4 Ingredient Pasta - Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe - Simple Pasta with only 4 ingredients

If you're not counting the egg, Cacio e Pepe is a dish that requires only 4 ingredients: pasta, black pepper, pecorino cheese, and pasta water. A common staple in Roman cuisine, this dish appeared on the menus of multiple restaurants I visited in Italy. Since this dish is extremely simple, it was not intimidating at all to recreate it in the comfort of my own kitchen. 

Because this dish contains so few ingredients, I decided to add a poached egg on top of the pasta for a protein boost. Poached eggs might seem like a tricky item to make, but all it takes is a few tips and tricks to make sure that you succeed.

Cacio e Pepe - Simple 4-ingredient Pasta

Noodles are always better with a runny egg on top—no questions asked.

Cacio e Pepe - Simple 4-ingredient Pasta

poached eggs tips and tricks

Use a small bowl—crack the egg into a small bowl before dropping it into the water. This will make sure that the egg occupies a smaller space in the water, thus staying together better. Doing this step will also ensure that you don't accidentally leave any egg shells in the egg.

Spin the water—Make a "tornado" in the water with a spoon before adding the egg. This will allow the egg to spiral onto itself and prevent it from falling apart in the water.

Be patient, but not too patient—although overcooking a poached egg is a big no-no, the egg will still need to stay in the water for while before you can actually pick it up with a spoon. I can't tell you how many times I've removed an egg too early from the water only to have it fall apart on my dish or within the pot.

No need for vinegar—I find that sour eggs are not exactly palatable and that you can make an completely perfect poached egg without adding vinegar to firm it up. Simply making sure that the water is moving and spiraling before you add in the egg will suffice.

Cacio e Pepe - Simple 4-ingredient Pasta

Cacio e Pepe, directly translating "cheese and pepper" in Italian, is usually made with a thin pasta like spaghetti. Because this recipe is so minimal, it can be a great backdrop to showcase a high quality pecorino cheese or freshly grated black pepper. To reduce the cooking and cleaning time even further, you don't even have to complete the pasta on the stove in another pan. You can simply mix the pasta, cheese, black pepper, and pasta water in a large bowl to finish it up. The pasta water will emulsify the cheese to create a creamy sauce while also seasoning the pasta with the salt you previously added to the water.

Cacio e Pepe - Simple 4-ingredient Pasta

Why not give this a try as a simple weekday dinner?

Cacio e Pepe - Simple 4-ingredient Pasta

Cacio e Pepe


  • 16 oz of Spaghetti (or another long thin type of pasta like Linguini)
  • 6 oz of Pecorinio Cheese, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste (and to season the pasta water)
  • Optional: Eggs

Takes , Makes 4 servings.


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Ensure that it's reasonably seasoned with salt before adding the pasta

  2. Add the spaghetti and cook for about 10 minutes or until Al Dente

  3. Bring the cooked spaghetti into a large bowl and slowly incorporate the pecornio cheese while ladling in the leftover pasta water. Stir well to allow the hot water to emulsify the cheese.

  4. Add a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper. Mix well to infuse pasta with the pepper. If needed, season with salt to taste.

  5. Add a poached egg on top if desired (Please refer to the above "Poached Eggs Tips and Tricks" section for extra guidance).

Note:  This recipe is intended for simplicity. Please feel free to improvise off of it and to add your own twist with other ingredients!


I've been ignoring food content on my blog for a while now, so I hope this post was a breath of fresh air. I've mostly been focused on trying to present everything I collected in Italy in an organized manner, so I've been spending large amounts of time editing travel vlogs and photos. I still have some content on Italy left, but they're mostly going to be fashion-related. If you're interested on the Italy content, please visit the new travel section I created—filled with travel tips, ideas, and oh so many food recommendations.

I also have some video content coming out for recipes, so please subscribe to my YouTube Channel to stay updated!

Please try this out if you're looking for a simple meal to make. It literally takes no time at all and is super delicious :)

♥ Cindy

Food, 2Cindy ZhangComment