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Alton Brown's Cacio e Pepe

A simple pasta dish made with starchy pasta water, cheese, oil, and lots of pepper. The recipe was created by Alton Brown. I did cut the peeper in half because my wife and I thought it was pretty strong and I read reviews online saying the same.  I have written the instructions in my own words. 
Servings 4 people
Author Alton Brown



  • Combine pasta and salt in a high sided saute pan.
  • Add enough cold water to cover the pasta. Cover the pan if you have a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • When water reaches a boil, remove the lid and stir with a pair of tongs.
  • Decrease the heat to medium.  Make sure the pasta remains submerged. Only add more water if the pan looks dry. 
  • While pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl combine the pepper, olive oil, and both cheeses. You can save a little bit of these cheese if you want for topping of the pasta at the end. 
  • Combine the ingredients until they form a thick paste and set aside. 
  • After 5 minutes of simmering, ladle a cup of the water into a measuring cup. 
  • Start with a ¾ cup and slowly drizzle the bowl with the cheese. Combine until smooth. If too clumbly you can add more of the water. 
  • At about the 10 minute mark, the pasta should be al dente. Check frequently for doneness. 
  • Using tongs, remove the pasta from the pan, allowing it to drain in midair for a few seconds before adding it to the mixing bowl. 
  • Stir vigorously with the tongs for 2 minutes. It may look like it's not going to come together, but give it time and a lot of force. If it's still too clumby add more cooking water. 
  • Serving pipping hot!


The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of salt. I have had people say they thought the dish was too salty, so I am recommending cutting that in half and starting with 1 tablespoon. You can add more if you like.