not order it!

    i’ve learned that it’s easier to snag a table there during big tv occasions, like the superbowl or the oscars.

  16. This recipe was in Cooks Illustrated last month and I made it. It was so insanely good! We just bought a new wedge of pecorino…I might have to make this again soon.

  17. When ingredients are so simple, I love it when this kind of magic happens when they combine. It’s also funny your just posted this because this is very similar to a recipe I just made last night–lots of cheese and the cooking water, except for I tossed in some shrimp, too.

    Three cheers for impromptu Wednesday night beers. And nannys. ;)

  18. This is one of my favourite ways to eat pasta, along with spaghetti carbonara! So simple and it reminds me of my grandmother, who lived in Italy for many years and was a great cook.

  19. Deb, I lived in Milan last year and as I learned more about Italian food I quickly understood that the best dishes are the simplest. Somehow Italians just know how to rock the goodness of fine ingredients and they aren’t trying to be fancy or anything, they just want their food to taste good. I miss Italy a whole lot and recipes like this remind me that bits of life there can always be recreated at home. I can’t wait to make this dish and thank you for showing everyone the beauty of simplicity. You’re blog is incredible and this is yet another example of why I always come back for more. Thank you!

  20. Matt

    I have had this since I was a child. The only thing that (IMHO) is the the spaghetti is cooked beyond al a dente, then it should be cooked in a cast iron pan, hot as you say, until it starts to get a little crunchy – then turn, stir – repeat till spaghetti is cooked. We also do this the same way with anchovies, cappacola, any thing you can think of! It is so very good!

  21. I do love a cooking blog where, when I come to visit, pasta is the top post. First the simple tomato sauce which I’ve been making twice a week since you posted it (and which goes amazingly with not only pasta but my sage/thyme turkey meatballs) and now this. You’re my best friend. Well. Virtually. Y’know.

  22. What a simple, lovely dish! I think I need to update my olive oil, though, if I am going to make a dish like this one that relies on it so much. I got a scary amount for $5 somewhere, sometime, and it’s really, really terrible. Any suggestions?

  23. Dancer who eats

    I am very fond of this new trend of more simple recipes. I still LOVE the crazy things you do… but mixing it up is nice.

    Can’t wait until Jacob is older and you begin making boxed lunches and picnics. It will be fun to see what you come up with!

  24. Elisabeth

    I have been following you for a long time now, using your website like I would a favorite cookbook, and singing your praises to anyone and everyone who will listen. But, I have kept silent until now, when your post on my favorite dish at one of my favorite restaurants and your attempt to recreate it forced me to comment. I have tried to recreate Mr. Batali’s magic at home on a night where fighting for a table at Lupa didn’t seem worthwhile and it has never worked out. But, with your direction, I am going to try this again and hope it works out! Thanks for a great post.

  25. I started doing this in college when I discovered that drizzling a bit of olive oil on my pasta was cheaper than buying jars of tomato sauce. Economical and gourmet!

    It’s also lovely with a light sprinkle of crushed pine nuts.

  26. dana

    The Cooks Illustrated recipe from last month uses a tiny bit of cream in their recipe- adding it with the water to the cheese to create the sauce.. You might get a kick of our their article and their various attempts and failures before getting it right…This is on deck for tonight..

  27. My lord, I’ve never seen grated cheese look so amazing. I’ve been making something similar this winter – more cheese, no butter. My secret (well, not-so) has been to roast a head of garlic, mash up the cloves and add a little white wine, and pour this over the pasta before adding the cheese and pasta water.

    So good.

  28. Can I be really type-A and ask for a little guidance on something? Because I’ve been afraid of trying cacio e pepe for years now. How does that whole cup of water… you know… get absorbed? My very literal mind is seeing pasta soup and I’m still afraid of trying it! So how long, roughly, am I tossing this?

  29. Gorgeous pictures! This is my ultimate comfort food. If I didn’t have a man and kids to cook for I’d probably eat it 4 or 5 nights per week. I usually make it once per week – my go-to dinner when I don’t have anything in the fridge other than butter and cheese and maybe something green (which, with three little ones and a job, seems to happen with embarrassing frequency!). I have to do it sans pepper for my kids (who can’t stand spicy anything – yet), and served with sauteed broccoli raab or roasted brussels YUM.

  30. You really can’t go wrong with spaghetti and cheese! Do you ever make your own pasta, or do you stick to the boxed now that you have a little monkey to chase after?

    1. deb

      Lindsay — I’ve made my own a lot (the two years ago above links to a really rich recipe) but I’ve never had luck with spaghetti at home. It all stuck together and I know I could work it out, but I haven’t tried again.

      Krissa — It gets partly absorbed, and it become the “sauce”. You won’t have to toss is more than a couple times before it works. Ladles of pasta water are used a lot in Italian pasta dishes, which are often just sautees of garlic and greens or one vegetable with some cheese and seasoning… the starchy water helps pull it together. The trick is not to add so much that it will become soupy. One cup or to a pound of spaghetti does not.

  31. I just adore pasta. I can eat it straight out of the bowl with nuthin’ on it. Add a little butter, a little oil, a little pepper, salt … and cheese … and that’s my idea of a comfort meal on these February days when the snow just won’t go away.

  32. Vicky

    I used to eat a version of this as a kid for breakfast… Wake up and grab some left over spaghetti, butter, cheese, pepper… Seeing this reminded me that it’s been too long since.

  33. Sarah

    We started making this a few weeks ago for our toddler and he LOVES it. He will eat it heartily every single night for dinner with fresh steamed brocolli. He doesn’t love food so to see him eat so enthusiastically is a gift we cherish. So yeah, despite it’s simplicity it rocks my world.

    We usually just toss the spagetti with butter, then top with shredded mozzerella and let him do his own salt and pepper (he loves to shake the shakers).

  34. Lisa P.

    This has been one of my favorites regarding my pasta fare, but I had no formal name for it. I can also tolerate it currently, as opposed to many a recipe and food odor lately. A prenatal nauseous hum never helped a chef. Subsequently, it’s helped my husband discover he can eat hot dogs many days in a row. I can’t wait to enjoy more of your photos and recipes soon! (Is a month soon enough? NO!)

  35. Susan

    This is good with plain white rice, too, but you have to add heated chicken broth, water or milk, as there is no pasta water. These simple meals have no real origin, just local spins, as they are something cooks all over the world improvise to feed families, or just themselves, with whatever they have on hand. Restaurants are great inspiration though, for the cultural spin.

  36. Oh wow I’m hungry now. I always make the mistake of reading your blog at lunchtime!

    My favorite favorite food of all time growing up was plain cooked white rice not completely drained stirred up with lots of butter salt and pepper my grandma would make me. This makes me think of that so much but with romano which I love too. Sounds like a great quick dinner. Thanks!

  37. Xai

    i do this with tortellini sometimes and i loooove it! a heaping handful of cheese, olive oil, pasta water, black pepper and we’re ready to gobble up that pasta in the bowl!

  38. Now if only you can finish this with a recipe for some of their house-made grappa. All winter I have been finishing heavy meals with a digestif, and I love Lupa’s seasonal infused versions. Although too many tests, and you may have to call back the grandparents to help out after all.

  39. Rachel

    I didn’t know this had an official name. I have been making pasta for myself that half the bowl is broccoli. Dust generously with fresh grated Parmesan, grind some pepper and toss together. I add a little oil or butter if it doesn’t seem to be coming together. Guess I should start saving some of the pasta water. If I have good garlic on hand I will toss a couple cloves in with the pasta to soften. Then mush over everything with a press.

  40. Tiny Kitchen

    Did you really manage to keep yours from clumping? How? I’m impressed. Before reading this post I’d read the Cooks Illustrated article and they just couldn’t get it to work.

    1. deb

      About the Cook’s Illustrated version — I briefly mention it above as I tried it but I used butter instead of cream because a) this dish isn’t traditionally made with cream and b) the version I’d fallen in love with doesn’t contain cream, it contains butter. Of course it didn’t work and I debated making it again as written but again a) ugh, I really didn’t want cream in this, I wanted what I’d had at Lupa and b) I’d read some complaints in the forums that people were still having clumping issues despite the cream. Thus, I went with the Batali method (Lupa is a Batali restaurant, btw) which doesn’t try to make a sauce, doesn’t try to emulsify cheese and water, just tosses it together in an order that works, and voila — I got the exact dish I was pining for. Hope that gives more insight.

      Bethany — I recommend buying two olive oils, one for cooking and one for “finishing”. IMHO, there’s no reason to cook with top-of-the-line uber-delicate extra virgin olive oils; their delicacy is lost once they are cooked. The “finishing” olive oil can be a fancier extra-virgin; I use that for drizzling on dishes or salad dressings. I cook with a low/mid-priced one, such as the basic ones from Whole Foods.

      Shauna — We have all four grandparents within an hour of us; Jacob gets a lot of visitors and we spoiled parents have at least an opportunity a week to skip out without the kid for a couple hours. Unfortunately, we usually waste it going to the gym. ;)

  41. Kathy

    I am re-reading Eat, Pray, Love (well, the Eat part, anyway), and here you have posted the recipe for one of the dishes EG swoons over! Love it.

  42. Well, my Mom (87 years old now) says she is a horrible cook. Maybe because she never liked to cook, but the fact is I grew up eating a pasta dish almost exactly like this one…

    it was her default dinner, and seeing this on your blog brought me a ton of good memories…

    (I make it, but it NEVER turns out like hers…. :-(

  43. Nessie

    Oh my god this sounds like it would be heaven! What would you recommend serving with it to make it a full meal? Do you think a little garlic would be good or would it over power the cheese? Thanks heaps! :)

  44. For a similar “hard to get a table but you have to try and make sure you get the simplest dish on the menu” try Genarro (UWS) and order the bucatini with fresh ground pepper and sheep’s milk cheese. Heaven.

  45. lee

    I cannot wait to try making this!! It’s wonderful to read about recipes like this, that are so simple to assemble and require so few ingredients. They truly remind us all that delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated.


  46. Jeannie

    Any recommendations or favorites as to store bought pasta, because as simple as it is, it still depends on the ingredients…Just like San Marzano tomatoes tend to work great for sauce,(my local Treasure Island in Chi-town carries it) any thoughts as to pasta?? I still have not come up with a favorite boxed version…there seems to be nothing that beats freshly made(which I don’t do so restaurant) pasta….

  47. Emily

    is it possible to make without butter? I’m assuming it’s just for the taste and/or so the pasta doesn’t stick? I really despise the taste of butter on pasta and would rather just use quality olive oil.

  48. i absolutely love, love, love this dish – it’s one of our favorite dishes EH-vuh!! i have also done a mix of Parmesan and pecorino when i didn’t have quite enough of one or the other – both are delicious! do you have a favorite brand of pasta that you use?

  49. RainyCityGirl

    Hi Deb,
    I am a long-time lurker and first-time poster. I love, love, love this pasta(never knew the name before). I have had clumping issues in the past, so will have to try your method. What pot do you use for boiling your pasta? I am curious, as my electric stove and the calphalon non-stick 3quart pot that I use (for half a pound for the 2 of us) takes a while to get going- making this an unnecessarily long dish.
    Also, you mentioned drizzing olive oils in one of your responses. Any favorites here?

    1. deb

      RainyCityGirl — I used a 12-inch All-Clad saucepan that came with my set, and is just wide enough for the spaghetti, plus great for making a sauce in afterward. I don’t have any olive oil preferences; but a “fancier” one would be anyone that catches my eye with a pretty bottle or that I get a taste of somewhere and really love but find pricey. Using it to finish dishes allows you to enjoy it as is best and not have to break the bank when you fry an egg.

  50. I will totally try this. Mostly because freshly micro-planed pecorino, butter & ground black pepper is my go-to popcorn topping. My husband hates my popcorn obsession, so i have to get my fix!

  51. Jean Marie

    I made the tomato sauce w/onion and butter for about the 6th time since you posted it. So good and so simple which is just what this one is too. We’ll be trying it soon.

  52. Christine

    Loving the fact that the world is finally catching up with my humble, immigrant grandparents and their proper peasant cooking! I was raised on stuff like this and have the thighs to prove it! My husband, of Mayflower descent, hates when I cook like this but, I make him a meatloaf, mashed potatoes and creamed corn and he settles right down! Life is good!

  53. Nancy

    You have elevated this humble dish. For years, this is the only way I would eat spaghetti. In college I used to add a handful of frozen peas. Now, I can afford better cheese, better olive oil, better grater and better pepper mill and I still love it.

  54. Elise

    Totally making this for dinner tonight. I was planning simple steamed mussels and some sort of pasta dish, for a romantic but not overly difficult Valentine dinner, and this looks absolutely perfect.

    I’m tempted to try it with a mix of mussel broth and pasta water– or we might just end up slurping the broth from the mussel bowl like we usually do. Yum!

  55. ah yes, cacio e pepe. the dish i never knew until i was studying in italy, and it quickly became my most favorite pasta ever. i brought home pecorino romano and black pepper corns just so make this dish. i have a few tricks that make the oil and butter unnecessary, but whichever way you make it, it’s fantastic.

  56. Jen

    I JUST made this last night for my husband along with a nice hearty green salad and we couldn’t have been happier. Might try your version next time, just to try a different way. But either way – cheese and black pepper = yum!

  57. Made this for lunch and it was delightfully wonderful – perfect with a warm spinach and bacon salad.

    Clean up from the melted cheese was a bit of a chore. Any tips for that?

    I’d still make it again, it’s worth it.

  58. I am so excited you posted a recipe for Cacio E Pepe. My husband (who is a vegetarian) and I spent our honeymoon in Rome, and we fell in love with this simple and delightful dish.

    Here in NYC, you can get a good Cacio E Pepe at Cacio E Pepe on 2nd Avenue. They finish it, tableside, but dumping the hot pasta into a partially hollowed out wheel of cheese. They stir up your past IN A WHEEL OF CHEESE! Then they put it back in the bowl and say, “Mangia!” Yum.

  59. Elizabeth

    I grew up eating (practically on a daily basis) an even simpler version of this. It’s funny to me that it would need a recipe, or that this wasn’t the quick and easy dinner we ALL eat when we don’t feel like cooking or don’t have anything else to cook or it’s what we’ve been craving all day or need comfort food. Thanks for posting this!

  60. Amy

    I just made this for dinner tonight. The only thing better than how simple it was to make, is how delicious it was. Thank you for planning yet another dinner for me!

  61. I made it for dinner too. It was wonderful! I was amazed at how “creamy” the sauce was. Very satisfying and I loved the bite of pepper. I served it with a simple green salad and threw some of my salad into the pasta toward the end. I like my foods touching! So yummy! I’ll remember this one when the pantry and meat supply are low! We love eating meatless at least once a week. Thank you!

  62. Steve S

    Garlic, wonderful garlic – the only thing missing.
    (Heck, I thought I invented this dish years ago – I came up with it myself when I didn’t have the ingredients on hand for a tomato-based sauce. The only thing I did differently was to delete the oil and add garlic. Butter, parmesan, garlic and pepper. Comfort food.)

  63. i just made a different version of this that i think was in gourmet though i cannot seem to find it on line. it also used 2 kinds of cheese instead of just one. it was pretty darn good but i’m excited to try this one despite the splattering.

  64. It’s been way too long since I was at Lupa…had literally one of the most enjoyable meals of my life there. Thanks for sharing this – it’s inspired me to re-create a bit of Lupa at home.

  65. This dish reminds me of my childhood(and I’m sure many others), where I must have known a little secret that the adults didn’t… noodles, butter, and cheese equals yum. So basic, but so so good. Thanks for taking me back! The pepper makes it an adult dish!

  66. stephanie

    wow, who knew something that had been my go to ‘i have no money but whatever i haven’t scrounged from the couch cushions yet’ meal actually ‘existed’ and could sound and look so fancy! i love it!

  67. Maureen

    This is one of my favorite dishes from childhood (and still in middle age!). I had no idea that anyone had a recipe for it; it’s just an Italian staple. Looks beautiful, and now I’m hungry for pasta…which is no surprise.

  68. Adrienne

    I will admit to making this with heaps more cheese and a bit more butter than called for! Thanks for reminding me of an old favorite!

    Love, love, love your blog, everything about it! Have been following for awhile and am so happy to incorporate what you share into my repertoire! Thank you!

  69. This is one of my favorite ways to eat pasta; it was our default lunch whenever my Italian/Puerto Rican grandmother was in charge. Greasy, humid, dark brick kitchen.. thanks for bringing back fond memories.

  70. jo

    Deb, please, I am desperate. What is Miller’s bran (I’ve been checking out your sour cream bran muffins)? I’m in Australia…I tried kibbled wheat, but (after trying it out) apparently it’s not miller’s bran. I am searching for the bran in some store-bought muffins over here – it’s nutty and soft, and definitely NOT wheat bran (flakes), oat bran, any sort of bran cereal …you can see by the amount of bran I have bought, I am a desperate woman. Any chance of a definition and/or photo? Thank you so much.

  71. Hannah

    Mm, delicious!!
    I made a version of this some time back with Jamie Oliver’s recipe. It involved melting egregious amounts of butter in a pan, adding several crushed cloves of garlic and then throwing in some boiled penne with its pasta water. YUM!!
    Must try this though..pasta is an all-time fave. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch & dinner…seriously!!

  72. Hannah

    Deb, you make my life so much easier, more exciting, joyful, delicious. THANK YOU!!! And your baby boy, Jacob, is (ok you’ve probably heard this millions of times but here goes again!!) just adorable. The toupee! The ears! The cheeks!! Wish I could steal him for a cuddle =)

  73. ideasinca

    I’ve been making essentially this dish for my daughter for breakfast at least four days a week for ten years and never knew it had a name! She prefers it with all olive oil. Also, I use Reggiano Parmesan, as neither of us is fond of Romano, but after reading t his I’ll have to revisit the Romano. For a delicious variation toss in some finely chopped fresh sage.

    (This child far prefers savory over sweet for breakfast. Her other favorite breakfast is steamed leftover rice with one or two poached eggs on top, which I’ve been told is a favorite dish among Filipinos, but which we invented on our own!)

  74. SRabbit

    My version of this was one of the few things I could eat in my first trimester and I loved it. Teeniest sprinkle of oregano sometimes.

  75. This was a staple in my grandmother’s house while I was growing up and is my boys’ absolute favorite dinner now. Italian cooking is ALL based on simple, fresh ingredients and this dish is a perfect example. Great post
    xoxo Pattie

  76. Louise

    I am a huge fan of the version of this with a little finely chopped red chili and reckon that this version would be as pleasing. There is something beautiful about simply prepared food that manages to be so amazing to eat. When my husband was put on a low carb diet I started wishing for him to go on business trips so I could have this for dinner.

  77. My favorite dish at one of my favorite restaurants. My husband and I stumbled in there for lunch on a trip to NY in 2001, I ordered the bavette, and all of my notions of pasta changed forever. Cheese, too—I’d choose pecorino over parm almost any day. Back then, there wasn’t a published recipe, so I had to reverse engineer it, which took some doing, and it has been a favorite in our house for years now. I always felt a little guilty that I had to use a bit of butter to make it work. Then a few years later, after chatting up the bartender at Otto, he admitted that Batali’s recipe used butter, too, and I was redeemed!

    When I want to feel slightly more virtuous while eating this, I tear up a bunch of cavolo nero and drop it into the pasta water with about 2-4 minutes to go. It adds good green, great flavor, and its chewy texture complements the al dente pasta beautifully. When I want to amp it even further, I toss in oven-roasted cauliflower and toasted breadcrumbs at the very end. And when I want to die and go to heaven, I prop a poached egg on top. Ree-diculously good.

  78. linda

    When my sister and I were little, we did not always want a red sauce so my mom would make us a bowl of spaghetti with butter and grated cheese. Who knew she was so clever! Anyway, when I was pregnant and again, 20 years later suffering the angst and overall crappiness of chemo, I would turn to this dish..pure comfort food at it’s best. Bonus? My sister and I would eat this in front of her now ex-mother-in-law, Sicilian by birth, and watch her go pale and her jaw drop..I truly love your web-site..Thank you for doing such a great job.

  79. Lynne

    Oh good Heavens. I never knew that one of my favorite “young married” dishes was anything other than something we just threw together from desperation. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. And me without a scrap of Romano in the house today. . .

  80. Wow…so simple. You are right, simplifying can make some ridiculously wonderful restaurants. Of course I am the opposite when I go out because I try to order something that I haven’t made yet or haven’t thought of making.

  81. JRoth

    The only thing that I don’t get is that Batali’s recipe says to reserve the cooking water and then never mentions it again. How did you settle on your (incredibly dangerous) method?

    Btw, you bourbon-peach handpie recipe is one of the highlights of my summer.

    1. deb

      JRoth — Batali’s method doesn’t include volumes for cheese or pepper either which is probably fine if you’ve made this a few times but for the rest of us who want to know how much cheese to pick up or see if we have and how much pepper will give it a pop without tasting like a giant peppercorn. Anyway, in making it a few times, I found amounts that worked for me.

  82. Tammie

    I have been enjoying this dish all my life, I always used elbow macaroni for mine. Never thought of if being anything special, just a lazy way of fixing pasta.

  83. I love the simplicity of this dish also. Thank you for sharing the original, and then also your own modified version. I think I will enjoy making and sharing your version more and look forward to trying it soon!

  84. I love how so many people have “come up with” this recipe on their own out of need or boredom or whatever. Some things in the world really are universal.
    My (Italian) mother would make this for us when we were sick — though you best not get caught faking in our house. Though I will take Pecorino Romano over plain ol’ grated Parm any day, I like this recipe with Piave.

  85. Stafford

    Oh my god. Hands down, my most favorite dinner of ALL TIME! I had this every night for a week straight a couple weeks ago. The taste is honestly phenomenal, a true classic. So good. So so good. I also agree with using Parm instead of Pecorino, mainly just because I always have Parm on hand because I put it on everything… one day I will try it with Pecorino. But cracked black pepper–I put that on everything too. Just. So. Good.

  86. Elise

    Yes indeed, this is FANTASTIC with half pasta water, half mussel broth. I’d never seen my husband eat so much pasta in my life– and he lived on spaghetti with ragu for three years before we married.

  87. Spaghetti with cheese and pepper is one of my favorite dishes, although I prefer using a Greek cheese, mizithra, which is a hard white sheep’s/goat’s milk cheese that I think goes perfectly with this simple dish. It’s less salty than pecorino and mixed with olive oil and pasta water becomes almost creamy. If you can find it in the U.S. do try it.

  88. Lisa

    Cacio e Pepe is my absolute favorite pasta dish. My mother makes this for me when I visit. Her recipe includes using pancetta or you can use bacon. Yummmm!

  89. Leslie

    Ah, Deb, thanks for this reminder. My BFF and I visited Italy in September and were taken to a small family-run restaurant in Rome by an Italian friend of ours for lunch one day (our own Italian, in Italy – we were so lucky and he was so helpful and generous!) Andrea suggested the cacio e pepe and it was delicious. Will definitely be using this recipe soon.

  90. Tania

    Deb, if you are feeling lazy one day please try the burnt butter version. I had no idea it was Greek (which I am) until the other posters posted. I just cook the pasta, burn the butter, great the cheese and mix (adding pepper). No water. it’s a different dish but yummy. I’ll try yours and the mizithra version too. Yum.

  91. Lola

    yum! cacio e pepe was my favorite thing I ate during my entire trip to Rome a few years ago… so simple but soooooo good! I usually make it with butter, I’ll have to try this way!

  92. foodiebloglurker

    This is the first time I’ve actually tried replicating a recipe from your site instead of looking through recipes and been “inspired” by them (as in, seeing a chickpea recipe and making my own but the only common ingrediet between the recipes was chickpeas – that kinda thing). I love your recipes but my student kitchenette doesn’t allow carrying out some of the more complex ones, and sometimes the ingredients are too fancy for my student budget (not a criticism of you, Deb! just explaining my situation a little).

    I’m not sure if I did everything correctly and I used regular parmesan instead of the cheese you mentioned but what I made ended up being delicious anyhow and I’ll make again for sure. I love Italy for having these ridiculously decadent simple dishes even a student like myself can whip up in a moment’s time without a trip to the store to grab a million required ingredients.

    And the added varieties of the recipe in the comments is also really interesting, I’ll have to try some of them. :)

  93. nathaniel

    You should definitely try the spaghetti cacio e pepe at “bellavitae” restaurant on Minetta lane near Lupa. I like it better than Batalli’s version, it’s a bit saucier and pepperier (also more so than the ones I had in Rome) actually more like the Cook’s Illustrated recipe but better.

    I also second the recommendation for the spaghetti al limone at supper/lil frankies which has a similar vibe and a really addictive citrusy twinge.

  94. Marie M.C.

    I love this recipe. What could be simpler? All you need is time to boil water then cook the spaghetti. I had my version of this last Sat. and Sun. I may have it again tonight. I use the same size spaghetti you use. Sometimes I’ll use a light dusting of cayenne pepper instead of black pepper. And I use freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Gotta try the Romano. Always use butter. Anyway you make it — you’ll eat every strand of pasta — and lick the bowl.

    Deb, this the perfect recipe to post. Those that have eaten it will be reminded how good it is and the unfortunate few who haven’t — what a treat ahead for them.

  95. Tim

    Deb — I’ve been making a variation of this for years! Next time, try adding some minced garlic and a splash of white wine. I add a pinch of some herbs sometimes, but just to whatever I want — which is why we call it “free-style pasta.” The white wine really puts it over the edge, though…

  96. anna

    made this last night….only tossed in a little extra mascarpone and a dab of truffle butter to make it Friday Date Night worthy. mmmmmm.

  97. Frances

    This is my go to comfort food – it’s easy and quick to make after a hard day at work. I am looking forward to making it using this method!

  98. Oh I SO know what you mean about the miracle of the impromptu weeknight date as we are also nursing a little doughball of our own!

    This pasta looks so homey and delicious…and simple enough to throw together in the few spare moments I have :) Thanks for sharing!

  99. I’m a champion Smitten lurker but I have to say…

    … I’m hosting a Valentine’s day pasta dinner last night. While some will be scarfing on marinara/meat sauce and penne, I’ll have this to offer as well. It’s going to go over well, I’m sure :)THANK YOU.

  100. amystein

    ok, really, my favorite restaurant, and this is my favorite dish !!!! The spicy chicken thing is second. Can’t wait to make it. Also, if you haven’t you should try the house pasta dish at Cacio y Pepe on Second Ave. It’s spaghetti swirled in a giant wheel of cheese. Best eaten in the summer out on the back patio. I really enjoy your blog and your son is adorable!

    ps can you work on a recipe for Levain Bakery cookies??

  101. Berto

    This recipe came in perfect handy for my night before marathon carb-loading session! Easy and delicious! Even the picky parental unit loves it!

  102. I made one of the cook’s illustrated versions (from one of last year’s magazines), and it was tasty but a little too salty for me. I don’t normally use that much salt in my pasta water, so I was a bit shocked by the saltiness of the resulting dish. I think I will have to try this version the next time I am looking for a quick dinner.

  103. As a child of Italian imegrants, who can to Canada with no money, Let me tell you this was poor simple peasant food, but oh so delicious.Now as an adult who has done very well for herself e very time I eat something as simple simple as this it brings me back to my simple delicious childhood meals.

  104. As someone else has probably already mentioned, this is even more divine with a fried or poached egg on top — mmm yoke oozing over a heavenly bowl of comfort :)

  105. MO3B

    I made this for dinner tonight. While watching my husband and boys devour this simple but delicious dish, a flood of memories can washing over me. This is the same dish my Mom (she’s an Italian immigrant) used to make for me when I was a little girl and her Mother would make for her when she was little. Anytime it was very cold or if I wasn’t feeling well, my Mom would make this pasta (with pastina instead of spaghetti though). I haven’t thought about that in years. I told my kids and husband during dinner and they loved hearing about the memories. Thanks for helping me remember such wonderful comfort food and pleasant childhood memories.

  106. Lulu

    Wow… I never would think of this was an actual “recipe.” It’s what my husband makes when he wants comfort food, because it’s what his sicilian grandma made for him as a kid (with the addition of some garlic, and no butter). It’s probably one of like 3 recipes he can cook.

  107. Marleen

    First of all: you’ve got such a great website (and such a lovely boy…). Thanks for sharing this recipe, it’s much easier to prepare than my hb’s favorite (tagliatelle aglio olio) that we used to eat lots as PhD students, so I’ll give it a try. that way at least I can add something to our list of food that we can eat together. He’s turkish, I’m dutch, and just imagine how difficult it is to cook something that is at least ‘acceptable’ to both of us :-)

  108. Liz

    my sister’s little girls were practically brought up on this – at one stage they would hardly eat anything else- fortunately with a large helping of greens on the side. It’s the ultimate comfort food, I’ve made it with pink peppercorns too – very pretty.

  109. Deb, is he ready for college now? Seriously, that look on his face is very intelligent!

    I love the idea of this recipe. Sadly, too much “holidays” still abounds around my place (and my middle). It’ll wait… at least until the snow clears and can get back to the gym where I will “need fuel.”

  110. Meredith

    I had that very same pasta at Lupa, and a completely agree. It was just perfectly seasoned. How could something so simple be so wonderful?

    I’m glad you found yourself a chance to sneak away!

  111. I am going to try this recipe. Years ago I used to make the Frugal Gourmet’s Garlic Pasta with Eggs, very close to this recipe, but you add a through a scrambled egg into this menu. Sometimes simplicity is often the best.

  112. Becca

    So simple, so delicious. My boyfriend and I are totally broke right now, so, it was wonderful to put together such an elegant and satisfying meal with ingredients that we already had on hand. This will become a broke date night staple!

  113. Mmm, I love Cacio e Pepe, there was a fantastic restaurant in Rome that made it with cherry tomatoes and zucchini flowers over fresh tagliolini, mmmmmmm. It strayed from the traditional, but was oh so good.

  114. Leslie

    Just made this last night, and it was fabulous! Didn’t need that extra 1/2 cup pasta water, but Lord, was this good. My boyfriend added fresh thyme and a few capers, plus crushed red pepper. Soooo good!

  115. This was spectacular! I used all butter and sprinkled lots of fleur de sel at the very last minute. Hard to believe, but it was very creamy. Delicious! Thanks for the convincing write up.

  116. Hannah

    Ok I’m eating this right now. It is DELICIOUS!! Very easy to make although I fiddled with the measurements a bit as I was cooking for just one person (me!) which was a bit difficult. Thanks, Deb, for the warning about the smoking olive oil!! I, unfortunately, did what you do!! Olive oil splattered all over my galley kitchen…oh well, better luck next time. Also no parmesan or romano in the house so I had to use mozzarella. The result was obviously a little bland which was clearly my fault so I’m not pinning it on you. Lovely bite from the pepper though and very creamy & good. The best thing is that it is SO simple and good.

  117. Aloha from Maui, Deb~

    LOVE THIS ! Although, I thought I invented this as a child. Favorite ‘go to’ meal of all time to this day. I am so happy it has a name. :o)
    I made it last night with some chopped garlic thrown in and a squeeze of a couple of Key Limes. Would’ve been good to have zested them but they were towards the end of the road looks wise…

    Hope you’re all staying warm.

    Lisa V

  118. Lisa

    This was WONDERFUL – thank you SO MUCH! I’m learning to deal with food allergies and they have me avoiding wheat, eggs, and cow’s milk… then along comes this recipe (which works out fine with corn spaghetti!) and it’s creamy and DELICIOUS. I am still floating away… THANK YOU!

  119. Made this last night after reading this post. Turned out fantastically! We paired it with garlic bread, a big salad, and a huge pile of steamed veg, and everyone (including the 2.5 year old) inhaled it. Thanks!

  120. Jenn R

    To Jeanie above who asked for a pasta suggestion: my husband is from Italy and he will only (I mean ONLY) eat De Cecco brand pasta so that’s what we eat in our house. His Italian friends agree that it’s the best. Also, your pasta water should be salty – as salty as sea water. It took a lot of time for me to get used to putting that much salt in the water (around 2-3 T.) but it definitely makes a difference.

  121. pam

    Deb, what I have to say may put you over the proverbial edge… I have a better recipe than this one for this dish… yours. I have been making your seven yolk pasta at least twice a week since I recieved my pasta maker for Christmas. I have cut it a number of ways but the best by far is simply rolled through the machine up to a six or seven. The sheets of pasta are like silk. I mix the pasta by hand like you suggest but then I “knead” it in my stand mixer for about30 min. You REALLY nead to try it! For buttered noodles I simply rough cut the sheets into slightly larger than bite size rectangles. I know rack my brain every week for something to put between those sheets, tonight we had meatball lasagna and we have also had chicken enchiladas but with noodles instead of tortillas. My next task is to figure out how to make pasta sheets into a desert, any ideas?
    oooh maybe something with your amazing carmel sauce!!

  122. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love it when dishes are so simple yet taste so good. I also love the fact that I will likely have all ingredients for this delightful dish on hand at all times. I made this last night and it was well loved by all.

    It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m full of LOVE. <3

  123. I grew up with elaborate preparations in the kitchen but when I started to cook for myself, I found that simple cooking can be just as good if not better. One of my favorite pasta meals is spaghetti with shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil. This is along those lines and I can see how it can be tasty. I can’t wait to try it!

  124. Kelle

    I can’t eat beef anymore so while the family’s bolognese sauce is out, I can still make this myself. The simplicity is perfect and may lend itself to a few artichoke hearts and snips of sundried tomatoes, but only on nights when I feel extra-fancy :)

  125. paninoo

    Hey all, from an italian…
    this recipe cannot be translated spaghetti with cheese and pepper.
    Cacio is not “cheese”.. cacio is sheep cheese (pacorino romano to be exact).
    spaghetti cacio e pepe cannot be made with any cheese.
    that’s the secret of italian cooking. simple but precise. exact ingredients are required!

  126. Ariella

    This was recently in Cooks Illustrated and I’ve made it thrice with their recipe so far. Delicious! We use the four-pepper blend from Penzey’s, which really adds a lot of flavor and heat. In fact, I like the flavor so I used more pepper than the recipe called for.

    This recipe looks very similar (before I clicked through, I thought you were going to do an adaptation of the CI recipe). I’m sure it’s delicious.

  127. Carla

    hmph. This recipe looked so good. I made a mistake and I don’t know where. When I put in the cup of water with the oil and pasta, it was SO watery. Is it supposed to cook down? And then when I added the cheese, it was a big lump of goo. I’m dissappointed because yours looks so tasty! Any tips?

    1. deb

      Carla — Were you tossing it about as you added the ingredients? When it works, the pasta water gets starchier and creamier, and generally glues itself to the noodles.

  128. Arlene

    Thank you for this recipe. I tried to duplicate Lupa’s several times – even trying Cooks Illustrated version, which clumped mightily.

    Try Lupa’s on Sunday afternoon – we’ve been very lucky to get a table every time.

  129. cyndi

    My husband and I celebrated my 35th birthday in NYC a couple years ago and were lucky enough to book a table at Lupa. We had this dish as part of our dinner and it immediately captured our hearts + bellies! It was so simple but so, SO good! We tried to re-create it upon our return home but failed miserably. I’m very much looking forward to trying this one! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  130. Hammy19

    Just wanted to say that I am so glad that you and your blog exist! This was great and cheap! I was doubtful given the simplicity but it was lovely. Thanks for putting such great stuff out into the world.

  131. {#61 Robyn February 12, 2010 61 Mmmmmmmm, makes me think of pasta with browned butter and mizithra. If you haven’t tried it you must, and soon!}

    Oh, I was thinking the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  132. Kathy

    Hello Deb,

    This is the first recipe I have ever tried from your site. Made it exactly as you directed and my family LOVED it.

    Thanks for the easy yet delicious dish.

    PS. Love the baby pics… yummier then the food :)

  133. sheryl

    I made this last night and have now had it for four consecutive meals, mostly while watching the Olympics. I have seen this kind of recipe before but now finally get how pasta water melds with the cheese and spices and pasta to make something just simple and sublime! Thanks for this great post

  134. amy

    loved it! perhaps a little salty for me…I’ll try going lighter on the salt in the water next time.
    I had a few clumps of cheese, but not too many….stir better next time
    amazing how the sauce just sorta happens!
    I’ll be making it more
    and hoping to have some in italy in june to compare!

  135. Becca

    I read this recipe while hungry and absolutely changed my dinner plans to make this. I love the simplicity – it’s almost funny how few ingredients are in it. I made it for me and my boyfriend (not a foodee by any means), and when he asked what I was going to make for dinner i said spaghetti. He made a face like I said sauteed worms and then an even worse one when he found out it wasn’t going to be topped with my sauce and meatballs. He says “pepper?? and cheese?? THAT’S IT?!”

    Let’s just say his face changed dramatically when he tried a bite of the finished product.

    Another great post, Deb :)

  136. Julie

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was fabulous.

    Carla – add the pasta back to the hot oil in the pan and add the cup of water immediately. Toss once or twice, then add the cheese and pepper, then toss a bit more until you get the sauce you want. Make sure you add don’t add the cheese in a lump – sprinkle it around on the pasta and it shouldn’t clump on you.

  137. It’s generally those simple meals that hit the spot. Make whatever fancy meal you want, but sometimes a PB and J is all that will hit the spot. This looks delicious!!

  138. Silvia

    My compliments for the recipe, italian food is at its best when it is kept simple; we Italians do not use that much cream (heavy cream does not even exist here), especially on spaghetti cacio e pepe, olive oil is good, usually we do not brown butter, I never heard of that on spaghetti, maybe on tortellini burro e salvia, but that is something completely different. Just use a little ladle of cooking water, and see how it works. Warm the plates so that pasta stays warm a little bit longer.
    Buon appetito!

  139. CoCo

    Simplicity at its best! I served this alongside a pan-seared steak and some sauteed mushrooms for a memorable weeknight dinner–delicious! I used a half cup of the pasta water (I halved the recipe), and made sure the pasta was coated evenly before I added the other ingredients. Definitely sprinkle the cheese while tossing the pasta; it will be better distributed in the sauce. Mario would be proud…!

  140. Instead of coming back to the City at the end of the weekend, I stayed upstate to wrap up some work I have here. It is gray and bleak; I am doing my best to keep cozy, but today it’s a struggle. Instead of working I want to sit around drinking tea and reading cookbooks. I will make this tonight for dinner – with enough leftovers to use tomorrow in Marcella’s Frittata with Pasta! Yum.

  141. joan

    We just ate there yesterday for my husbands birthday. I did not order my usual pasta with pepper and now I am upset. My fish was delish but nothing beats that pasta.

  142. “When I trust that a place won’t disappoint, I have a tendency to order the plainest thing on the menu…”

    I totally agree. It is simplicity that makes an extraordinary meal. I am trying to remember that every night when I cook at home, trying to come up with some new fancy dish instead of enjoying each ingredient. Wonderful pasta.

  143. This recipe is my childhood! Oh the memories- On a cold evening when there wasn’t much in the house for dinner and we just didn’t have it in us to go out, Mom would throw these simple 4 ingredients together and create a mouthful of comfort.
    spaghetti + butter + parmesan + pepper = my comfort food.

    Thanks for auditioning the different cheeses, I’ve got to try it with the Pecorino Romano next time!

  144. Ryan

    Made this last night. Absolutely loved it, and so simple. Be sure that when you add the cooked pasta to the oil with the pasta water that you keep the mixture moving after the initial spattering has subsided a bit. Moving the pasta while adding your cheese (I used half pecorino, half parm) and thinning with additional pasta water, if necessary, will ensure a creamy result. It’s so good that my fiance finished the leftovers at 7 am this morning after her early run. I assured her that pasta with cheese is, indeed, an appropriate breakfast food.

  145. Laura

    I’m sure you won’t get all the way down to comments in the 260s, but I just wanted to say that I made this last night – picked up a rotisserie chicken at the store – and it was a DELICIOUS meal.
    Have a bun in the oven myself and have been finding it hard to eat leftovers but I even enjoyed them (smacking my lips!) today for lunch.
    Thank you!

  146. This sounds wondrous! and seeing that all eyes are on the topic of “simple pasta” dishes, when would you be willing to tackle Carbonara with eggs only (no cream!) I’m simply dying for a great recipe! XOXO!

  147. RainyCityGirl

    Thanks Deb. I am definitely going to try this + a simple salad tonight(gym night) .I have the Master Chef series bookmarked in front of my husband to add to my already long list of “to-be” gifts :). Would you/one of the commenters happen to know the difference between the LTD2 and Master Chef Series?
    I will have to buythe olive oil in this small store in Pike Place in Seattle (if you couldn’t already tell by my name) I always walk in but balk at paying those prices for a bottle of oil, but if I convince my husband that it is only to be used in moderation, he might give in.

  148. RainyCityGirl

    Shoot.that was Master Chef and the Stainless Series..not LTD2 and Master Chef. I can see that the finishes are different, but did you choose Master Chef for a reason?

  149. I’ve made a number of your recipes, all with great success (the salted brown butter rice krispie treats and your mushroom bourguignon have actually won me favors and a considerable degree of adoration. And your oatmeal raisin cookies are hands down best I’ve ever had.)

    This pasta recipe was just what I needed last night — something simple and delicious. I halved the fat and added a squeeze of lemon at the end, and it was still marvelous.

    I do have a question, though. How much salt do you add to your pasta water? I added a tablespoon, but in the end suspected I almost could have doubled that. Of course I know this depends on how much water you’re starting with…But, given that some of the pasta water is reserved, I was a bit worried about overdoing it.

    1. deb

      Jennifer — Glad you enjoyed. I use a lot of salt. I go with the whole “salty as ocean water” thing I’ve heard from Italian cooks. I then don’t have to salt the dish much. But I know that this is too much for some tastes…

  150. Noelle H

    YUM! this was really good and super easy too! I have a very picky middle child, who is 6 1/2, and he loved it- had two bowls! I always think that is a bench mark in our family as he doesn’t like anything! thank you for yet another great recipe!

  151. CJ

    Thanks to your excellent instructions, this came together perfectly – I could scarcely believe the magic of how that creamy sauce developed. We had it for supper tonight – it was so delicious! This is a dish I ate in Rome but it never occurred to me that I could make it at home – and I even think it was better at home because it hit the table the instant it left the pot, in its most sublime creaminess. Thank you!

  152. I’m an Italian transplant to NYC. This is my go-to lazy dish, that I make when I’m terribly homesick. It’s so humble I don’t even think of making it for guests, so I’m terribly amused that you’re sharing it here. You’re right, though. It’s a perfect dish, and it’s pretty much the soul of Italian food– easy, with peasant roots, showcasing good ingredients. I’ll have to make this for dinner tomorrow.

  153. I’ve been getting a lot of mileage lately out of a similar recipe in Gourmet Today—it’s like the grownup version of instant mac ‘n’ cheese. Love it!

  154. Gosh, there is just nothing better than a wonderfully simple recipe that uses honest, simple ingredients, that come together so perfectly. I really enjoy putting the notch in my belt once I’ve conquered something complicated, but the feeling you get from putting something so tasty, yet so simple together is totally satisfying on a completely different level.

  155. To prevent splatter gently bring olive oil up to temperature in a frying pan (low and slow with the burner) and add your pasta water (ladle by ladle) to the heated oil before the pasta is done. Then, gently, add the pasta (no draining—use tongues to pull those suckers out—they’ll retain more of that nice pasta water that way). Then add your butter, cheese, pepper. It’s a gentler, splatter-proof way of making this and more in line with how the Italian in my life would do it. :)

  156. Salina

    I made this for dinner the other day and it was freaking awesome!! I can’t believe I had never thought of just having spaghetti and cheese.. I feel so stoopid.
    I made mine in a large saucepan and when it came time for the jumping back, I found I didn’t have to do it.. reason? I did much the same as Tracy did and added the water ladel by ladel (i used a 1/4 cup) no splatter whatsoever!

  157. Hollie

    Thank you for the inspiration. I made this for dinner tonight and wondered…where has this recipe been all my life? It was delicious, I added pancetti in as well – to die for. Thank you thank you thank you.

  158. Renee

    Ok, I just have to say that this is the best spaghetti I ever tasted – and my husband isn’t even home to enjoy it! I guess I’ll just have to make it again for the two of us. Oh my wow – thanks!
    Also – your son is the single cutest baby boy I’ve ever seen!

  159. Laurie

    Oh. My. Word. Such simple ingredients. But oh so good when they all come together. Thanks for another smashing success. I’ll be making this one again and again and again. (Seems perfect for a quick but satisfying dish when the work day gets me down and boiling water is about all I can handle.)

  160. G.

    my heart almost skipped a beat. One of my favorite comfort foods is pasta with olive oil and garlic. I think I’ve found what I’m having for lunch. :)

  161. bea from rome

    ok I never had the courage to try and make this dish – it’s proverbially difficult to find right proportions between water, cheese and pasta and not have il all turn into a giant blob of melted and reconstitued pecorino+pasta, but with your instructions plus the fact that at least 250 of your readers seem to altready have tried it with success I can’t wait!

    Ps pasta al pomodoro, pasta cacio e pepe… what next? pasta alla gricia? carbonara? just suggesting, as you seem smitten with super-simple roman cuisine lately……

  162. Made this tonight for dinner and it was amazing! I used all the 1-1/2 cups of pasta water, and when making the recipe again, will reduce the salt in the pasta water since I’m not a heavy salt user. The dish paired perfectly with the Famous Lemon Chicken from the Rao’s cookbook. Highly recommend!

  163. Sunny

    My 3 year old and I inhaled this for dinner yesterday. He loved it. I’ve made this before with bacon (I know this is not traditional – but very carbonara with no egg) and using the bacon oil with some of the olive oil. Its always delicious. Sometimes I throw in some parsley for colour too. Love it!!

  164. Sunny

    Serena – if you don’t hear back from Deb. Did you throw throw the pasta into the bubbling oil first or the water. I found that if you throw the pasta in first then followed by the water (make sure you use most of the 1-1/2 cup of reserve water – stirring that around a bit then the butter – let the butter melt all the way then sprinkle the cheese while you stir the pasta in – it won’t clump up – make sure you do this with the heat on still. Good luck.

  165. Kristin

    A table at Lupa! Hooray for a well-earned night out! I’ve been making this “recipe” for myself since college, I had no idea it was legit. I thought it was “I’m hungry and want something with pasta and cheese and olive oil and pepper.” You really can’t go wrong with good ingredients cooked simply! Love the blog!

  166. Marissa

    I tried this recipe last night and was not dissapointed…..the buttery, cheesy, chewy pasta is ridiculoulsy good. I can’t wait to make it again!

  167. I JUST had the pleasure of checking out lupa this weekend and it was amazing. I ordered the pasta pomodoro and it had the richest of tomato sauces. The homemade pasta was just perfect. It’s exactly the kind of warming, cozy, simple meal that I want to recreate at home.

  168. paula

    YUM!!! So simple, yet so delicious. If you are afraid of the “flashback” when you add the pasta and the cup of pasta water back into the pan, use one of those screen splatter protectors that you normally use while frying bacon.

  169. Livin’ In Tin

    I’m a little late to this party, but I made this tonight (using the olive oil in the frying pan, add the pasta water to that, etc. method) I also topped each serving with an egg lightly fried in O.O. It was fabulous!!!!

    I’ve reached Heaven (and it’s a good thing too, because I salivated a river just thinking about this dish all day). It really is crack.

  170. Ah, simplicity. My daughters will be four in a couple of months, and the hubby and I have had exactly one impromptu dinner date since they were born. (To be fair, he has come to my job twice to take me out to lunch.)

  171. Tina

    OMG!! Just made this dish used mozzarella (only cheese i had in the fridge) and used a little lemon juice. One of the best pasta dishes I have eaten, and so simple. Thank you for recipe.

  172. April in CT

    I just INHALED two bowls of this for lunch! My husband won’t touch what he deems “stinky cheese” so I’ll have to enjoy this for lunches. He doesn’t know what he’s missing! I’m going to add a splash of lemon next time, yum!

  173. Amy Daryani

    YUM! This was tonight’s dinner with a huge salad… my husband, two young sons and I devoured it! Next time we’ll grill some shrimp and veggies (asparagas, endive, spring onions?) to go with it too. Again, YUM!
    And that sweet boy of yours- perfect!

  174. Nicole @ cookingafterfive

    Just made this tonight– loved every bite. I used Parmesan and added a bit more salt to the sauce to make sure the flavor was just right. I think this will forever be my go-to pasta anytime I can’t think of what to make for dinner.

  175. Kristen

    Just made this last night. I was skeptical about the flavor since due to the small number of ingredients, but it was super simple and tasted divine! Definitely a weeknight go-to dish.

  176. Hi. I love, I mean LOVE, your website, and have saved more recipes than I’ll ever get around to making. But, it just happens that I’m making this tonight! HOWEVER, with a difference. I live in Italy, and I have to say, that here, this dish is not made with just Pecorino Romano, but a combination (equal portions) of Pecorino Romano AND Caciocavallo…which, is, as best I can describe it, somewhat like a Provolone and much, MUCH less salty than Pecorino Romano which is salty enough for me to adjust the amount of salt I put in the pasta water considerably. I think it’s better than using just the Pecorino if you can find the other cheese…and, I believe, a bit more authentic. Hence the name “cacio e pepe”…cacio from “Caciocavallo”…Hope this helps!

  177. jennifer

    Oh my! This was amazing. And like most pasta – even better the second day when we added some sauteed broccoli and some sliced-thin-as-paper left-over prime rib. Simplicity is most delicious!
    Jennifer in Kansas

  178. goodeats

    I’ve been viewing your gorgeous website for months, and am finally delurking to comment on this pasta. I just made it for lunch. And I’m already pondering it being recreated for dinner. And tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch…and dinner again. It really is about the gestalt! Thanks for bringing such joy.

  179. Anjali

    Just love it! Another fast fantastic meal :) Great place to showcase quality ingredients like the parmesan butter or some wonderful olive oil.

  180. Casey

    I’ve been craving this since you posted the recipe (fell in love with the dish during my semester in Rome, but I don’t think I’ve had it since), and just made it tonight. Yum! It was so good and easy that I was inspired to keep going and make your classic brownies, which are baking as I write.

  181. Suzanne

    I’ve made this twice, and I’m making it for dinner tonight for my roommate! It’s delicious and easy as can be. I use Parmesan cheese because I had it on hand and it is cheaper for this poor college student.

  182. Lore

    Hi everybody! Directly from Italy, if I may, I suggest to use a little larger spaghetti, size should be 8 as per original recipe! And they are delicious! I recommand to use virgin olive oil and not butter (butter is used in the North of Italy, while this recipe is from the Centre/South where butter is not at all used!).

  183. judith

    I think I may be the only person who found this too peppery :(.
    Next time, I’m cutting back on the pepper.
    I’m wondering if using pecorino instead parm would have made a difference? I don’t live in place where cheese like that is easily accessible.

  184. Diana Kay

    Ohmygoodness, I just made this tonight for my own solo impromtu dinner, making a few changes… I forgot to keep a little pasta water, but it didn’t end up mattering much. I used a little butter and a little olive oil, just enough of each to lightly coat my spaghetti… Lots of pepper because I LOVE pepper, and myzithra cheese because that’s what I had. It was SO good! :D I’m all about just enjoying my spaghetti, and this really fit that for me perfectly!

  185. Claire

    My friends and I were looking for a break from the boring, same food on campus at our school. This was such a perfect meal to make in our little dorm kitchen! It was flavorful but so simple and light at the same time. Thank you so much!

  186. Meg

    You posted this recipe right before I gave up pasta for lent (purely to see if I could do that, and to experiment with new recipes), and I finally am returning to it as I’m trying to clear out food from my fridge – this is a divine recipe! It was so flavorful, I just loved it! Thank you so much for sharing.

  187. J.

    OHHHHH I have to thank you for the inspiration from this recipe. I came home last night with an empty stomach and nothing easy in the fridge BUT then I spied butter and some mozzarella cheese (my mom almost never buys cheese). All I had to do was see if we had any pasta!

    Basically, thank you for a delicious late-night meal! I made substitutes (mozzarella and fettucini) that I thought would result in a severely lacking dish, but it turned out great!

  188. Britt

    My goodness. Yet another amazing recipe from you, Deb! I served this last night with the cream mushrooms on chive toast.

    My only 2 cents? I just can’t help but think this dish belongs under “quick”.

    Thank you again for continuing to satisfy the bellies of a couple of food snobs (;

  189. nikki

    mmmmm.. the first time I tasted this pasta was when I visited one of my best friends in Milan and I loved it.. I’ve been looking for this recipe for 3 years.. thanks to you, now I can make it at home!

  190. I made this for lunch for myself yesterday. Fantastic! If only my parents could take themselves away from their tomato sauce and try something different like this! They’re completely immovable!

  191. The first time I saw this post, I thought, too plain, I can’t imagine it would be that great. Fast forward to today when I am up from a three hour nap after working all night, with no groceries in the house. All of a sudden this post popped into my brain. I remembered that I had a nearly expired wedge of romano sitting in the fridge and half a bag of linguine, and a hungry 12 year old bugging me about what’s for lunch. It came together so quickly and honestly, it is amazing! So flavorful and creamy in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible given the humble ingredients. Thanks for another great dish, Deb.

  192. Tommy

    I doubt that this will be recognized, since this is such and old post, but telling people to pour water into hot oil is negligent, and incorrect.

    You can get the same result by starting with your pasta water in the pan, then adding oil, and heating both to a high heat, nobody gets oil burns, and the dish should turn out the same.

  193. John

    Butter, soltanto, is what you want as an emulsifier. The base for the sauce, traditionally, is pasta water only. Olive oil has too much flavor, it overwhelms a dish that is about three things: numero uno: fresh pasta (& pasta water et al), numero secundo: fresh finely ground pecorino romano cheese (has to be fresh ground! – will stay grainy & not melt into sauce unless it is), numero tre: fresh ground (large grind) black pepper. As you experienced in Italian cooking simplisity is the secret. Of course you can substitute dried pasta, like linguine or spaghetti, but fresh pasta takes on the sauce in a special way – it makes friends with the sauce. This is a very Roman dish, there is a small trattoria in Rome that features this dish, it is served in a bowl made from fried parmigiano reggiano cheese – this is heaven on a plate.

  194. JO

    Made this for dinner tonight – I’ve been on a bit of a SK recipe rampage – it was delicious (even though I forgot the butter and used parm reg instead)! I’m thinking red pepper flakes would be great, though not very traditional.

  195. Ron Hutzul

    OK, so a couple of things:
    1) this dish was featured on Tony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” in Season 9 where he visits Rome – that’s how I came to know and love this concept.

    2) it’s easy to “fancy up” the presentation by serving it in a cheese cup – made from a melted pile of cheese – on a frying pan or on a silpat mat in the oven – then shaped by draping over a glass or bowl.

    3) people have it all wrong – this is NOT the “pasta with butter and cheese” of your childhood – the pasta water is of critical importance and somehow magically makes the mix into a creamy sauce that sticks beautifully to the pasta – which in turn offers the perfect distribution of cracked peppercorns (vs a bunch in the bottom of the pan)

    4) My experience is hot oil -> Pasta -> Cheese and Pepper -> Drizzled pasta water is the correct method and order to avoid both splatter and clumping…like adding cheese to the bechamel for mac and cheese, you don’t do it all at once, but rather in smaller increments, (1/3rds work) and toss to incorporate

    5) Once you have the “basic” version of this dish perfected, it’s easy to take it in a bunch of directions – I’ve added a little lemon zest/juice, arugula or think sliced fennel – w or w/o the lemon, the rest of the bruschetta mix and crisped pancetta

    Finally, a hearty “Thank You” to whomever suggested the Poached Egg – I think I love you! Going to try that, but poach the egg in a peppery red zinfandel wine

  196. Steffani

    Love this pasta! I’ve just been cooking up my pasta and when it’s done throw a bit of butter over it with some parmasean cheese and tons of pepper but I also love a little french green sea salt over everything! I love salt and this makes everything taste better!

  197. arienne

    This was too die for!!! So unbelievably delicious, you must try this and make sure you add the ingredients while continually stirring. You will be amazed at the results. Peas would be a good addition next time.

  198. gwendolyn

    i just wanted to share with you that i made reservations at lupa on our trip to nyc last week (all the way from LA) all because of you + this post i read way back in february. being a huge fan of batali and his restaurants here in LA we all know his stuff will be good everywhere. i think the last thing i’d ever order is pepper pasta, but alas, i ordered this because of you as well. and i can’t thank you enough – or should i blame you for being the cause of my thinking about this pasta every day since i’ve had it? it was WONDERFUL. i’ll be trying your recipe at home once this turkey day feast has passed. i love your stuff. thanks for sharing! xxoogg

  199. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked forever for just a night such as this: an Oh crap, it’s time for dinner, and I have NO food in the house kinda night. So I sized it down to one serving and made it with what I had laying around: Fusili, and parmesan and asiago cheese.

    And it’s delicious.

    I topped it with some Trader Joe’s Chicken/Spinah/Fontina/Garlic sausage for some protein. I think I will be making this a lot…

  200. Jeff

    Simple and delicious. I like throwing a little diced prosciutto or salami in for a bit more flavor. Quick, easy and tasty dish no matter how you make it!

  201. kayepants

    Let’s say you’re making this for dinner because it’s snowing AGAIN and you don’t have the energy to fight it to pick up groceries, then you’re distracted and forget to reserve pasta water before draining. Well, sure, you can use hot tap water, but you’re going to get slightly watery pasta with big globs of melty cheese and pepper.

    Still very tasty, but not really the point. So remember to save some starchy water!

  202. J.J.Jay

    I love how people say they’re snobby about their cheese and then name the wrong one. It reminds me of my waiter days. Parm is not Romano, they may look close, but are very different in taste.

  203. Sara B

    Totally picked this out to be one of my weeknight meals when I went grocery shopping this past weekend and I had been looking forward to it all week and it did not disappoint! I scaled the recipe down (or tried to…forgot half way through and probably put in too much pasta water and cheese but I just kept it over the heat and everything jelled together quite nicely) and it came out like a dream. We had it with a nice salad with Italian dressing and I ended up mixing the dressing and the pasta and it was even better.
    I think I might even make a small batch tomorrow for lunch while my husband is at work.

  204. Timothy Glutton

    Winner, winner, pasta dinner!

    First stab was too dry, then I learned the water/cheese ratio that would work.

    Third time was da charm. I pretty much followed Deb’s recipe, except I toasted some garlic slivers in the oil, then removed them. When I plated the pasta (liguine fini), I topped it with about 2 T of plum tomatoes, cut in a brunoise and studded the strands with the aglio.

    Yum squared! During the winter, I cook at weekly pasta suppers at a local private club. This’un is gonna be a special!

    Thanks to all for comments, too.

  205. I really love how simple this is. When I was looking through your recipes to find a pasta dish, i saw this and thought “Wow, that sounds plain.” But after looking at the pictures and thinking about it, does it really need any more ingredients? Adding more ingredients would just subtract from it.

    Thanks for sharing this dish with us. I really want to try this out and just enjoy the simplicity.

  206. Robyn

    This is a REVELATION! I felt like I was watching a magical chemical reaction in my kitchen. How can cheese and pasta water turn into such an amazingly creamy delicious sauce?? You would think there is cream in it to taste it. For years I’ve been making my own version of “simple” pasta with no red sauce– I cook the pasta and then I toss it with some butter, olive oil, lemon juice, and some Dijon Mustard (which melts into a creamy sauce). Throw on a little Parmigiano Reggiano and some capers and/or proscuitto and it’s a delicous, fast meal. However, this takes my quick pasta to a new level! Very elegant, so amazingly simple! I should note that I used Parmigaiano Reggiano, since that’s what I had on hand and I decided to make this immediately after reading it, and it turned out great. Can’t wait to try it with Pecorino!

  207. CarebearNJ

    I don’t care if I’m comment 42,353,223,434 and you stopped reading comments here 6 months ago. Tonight is the third time I’ve made this (the first time since I tasted the real deal in Rome) and I have to say, when my husband leaves me on my own for dinner, THIS is what calls to me. I’ve used just pecorino before, but found cacio de Roma in the Whole Foods last week and have been WAITING for my husband to have dinner plans so I could make this (he’s lactose sensitive). Thank you Deb, thank you Whole Foods, and thank you college basketball game (for stealing my husband).

    For those who are curious, the cacio de Roma is delightfully mild, but this dish would suffer without the pecorino romano.

  208. JustJessiB

    I used fettucine, a five peppercorn blend I always have in my pepper grinder (includes white, red and black) and asiago cheese. A small miracle happened when I tossed the fat and starchy water together with the pasta. I just KNEW it was going to separate and disappoint me. But then…it didn’t. The most delicious sauce, needing no more salt than was in the pasta water and cheese. It took every bit of will power not to devour the entire pot myself. Readers of this site are collectively right on with all the commentary. Next time I am going to try this with penne, wilt some arugula in with the sauce and top it with a poached egg.

  209. Katie

    Just made this, it’s absolutely delicious and really simple. I was surprised how satisfying it was given that there’s not much to it.

  210. Janice

    I’m traveling and staying at a hotel that unfortunately doesn’t have a kitchen I can use. I can’t wait to go home and put this together…I”m sure that it will make me sigh with contentment and finally make me really feel at home.

    By the way, I’ve been to Lupa and totally, completely, utterly loved it!

  211. Kathy

    So it’s freakishly hot out and I have no food in the pantry and this recipe just saved me. It is amazing and pretty much perfect, even though I only had Parmesan and it kind of clumped up and stuck to the bottom of the pan. I put more on the top, it was fine.

    Thank you!

  212. LOVED THIS. Just made it for the first time. We were going to make plain pasta to toss some sautéed vegetables onto, but then I figured I’d do a simple pasta with a little somethin’ extra to it. Your recipe comes up high in Google, and I trust your cooking, so whammo. PERFECT RESULTS. Thanks for posting this. It’s going into our heavy rotation. (Also, my wife made your Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake, earlier today, and we had that for dessert. Nice way to finish.)

  213. Hi Deb,

    Wow there are a lot of comments on this post! I just wanted to tell you about the spaghetti cacio e pepe we had in Sydney last night, it was tossed and served out of a GIANT PECORINO ROMANO WHEEL! It was just sublime, thought you might appreciate.

  214. pat

    A little late to the party, just had to say that I love this! Needed a meal I could throw together with what was on hand and this was perfect. I had to substitute linguine for spaghetti, and I added a pinch of crushed red pepper. This will definitely become a between-the-paychecks staple.

  215. Shoshana

    Made this recipe once before with results that were not as amazing as this go around. What really helped was having a sous chef (thanks, boyfriend!). I didn’t use any of the butter and actually less olive oil and water all together. What helped was when my sous chef was tossing the pasta around and I added water and the cheese and pepper. The water turned into a sauce with the oil cheese and pepper and it became one delightful little nest of italian noodles.

    we ate it with a poached egg on top of course. oh and some sauteed kale and a burrata/heirloom tomato salad. deb, can we do dinner sometime?!

  216. Shoshana

    oh DUH. reason for using less water and oil is because i only used half a pound of angle hair, not the whole box! DOH.

  217. Lindsay C.

    this is devine!! so easy and comes together like i never thought it would!!! thanks for all the amazing recipes! keep ’em coming!
    ~ thanks from girl with a similarly tiny kitchen in Brooklyn

  218. Leah

    If we were to play a Chopped round in which I gave you (the only) five ingredients I have in my (not stocked) college apartment kitchen and you had to come up with a recipe for a late dinner…well, you just won! Thank you! (Any suggestions for some expired tofu, raspberry jam, and a few Blue Moons? My roommates and I are paaathetic!)

  219. Stephanie

    We just ate there a month ago and my husband I happened to split this. Divine. What was even more divine was my 3 year old’s buttered noodles. Seriously simple and beyond delicious. I just found your blog yesterday! Today I went to google any recipe that comes clue to Lupa’s and your blog came up. Love it!!

  220. Candi

    I made this for my teen daughter while dad was traveling, loved it, reminds me of when we went to italy, fresh, and simple…next time I am going to add some pancetta, just a tad… thanks for sharing… hope the husband will likey!

  221. shoshana

    i’m sure i’ve already left a comment on this post, because this pasta is simply the best. every time i make it, i refer to this recipe. in addition to the cracked pepper, i added some lemon zest this time. oh and we put a poached egg up on it. have to.

    also, i found adding the ingredients in this order made splattering not a problem: butter/oil, pasta – stir to coat, add some pasta water, then pepper and cheese. add more pasta water in splashes until a thick consistancy is reached.

  222. Stacey

    I’ve been making this since college, w/a bit of milk added, it was our ‘poor man’s version’ of pasta alfredo. Funny, recently I have been leaving out the milk, which makes it nearly identical to this recipe, and i love-love-love it!! Yummmmmm…..

  223. Julia

    I had a horrifying time getting home from your book signing in Brooklyn last night – lost my gym bag in the subway, wild goose chase ensued, long story. I was so downtrodden that when I finally got home I just wanted something warm and comforting that I could make easily at midnight. AND THIS WAS PERFECT!

  224. Jane

    Yum! One of my favorites! Having lived in Rome for 15 years, I can say, I’ve never seen it made without e.v. olive oil. You do add a little bit of the pasta water as well. Here, some people put some parmigiano reggiano as well. That may be because pecorino Romano is too strong for their tastes. Personally, I love it.
    Lots of comments on this one.

  225. Italian Chef

    To take this amazing dish to an even higher level, chop up some rashers of smoky bacon and fry it in the butter before adding the pasta to the pan.

  226. melanie

    I have made this three nights in a row now! It turned out SO much better than I thought it would – the pasta water, olive oil, butter & cheese combine to make the tastiest cheesy sauce. thanks!!

  227. Hi Deb- I made this for me and Tim tonight with some homemade fettuccini and caramelized onions. So delicious! It was the perfect easy sauce to balance out the time it took to make the pasta. Tim loved the black pepper. Thanks!

  228. Laura

    This is something my mum has done forever and I make, too, whenever Mr Man is out of the house. He doesn’t really approve of all that butter and cheese and carbs with nary a vegetable in sight. I usually add sliced spring onion or fresh or dried chilli. I had never thought to add pasta water!

  229. Monica

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I made this last night with some adaptations. Garlic fried in the olive oil, then I followed your steps and I added shrimp…because yes! Also, I used asiago cheese because it was the only cheese in my fridge. Good lord this was good, cheesy, peppery and so delicious. Easiest weeknight meal I’ve made in a LOOONG time.

  230. Jessica

    9 months pregnant, husband at work, snowing, no food in the house (shopping plans foiled by said snow)-this recipe saved the day!! I often throw together pasta and butter and parm but following your directions I got a lovely smooth sauce and a dinner that felt legitimate. Delicious. Thanks!!

  231. Kori

    Just made this for dinner tonight and oh, it was delicious! Followed the recipe and procedure but added a handful of peas, roasted caramelized garlic and a splash of lemon juice. I am currently in a food coma.

  232. Charlene

    This didn’t work for me. Cheese got clumpy, and butter/oil created a greasy slick in the bottom of the pan. I was looking for something like a smooth cheese sauce just barely coating the pasta. I’m pretty sure I used sufficient pasta water and the other ingredients. Any suggestions?

  233. deb

    It can take a little practice; you want to be tossing it the whole time to keep it moving. You might also like the more detailed technique from my favorite Roman expert on the dish, over here. She says that the pasta water being too hot is what causes clumping.

  234. Al

    Made this tonight after watching an old Anthony Bourdain episode where he eats this dish in Rome at a restaurant where it is the speciality. I made it like how they did, starting off with some julienned pancetta, fry til crispy, then the rest follows, al dente pasta, percorino romano pepper, and pasta water. Wow. I also recommend squeezing a little lemon over it if you make it this way as it cuts the fat nicely. (As does a nice bottle of dry red wine)

  235. KimW

    Made this tonight and mine turned out terrific! Very much comfort food and perfect for a lazy Sunday. Takes no time and I love that it’s all staple ingredients. I used parmesan reggiano, and Trader Joe’s GF quinoa pasta. No salt needed. Deb, thank you once again for the clear, step by step directions that make preparing your recipes stress free. Highly recommend this quick, rich satisfying pasta.

  236. Lisa D

    Cacio and Pepe has always been a favorite “restaurant treat” (and the one at Lupa is amazing). For some reason I thought it would be too complicated to make but I made this tonight and it was simple and delicious!!! And much more budget friendly than getting it at a restaurant! Thanks for another winning recipe!