Simple Creamy Gnocchi Recipe

5 from 3 votes
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My simple creamy baked gnocchi recipe is a date-night-worthy dish that only takes 25 minutes from start to finish. A fancy, hearty weeknight-tested dinner that features a creamy red sauce that is really cheesy and delicious.

Baked gnocchi dish in a hot skillet topped with melted mozzarella and fresh basil.

This recipe is comprised of a basic marinara sauce with added cream, parmesan cheese, garlic, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese. The sauce and herbs are quickly heated on the stove and finished with a layer of melted mozzarella cheese. It’s a recipe that you can make once and easily memorize.

If you’re looking for more delicious gnocchi recipes, try my cheesy gnocchi bolognese, pesto gnocchi, and my homemade sweet potato gnocchi!

If you enjoyed this recipe, also try my penna alla vodka, creamy pasta shells, rigatoni bolognese, and my creamy pasta and mushroom recipe.

Ingredients

Gnocchi creamy pasta ingredients laid out on a wooden cutting board.
  • Marinara or tomato sauce: I like Rao’s or make my own using this really simple and delicious tomato sauce recipe.
  • Potato gnocchi: make your own gnocchi or buy store-bought. Just note this recipe calls for 2 pounds, (typically two packages)
  • Garlic cloves: you can mince the garlic or grate with a microplane for the absolute best results.
  • Baby mozzarella balls or mozzarella pearls: Fresh mozzarella comes vacuum-sealed in plastic wrap and is about the size of a baseball. You can use low-moisture shredded if you prefer. If you can find mozzarella balls, cut a larger ball into small cubes.
  • Heavy cream: I always opt for heavy cream or whipping cream because you can heat or boil it and it won’t separate.
  • Reserved pasta water: the starchy pasta water helps to thin the sauce out a bit and also helps the sauce to better adhere to the pasta.
  • Parmesan cheese: always buy a block of parmesan and freshly grate. This is much fresher and melts better than pre-grated cheese. Save extra parmesan for simple cacio e pepe or homemade pesto.
  • Oil or butter: I use oil to heat the garlic however you can also use butter. I love adding butter to tomato sauce to make it richer, especially jarred!

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Cook Gnocchi

Gnocchi is incredibly easy to cook and only takes 3 minutes! Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook gnocchi for about 3-4 minutes, or until those tiny pillows float to the surface. Frozen and fresh gnocchi cook at relatively the same speed. As a rule of thumb, when they float to the surface, they’re fully cooked and ready to eat.

Pan-searing is another popular method of cooking gnocchi. Pan-searing gnocchi forms a golden brown exterior that adds a crispier texture with a much denser interior. Boiled gnocchi is much softer and tender throughout. I personally prefer boiled over pan seared.

How to Make Simple Creamy Gnocchi

Step 1.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt. Add gnocchi and boil for 3-4 minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Finished gnocchi floating to the surface in boiling water.

Step 2.

Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a large oven-safe skillet or pan. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

minced garlic and olive oil cooking in a cast iron skillet.

Step 3.

Add marinara, chopped basil, and parmesan cheese. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer.

Tomato sauce, cream, parmesan, and basil simmering in a cast iron skillet.

Step 4.

Turn off the heat and add cream, gnocchi, and reserved pasta water. Mix until the cream is fully combined and the gnocchi is evenly distributed.

Adding cooked gnocchi to a cast iron skillet in a creamy pasta sauce.
Gnocchi simmering in a creamy orange pasta sauce.

Step 5.

Top with mozzarella balls and extra parmesan. Place in the oven on high broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese fully melts and starts to brown. Serve immediately!

Gnocchi in a skillet with marinara topped with unmelted mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Expert Tips

  • If you cut the recipe in half (only use 1 pound of gnocchi), reduce sauce/remaining ingredients or you will have too much marinara.
  • If you don’t want to use fresh mozzarella, you can use cubed low-moisture whole milk mozzarella. Low-moisture mozzarella is less elastic and less stringy when it cooks. I prefer larger blocks over pre-shredded cheese. It tastes better and melts a lot better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use light cream or half and half?

Half and half/light cream have low fat content so they tend to separate when heated. You can still use them in place of heavy cream you’ll just notice the separation.

Is gnocchi always boiled?

Gnocchi is traditionally boiled however it can be pan-seared in a skillet with butter or oil until it’s tender.

What is the best way to cook gnocchi?

I like to boil gnocchi in salted water for 3-4 minutes. Just note, that gnocchi can get mushy quickly. It should be removed from the water as soon as it floats to the surface.

A metal spoon holding cheesy golden baked gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce.

More Pasta Recipes

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5 from 3 votes

Simple Creamy Gnocchi Recipe

Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Simple creamy gnocchi is a date-night worthy dish that takes about 25 minutes to pull together. A fancy, hearty weeknight tested dinner that is creamy, cheesy and delicious.

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds potato gnocchi, two packages
  • 16 ounces marinara
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup baby mozzarella balls or pearls
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • salt

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt. Add gnocchi and boil for 3-4 minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  • Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a large oven-safe skillet or pan. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add marinara, chopped basil, and parmesan cheese. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Turn off the heat and add cream, gnocchi, and reserved pasta water. Mix until the cream is fully combined and the gnocchi is evenly distributed.
  • Top with mozzarella balls and extra parmesan. Place in the oven on high broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese fully melts and starts to brown. Serve immediately!

Notes

If you cut the recipe in half (only use 1 pound of gnocchi), reduce sauce/remaining ingredients or you will have too much marinara.
If you don’t want to use fresh mozzarella, you can use cubed low-moisture whole milk mozzarella. Low-moisture mozzarella is less elastic and less stringy when it cooks. I prefer larger blocks over pre-shredded cheese. It tastes better and melts a lot better.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 580kcalCarbohydrates: 43.1gProtein: 29.4gFat: 32.3gSaturated Fat: 17.9gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 630mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.2g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    When I had to become a vegetarian due to health issues my main food group became Gnocchi! I love it! Thank you for such a great recipe. Please keep them coming. Sending hugs from a very retired 75 year old in Texas!