Cacio e Pepe Clover Rolls

Recipe by David Turner

Holiday Breads 2023

These pull-apart clover rolls are infused with the flavors of the classic Italian pasta dish cacio e pepe (which literally means “cheese and pepper”). The dough is flavored with Pecorino Romano and black pepper, then coated in more cheese and pepper both before and after baking for an umami-rich cheesiness and a tingle of heat in each bite. Eat these rolls alongside any meal they pair especially well with pasta or a warm bowl of soup. 

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30 mins
18 to 20 mins
2 hrs 20 mins
12 clover rolls
Cacio e Pepe Clover Rolls  - select to zoom
Cacio e Pepe Clover Rolls  - select to zoom
Cacio e Pepe Clover Rolls  - select to zoom
Cacio e Pepe Clover Rolls  - select to zoom


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  1. To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Add all the dough ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix briefly to combine, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

  2. Knead on low speed until a soft, sticky dough forms that cleans the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once during mixing. 

  3. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). 

  4. To make the coating and topping: While the dough is rising, combine the cheese and pepper in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, melt the butter and set it aside to cool slightly. 

  5. Toward the end of rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the upper third. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan

  6. To assemble the clover rolls: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and press gently to deflate. Divide the dough into 12 portions (about 73g each). Divide each of those portions into 3 pieces (about 24g each) for a total of 36 balls. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. 

  7. Working with 3 pieces at a time, use your hands to dip the dough balls into the melted butter and shake off any excess. Then dip the tops into the cheese-pepper mixture to coat lightly, shaking off any excess. Nestle the 3 coated dough balls side by side in one of the wells of the muffin pan. Repeat with the remaining dough. Set aside the remaining butter and cheese-pepper mixture to use for topping the rolls after baking. 

  8. Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap or your favorite reusable wrap and allow it to rise for about 30 minutes, or until it has risen 1/2" above the rim of the pan. 

  9. Bake the clover rolls for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190°F. Allow the clover rolls to cool slightly for 5 minutes, or until you can safely handle them.    

  10. If needed, re-melt the butter used for the coating. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese-pepper mixture over the tops. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

  11. Storage information: Store leftover clover rolls in an airtight container at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days. 

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make plain clover rolls, omit the cheese and pepper in the dough, and increase the sugar to 3 tablespoons (36g). Follow the rest of the recipe as written, without coating the dough in cheese and pepper before baking. After baking, brush the rolls with melted butter. 

  • Looking for a gluten-free version of this recipe? Find it here: Gluten-Free Cacio e Pepe Rolls.