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Cacio e Pepe Potatoes

Cacio e Pepe Potatoes

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The classic Pecorino and black pepper combination is delicious on way more than pasta. Try it on veg and rice, too.


  • 3 pounds new potatoes or baby Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 4 oz. Pecorino, finely grated, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, divided

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 15–20 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer back to pot. Add oil, 1 cup Pecorino, and 1 Tbsp. pepper and toss until cheese is melted and potatoes are coated; season with salt.

  • Transfer potatoes to a platter; top with remaining Pecorino and 1 Tbsp. pepper.

Recipe by Rita Sodi and Jody Williams,

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 270 Fat (g) 13 Saturated Fat (g) 4 Cholesterol (mg) 10 Carbohydrates (g) 31 Dietary Fiber (g) 4 Total Sugars (g) 1 Protein (g) 6 Sodium (mg) 340Reviews SectionI can't be sure but the picture of the block of cheese looks more like Parmigiano-Reggianothen a Pecorino. Just being picky.The recipe is a winner. Certainly simple enough.I have made this dish before, because it is fantastic [had it, dining out, and copied the riff], and the email/recipe just reminded me it's time again to make this.eaterofbirdsNew Hampshire05/23/19I can see myself smashing these a bit before serving.These potatoes are amazing. So simple yet so delicious. Tender and creamy.Spokane Washington 05/22/19OMG! There is NOTHING like a new potato. My late husband & I used to grow a few & that was our Spring treat. Thank you for highlighting these wonders.lhensley10Neenah, Wi05/22/19

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe literally translates to &ldquocheese and pepper,&rdquo and while those are the prominent flavors here, this dish is SO much more. It&rsquos transformative. And what makes it so perfect? Its simplicity.

Pasta water is your best friend.

Remember the days when we used to overcook pasta, mindlessly drain it, and maybe even rinse it with cold water? (Read our tips on how to cook perfect pasta every time before boiling another pot.) Now, it's fairly common knowledge to do just the opposite. Cook your pasta&mdashwe&rsquod recommend spaghetti, bucatini, or another long, thin noodle&mdashuntil al dente in rapidly boiling, salted water. Go about 3 minutes less than what the package cooking time recommends. Then, right before you&rsquore ready to drain, dip a liquid measuring cup in there and grab some of that beautifully starchy, salty water. This magical stuff is the backbone of this dish and will make your sauce smooth, glossy, and emulsified.

Toast your black pepper.

One of this dish&rsquos namesake ingredients, regular old black pepper, needs special attention here. To get the most out of your pepper, you&rsquore going to be toasting it in a mixture of butter and oil. You&rsquore &ldquoblooming&rdquo the pepper&mdashessentially, frying it in fat to deepen the flavor. Don't go too long or the pepper will burn&mdasha minute is perfect. Freshly ground is absolutely key. Do not use a shaker! You&rsquoll thank us later when your pasta is flecked with freshly cracked pieces of the good stuff.

Double the cheese, please.

For this recipe, you're going to be using two classic Italian cheeses: Parmesan and pecorino. Some recipes will have you use one or the other, but a fresh, finely grated mixture of both of them is what really balances the dish, and IMO, takes it to the next level. Toss, toss, toss, and watch as they quickly melt into the sauce and cling to the pasta.

Cacio e Pepe Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving is merely a few weeks away and we gotta get ready! Today I couldn’t be more excited to share these Cacio e Pepe Mashed Potatoes with you all. They’re buttery, peppery, slightly tart and utterly perfect.

For this post, I teamed up with Le Creuset!! Woohoo! I have always loved my Le Creuset cookware and have used it all up on this blog over and over and over again. Le Creuset is truly my kitchen ally. I love it for numerous reasons but here are just a few:

– My Le Creuset cookware is incredibly multi-functional. I use the Dutch ovens to make everything from arroz con pollo to soups to—in this case—boiling potatoes.
– Since Le Creuset is so beautiful, it’s easy to take it from oven or stove directly to the table.
– The enamel coating on the inside of their cookware make them super easy to clean. A few light scrubs and BOOM…squeaky clean, looking like new!

In this post, I’m using their gorgeous Dutch oven in the color Truffle. And while I absolutely think it’s possible to put the Dutch oven on the table, it was a bit dark inside and wasn’t photographing the way I wanted so I transferred it to the 2 1/4-quart braiserin Persimmon.

These fall colors are a gorgeous addition to my Thanksgiving autumnal table.

I think it’s time to jump into the mood!

What is Cacio e Pepe?

Let’s tackle the basics: Cacio e Pepe which literally translates to “cheese and pepper.” It’s a dish that hails from Rome, italy and it’s typically super simple. It involves a bucatini pasta tossed in a simple sauce of Pecorino Romano, black pepper, salt and starch water from boiling the pasta. It’s ridiculously simple but like all simple dishes, the technique and precision is everything.

Obviously, this post is about mashed potatoes so there’s no pasta involved. We’re simply taking those super simple flavors and adding them to Creamy Mashed Potatoes which will result in Cacio e Pepe Mashed Potatoes!

How to Make Creamy Mashed Potatoes?

There are tenets that I believe are super important with making super creamy, delicious mashed potatoes. Here they go!

  • Start with cold water. And then add the potatoes. This makes ensure even cooking of the potatoes.
  • Use a ricer. I cannot tell you how important this is. It makes a super fine potato and when you mix it together, it stays so fluffy and vibrant. If you don’t own one, then use a masher!
  • Add something tart. Whether it’s creme fraiche, buttermilk, sour cream or cream cheese. You need something to cut through the richness.
  • Of course, you need the one ingredient that makes everything amazing at Thanksgiving: butter. Yes, I like to add softened butter or melted butter.
  • And I believe you need a little something else. Whether that’s a fresh herb—or in this case, toasted peppercorns and ground up and a good amount of Pecorino Romano.

I added a few spoon swoops with a big spoon, and poured some melted butter on top.

I’ll be making it on Insta Stories today, so be sure to check it out over there!

How to Make Cacio e Pepe Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes start with your basic mashed potato ingredients. In fact, this whole recipe should feel very familiar.

The ingredients list is simple:

  • Yellow potatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Parmesan

… yep, that’s it. Boil the potatoes in salty, salty water, mash them, then stir in all the goodies.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 ¾ cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until tender yet firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Scoop out some of the cooking water and reserve. Drain spaghetti.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper cook and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add spaghetti and Pecorino Romano cheese. Ladle in 1/2 cup of reserved cooking water stir until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Add more cooking water until sauce coats spaghetti, about 1 minute more.

Cacio e pepe

Three ingredients: spaghetti, pecorino cheese and black pepper. That and a little of the salted water the pasta was cooked in. Toss them together, and you have a great dish. It calls for an unholy amount of pepper -- two tablespoons of whole black peppercorns for one pound of pasta -- and a cup and a half of freshly grated pecorino Romano. “But because it is such a minimalist creation,” Bastianich writes, “every ingredient is of utmost importance.”

Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, grind the peppercorns very coarsely, preferably crushing them in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder.

Warm up a big bowl for mixing and serving the pasta -- use some of the pasta water to heat the bowl, if you like. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Quickly lift it from the pot with tongs, let it drain for an instant, then drop it into the warm bowl.

Immediately scatter a cup of the grated cheese and most of the ground pepper on the pasta, and toss in quickly. As you mix, sprinkle over spoonfuls of hot water from the cooking pot to moisten and amalgamate the pasta and condiments -- add more pepper or cheese, or both, to taste. Serve while the spaghetti is very hot.

Use a very good authentic pecorino, one produced in Lazio, Tuscany or Sardinia. The cheese is at its best when aged only 8 to 10 months.

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Cacio e Pepe (Milk Street)

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk the water and cornstarch until smooth. Add the pecorino and stir until evenly moistened. Set the pan over medium-low and cook, whisking constantly, until the cheese melts and the mixture comes to a gentle simmer and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Don't over heat! As soon as a simmer is reached remove from the heat set aside. Note: while the pecorino mixture rests, it will thicken slightly.

Stir the pasta and salt into the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta very well.

Return the pasta to the pot and let cool for about 1 minute.

Pour the pecorino mixture over the pasta and toss with tongs until combined, then toss in the pepper.

Let stand, tossing two or three times, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 minutes.

If needed, toss in reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to adjust the consistency.


For Pasta Gricia: In a 10-inch skillet over medium, cook 3 ounces finely chopped pancetta until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel–lined plate reserve 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Follow the recipe for cacio e pepe, whisking the fat into the pecorino mixture before setting it aside. Stir the cooked pancetta into the pasta along with the pepper.

Cacio E Pepe Components


Tonnarelli Pasta is traditionally used but can be hard to find. It can be substituted with a Thick hallow Spaghetti like Bucatini.


Only enough water to boil the Pasta is desired because we want to create a Starchy water. The ratio is about 400 ml per 100 g of pasta. I use 8 Cups of water for 1 lbs of pasta.

Pecorino Romano Cheese

Pecorino Romano is traditionally used however a mix of Parmigiana or Parmesan Cheese can be incorporated or mixed in as well. Using 100 % Parmesan cheese will not be as good. The Pecorino Romano really does have much more flavor.

Keep the Cheese Cheese Cold so that when added it incorporates the starch.

Black Pepper

Tellicherry Peppercorn are the ones to use. Toast the Whole Peppercorn lightly and crush or grind before using. Add half to the Water while boiling the Pasta. This will allow the Pasta to absorb some of that flavor.

Some will add a variety of Peppercorn. Myself, I tested a few different heat sources and have found nothing is better than just Black Peppercorn.

Now the different varieties of Black Peppercorn may be another matter altogether. But adding in or substituting the Black Peppercorn with other heat sources I find doesn’t work as well as the original.

The other Black pepper varieties I will test at some time include Rimbas Pepper or Sarawak Pepper.

Salt is added to the water and to taste for the Pasta. Additional Salt can be added at the end to adjust the seasoning but may not be required. Taste and Adjust.

Notes about this recipe

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How to Make Cacio e Pepe

  • shellfish-free
  • fish-free
  • alcohol-free
  • vegetarian
  • peanut-free
  • pork-free
  • pescatarian
  • sugar-conscious
  • no-oil-added
  • tree-nut-free
  • soy-free
  • egg-free
  • red-meat-free
  • Calories 558
  • Fat 11.3 g (17.3%)
  • Saturated 6.4 g (31.9%)
  • Carbs 86.0 g (28.7%)
  • Fiber 3.6 g (14.5%)
  • Sugars 3.3 g
  • Protein 26.1 g (52.1%)
  • Sodium 515.4 mg (21.5%)


coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for garnish

dried spaghetti, bucatini, or tonnarelli pasta



Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Finely grate the cheese. Using a microplane, finely grate 5 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese into a large bowl to get about 2 1/2 cups. Transfer 1/2 cup to a small bowl to use as garnish.

Grind the black pepper and make a cheese paste. Coarsely grind enough black pepper to get 1 tablespoon and use a fork to mix it into the large bowl of cheese. Drizzle in 1/3 cup ice water and use the fork to whisk it into the cheese mixture, then press the mixture against the side of the bowl, as needed, to form a thick, mostly smooth and lump-free paste set aside.

Cook the pasta. Add 1 pound dried pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.

Toss the pasta with the cheese paste. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and working quickly, immediately add it to the large bowl of cheese paste and use the fork to vigorously stir and toss the pasta with the cheese paste, adding 1 tablespoon of the reserved pasta water at a time to loosen the paste until it evenly coats the pasta in a creamy sauce. (You’ll likely use only about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pasta water total and not use all of it.)

Serve with additional grated cheese and black pepper. Serve immediately, topping with the reserved grated Pecorino and a few coarse grinds of black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Storage: While cacio e pepe is best eaten immediately, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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