This $9 Pantry Ingredient Is My Secret to Perfect Cacio e Pepe

overhead shot of cacio e pepe on a grey plate, with a fork resting on the edge of the plate.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Brett Regot Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Brett Regot

No matter how often I tell myself I’m going to switch up my home cooking, I still end up making pasta at least twice a week. Part of the reason why is that it’s so easy, but I still find myself wishing there were ways to simplify the process. Regardless of which dish I’m making, I usually end up emptying half my spice cabinet while cooking and, in turn, cluttering my counter. Sometimes, I get a little carried away with the seasonings, too. I might set out to make one recipe, then add in something like basil, only to find that it doesn’t mesh with the other ingredients. Although experimenting with different flavors can be fun, I’m the first to admit that I could rein it in every once in a while — especially when it comes to simple recipes. That’s why I was beyond excited to try The Spice House’s Cacio e Pepe Italian blend. Although I definitely use it for homemade pasta, I also now reach for it on a near-daily basis for a wide variety of eats. It’s safe to say this is the most versatile seasoning in my pantry.

Cacio e Pepe Italian Blend
Cacio e Pepe Italian Blend

Cacio e Pepe Italian Blend

$8.99 at The Spice House

What is the Cacio e Pepe Italian Blend?

As you might infer from its name, the Cacio e Pepe blend is an aromatic mix of Romano cheese and ground black and pink pepper. It’s simple yet effective and allows you to make authentic and delicious cacio e pepe pasta without any additional ingredients, aside from maybe some butter. Of course, you’re not limited to using the blend just for pasta. It would make for a perfect addition to eggs, roasted veggies, or even pan-seared chicken. You can even sprinkle some on top of popcorn to give ordinary snacks a little something extra. The seasoning comes in a half-cup-sized jar, or you could opt for a flatpack container, which gets you free shipping. In any case, it’s a must-try.

The Spice House Cacio e Pepe blend.
Credit: Nikol Slatinska Credit: Nikol Slatinska

Why I Love the Cacio e Pepe Italian Blend

Frankly, I love anything cheese-based. Still, I did not anticipate how frequently I’d find myself reaching for the Cacio e Pepe blend. I keep mine in the fridge because I figure that’s where Romano cheese should be kept, and even despite its cold environment, the finely milled clumps of cheese come out with ease when I go to sprinkle them over my food. At this point, adding the seasoning to whatever I’m cooking has become a habit — it almost takes more effort not to. I sprinkle it over pasta (of course), add it to asparagus and broccoli before roasting, top baked bread, and even upgrade my risotto. I have yet to add it to popcorn, but that’s next on my list. Despite using the blend so much over the past couple of weeks, I still have most of the jar left. It’s perfectly savory and peppery without being spicy, and I no longer find myself rummaging through my cabinet to come up with some random cocktail of spices for the dish at hand. I’ll definitely be restocking once I run out. In the meantime, you should give it a try! Just don’t forget to thank me later.

Buy: Cacio e Pepe Italian Blend, $8.99