Dan Pashman, host of beloved food podcast The Sporkful and mastermind behind the now-iconic Cascatelli pasta shape, drops his debut cookbook Anything's Pastable: 81 inventive pasta recipes for saucy people on March 19. 

Pashman shared one of those 81 extraordinary recipes with Spoon University. Cacio e Pepe e Chili Crisp, developed with James Park, is smoky, spicy, crunchy, and low-key addicting. It's easy to whip up and packed with complex flavor, the perfect classy-yet-fun pasta dish for college chefs.

Cacio e Pepe e Chili Crisp

  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:35 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Easy


  • 2 tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp coarsely cracked black peppercorns [see tip]
  • 2 tsp cracked Sichuan peppercorns [optional see note]
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp Lao Gan Ma chili crisp plus more for serving
  • 1 pound mafalde pasta [a.k.a. mafaldine or riccia; or use bucatini pici or cascatelli]
  • 1 cup [4 ounces] finely grated Pecorino Romano plus more for serving
Image via The Sporkful
  • Step 1

    Bring 4 quarts of water and the salt to a boil in a large pot.

  • Step 2

    Toast the black and Sichuan peppercorns, if using, in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl, reserving the skillet.

  • Step 3

    Melt the butter in the reserved skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the pepper mixture and cook, stirring, until the butter just begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chili crisp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili flakes become fragrant and sizzle, 2 to 3 minutes; remove the pan from the heat. (At this point the sauce can sit, covered, for up to 2 hours.)

  • Step 4

    Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute less than the low end of the package instructions. Meanwhile, place the Pecorino in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. A few minutes before the pasta is done, transfer 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the bowl with the Pecorino and whisk until no lumps remain.

  • Step 5

    Use tongs to transfer the pasta directly to the skillet and place it over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until any water has evaporated and the pasta is evenly coated with the chili mixture, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Step 6

    Immediately transfer the pasta to the bowl with the cheese mixture, scraping out the skillet. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water and use the tongs to rapidly toss everything together until the pasta is well coated and the cheese is dissolved. (There should be extra sauce pooling in the bowl at first, but it should all cling to the pasta after 1 to 2 minutes of stirring. If the sauce looks too thick after 1 minute, add more pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until smooth and creamy.)

  • Step 7

    Transfer the pasta to a serving dish or individual bowls, sprinkle with more Pecorino and the remaining pepper mixture, and serve with more chili crisp, if desired.

TIP: Use a mortar and pestle, rolling pin, or the bottom of a pot or pan to crack whole black peppercorns (and Sichuan peppercorns, if using) into chunks. You want them coarser than if you had ground them in a pepper mill or spice grinder.

NOTE: You don’t have to use the Sichuan peppercorns to get great results, but they do add a depth to the heat that I think takes this dish to the next level. Plus you’ll need them to make Mapo Tofu Cascatelli, my all-time favorite way to have cascatelli!