Cacio e pepe is classic: peppery cheesy noodle goodness. You don’t mess with classic, am I right? Well, the other day I saw some noodles on insta and I was immediately drawn in. They were super saucy, extra cheesy, and looked so cravable. It was a twist on cacio e pepe – instead of the starchy pasta water, pecorino, pepper, and pasta route, it went for a pecorino mornay sauce flecked with pepper.

Mornay sauce, for the uninitiated, is a classic French sauce built off of béchamel, a flour thickened milk sauce. Traditional mornay is made with gruyère cheese but this one uses pecorino, which is the cheese normally used for cacio e pepe. You can use parmesan if that’s what you have but if you see pecorino at the store, it’s worth a buy. It’s slightly sharper, more intense, and less nutty than parmesan because it’s made with sheep’s milk instead of cow. It really makes cacio e pepe amazing and if you’re looking for the same flavor cacio as the ones you get in an Italian restaurant, the cheese is the answer.

Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

I’m a huge fan of cacio e pepe of all kinds and its simplicity but sometimes we get messages from people who have problems with cheese clumping up or sauce that isn’t as smooth, glossy, or thick as they like. This cacio e pepe-ish pasta is here to save the day. Because the sauce is thickened with flour and thinned out with starchy pasta water, it has more body and clinging power than the classic sauce.

Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Here’s how to make it

First, start off by melting some butter in a pan with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Black pepper is a key flavor in cacio e pepe and toasting it in butter helps coax out it’s spicy floralness – the heat of the butter will draw out flavor and the pepper will infuse the butter with all that goodness.

After the butter is melted and the pepper is toasted, it’s time to add our thickening agent, flour. Stir the flour in completely making sure there are no lumps. At this point, our goal is to coat eat flour granule with fat so that the flour easily combines with the milk to create a smooth sauce.

Once the flour is cooked into the fat, it’s time to gradually add the milk. Adding it in slowly will help prevent lumps. Don’t worry if the sauce clumps up right away, just keep whisking over low heat.

When all the milk is incorporated, it’s time to add the cheese. Take the sauce off the heat and add the cheese in batches. The residual heat of the sauce will melt the cheese. The sauce will probably look kind of lumpy, but don’t worry, we’re going to smooth it out with starchy pasta water. At this point, if you want to cool down the sauce and pop it in the fridge in a container, you can do so. If you do, you can have almost instant cacio e pepe pasta any day of the week.

When you’re ready to make your pasta, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Heat up the cacio sauce over medium heat, and whisk in some hot starchy pasta water until the sauce thins out slightly. Add the pasta and toss, adding extra pasta water if sauce is too thick. Finish everything off with extra cheese and pepper and enjoy!

Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta Recipe

Serves 2
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 oz finely grated pecorino about 1.5 cups
  • 1/4 cup pasta water more if needed
  • 6 oz pasta I used homemade garganelli

Instructions

  • In a skillet, melt the butter and add the pepper, letting the pepper infuse the butter as it melts. Stir in the flour and cook for about three minutes, until completely smooth and incorporated.
    Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Pour in the milk in a thin stream while whisking. It might start out lumpy, but keep whisking and it will smooth out into a thick paste. Stir in the pecorino in batches, and remove from the heat. The sauce will be very thick.
    Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according the packaging or until it is al dente.
    How to Make Homemade Garganelli | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Take 1/4 cup of the hot starchy pasta water and stir it into the cacio e pepe sauce, whisking over medium low heat until smooth and glossy. Add the drained pasta, stirring in extra pasta water as needed until the sauce coats the pasta. Enjoy with extra pepper and crushed red peppers, if desired.
    Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Super Creamy Cacio e Pepe Style Pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

5 Comments

  1. christian kruse says:

    5 stars
    Hi
    I repurposed your cacio sauce. I sauteed some garlic, spinach, black mustard greens, mixed it in with the sauce, cooked ziti, mozzerella. Baked it and found that the sauce married it all together perfectly. Thanks

  2. Khadija Butt says:

    5 stars
    Added about a tablespoon of white miso in with the milk and came out delicious! Would recommend to those looking for an extra level of umami.

    1. Stephanie says:

      mmm white miso cacio e pepe sounds amazing!

  3. Jada Cox says:

    Can you add a meat to this? And if you do what kind?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jada,
      you can totally add protein to it – i would cook the protein on the side and then add it in afterwards :)
      as for what kind, any would work but i think chicken would be delicious!

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike