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4 Ingredient Cacio e Pepe Pasta

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 Cacio e pepe is a 4 ingredient recipe that is perfect for busy weeknight dinners. This easy pasta recipe uses pantry staples to create a delicious, authentic Italian meal right in your pressure cooker. Our cacio e pepe is ready with minimal fuss in less than 15 minutes. You and your family will love every bite and want to make it over and over again.


cacio e pepe recipe

What is cacio e pepe?

“Cacio” is the Italian word for  cheese. “Pepe” is the Italian word for Pepper. Put ’em together and you’ve got a humble Pasta with cheese and black pepper .

Cacio e pepe, pronounced ‘ka-tchee-oh eh peh-pay,’ is a favorite pasta of Rome, Italy. It is a simple pasta made traditionally with about 4 ingredients. Though it is short on ingredients, it is big on flavor with the salty, creaminess from the cheese and butter and a little bite from black pepper.

This it the perfect fast and easy weeknight pasta and one of our favorite standby recipes.

You can make it in less than 15 minutes in the Instant Pot or use your stove top for a quick, one pot meal.

cacio e pepe recipe

Cacio E Pepe Recipe Ingredients & Substitutions

You really don’t need much to make cacio e pepe. It is one of the reasons we love it so much. You can make this recipe from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge even if you haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping yet.

Here’s what you’ll want to gather:

  • Spaghetti - bucatini or tonnarelli  are highly recommended , but spaghetti works really well too.
  • Low sodium vegetable broth-adds tons of flavor.
  • Butter- Salted butter is my go to for this pasta dish, but you can use unsalted if you prefer.
  • Cheese- both Pecorino Romano cheese and Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly cracked fine Black pepper powder-

How to make cacio e pepe in the Instant Pot

Cacio e pepe is one of the easiest pasta recipes you can make. It’s just like our Garlic Noodles in that regard. When you are ready to make this recipe, here’s what you need to do.

Cacio e pepe step by step instructions

  • Start by pouring the broth into the inner pot of your Instant Pot. Next, break the noodles in half and place half the noodles in the broth. Add the second half on top using a crisscross pattern.
  • Use tongs or a spoon to gently push the noodles into the broth just enough to get them wet. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and place the lid on the Instant Pot. There is no need to stir the noodles once you add the butter.
  • Make sure the vent is set to sealing and set your Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes before turning the vent to open to do a quick release of the remaining pressure.
  • Carefully remove the lid on your Instant Pot. Use your tongs to stir the noodles and break apart any stuck piece of pasta. Stuck pasta is common when cooking noodles in the Instant Pot, so don’t worry! 

Cacio e pepe step by step instructions

How to Make Cacio E Pepe Pasta on the Stove Top

  • We love using the Instant Pot for cacio e pepe, but you can make this recipe easily on the stove top too if you don’t have one. Here’s how to do it.
  • In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the box's instructions. Often spaghetti takes about 8 to 10 minutes in boiling water, and you will need to stir it on occasion. You can also add a little bit of salt if you like, but that is optional.
  • Once the noodles are done cooking, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Mix in the butter, cheese, and black pepper. Stir until the butter is completely melted and the ingredients have come together. 
  • Serve it hot with your favorite roasted veggies, salad, or rolls. Sprinkle more cheese on top as a garnish.

cacio e pepe recipe

Pro Tips & Tricks for Cacio E Pepe Cheese & Pepper Pasta

Here are some tips for making the best cacio e pepe.

  • Make sure you turn off the Instant Pot, even warming, before adding the cheese. This helps prevent the cheese from clumping up.
  • Try not to substitute out the Pecorino Romano, this is the authentic cheese of the dish and offers a unique flavor to the dish.
  • Don’t wait to add the cheese once it is done cooking. If you wait too long, the butter and cheese won’t melt right.
  • For the best flavor, add in freshly grated peppercorn. They contain a lot more flavor than previously cracked black pepper which just offers added heat and little else.
  • Don’t over cook the pasta if you are using the stove top. The noodles taste best when they are al dente which is soft with a small amount of firmness.

Cacio e pepe recipe

What other noodles can I use?

Cacio e pepe is made using tonnarelli in Rome. Depending on where you live, tonnarelli can be hard to find. You can use Bucatini or and thick spaghetti because it is about the same size. 

How Can I Store Pasta Cacio E Pepe?

If you have left overs, you can easily store them for about 3 to 5 days in the fridge. To do this, allow them to cool to room temperature. Place them in an airtight container and place in them in the fridge. 

To reheat, you can microwave them for a quick lunch or you could saute them in a small pot. If you use a pot on the stove top, you may want to add a small amount of butter or oil to rehydrate the noodles a bit.

We don’t recommend freezing the noodles or making them ahead. They taste best fresh and you can make them in less than 20 minutes so they are a great meal for a night you are in a hurry.


Cacio e pepe recipe

Can I make this vegan?

You can make this vegan, if you prefer. To do this, you could use vegan butter and vegan cheeses. Or you could use olive oil and vegan cheese substitutes for parmesan. 

Vegan Cacio E Pepe

Yes! You can definitely add vegetables to cacio e pepe. We recommend roasting veggies like mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini, or any of your favorites to add at the end. You could also saute them using either a separate pan or in the Instant Pot using a little bit of butter or oil, salt, and pepper.

If you don’t want to add veggies directly to the pasta, we also recommend serving this recipe with a side salad.

Cacio e pepe recipe

Can I make this gluten free?

You can easily substitute in gluten-free noodles. The cooking time should be the same. If you use the stove top, make sure to follow the instructions on the box to make sure you cook them properly.

More Great Italian Pasta Recipes

If you are like us, you love Italian pasta. Check out these recipes for a taste of Italy any day of the week.

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Cacio e pepe recipe

4 Ingredient Cacio E Pepe

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Cacio e pepe is a 4 ingredient recipe that is perfect for busy weeknight dinners. This easy pasta recipe uses pantry staples to create a delicious, authentic Italian meal right in your pressure cooker. Our cacio e pepe is ready with minimal fuss in less than 15 minutes. You and your family will love every bite and want to make it over and over again.


  • 8 0z Spaghetti
  • 2 cups of low sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 4 tablespoon butter, divided in half (so you have 2 tablespoon + 2tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly cracked fine black pepper powder ( add more according to taste)


    1. Pour the broth in the Instant Pot
    2. Break the spaghetti strands in half and spread them in two layers using a crisscross pattern.
    3. Use a spoon or spatula and kind of press down to make sure all the noodles get some water on them.
    4. They don't need to stay in the water, but just get all of them wet.
    5. Add 2 tablespoon of butter. Do not stir from this point on.
    6. Close the lid and turn the vent to sealing position.
    7. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
    8. Once done, let the pot release naturally for 5 minutes, and then release the remaining pressure with the manual pressure release.
    9. Open the pot and stir the spaghetti, use tongs to stir well, and pick apart any stuck pieces.
    10. There will be a few stuck pieces. Stir in the rest of the butter 2 tbsp, cheese and give it a nice stir.
    11. The sauce will start to thicken.
    12. Add in the freshly cracked black pepper and give it a quick stir
      Serve it hot garnish it with some more grated cheese

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Saturday 19th of November 2022

This looks so delicious! Can it be made without an Instapot?

Soniya Saluja

Sunday 20th of November 2022

Yes it can be made on stove top.. just boil the pasta as per instructions on stove top. Then add in the cheese, black pepper powder and some pasta water .


Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Just made this using Bucatini pasta. Instead of veg broth, as recommended, I used Garlic Broth. This was so easy and very tasty!!! It annoys me how expensive this dish is when ordering it at a restaurant. Two servings, using 8 ozs served 2 people probably cost me less than $5. Earlier today I made their tzatziki sauce and now Cacio e Pepe. What's next!!! I'm hooked on this website!


Friday 5th of August 2022

I’d love to double this recipe. I tried putting in 2x the pasta and got the dreaded burn notice. Do I need to add more pepper and Velveeta cheese with a little cheese wiz that I substituted for pecorino? How do you increase or decrease a recipe?

Wendy Wotring

Saturday 29th of January 2022

If I only want to make for 2, can you recommend changes to half the recipe? It’s only for me and I appreciate your help!


Saturday 22nd of January 2022

Is it possible to make this with chicken breasts in the instant pot at the same time?

Soniya Saluja

Monday 24th of January 2022

Hi Heather, yes .. you can add it with the spaghetti . The time and ingredients remains the same and let the pressure release naturally. Hope thus helps

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