Healthier Cacio e Pepe by Daphne Oz

Total Time
30 min
15 min
15 min
Love the creamy goodness of traditional Cacio e Pepe, but want to lighten up the calories? Try this healthier spin on the famous cheese and pepper dish. Add a tangy side of lemon roasted broccolini to keep you full and nourished while enjoying this classic Italian dish.


Uncooked whole wheat spaghetti

12 oz

Black pepper

1 Tbsp, freshly cracked (plus extra for garnish)

Unsalted butter

2 Tbsp, cold

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 cup(s)

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Parmesan cheese

5 Tbsp, Parmigiano-Reggiano, cubed (1/3 cup)

Sea salt

1 pinch(es), or to taste


  1. For the Cacio e Pepe: Bring a large pot filled halfway with salted water to a boil. Add the whole wheat pasta and cook 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Reserve 2 cups of pasta cooking liquid in a glass measuring cup before draining the pasta. *It’s helpful to have as little water as possible to just cover the pasta for this preparation since you will use starchy pasta water to build up an ultra-velvety sauce.
  2. Once the sauce has cooled a bit, start to whisk in the grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses a little at a time. Slowly add a bit more of the reserved pasta water to help loosen the sauce and continue melting the cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted and sauce is thick and velvety.
  3. Over medium-low heat, add pasta to the skillet (add a splash more pasta water if the sauce seems dry). Stir and toss with tongs to coat the pasta with the sauce and finish the cooking process as the sauce flavors and coats the noodles in silky, cheesy, peppery glory.
  4. Add cubed Parmesan cheese to the bottom of serving bowls. Transfer portions of pasta to each bowl, top with a sprinkle more cheese (optional), cracked pepper, and some flaky salt if you have it.
  5. Serving size: about 1 1/2 cups