Brown Butter Cacio e Pepe Pasta

My husband loves pasta. If I’m surprising him for dinner, it’s either Persian food or pasta every time. So last week, I wanted to make something easy that would comfort us on a cold evening. Cacio e pepe pasta was the simple dish I knew would do the trick. Cheese and pepper and pasta and butter. Done. How fucking easy is that? (My variation on the classic Ina saying.) So naturally, I wanted to amp it up a little bit. In this recipe, I stray from the traditional bowl. The butter is browned until golden and nutty before getting hit with a punch of black pepper and tons of cheese (Parmesan instead of the classic Pecorino Romano). The resulting pasta literally feels like a warm hug.

I love bucatini (Who doesn’t love a thick nood?), but you can use this recipe with literally any pasta you have on hand. Just make sure you’re saving that cooking liquid, because that’s the starchy gold that will melt the cheese and reduce into a creamy sauce that you’ll be licking off the bowl.

Brown Butter Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


Kosher salt, to taste

1 pound dried bucatini

1 stick unsalted butter

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

Thyme leaves, for garnish


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bucatini and cook until al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Then drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in another large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown and nutty in aroma, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. To the butter, add the black pepper, followed by the drained pasta, reserved pasta water and the grated Parmesan. Cook, tossing constantly until the cheese melts and the pasta water forms a thick sauce coating the noodles, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Divide between bowls, garnish with grated Parmesan and thyme leaves, then serve.