All you need to make creamy, velvety bucatini cacio e pepe is five simple ingredients; pecorino and parmesan cheese, butter, freshly ground black pepper and bucatini pasta. Start to finish this recipe can be on the table in less than 30 minutes and trust me, it’s a crowd-pleaser!
The remarkable thing about cacio e pepe is it’s made with just five very simple ingredients that when combined together create the creamiest, dreamiest bowl of pasta! There’s nothing simple about the flavors in this dish, nutty, aged pecorino, and parmesan cheese, butter, and lightly toasted cracked black pepper meld together to create a creamy sauce that perfectly coats thick, chewy bucatini pasta!
I love using bucatini for cacio e pepe. Bucatini is a thick noodle that looks just like spaghetti but it has a small hole running through it which gives it a unique bite and also gets filled with sauce, yum! You could also use thick spaghetti or tonnarelli which is the traditional pasta for Cacio de Pepe in Rome, Italy where the dish was invented. Sadly, I have yet to see tonnarelli in American supermarkets, until then bucatini it is!
Something to keep in mind when making this recipe is that cacio e pepe is really only as good as its ingredients so spring for the good stuff! Grate your own cheese, buy high-quality European butter, and most importantly, use freshly cracked black pepper, no pre-ground pepper, ever!
If you love this recipe you may also enjoy Bucatini with Sundried Tomato Pesto or Bucatini al Limone!
Ingredients You’ll Need
All you need to make this creamy Bucatini Cacio e Pepe is five simple ingredients: parmesan cheese*, pecorino romano cheese*, bucatini, butter, and freshly cracked black pepper.
*Using freshly grated cheese is a must for creamy, silky, smooth cacio e pepe. Pre-grated cheeses have anti-caking ingredients added to them which can make your sauce grainy.
Recipe Step by Step
Step 1. Cook the Bucatini
One of the key ingredients to great cacio e pepe is starchy pasta water. Make sure that before you drain the bucatini you reserve a cup of the cooking liquid to use later on in the recipe.
Step 2. Make the Cacio e Pepe Sauce
You can start making the sauce while the pasta is cooking. Toast the black pepper and melted butter in a large skillet. When the pepper is aromatic you then add in the reserved starchy pasta water and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Step 3. Toss & Serve
While the sauce is simmering on low add the cooked bucatini to the skillet and stir to coat, slowly start adding in the cheeses, stirring continuously until the cheeses is melted into the sauce and evenly coats the pasta. Divide between bowls, top with extra pepper, and grated cheese, if desired.
FAQs, Tips & Tricks
The Italian phrase cacio e pepe translates to cheese and pepper in English. Cacio e pepe is a Roman pasta dish made with cooked pasta, starchy pasta water, parmesan, and pecorino cheese, butter, and freshly cracked black pepper.
Parmesan cheese is an aged salty, nutty, cow’s milk cheese with a hard, brittle rind. Pecorino is also an aged, salty cheese but is made from sheep’s milk and aged for less time than Parmesan, about five to eight months. The shorter process yields a strong, pungent, tangy flavor.
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Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
- 10 oz bucatini
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 3/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 c freshly grated pecorino cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Once boiling, add the bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
- While the pasta is cooking melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cracked black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 2 minutes.
- Add 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Next, add the bucatini and remaining butter. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted and the sauce coats the pasta, add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry. Divide between bowls, top with extra black pepper, and grated cheese. Serve immediately.
- Bucatini: Substitute spaghetti if needed.
- Pecorino and Parmesan: Freshly grated cheese is important for a smooth and creamy sauce. Pre-grated cheese can leave your sauce grainy.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop with a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the sauce.