Three-Pepper Cacio e Pepe


A trio of peppercorns gives this pasta a subtle, floral heat; if you like, spice it up, swapping the Szechuan pepper with a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Three Pepper Cacio e Pepe
Photo: Victor Protasio
Total Time:
20 mins


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns

  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground Tellicherry pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper

  • 12 ounces uncooked bronze-cut fusilli col buco pasta (such as Giusto Sapore) or bucatini pasta

  • 1 1/2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup), plus more for garnish

  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup)


  1. Heat oil, pink peppercorns, Tellicherry pepper, and Szechuan pepper in a large skillet over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppercorns begin to sizzle and darken, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  2. Prepare pasta in a pot according to package directions for al dente. Using tongs or a spider, transfer pasta to a colander to drain, reserving cooking liquid in pot. Let pasta stand 2 minutes.

  3. Working off of heat, add cheeses and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid to peppercorn mixture in skillet, whisking until water is absorbed and mixture resembles consistency of a chunky paste. Add an additional 1/4 cup cooking liquid, whisking until mixture is thick and mostly smooth. Add drained pasta to mixture; working quickly, vigorously stir until cheese mixture coats pasta, about 30 seconds. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, until a creamy sauce forms and coats the pasta, 20 to 40 seconds for each addition. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls; garnish with additional pecorino Romano. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairing

Light-bodied, lemony Frascati.

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