Cacio e Pepe Risotto is a tasty variation of the classic and popular recipe of pasta Cacio e Pepe.
From the heart of Rome, Cacio e Pepe Risotto captures the exquisite simplicity of Italian cuisine, where a handful of quality ingredients effortlessly combine to create a burst of flavor.
The name itself translates to “cheese and pepper,” which perfectly describes the key ingredients that form the basis of this mouthwatering dish.
You only need three ingredients: rice, pecorino romano (cacio) and black pepper. So for this Italian risotto recipe, absolutely NO oil, NO butter and NO cream!
Here are all the tips you need to make a creamy risotto with an intense flavor and a heady peppery aroma.
Get either Carnaroli or Arborio rice, known for their high starch content. The rice is meticulously cooked to achieve a luxurious and creamy texture.
Next, the Pecorino Romano DOP must be of medium seasoning, not too fresh, not too hard. It must be easy to grate.
Finally, the pepper, which should be freshly ground or crushed. In this way it will give an incredible aroma to the whole dish.
We will show you the little tricks to make this easy Cacio e Pepe risotto recipe to perfection.
If you have tried our spaghetti cacio e pepe recipe, then you should definitely make this risotto as well; it’s a very special and very simple recipe!
- Prep Time: 5 Min
- Cook Time: 20 Min
- Servings: 4
Cacio e Pepe Risotto Recipe: Instructions
Step 1) – To make the cacio e pepe risotto recipe, first pound whole black peppercorns on a cutting board using a meat pounder or pestle and mortar. If using a pepper mill, set it to coarse.
Then place the ground black pepper in a large, nonstick pan in which you will be cooking the risotto. Toast it over moderate heat. It will only take 2 minutes and you will immediately smell an incredible aroma!
Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil and do NOT salt it.
Step 2) – Add the rice. Toast it for about 2 minutes over medium heat with the pepper, stirring all the time.
Step 3) – Now add 3 or 4 ladles of unsalted boiling water and begin to cook the rice.
Cook over medium heat, adding more boiling water if you see the risotto getting too dry (usually the cooking time for Carnaroli/Arborio rice is about 16-18 minutes).
Step 4) – Meanwhile, grate the Pecorino Romano cheese and set aside in a bowl.
Add about 1/2 laddle of hot water a little at a time. Stir until the pecorino is a thick and smooth cream.
PLEASE NOTE: Aged Pecorino Romano is very flavorful and salty. This cheese, along with pepper, adds enough flavor and aroma to the dish. So DO NOT add salt.
Step 5) – Once the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add the pecorino cream and stir, making the risotto creamy and soft.
The cacio e pepe risotto is ready! Serve on a plate and sprinkle with pepper and pecorino cheese to taste.
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How to Store Cacio e Pepe Risotto
It’s best to eat the cacio e pepe risotto as soon as it’s ready, creamy and hot.
If you have leftover, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a maximum of 1-2 days.
You can reheat it in a pan or microwave for a few minutes.
We don’t recommend freezing.
TIP: Cacio e Pepe Rice Balls
If you have leftovers, you can add an egg and a tablespoon of flour. Form balls and roll in breadcrumbs. Fry them in vegetable oil. You will have a kind of “arancini al cacio e pepe”, perfect for an appetizer!
Cacio e Pepe Risotto: Tips and Variations
We have shown you the simple version of the Cacio e Pepe risotto. A recipe that sticks to the original preparation and reflects its main characteristics.
Of course, it’s possible to make some variations.
- SOFFRITTO: Some people make a soffritto with onions, toasting the rice.
- BROTH: Others use a vegetable broth instead of water.
- HALF PECORINO AND HALF PARMIGIANO: If you want a less strong taste, you can use half dose of Pecorino Romano and half dose of Parmigiano Reggiano.
- SALT: We have advised you not to salt the water with which you cook the risotto. Of course, if the pecorino is too fresh, or if you use a mixture of pecorino and Parmigiano, you can add a little salt to the water, but always be careful not to overdo it.
- PEPPER: The amount of pepper is also very subjective. Since in this dish, as in the authentic cacio e pepe pasta, pepper is not a flavoring but a basic ingredient, you can increase or decrease the dose according to your taste. The pepper flavor must be present in the dish, otherwise you will have a good white risotto with cheese, but it will NOT be a cacio e pepe risotto.
- VEGETABLES: Some people like to add a crunchiness to this very creamy dish. For example, some fried leeks or fried artichokes cut into very thin slices can be placed on top of the risotto at the time of serving. Again, you can make the cacio e pepe risotto more aromatic by adding some lemon zest or wild fennel.
Risotto Cacio e Pepe: Two Star Recipes
Despite the humble and simple origins of the dish and its ingredients, risotto cacio e pepe, when well executed, can be a gourmet dish.
Two great Italian celebrity chefs, Massimo Bottura and Antonino Cannavacciuolo, have interpreted this recipe and made it popular worldwide.
Chef Cannavacciuolo’s Cacio e Pepe Risotto
Chef Cannavacciuolo stays fairly close to tradition, but enriches the dish by using a light vegetable and chicken broth.
He also uses a blend of pecorino and parmigiano.
Massimo Bottura’s Cacio e Pepe Risotto
This recipe is linked to a dramatic event in Emilia Romagna.
In May 2012, a series of violent earthquakes struck Emilia-Romagna, in particular the area between Reggio Emilia, Modena, Ferrara and Bologna, causing dozens of casualties, numerous structural damages to buildings and homes, and extensive damage to the region’s economy.
The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium issued an urgent appeal for help, as 360,000 wheels of cheese damaged by the violent tremors of the earthquake were in danger of being lost.
Chef Bottura, who is very close to the area, organized a dinner where people from all over the world could learn how to cook a new exclusive recipe, “Risotto Cacio e Pepe with Parmigiano Reggiano”.
Chef Bottura said, “For me, the ‘cacio’ of Emilia is not pecorino cheese, but Parmigiano Reggiano, the most important and iconic ingredient in Italian cuisine”.
Bottura’s initiative was so successful that people in cities such as New York, Moscow, London, Tokyo, and Madrid began cooking cacio e pepe risotto, and the 360,000 wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano were sold in just a few months, saving many businesses that were in danger of closing due to the earthquake.
To cook the risotto, Bottura prepares a broth with water and grated Parmigiano Reggiano over a very low heat. When it reaches 90°C (194°F), the cheese begins to melt.
He then places the broth in the refrigerator overnight. This creates a liquid part for cooking the risotto and the Parmigiano cream that rises to the surface and is used to cream the risotto.
Bottura also uses a liquid distillate of 5 types of pepper, expertly blended.