Vegan Cacio e Pepe

cacio e pepe recipe

This classic Roman pasta dish literally translates to “cheese and pepper.” With thick spaghetti and vegan Parm, it is one of the simplest and most satisfying quick meals you can make. We like a little twist on it: a topping of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. That’s totally optional.


  • 12 ounces (340 g) bucatini or thick pasta
  • 6 tablespoons plant-based butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cups (200 g) grated vegan Parmesan (Follow Your Heart and Violife are good)


  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until tender but still a little chewy in the center, 9 to 11 minutes. Near the end of cooking, remove and reserve 2 cups (475 ml) of the starchy pasta water.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) of the reserved pasta water to a large deep pan or wok. Add the butter and pepper, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Season with a little salt and cook until the butter melts. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup (50 g) of the Parm.
  3. Drain the pasta and transfer to the deep pan or wok. Stir with tongs and shake the pan like mad until the sauce thickens a bit and coats the pasta, marrying pasta and sauce as one. Stir in another 1 cup (100 g) Parm, then taste a piece of pasta and season with a little more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
  4. Use tongs to transfer full portions of pasta to shallow bowls or plates, decoratively twisting each portion onto the plate. Shower the remaining Parm over the pasta, along with a bit more ground black pepper, and top with the breadcrumbs, if using.


  • Crunchy Toasted Breadcrumbs: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup breadcrumbs (panko is great), 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and a little salt and pepper. Toast until the crumbs are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, shaking the pan now and then.
  • Got leftover dried-out bread? Grind it up for homemade breadcrumbs. Less waste, more flavor!
  • If you like, use a mix of different peppers like white, red, green, and black.

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