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Cacio e pepe spaghetti with crispy kale chips

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  • Egg free
  • Nut free
  • Peanut free
  • Sesame free
  • Soy free
  • Shellfish free
  • Seafood free
  • No added sugar
  • Vegetarian
  • High in dietary fibre
  • High in protein
  • 1 serve veg or fruit

Tangy pecorino cheese and spicy black pepper create a flavour sensation that will leave guests wanting seconds. This is our best cacio e pepe recipe.

  • Serves4
  • Cook time15 minutes
  • Prep time20 minutes
Cacio e pepe spaghetti with crispy kale chips


  • 350g spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cups torn kale leaves
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised
  • 3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g finely grated pecorino or parmesan

Kale chips

  • 1 cup torn kale leaves
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs finely grated pecorino or parmesan

Nutritional information

Per serve: Energy: 3095kJ/740 Cals (36%), Protein: 26g (52%), Fat: 40g (57%), Sat Fat: 12g (50%), Carb: 64g (21%), Sugar: 2g (2%), Dietary Fibre: 6g (20%), Sodium: 473mg (24%).

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.

Percentage Daily Intake information on our recipes is calculated using the nutrition reference values for an average Australian adult.


  1. Step 1

    To make kale chips, preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Arrange kale on lined tray. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with pecorino or parmesan. Season and toss to combine. Bake for 15 mins or until crisp.
  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile, cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling water following packet directions or until al dente, adding kale for last 1 min of cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup (125ml) of the cooking liquid.

  3. Step 3

    Heat 1/4 cup (60ml) oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and half the pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 1 min or until aromatic and the pepper starts to sizzle. Add the pecorino or parmesan and the reserved cooking liquid. Stir until cheese melts and the mixture is well combined. Add the pasta mixture, remaining oil and remaining pepper and toss to combine.
  4. Step 4

    Divide the pasta mixture among serving bowls, discarding the garlic. Sprinkle with kale chips to serve.

    Serve with finely grated pecorino or parmesan

Recipe tip

Clever storage:
If you have any leftovers, transfer into an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to 3 days. Can you reheat cacio e pepe? Absolutely! To reheat, place the pasta in a pan over medium heat, add a splash of water and gently stir until heated through. Please note that cacio e pepe does not freeze well.

Cacio e pepe recipe with crispy kale chips

Cacio e pepe pasta is proof that bringing out the flavours of just one or two ingredients can lead to delicious results. Cacio e pepe sounds like a fancy type of pasta, but it can easily be made at home. All you need is pecorino cheese, freshly ground black pepper and some long pasta. You could say part of its appeal lies in the fact that it’s an ‘adult’ version of the nostalgic mac and cheese. If you enjoy the sharp, piney and spicy flavour of black pepper and the tangy flavour of pecorino, you will fall head over heels for this recipe.

Choosing the cheese for cacio e pepe

Pecorino cheese is widely regarded as ‘the’ cheese to use in cacio e pepe. Pecorino is a hard cheese that has an almost spicy flavour, is sharp and tangy, but still lends a bit of the pleasant creaminess that you know and love about cheese. Why pecorino? Well, the original inventor of the pasta found that it paired extremely well with fresh black pepper. Not only that, when you put the reserved pasta water, pecorino and pasta together in a pan, the cheese binds with the starch from the pasta, which is how you get the creamy, peppery pasta sauce. Pecorino is quite salty, more so than parmesan, so it is advisable to lessen the amount of salt that you add to the pasta water when boiling the pasta. If you don’t have pecorino, parmesan is a good substitute. Just note that it will make the cacio e pepe taste creamier.

Serving spaghetti cacio e pepe

Something like roasted kale chips is a perfect complement to this rich pasta. It is crunchy (a contrasting texture), vegetal (a contrasting flavour) and has a very slight bitter undertone that helps balance the dish. Following along that vein, any fresh salad or veggie side would be great to cut through the creaminess of cacio e pepe. For instance, tomato salad with garlic bread, butter lettuce in a balsamic vinaigrette, apple or pear salad, green bean salad, or roasted broccoli dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. You can also serve it with some fresh bread. Cacio e pepe can be served in smaller portions as a starter, or paired with a protein like chicken or pork cutlets for a main.  

Love this recipe?

Bring the feel of a classy Italian restaurant to your home with this unexpectedly easy recipe for cacio e pepe. If you’re a fan of pasta dishes where cheese is a hero, try these recipes for speedy pancetta pasta carbonara, cheesy gnocchi with spinach and sausage and one-dish cheesy pasta.