Bucatini Cacio e Pepe (Roman Sheep Herder's Pasta)


This peasant food comes from Roman sheep herders who had little time and money to spend on eating. They used their sheep's cheese and a bit of the water that cooked the pasta to create a cream, then added black pepper to give it some extra flavor. Cheap, easy, and fast: this was perfect for them and for us even today!

Close up on a bowl of bucatini cacio e pepe topped with black pepper and grated cheese.
Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
6 servings


  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 pound bucatini (dry)

  • 2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste


  1. Gather all ingredients.

    all ingredients gathered to make bucatini cacio e pepe.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Cook bucatini in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.

    bucatini cooking in boiling water until tender yet firm.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  3. Place grated Pecorino Romano cheese into a large glass bowl and mix with a fork to make sure the cheese contains no lumps.

    grated pecorino romano mixed with a fork so no lumps appear.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  4. Once the bucatini are al dente, lift them out with a spaghetti fork or tongs and put them directly into the bowl with the cheese. Do not allow the water to drain too much.

    noodles lifted out with tongs and placed directly on top of the cheese.

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  5. Add one ladle of pasta water to the bowl. Stir the bucatini around until a cream has formed.

    ladle full of pasta water added to bowl.

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  6. Add more pasta water, little by little, until a thick cream has formed.

    more pasta water added until a thick cream forms.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  7. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over the pasta. Toss and serve immediately.

    fresh ground black pepper sprinkled over pasta, ready to be served.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

438 Calories
12g Fat
59g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 438
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 870mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 59g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 443mg 34%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 177mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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