Skip to Content

Foolproof Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe Pasta In Under 30 Minutes

If you love simple and easy pasta dishes, this spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe is totally for you! This silky and creamy pasta is made with just spaghetti noodles, cheese, lots and lots of black pepper, plus one secret ingredient that makes it foolproof every time…

easy cacio e pepe recipe twirled around a gold fork

Cacio e Pepe Recipe

I’ve been a Rachael Ray fan girl since day one. Picture me back in 2001: just 11 months wed and about 4 months pregnant, still struggling with morning (really ALL DAY) sickness. Coming home from work with barely enough energy to slap together a PB&J, let alone cook a full meal…

And suddenly 30 Minute Meals makes its Food Network debut, and it’s SUCH a refreshing change of pace. Rachael was so real and truly had a knack for making me feel like she was speaking to ME and only me. Her meals looked so easy, and I loved that they were all real food based. And just 30 minutes? I think I can manage that.

Let’s just say we ate a LOT of 30-minute meals that year. I won’t say they were all a homerun, but most were good enough, and a few are gems that I still make today. Like this divine parmesan crusted chicken and the most foolproof cacio e pepe recipe you will ever make!


cacio e pepe pasta in a ceramic bowl

What Is Cacio e Pepe?

Wait, you’re not sure what cacio e pepe pasta is? Oh, girl, you have been missing out! If you adore a good 3-ingredient pasta dish (olive oil pasta, anyone?), I know you will totally fall for this easy cacio e pepe.

Okay, so at its most basic, an authentic cacio e pepe recipe is simply Pecorino Romano cheese, pasta, and lots and lots of black pepper. In fact, cacio e pepe literally means “cheese and pepper” in Italian. The secret? It uses the hot starchy water from cooking the pasta to bind everything together into a rich and creamy comfort food pasta that’s just as ideal for a quick and easy dinner as it is for entertaining guests.

Is there a catch? Well, sort of… Have you ever tried to mix oil and water? Yeah, mixing Pecorino Romano cheese and starchy cooking water can be just about as difficult. Combining them into a creamy delicious sauce without any clumps can be challenging, to say the least. But Rachael has the secret to making it work EVERY TIME!

how to make cacio e pepe foolproof every time

How To Make Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

Start by cooking your pasta in a large pot of salted water until it’s just a couple minutes shy of al dente. I used a flat spaghetti (also known as chitarra or tonnarelli), but feel free to make spaghetti cacio e pepe with the regular spaghetti you normally keep in your pantry. It’s all good!

While the pasta is cooking, bring a cup-and-a-half of water to a low boil in a large skillet. When the pasta is ready, ladle out about half a cup of the starchy cooking water, and then drain the pasta.

Here’s the secret to making the magic happen: whisk a tablespoon of cornstarch into the reserved cooking water, and then whisk this mixture into the boiling water in the skillet. Whisk in the cheese, and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens (about 3-4 minutes). Toss the cooked pasta in the cheese sauce, add in LOTS of freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

pasta cacio e pepe in a ceramic bowl with wooden utensils

Best Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Bam! Silky, creamy, and totally amazing pasta cacio e pepe every. single. time. While it’s not a truly authentic cacio e pepe, I think it’s the BEST cacio e pepe recipe. The cornstarch serves to stabilize the cheese sauce, making it truly foolproof without changing the flavor.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a recipe that works consistently over a fussy authentic recipe any day!

cacio e pepe pasta being served from a ceramic bowl

Are you drooling, yet? Some side dish suggestions are this yummy Italian chopped salad or this easy 15-minute homemade garlic bread (or both if you’re hosting guests). Either way, I wouldn’t count on any leftovers. Enjoy!


best cacio e pepe recipe twirled around a gold fork

Foolproof Cacio e Pepe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

If you love simple and easy pasta dishes, this cacio e pepe recipe is totally for you! This silky and creamy pasta is made with just spaghetti noodles, cheese, lots and lots of black pepper, plus one secret ingredient that makes it foolproof every time...


  • 1-lb. spaghetti
  • 4-oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and add the spaghetti. Cook until just shy of al dente according to package instructions, about 10 minutes.
  2. When the pasta is done cooking, ladle out 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water into a small bowl, and then drain the pasta.
  3. In a large skillet, bring about 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil.
  4. Whisk the cornstarch into the reserved cooking water to make a slurry. Then whisk this slurry into the boiling water in the skillet. Add the cheese and cook until the sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes, whisking often. If the sauce doesn't seem like it's coming together, mix another teaspoon of cornstarch with a little extra water and add it, while continuing to whisk.
  5. Off heat, toss the pasta with the cheese sauce and desired amount of freshly ground black pepper until well coated. Serve with additional freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 521.6Total Fat: 11.1gSaturated Fat: 6.0gCholesterol: 25.0mgSodium: 350.7mgCarbohydrates: 87.8gFiber: 4.4gSugar: 2.0gProtein: 22.2g

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!

P.S. Want another amazingly easy cheesy pasta recipe? This Instant Pot cream cheese pasta can’t be beat!! Have it on your table ready to serve with just 5 ingredients in under 20 minutes…

I’d love to see how your cacio e pepe turns out… Tag me @Unsophisticook, along with @PotsandPansCom, on Instagram or use the hashtag #Unsophisticook so I can check it out. Enjoy!


Wednesday 7th of August 2019

We have been missing out Cacio e pepe big time. We have never heard of this before but now it is going to be our go to pasta dish. Thank you for the great recipe.


Wednesday 7th of August 2019

LOVE the cornstarch trick! Will it keep the leftovers silky too, or will I have to heat it up in a pot with a bit more water?

Tara Kuczykowski

Wednesday 7th of August 2019

Excellent question! Unfortunately, I don't think we've ever had leftovers, so I'm not sure... But my gut is telling me that, if you think you might have extras, you should reserve a little more of the pasta water to use when you reheat it.


Wednesday 17th of July 2019

In love with this! So comforting and easy!


Wednesday 17th of July 2019

I'm totally drooling over this pasta recipe. Can't wait to try it!


Wednesday 17th of July 2019

That cookware looks incredible! Definitely perfect for pairing with this wonderful pasta. I love how easily it comes together.

Skip to Recipe