These cacio e pepe potato chips are utterly ingenious. And they take no time to make. Unsalted kettle chips are topped with cheese and heated in the oven until they’re even crisper. A generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper, more cheese, and parsley are added just before serving. Sorry, Lays.
Cacio e Pepe is Italian for “cheese and pepper.” (It’s pronounced “CAH-chee-oh ay pep-ay.”) And it typically refers to the classic pasta dish made with aged cheese, coarsely ground black pepper, and butter. It’s essentially a simple yet, we dare say, sophisticated rendition of mac and cheese. But it also translates magnificently to potato chips. What results is crunchy, cheesy, peppery awesomeness. Perfect with wine or cocktails at happy hour. Or all alone at any hour.–Renee Schettler Rossi
☞ Table of Contents
If You Can’t Find Unsalted Kettle Chips
If you can’t find unsalted kettle chips, shake your salted chips in batches in a colander to get the surface salt off.
Cacio e Pepe Potato Chips
- One (8- or 8.5-ounce) package plain unsalted or lightly salted kettle-cooked potato chips
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Divvy the potato chips up between 2 baking sheets lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spread the chips in a single layer.
- Sprinkle the cheese on the chips and bake until the cheese starts to melt, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the sheets from the oven and sprinkle with the pepper. Let cool. If you'd like, scatter with some parsley before serving. The cheesy chips are lovely either warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I love these cacio e pepe potato chips. Who knew something so good could be so quick to make. From measuring out the ingredients to taking that first bite of chips, it took only 14 minutes. My chips were lightly salted and I used Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I put parsley on a few but it really doesn’t stick and I don’t think it’s needed. After cooking for 5 minutes the cheese was nice and melted over the chips. The only thing I didn’t like is I think the cheese should all be cooked on the chips. The reserved cheese that was sprinkled on after cooking just sat there and most fell off when you tried to eat them. Also, these are better eaten right from the oven. I hid a few chips to try the next day and they were not as good. But that shouldn’t be a problem because they’re gone in no time.
I really wanted to make these cacio e pepe potato chips although I made only a quarter of a recipe because we’re on a quest to eat better. It’s a good thing we only had a quarter of the recipe available to eat—these chips are addictive. The chips were perfect—salty and cheesy (and cheesy from the best cheese out there, Parmigiano-Reggiano), with a strong hit of black pepper in each bite. The chips got a tiny bit toasty in the oven and even a little crisper than out of the bag, if that’s possible. I used kettle chips that said they were lightly salted. I couldn’t find unsalted chips, but I think they would have been even better—the cacio e pepe chips were just a bit on the salty side. I was worried about the large amount of pepper, but it was perfect. Being human, I wasn’t able to evenly sprinkle the pepper, so some chips had more pepper than others. That allowed both the pepper lovers and the pepper likers in the family to each select chips to their own tastes. This recipe is a keeper, and then some.
This recipe is so simple and can be on a platter in minutes. The first round of grated Parmesan cheese becomes one with the chip and the second round, added when the chips are removed from the oven, is like a fluffy topping and adds another delicious layer of flavor and then the freshly ground black pepper is added and YUM! The chips get extra crispy with the time in the oven. These are great to put on the table alongside some beer and can be noshed on while watching something on the tv or while you sit on the porch in the evening.
I may never go back to my old Cheddar and sour cream standby potato chips. These cacio e pepe potato chips are perfection but do take some care in prepping them. An 8-ounce bag won’t fit in a single layer on a rimmed half-sheet pan, so if you don’t want to divide them between 2 sheets, simply spread half the chips out and sprinkle about 1/4 of the cheese on top. Shake the pan a bit to get the cheese distributed. Top with the remaining half of the chips and another 1/4 of the cheese. Shake the pan again. Then throw the whole in the oven for about 4 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and all that glorious pepper being sure to nudge it on the bottom layer of chips. I skipped the parsley because I didn’t want another minute to come between me and those chips.
Eating them warm is an entirely different experience than at room temp. The Parm is extra savory and freshly ground peppercorns are almost floral. I found myself being perfectly satisfied after only a few chips. Served warm? You can probably stretch to 10 servings. Now, when they are cooled, the chips are completely addictive. We plonked the bowl in the middle of the table and went to town. Cooled? Maybe 6. Do not throw out the parchment until you’ve stood alone in the kitchen and eaten the bits of baked-on Parm stuck to the paper. I grated the cheese using the middle holes of our box grater resulting in shreds resembling bagged shredded coconut.
Addictive and delicious! These cacio e pepe potato chips are so easy to do and people couldn’t get enough of them. A simple bag of kettle chips and some grated cheese and my tasters thought I was a genius just by making them. And as an added bonus they couldn’t be easier to make. Five minutes in a hot oven, some grated cheese, a few minutes to cool a bit and voila—chip nirvana. I can see this being a regular in our snack rotation. The number of servings was pretty hard to judge as hands were dipping in and out of the serving bowl faster than I could keep track of them. There were 5 of us trying them out and only by making a second batch did I have some left over to try the next day. They were still cheesy and crisp. This is definitely a recipe the family would like me to make again. Not that it needs any tweaking but it might be fun to add a little oregano or thyme to the chips as they cool for a different taste on the basic.
I had leftover Pecorino Romano cheese from the Spaghetti with Zucchini and Pecorino Romano, and so it seemed like an excellent idea, on Super Bowl weekend, to make a batch of these. Plus, I enjoyed the Cacio e Pepe we tested, so it also seemed a natural extension that I would enjoy the trade-off from pasta to potato chips. Since I’m normally not a chip eater (or a chip buyer!), I was amazed at the variety of chips available, even when narrowed down to kettle-cooked. I selected Kettle brand chips with Himalayan sea salt. I used 2 baking sheets. I felt the one sheet approach would have had too thick an even layer and there would have been too many chips without cheese. I used Pecorino cheese (the leftover cheese from the aforementioned pasta). The melt time was correct at 5 minutes. I had parsley on hand, but, since I wasn’t serving these right away, I did not scatter it atop.
When I returned later, there were not enough chips left to bother with the parsley: they had nearly all been devoured. My housemate Lela said, “Tasty,” as she ate the last of the crumbs. And, really, how could it not be – chips + cheese + pepper, perfect for the Super Bowl buffet, or the snack time of your choice! For the record, the idea that this would be 6 to 8 servings could be about right, but it seems a bit on the skimpy side to me. After all, who wants to short their guests – or themselves – when it comes to these special cacio e pepe potato chips?
Originally published May 11, 2018