Cacio e Pepe

March 20, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This is the easiest dinner you could possibly make. Add some crushed red pepper for a little kick and please, please, please freshly grind your pepper! Jenny Goycochea

Food52 Review: This recipe is the embodiment of five-ingredient perfection! Farm-fresh eggs, fresh pasta, and good Parmesan turned the dish into a gourmet delight. The sauce comes together so easily and yet is so unctuous, creamy, and sophisticated. Really a wonderful example of simple ingredients creating a memorable dish. And so simple to throw together. I haven't tried it with dried pasta, but I suspect that that would be delicious, as well.lmikkel

Serves: 2 to 4
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min


  • Salt, to taste
  • 12 ounces pasta (spaghetti or bucatini)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago, as needed
  • 1 egg yolk
In This Recipe


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt to the water (not too much, as you will use this water for your sauce). Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain.
  2. In the same pot the pasta was boiled in, add 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Melt your butter into this and add the pepper. Return the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to coat.
  3. Add the cheese and egg yolk and, using tongs, toss the ingredients together until combined. If the pasta seems a little sticky, add the remaining pasta water. If it's a little wet, add more cheese. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

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Reviews (38) Questions (0)

38 Reviews

Katrina September 16, 2017
Pasta should be made in as little water as possible so that the pasta water is starchy for the sauce. Also, recipes I've seen previously call for Pecorino Romano, which I find much tastier in this dish than parmesan
Author Comment
Jenny G. September 16, 2017
Make it as you see fit.
Liam August 17, 2017
Going to take advantage of some corn from the garden, and roasted red peppers to modify a great recipe .
Rick August 16, 2017
Awesome, easy meal. We'll be savoring this many more times, especially on work nights.
Isela A. June 28, 2017
In a pinch -store bought parm? Or should I refuse to compromise and wait till my next grocery trip and get better parmesan cheese?
juliunruly June 28, 2017
Depends! If I'm someone who rarely gets a chance to cook, or doesn't indulge in pasta frequently, I'd hold out for the good stuff. If you aren't quite as precious about it, then store-bought is totally fine IMO.
Lkw1080 February 21, 2017
This was delicious and came together so quickly! Perfect weeknight meal that feels impressive!
Risottogirl December 7, 2016
No egg.
Jan H. February 18, 2016
Can this be adjusted to make one or two servings? Use just part of the egg yolk?
Deborah September 12, 2018
The egg yolk is unnecessary and generally not found in most recipes for Cacio e Pepe.
Author Comment
Jenny G. September 12, 2018
Well, this is my recipe and how I chose to make it. Make it however you see fit.
Indigo W. January 30, 2016
This was AMAZING! Will definitely make again again. Thanks for the recipe.
NotTooSweet January 29, 2016
Made this last night and loved, loved, loved it! I followed bgavin's advice since she had tested the recipe for a Food52 contest. After cooking the pasta, she suggests you melt the butter then add the pepper and cook until fragrant; then add the pasta and yolk, mixing all the time; then add the cheese and 1/2 cup pasta water. I held back 1 cup of pasta water in case it needed more, but it was perfect. I agree that the key to this simple, easy and fast recipe is quality ingredients.
Carlotta B. August 31, 2015
hey! if you really want the italian version, ne egg needed. just cheese : the original should be caciocavallo ( cacio) and pepper (pepe)
Carlo M. October 13, 2016
good girl
christina August 23, 2015
i just made this recipe (cut in 1/4s) for a quick lunch and if i close my eyes, i don't have to think too hard to imagine i'm in italy at a little streetside cafe having lunch and people-watching. it's to die for. PERFECT less than 5 ingredients (altho i added red pepper flakes) meal! (and I'm all about frying up some thick cut bacon or some pancetta to put in this dish!) AWESOME Jenny. THANKS!
Author Comment
Jenny G. August 23, 2015
Yay!! I'm so happy you enjoyed!
gretch374 August 23, 2015
The crazy lady inside my head really wants to add lemon zest to this. Should I listen to her? I don't want to ruin it, but I probably won't sleep until I try it. Any thoughts?
Author Comment
Jenny G. August 23, 2015
You should definitely try it! I would just add it very sparingly at the end but I would love to hear how it turns out!
Lele June 13, 2015
This recipe is a simple classic. I love it! Thank you for sharing it with us.
MWolfIII June 4, 2015
I made this recipe last night and it was great! I really enjoyed it. Of course I left too much pasta water in and had to add more cheese (oh no!), but ultimately I enjoyed it! I think the key to this recipe is amazing ingredients, as it has so few, and I definitely had some great cheese. I would be curious to see how it would taste with different kinds of peppercorn and a truly amazing batch of pasta (not just what I had on hand).
Author Comment
Jenny G. June 4, 2015
Thank you so much for trying the recipe! I am very happy to hear that you enjoyed it as much as I often do :) I really love this recipe with fresh pasta but cheese and pepper really make everything better!
Transcendancing April 24, 2015
This was a great recipe! I really love the way it comes together and how it's so simple. Tonight I actually played with it a little and added some slow cooked leeks and spicy beef Italian sausage and some parsley - it came together beautifully, especially with the fresh pepper. Will definitely make this again (and again and again, and play with it more I think, such an awesome concept).
Regine April 17, 2015
Thanks Jenny and JulieUnruly. I wi then definitely try this recipe with the egg yolk. I can tell from the ingredients that it will taste good and unctuous indeed - velvety and smooth. O)
Author Comment
Jenny G. April 17, 2015
I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear how it turns out!!
Regine April 16, 2015
Funny but I don't think unctuous is negative. To me it means smooth. But maybe it is because French is my native language and in french it means smooth and velvety.
Author Comment
Jenny G. April 16, 2015
I agree with you! In my opinion, it's definitely not an oily pasta (of course there is the presence of butter, but it's not slick). When I read that comment, I took it similarly and was flattered!
Regine April 16, 2015
I would love to try but I have some hesitation to eat raw egg. Any opinion, suggestion would be appreciated.
juliunruly April 16, 2015
You're in luck, because it isn't raw. :) The pasta is hot enough to scramble the yolk when you put it in. I'm not a food scientist dealing in temperatures or anything, but in my opinion, the egg yolk gets fully cooked.
Author Comment
Jenny G. April 16, 2015
Hey Regine,
The heat from the pasta and water actually cooks the egg to a safe consumption temperature but if you're really worried about it, omitting it would be fine! I've made it both ways and enjoyed it equally. I just like the slight richness that the egg adds. Happy cooking! I would love to hear how it turns out!
Catherine April 16, 2015
Yes, this strikes me as carbonara light without the pork! I have a recipe that uses more pasta water, a tablespoon of butter and some olive oil, no egg.
juliunruly April 15, 2015
I'm no expert, but isn't this basically carbonara without the meat? Either way, I'm eating this right now and it's pretty perfect. Butter, eggs, cheese, and pasta. So many of my favorite things. Tomorrow I'll fry up some pancetta and make pseudo-carbonara (because I don't like guanciale).
Author Comment
Jenny G. April 16, 2015
I'm so happy you enjoyed it! It's definitely a deviation from a really traditional cacio e pepe but I just love eggs so much! It's definitely close to a carbonara :)