Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Garlicky Mushrooms

GFGluten Free

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You only need a few pantry staples to make this plant-based Cacio e Pepe! Spaghetti gets tossed in a peppery, cheesy sauce and then topped with mushrooms.

Cacio e pepe is a humble Italian dish that directly translates to “cheese and pepper.” And while this dish is made from only a handful of simple ingredients, it certainly doesn’t skimp on satisfaction of flavor! Today we’re giving things a plant-based twist with this Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Garlicky Mushrooms.

white speckled plate topped with cacio e pepe and garlicky mushrooms next to glass of red wine

INGREDIENTS FOR VEGAN CACIO E PEPE

I’ve got great news: you only need 6 pantry-friendly ingredients for this recipe! Cacio e Pepe is normally only made with pasta, cheese, pepper, and occasionally butter or oil, but I decided to top my pasta with some sautéed garlicky mushrooms for a little extra flavor.

ingredients for cacio e peppe arranged on marble countertop

  • Pasta: I prefer to use spaghetti for this recipe, but almost any shape will work here. See the “FAQ” section of this blog post for more pasta tips 🙂
  • Plant-Based Parmesan: an easy swap for parmesan or pecorino-romano, store-bought vegan parm is the way to go! Violife makes a great block of Parmesan that can be finely shredded and works well for this recipe.
  • Whole Peppercorns: because this recipe is made from only a few simple ingredients, quality does matter! Cacio e Pepe is made from fresh, whole peppercorns that have been coarsely ground. Tellicherry Peppercorns are best heree – they’re larger than some peppercorns, and have more flavor than straight spice.
  • Dairy-Free Butter: this makes our sauce extra luxurious, and also helps to caramelize our mushrooms!
  • Mushrooms & Garlic: an optional (but highly recommended) topping for your pasta! I used Chanterelle mushrooms when taking photos for this post, but Oyster or Cremini mushrooms would also work well here.

HOW TO MAKE CACIO E PEPE

photo of sauteed mushrooms and garlic in pan next to photo of cooked pasta in cheese and pepper sauce in pan with tongs

While Cacio e Pepe is made from simple ingredients, the technique to make this dish can be a little more challenging. Practice makes perfect though – and I believe in you! When it comes down to it, the process can be broken down into very simple steps:

  1. Par-cook your Pasta: you want to cook the pasta to just before al dente, since we’ll be simmering it in the cheesy sauce as well. Don’t forget to salt your pasta water! Before the pasta finished cooking, set aside 1 1/2 cups of the starchy water – this will make our sauce.
  2. Sauté the Mushrooms and garlic together while the pasta is cooking, then set aside.
  3. Make the Sauce: First, bloom (fancy speak for sauté) coarsely ground peppercorns in some butter. Then add in 3/4 cup of the starchy pasta water and simmer – this is the base of our sauce. Next, add in the cooked pasta, and extra touch of butter, and finely shredded cheese to the pan. Toss the noodles in the pan until the cheese is melted and a sauce coats each noodle
  4. Serve & Enjoy! Transfer the pasta to serving plates, then top with the mushrooms, or however you desire. This would also be great alongside some roasted vegetables, or a fresh salad.

two plates of cacio e pepe topped with garlicky mushrooms on marble countertop with glasses of red wine

SUBSTITUTIONS + FAQ:

  • Is there a substitution for dairy-free Parmesan? Unfortunately, no. Cacio e Pepe is classically made from finely grated pecorino romano or parmesan, and dairy-free parmesan gives the closest flavor to this. The fat from the cheese helps to coat each noodle and thicken the sauce as well!
  • What pasta is best? Depending on the region of Italy, cacio e pepe is made with different types of pasta. Rome and Lazio tend to use longer noodles such as bucatini or spaghetti, but other areas will use shorter shapes such as rigatoni or penne.
  • Can I use gluten-free pasta? Yes! Gluten-free pasta will still give off some starch to the pasta water and will help thicken your sauce. I would use a rice or corn-based gluten-free spaghetti, as those tend to hold together better than bean-based noodles. Or, use a shorter noodle to help minimize breakage!
  • What about leftovers? All pasta is best served fresh, and cacio e pepe is no exception. If you do have some leftovers, I recommend reheating them in a pan over medium heat with a splash of water – this will help “steam” the noodles as they reheat, and plump them back up.

This Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Garlicky Mushrooms is so. dang. good. Like, mind-blowingly, you-can’t-believe-it’s-made-from-6-ingredients-good. It’s quick, straightforward, and still delicious – aka my kind of meal.

two plates of cacio e pepe topped with garlicky mushrooms on marble countertop with glasses of red wine

If you’re looking for more cozy pasta recipes, you’ll also love this One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff and this Vegan Lemon Ricotta Pasta! Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

Print

Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Garlicky Mushrooms

You only need a few pantry staples to make this plant-based Cacio e Pepe! Spaghetti gets tossed in a peppery, cheesy sauce and then topped with mushrooms.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces spaghetti (gluten-free or regular)
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons of dairy-free butter, divided (I like Country Crock® Plant
    Butter)
  • 8 ounces Chanterelle, Oyster, or Cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 ounces vegan parmesan cheese, finely grated 

Instructions

  1. Cook the Pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until just before al dente – the pasta will finish cooking later. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of starchy water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Sauté the Mushrooms: In the meantime, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Then, add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced garlic to the pan and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the pan and set aside, returning the pan to the burner.
  3. Bloom the Pepper: melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the freshly ground black pepper and swirl it around in the pan for about a minute to bloom the spice. Then, add  ¾ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan and bring it to a simmer.
  4. Add the Pasta: Reduce the heat to low, then add in the pasta and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, add in the grated parmesan and toss the pasta with tongs, until the dairy-free cheese has melted. If your sauce is too thick, add more pasta water in 2 tablespoon increments to thin it out.
  5. Serve: transfer the pasta to serving plates, and top with our caramelized garlicky mushrooms, or as desired. Serve warm; this recipe is best served fresh, but leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and are best reheated on the stovetop with a splash of water.

Keywords: vegan pasta, cacio e pepe, dairy free cacio e pepe, gluten free cacio e pepe, vegan cacio e pepe, vegan parmesan pasta

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About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. Made this after watching Stanley Tucci’s show about Italy and had me craving Caccio e pepe. It is soooooo delcious! Used Follow your heart vegan parmesan and cremini mushrooms. So wonderful! Make it and you’ll see.

  2. So so so amazing. Doesn’t even taste “vegan”. So full of flavor and the texture is buttery soft.

  3. Absolutely amazing! I KNOW it’s not the same, but I used Violife’s vegan mozzarella instead of parm, (because that’s all I had on hand), and it was absolutely amazing! I plan to make this again with the suggest cheeze soon and I can’t wait! Thank you so much for always having the greatest recipes ❤️❤️????

  4. Im so excited to try this! Cacio e pepe is my all time favorite dish and I was just thinking about this yesterday. Will definitely be making this soon!