I’ve partnered with Think Rice & Rice Select to bring you a twist on a classic. Cacio e Pepe risotto transforms the familiar pasta dish into an elegant meal that couldn’t be easier to make. It’s luscious and creamy with a little bite from the freshly cracked pepper and perfectly balanced with the salty cheeses. If you’re nervous about making risotto, don’t be. It couldn’t be easier! If you’re a visual person, I’ve got a risotto tutorial in my Instagram highlights here. Buon appetito!
What is cacio e pepe risotto?
Risotto is a northern Italian dish made with starchy short or medium-grain rice (oftentimes arborio or carnaroli). It’s simple, but it’s also loaded with cheese and butter–impressive recipes don’t have to be complicated! Stirring the rice as it cooks, releases the starches and yields a perfectly creamy consistency.
What kind of rice is best for risotto?
The best rice to use for cacio e pepe risotto is arborio (short grain) or carnaroli (medium grain). Both are regional varieties to northern Italy and work great. Did you know that arborio rice grows in California, Arkansas, and Missouri? US Farmers grow nearly 85% of the rice we eat! Each year, local farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas grow and harvest 18 billion pounds of rice. For this recipe, I used the arborio rice from Rice Select. Rice select is a company committed to producing and packaging US-grown and harvested rice.
Why use US-Grown rice?
It’s so important to support US-based industries now more than ever! USA Rice Federation (USA Rice) is the global advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry. They work with farmers, millers, merchants, and allied businesses to bolster and unify the US-grown rice industry. Did you know that many wildlife species rely on the wetland habitat created by American rice farmers? Rice agriculture provides much of the food resources available to regional animal species. To read more about how important it is to support the US-grown rice industry, visit ThinkRice.com!
How to make Cacio e Pepe risotto
Cacio e Pepe risotto is so easy to make at home! Here are my favorite tips and tools to make this recipe a breeze.
- A high-sided skillet or braiser. It’s best to make risotto in a wide skillet or braiser. Something with a large diameter across with sides that are at least 2 inches high. I don’t recommend trying to make risotto in a pot.
- A wooden spoon. Wood is non-reactive and it won’t change the flavor of your risotto like some metal utensils will.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Rice. Obviously, rice is the main ingredient here! Select a short or medium-grain US-grown rice varietal.
- Shallot. I love shallot here instead of onion because the flavor is much milder when cooked. If necessary, swap in finely minced yellow onion for shallot.
- Wine. Opt for a dry white wine here like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. Make sure it’s a wine you’d drink!
- Broth. I love the richness of the chicken broth, but it’s easy to keep this dish vegetarian by using vegetable broth. Homemade is always best!
- Cheese. Traditionally, cacio e Pepe is made with Pecorino Romano cheese, but I love adding some parmesan in too.
- Mascarpone. This isn’t strictly traditional, but a couple of tablespoons of mascarpone adds creaminess and it’s my secret ingredient in every risotto that I make! No mascarpone? No problem—swap in a bit of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream.
- Pepper. Pepper is a key ingredient in Cacio e Pepe risotto, so make sure to grind your pepper fresh!
Common mistakes when making cacio e pepe risotto
If your cacio e pepe risotto isn’t coming out the way you want, you may be making one of these common mistakes!
- Using cold stock. Make sure your broth or stock is simmering! Adding cold liquid slows down the cooking process and hurts the finished product.
- Stirring too much or not enough. If you stir too much, the air cools the risotto down (slowing the cooking process), and not enough, the rice will stick to the pan. Be sure to agitate the rice and stir frequently, but take small breaks from time to time.
- Adding all the broth at once. You need to add the broth in stages. Adding all the broth at once is just boiling rice. The grains need to bump into each other to release starches. Add your broth one cup at a time and stir until the liquid is absorbed before adding more.
- Over or undercooking the rice. Risotto is meant to be al dente. It should have a little toothiness. If your risotto is mushy, it’s been cooked too long. If it’s crunchy, it needs more broth and cooking time.
- Your heat is too low. Risotto is a slow cooking process, yes, but too low of heat won’t cook at all. Be sure to keep the rice at a medium-low simmer while adding broth.
- Adding cheese or mascarpone too early. Cheese and mascarpone should be added at the very end of the cooking process off the heat.
Cacio e Pepe Risotto FAQs
What does cacio e pepe mean?
It literally translates to “cheese and pepper” in Italian! With so few ingredients in this recipe, make sure you’re using the best quality cheese and pepper for optimum results.
Should I wash risotto rice before cooking?
NO! Rinsing rice removes some of the starch and we need all that starchy goodness during cooking. Add your dry, unwashed rice directly to the pan when cooking.
What do I do if my risotto is watery?
It’s possible that you added a touch too much broth—add a bit more cheese to help bring the risotto together. Also, keep in mind that the perfect risotto should spread like lava in a bowl and not clump together in a pile.
Do I have to use wine?
No, but I do think it adds a lot of flavor. If you’re worried about trace amounts of alcohol, simply omit the wine and use chicken stock.
Other Risotto Variations to Try
This recipe is part of a sponsored campaign with the Feed Feed and Think Rice. Sponsored posts and brand partnerships (with brands that align with my values and commitment to quality) allow me to keep providing quality recipes at no cost to you! All opinions are my own in regards to any products or brands that I may highlight.Print