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Microwave Cacio e Pepe

Get dinner ready in 10 minutes with this easy microwave pasta: Cacio e Pepe ! Totally vegan and easily gluten-free, this affordable meal is great for a busy weeknight.

white table with a bowl of pasta and a cup of cheese

You know those night where you need dinner, like, 5 minutes ago and have very few ingredients to work with. THIS pasta is the solution!

What is Cacio e Pepe?

Let’s begin by saying this specific recipe is not at all a “classic” Italian version, or even trying to be anything close to a culturally resonant dish. We’re merely drawing inspiration!

Cacio e pepe translates to “cheese and pepper” in many Italian dialects. The standard version of this pasta includes black pepper, grated Romano cheese, and spaghetti.

Starchy pasta water is a crucial part of the dish, as it helps melt the cheese and aids in binding a sauce to the noodles.

cheese pasta with peas in a white bowl

So, how are we making this pasta plant-based? With a simple cashew parmesan!

It is not exactly the original, but I promise it is just as delicious.

By swapping out small noodles for the spaghetti, we are able to up the simple factor even more by cooking the pasta in the microwave. In total, this meal is ready in under 15 minutes.

How To Cook Pasta in the Microwave

Upon researching this cooking method, I was shocked at how simple it really is. It works best for single-serving options; I have not tested with family-sized recipes.

I am using bowties in today’s recipe, but another small noodle like macaroni will work. Our ratio of pasta to water is 1 :2. So when cooking 1 cup of pasta, you’ll want to use 2 cups of water. Easy! You want to me sure your water is heavily salted. It should taste like the ocean (this insures the most flavorful noodles).

Depending on the strength of your microwave, this process will take anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes in total. After adding your pasta, water, and salt to a microwave-safe bowl, microwave on high for 2-minute increments, stirring after each interval. If you choose to add in a frozen vegetable (like peas or corn), this will happen during the last minute of cooking.

bowl of cacio e pepe pasta with cheese grater

After pasta is fully cooked, you’ll drain off nearly all of the water, reserving a couple of tablespoons inside of the dish. This helps emulsify the sauce once we add our cashew parmesan and vegan butter.

After stirring vigorously to blend all ingredients, a few cracks of black pepper finish things off and we’re ready to eat!

This dish is inspired by Jose Andres and yields one serving. I hope you love it! Please let me know in the comments here on on Instagram if you give it a try.

Looking for more pasta inspiration? Try one of these for your next dinner:

butter pats on top of pasta with a fork

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bowl of cacio e pepe pasta on plate

Microwave Cacio e Pepe

  • Yield: 1 1x


Get dinner ready in 10 minutes with this easy microwave pasta: Cacio e Pepe ! Totally vegan and easily gluten-free, this affordable meal is great for a busy weeknight.


Units Scale

For the Pasta

  • 1 cup small pasta of choice (macaroni or bowties work well)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper to serve
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas or corn, optional
  • Vegan butter or olive oil for serving, optional

For the Cashew Parmesan

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 TBS nutritional yeast
  • Pinch salt


  1. Add noodles, water, and salt to a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 8 minutes total, stirring every 2 minutes. Test pasta after 8 minutes. If it still feels uncooked, add a minute more cook time until desired texture is reached. Microwave strength varies.
  2. While pasta is microwaving, combine all cashew parmesan ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine until a powder forms. You will have leftover parm to use in other recipes. Set aside.
  3. If desired, add in 1/2 cup frozen peas or corn during the final minute of pasta cooking.
  4. Remove pasta from microwave and drain until just a couple TBS of water remain in the cooking bowl. Add 1/2 cup cashew parmesan and stir vigorously to combine.
  5. Crack some fresh black pepper over pasta and enjoy immediately. If desired, top with vegan butter or olive oil.

Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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  1. Pam H says

    So – which ratio is correct? Your description in the article said 1 : 2 pasta to water. The printed recipe says 1 : 1.5?

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