5 Ingredients or Fewer

Cacio e Pepe

March 20, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Giuliana Gavilano
    Giuliana Gavilano
  • Katrina
    Katrina
  • Isela Arras
    Isela Arras
  • Lkw1080
    Lkw1080
  • Risottogirl
    Risottogirl

67 Reviews

elcondor March 15, 2021
Made this last night for the first time. I did not have pecorino romano, parmesan or asiago. I used what I had in the fridge, Mexican Cotija cheese which had just the saltiness I wanted. It turned out great.
 
christina March 16, 2021
That is one of my favorite cheeses, so, naturally, Im going to have to give this a try! What a great idea. Do you have measurements to share or just 1 for 1?
 
elcondor March 16, 2021
One for one. This was an easy recipe. Definitely a keeper.
 
elcondor March 16, 2021
My wife froze the Cotija a few weeks back then she pulled it out and finely shredded it. It looked like a finely shredded Italian cheese
 
Mary March 13, 2021
So I was inspired by the Stanley Tucci series and wanted to make cacio e pepe. I looked at a couple recipes including this one. I didn't look particularly close, assumed it used Pecorino Romano. I put in a pick-up order for groceries from Wegmans which I thought included the cheese- but I forgot to order it! I did have parm, so I used that and (mostly) the recipe from Mark Bittman at the NYT. It was good. i came back to check this recipe for research for my next try and was surprised it didn't use Pecorino Romano - checked the reviews. Funny that the first burst of discord was about the same time as the lockdowns started. I was surprised it wasn't noted in the recipe notes it wasn't meant to be super authentic, just a good and simple pasta dish- which it is. Funny, Mark Bittman's recipe also got some comments about authenticity because of the method he uses. One commenter said it sounded very Roman as everyone thought theirs was best and most authentic! There are very few iconic dishes that have exacting ingredients and methods- imagine someone from Rome looking for a recipe for The Authentic American Apple Pie!
 
Anne February 19, 2021
You know what people? Lay off me. Just because I happen to be a purist on some things does not give you leave to call me a troll, or call me nasty, or just posting plain bitterness. I was not being nasty at all - just pointing something out. I am sure the recipe with the yolk is just fine. It is just like some people would not consider chicken stock to be real if it comes in a can.

I am very disgusted with some of the people on here. I pointed something out - you are just mean.
 
Giuliana G. May 8, 2020
I made this last night, it was easy and delicious. I added baby Kale only because I wanted to :)
I do have a question, the egg yolk cooked and got crumbly, it was fine but wondering if it was supposed to do that.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. May 8, 2020
Hi there! So glad you liked it! When I make mine, I add the egg yolk off the heat and then add in the pasta water and stir real vigorously so that the egg doesn’t scramble, it’s possible that if the egg yolk just sat that it cooked all the way through.
 
mossenthusiast March 23, 2020
it says to set aside 1/2 cup of the pasta water but then says to add 1/3 cup.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. March 23, 2020
I add 1/3 at first and more if it seems a bit dry.
 
Anne February 21, 2020
This is not authentic cacio e pepe. The real deal has no eggs and three ingredients - pasta, freshly ground pepper and pecorino romano (not parm or asiago!). It has four ingredients if you count the pasta water.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. February 21, 2020
No one ever said it was authentic, but thanks for your very unnecessary comment!
 
Anne February 25, 2020
Well, then, don't call it cacio e pepe. It's misleading.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. February 25, 2020
Since I wrote the recipe, I’ll call it what I like. It’s MY version of cacio e Pepe and It’s delicious, even if not completely authentic but what even is anymore? Cooking is about love and adaptation and taking techniques and creating something new out of it. Maybe find something better to do with your time than tear others’ work down.

You came to speak on it’s inauthenticity, but did you even try it? People like you make me sad that it somehow fulfills you to come shit on someone else’s work. Best of luck to you.
 
Anne March 2, 2020
Sorry, you are the sad one that one small comment can get you so riled up.
 
mossenthusiast March 23, 2020
I don't think Anne was tearing your work down! Looks like she was simply pointing out that she did not recognize this version to be the version she was used to. I agree that she could have been more respectful and maybe suggested naming the dish differently. However a better response from you may have been "I understand but this is my version that I came up with and think it is just as good as the original!" No need for such hostility.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. March 23, 2020
I appreciate your comment, I’ve also had multiple comments taking issue with calling it cacio e Pepe because of the egg yolks, it gets a little wearisome. I apologize for any hostility.
 
zendegy January 10, 2021
You need to get a hobby left than trolling people who are simply sharing recipes.
 
zendegy January 10, 2021
Anne brought nastiness here. Don't defend that. She was unnecessarily hostile. On a food blog. Ridiculous.
 
Sarah C. January 25, 2021
For the record, I've always made cacio e pepe with an egg yolk. It adds a beautiful creaminess that regular cacio e pepe lacks, sort of like a combination of cacio e pepe and carbonara. Good grief, the anger over a freakin' egg yolk! Calm down, people
 
David B. February 19, 2021
I found this recipe from I googling pasta with egg yolk and pepper because i didn’t know it was called but saw it made on television more than once. Cacio e Pepe is what Google suggested to me. I started scrolling through recipes that didn’t have egg yolk, but that’s not what I wanted because while yolk may not be “necessary”(whatever the heck that means), it adds richness, thickness and umami. Honestly, if Anne is the gatekeeper for authentic cacio e Pepe, i’m not sure why she would even look up a recipe.
 
Jennifer R. May 4, 2021
I am exhausted by negative comments on social media. Unless you have something of content to share, shut up. If your entire purpose is to drag the person posting the content, let it go. Pasta doesn't need our support. Choose the vulnerable and the marginalized. I can promise they are not on MSM, no matter which you fall on.
 
Barbt1956 February 19, 2020
Wonderful. I made it as stated, except I had a few fresh mushrooms I wanted to use up, so added them to butter and sautéed until lightly browned. Then added the pasta water and the remaining butter. This sounded too simple to be as good as it was. I used Parmesano Reggiano and it was perfect. Thank you for the simple, yet elegant meal.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. February 21, 2020
Love to hear that!
 
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.
 
Bryan W. April 6, 2019
Do you serve this hot or cold?
Also is this considered a side dish or a main meal.
if a side I guess chicken will be good with it.
 
Author Comment
Jenny G. April 6, 2019
It’s definitely served hot, and immediately after cooked. I serve it as a main, but it can certainly be made as a side.
 
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.
 
zendegy January 10, 2021
So don't add an egg. No one is holding a gun to your head.
 
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.
 
zendegy January 10, 2021
Why are people so unpleasant about a recipe? They could post their own if it's so important. I give you credit; I'd be far less patient.
 
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!
 
Barbt1956 February 21, 2020
That sounds like something from the Amalfi area. I might try that next time.
 
Lele June 13, 2015
This recipe is a simple classic. I love it! Thank you for sharing it with us.