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13 mins
Three Ingredient Spaghetti Recipe

Three Ingredient Spaghetti

An Ideal Recipe for Vegetarians

Recipe by  

Three Ingredient Spaghetti is known throughout Italy as Cacio e Pepe which literally means "Cheese and Pepper". OK, so I haven't counted salt and pepper as ingredients but, ignoring that, Cacio e Pepe has only three ingredients - spaghetti, butter and Parmesan, and it's quite delicious! And it's so simple! If you can boil a pot of water, you can enjoy Three Ingredient Spaghetti.

This dish only takes as long as it takes for the pasta to cook (just a few minutes), so be sure to grate your Parmesan ahead of time.

      Preparation Time: 3 Minutes

      Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

A Top Choice Recipe for Simplicity

Ingredients for Three Ingredient Spaghetti

If you are not familiar with any ingredients, please check our International Cooking Terms page.
US Imperial Measurements  UK Imperial Measurements  Metric Measurements

Currently displaying quantities in US Imperial Measurements
to serve 4:
1 lb
8 oz
8 oz
Parmesan cheese (grated)
salt and pepper


How to Cook Three Ingredient Spaghetti

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente (ignore the instructions - reduce the recommended cooking time by 1-2 minutes for perfect pasta al dente). Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and grind in 2 - 2½ teaspoons of black pepper (I know that seems like a lot, but it works fine - you'll see!). As soon as the butter begins to bubble, remove the pan from the heat.
  2. When the pasta is cooked, drain, but don't be too fussy because you actually want to add about 3 tablespoons of the pasta water to the sauté pan along with the spaghetti.
  3. Add the pasta to the butter-pepper mix and cook over a medium-high heat until the liquid bubbles and thickens, tossing the pasta to coat it with the butter-pepper mix. Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan cheese, tossing rigorously until all the ingredients have been incorporated into a beautiful creamy sauce. Garnish with a couple of additional twists of black pepper and a little more Parmesan, and serve immediately.

Practice makes perfect with Three Ingredient Spaghetti. If you don't quite master the perfect creamy texture the first time round, don't despair! The pasta will still taste darn good, and you can always improve your technique the next time. Don't forget to include some of that starchy pasta water - it is a crucial element to a proper emulsion.
GRAHAM'S WINE RECOMMENDATION: GrahamFor the wine, there are several really good options from all over Italy. A Pinot Grigio or Trebbiano would pair nicely, or even a young Chianti or Dolcetto. However, what really works well is a Pouilly-Fuisse, a distinctive Chardonnay from France's Burgundy region. The viscosity of Pouilly-Fuisse is an equal match for the dish, plus Pouilly-Fuisse has the ability to cut through and cleanse the palate with its lively and minerally crispness.
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