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Cacio e Pepe Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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This cacio e pepe macaroni and cheese recipe features cooked pasta tossed in a creamy flavorful parmesan orRomano cheese sauce with pepper. Level up your mac with this 20-minute dinner that is easy enough for a weeknight meal, but fancy enough to enjoy on a special occasion.

The creamy sauce is made by sautéing butter, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and adding in some of the pasta cooking water to thicken the sauce without using cream. You can add in your favorite herbs to finish this dish – and top it off with extra parmesan cheese for a kick.

cacio e pepe macaroni and cheese with parmesan and black pepper pasta easy mac & cheese without cheddar

This delicious cacio e pepe mac and cheese is a fantastic and easy dinner, ready in about 20 minutes. It’s loaded with flavor and turned out so good – definitely a new favorite way to enjoy macaroni.  Cacio e pepe translates to cheese and pepper – which is a simple cheese sauce to toss with freshly cooked noodles.

This is not your average mac and cheese!  Cacio e Pepe is a traditional Roman dish, and is a simple and easy way to prepare a cheesy sauce by only using a few simple ingredients. You have a restaurant quality pasta, with only 4 ingredients.

This Cacio e Pepe Mac and Cheese Recipe Is:

  • Creamy
  • Simple
  • Easy to Make
  • Comforting
  • Satisfying
  • Vegetarian
parmesan macaroni and cheese no cheddar easy 4 ingredient mac and cheese no milk or cream

What’s In This Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Parmesan or Romano?

Be sure to visit the recipe card below for full ingredient amounts and recipe instructions!

  • Macaroni Noodles – I love the light springy texture of macaroni noodles! Not only are they classic in mac and cheese, but they work really well with this rich and creamy parmesan sauce.
  • Romano Cheese or Parmesan Cheese – gives extra flavor and richness to this dish. If you can’t find Romano cheese, you can use a sharp real cheese parmesan, or a vegan version, adding a little extra into the sauce (and for garnish) this sauce will highlight your Parmesan so make sure you use a good one.
  • Butter – I like to use unsalted butter to reduce the amount of sodium in my cooking.
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
mac and cheese cacio e pepe parmesan cheese macaroni with black pepper vegetarian macaroni cacio e pepe noodles

Simple Cacio e Pepe with Macaroni Noodles

This mac and cheese cacio e pepe pasta is the tastiest, coziest dinner recipe. Pasta is always a quick and hearty meal for the family, especially when it’s has a gooey creamy sauce like this one.  Totally irresistible. 

It makes a great holiday pasta dish as well – a simple vegetarian recipe to serve with a salad. It takes only 20 minutes to cook, so you can enjoy extra time to prep sides or a salad. Browse all our pasta recipes!

How Do I Make Cacio e Pepe Mac and Cheese without Cheddar?

  1. Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Once finished cooking, remove from heat and leave in the cooking water for a few minutes (save the water, as it will be used to thicken the sauce).
  2. In a pan, add the butter over low heat until melted. Using a slotted spoon, drain the macaroni and add into the pan with the butter. Toss well to combine.
  3. Pour 2/3 cup of the macaroni cooking water into the pan. Add the parmesan cheese. Stir well, the sauce will thicken as it cooks.  If sauce is too thick, add an additional 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water at a time to thin out the sauce. 
  4. Once sauce has reached the desired thickness, add in the black pepper.  Serve the macaroni hot, topping with an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.
cacio e pepe mac and cheese recipe with parmesan cheese or romano cheese and black pepper pasta

More Creamy 30 Minute Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!

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If you made this recipe, please leave a star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

mac and cheese cacio e pepe parmesan cheese macaroni with black pepper vegetarian macaroni cacio e pepe noodles

Cacio e Pepe Macaroni and Cheese

This cacio e pepe macaroni and cheese recipe features cooked pasta tossed in a creamy flavorful parmesan orRomano cheese sauce with pepper. Level up your mac with this 20-minute dinner that is easy enough for a weeknight meal, but fancy enough to enjoy on a special occasion.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 406 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Pot
  • Ladle

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces macaroni noodles save cooking water
  • 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 1 cup Romano cheese or parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Once finished cooking, remove from heat and leave in the cooking water for a few minutes (save the water, as it will be used to thicken the sauce).
  • In a pan, add the butter over low heat until melted. Using a slotted spoon, drain the macaroni and add into the pan with the butter. Toss well to combine.
  • Pour 2/3 cup of the macaroni cooking water into the pan. Add the Romano/parmesan cheese. Stir well, the sauce will thicken as it cooks.  If sauce is too thick, add an additional 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water at a time to thin out the sauce.
  • Once sauce has reached the desired thickness, add in the black pepper.  Serve the macaroni hot, topping with an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 406kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 20gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 1275mgPotassium: 126mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 463IUCalcium: 486mgIron: 4mg
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5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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