The Gnocchi Sauce Recipe Everyone Loves (SO Quick + Easy!)

5 from 2 votes
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Meet the gnocchi sauce recipe to end all gnocchi sauce recipes. This 20-minute creamy tomato gnocchi is so good you’ll be licking the plate.

Gnocchi Sauce in Pan with spoon

Tomato sauce? Cream sauce? You don’t have to chooooooose. This easy gnocchi sauce recipe combines both to make the perfect, luscious partner for pillowy-soft potato gnocchi. Have this bowl of comfort food on the table in less that 20 minutes – creamy, silky and made with the most basic ingredients; you’re going to love it.

Why You’ll Love This Gnocchi Recipe

Here is why this creamy gnocchi sauce recipe will live comfortably within your menu rotation from here on out:

  1. Comfort in every bite: Gnocchi, known for its pillowy texture, pairs perfectly with this creamy and rich sauce. 
  2. Quick and simple: It’s perfect for busy weeknights when you crave a homemade meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
  3. Customizable: Use it as a base to add to – stir in protein options like sausage, shrimp, chicken, or greens like fresh kale or broccoli florets. There is just so much you can do with it. Try adding a teaspoon of different pestos!
  4. Restaurant-quality at home: Honestly its as good as a bowl of restaurant quality gnocchi at home!

Here’s What You Need

Here’s what to gather to make the ultimate comfort sauce to go with your cooked gnocchi:

Gnocchi Sauce Ingredients

Ingredients 

These ingredients are the good old faithfuls you likely already have at home:

  • Butter: Go for unsalted butter to have better control over the saltiness of the dish.
  • Garlic: Fresh minced garlic provides a robust flavor base. 
  • Heavy cream:  Look for heavy cream with a high-fat content for a luxurious texture.
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes: Using fresh tomatoes will add brightness and a touch of sweetness to the sauce. Cherry tomatoes offer a burst of flavor, while Roma or vine tomatoes provide a thicker consistency. If using cherry tomatoes, consider halving or quartering them for easier incorporation into the sauce.
  • Finely-grated parmesan cheese: Adds a nutty, savory flavor and helps thicken the sauce. Choose freshly grated Parmesan for the best taste and texture.
  • Chives or parsley: Sprinkle them on top just before serving for a visually appealing presentation. 

Substitutions and Variations

Check out how to change up the ingredients:

  • Shallots or onions: Replace or combine garlic with finely diced shallots or onions for a slightly sweeter and milder flavor profile.
  • Butter/Oil: You can switch the butter out for olive oil if you prefer.
  • Mascarpone cheese: Substitute heavy cream with mascarpone cheese for an even richer and creamier sauce. Mascarpone adds a luxurious texture and a subtle tanginess.
  • Canned tomatoes: If fresh tomatoes are not available, canned diced tomatoes can be used. You can also experiment with different varieties like fire-roasted tomatoes for added depth of flavor.
  • Fresh herbs: Instead of chives or parsley, try using other herbs like fresh basil, thyme, or oregano for a different flavor profile. Each herb will impart its unique aroma and taste to the dish.
  • Grated cheese alternatives: While Parmesan is traditional, you can experiment with other hard cheeses such as Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano for a similar nutty flavor. Vegan cheese alternatives can also be used as a dairy-free option.
Homemade tomato sauce

Tools to Grab

As you can tell from the minimal ingredients, this is a low-mess dish:

  • Large pot: To cook the gnocchi.
  • Colander or sieve: To drain the gnocchi
  • Saucepan: To cook the sauce in.
  • Spoon: To stir the mixture. 

How to Make Gnocchi Sauce: An Easy Guide

Here are the steps to making this dead-simple sauce recipe:

Cook the gnocchi

Start by cooking the gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water over high heat.

  • Use the packaging instructions to direct you and drain the pillowy gnocchi once cooked.
cooking gnocchi in boiling water

Cook the sauce 

  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Next, add the freshly minced garlic and sauté it for about 1-2 minutes.
adding minced garlic in melted butter
  • Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook the sauce until the tomatoes have softened and the butter starts to brown. This will take roughly 2 minutes.
adding tomatoes for gnocchi sauce
  • Finally, pour in the heavy cream, and increase the heat to medium-high.  
  • Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then reduce heat back to low maintain a bare simmer until the tomatoes start to burst. 
  • Break the tomatoes apart by pressing on them with the flat side of a wooden spoon.
adding cream in tomatoes for gnocchi sauce

Finish the dish and serve 

  • Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese until the sauce is creamy and smooth.
  • Combine the gnocchi and the sauce, tossing until the gnocchi are evenly coated.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with minced chives or parsley.
combining sauce and gnocchi

Make Ahead and Storage

You can prepare the gnocchi sauce ahead of time to streamline meal prep.

  • Follow the recipe instructions up to the point of adding the cooked gnocchi. Once the sauce is prepared, allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 2 days. 

To reheat and serve the sauce, heat it gently on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. 

Freezing Gnocchi Sauce

While it’s possible to freeze the gnocchi sauce, the texture may change slightly upon thawing, due to the dairy and acidic tomato content.

  • If you choose to freeze the sauce, ensure it is completely cooled before transferring it to a freezer-safe container.  Seal the container tightly, label it with the date, and freeze for up to 1 month. 
Gnocchi Sauce in Pan

How to Serve this Gnocchi Sauce recipe

Serve it over pillows of classic potato gnocchi.

For other gnocchi flavors, like pumpkin gnocchi or sweet potato gnocchi, a different sauce might be better, like Brown Butter Sage Sauce.

You can also use this sauce to serve over any pasta or as a sauce for grilled chicken or steak.

It deserves a light, fresh salad or a slice of crusty bread to mop up extra sauce!

4 Common Mistakes When Making Gnocchi Sauce

Here are the most common trip-ups with this recipe:

  1. Overcooking the garlic: Minced garlic can burn quickly, resulting in a bitter taste. Be careful not to overcook it when sautéing, and remove it from the heat as soon as it becomes fragrant to avoid bitterness.
  2. Boiling the cream: Boiling heavy cream can cause it to curdle, resulting in a grainy texture. Instead, simmer the sauce gently over low to medium heat to prevent the cream from separating.
  3. Adding cheese directly to simmering sauce: Adding grated Parmesan cheese directly to super-hot sauce can cause it to clump and become stringy. To avoid this, remove the sauce from the heat before adding the cheese, and stir it in gradually until melted and smooth.
  4. Not salting the gnocchi water: You need well-seasoned water to season the actual gnocchi. The boiling water should taste salty like the sea. If you don’t salt the water enough, the flavor of the gnocchi sauce is diluted and the overall dish tastes underseasoned.
Gnocchi Sauce in Pan with spoon

Final Notes, Pro Tips + Science-Based Secrets

Here are my top tips for the best results with this creamy tomato sauce recipe:

  • Use room temperature ingredients, especially the butter and heavy cream, to ensure smooth emulsification and a creamy sauce.
  • Cook the butter garlic mixture for a little longer: This will deepen the flavors further.
  • Simmer don’t boil: To prevent the cream from curdling, avoid boiling it vigorously. 
  • To balance the sauce: If the saucetastes overly rich or a little too sweet, add a splash of lemon juice.

FAQs About Gnocchi Sauce

Just skimming through? Here’s what NOT to miss:

Can I make this sauce vegan?

Yes, you can make a vegan version of this sauce by using plant-based alternatives like vegan butter, coconut cream, or cashew cream instead of butter and heavy cream. You’ll also need to choose dairy-free grated cheese or nutritional yeast as a swap for the Parmesan cheese.

Can I use pre-made/store-bought gnocchi?

Absolutely! Pre-made or store-bought gnocchi can be used in this recipe for convenience. Just follow the package instructions to cook the gnocchi before adding it to the sauce.

How can I make the sauce thicker or thinner?

To make the sauce thicker, simmer it for longer to reduce the liquid content. Alternatively, you can add a slurry of cornstarch or flour mixed with water to thicken it. If you prefer a thinner sauce, you can add a splash of chicken broth or pasta cooking water to loosen it.

Can I freeze leftover gnocchi sauce?

Yes, you can freeze leftover gnocchi sauce for future use. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container, leaving some room for expansion. Label the container with the date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

What other vegetables can I add to the sauce?

You can customize the sauce by adding various vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, or artichoke hearts. Simply sauté the vegetables separately before adding them to the sauce, or simmer them in the sauce until tender.

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

Yup. All you’ll need to do is choose a gluten-free gnocchi.

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5 from 2 votes

The Gnocchi Sauce Recipe Everyone Loves (SO Quick + Easy!)

This gnocchi sauce recipe is the perfect partner to pillowy-soft potato gnocchi. Have this bowl of comfort food on the table in less that 20 minutes – creamy, silky and made with the most basic ingredients; you're going to love it.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 lb potato gnocchi
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp minced garlic about 2 large cloves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ lb fresh cherry tomatoes or chopped roma/vine tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ cup finely-grated parmesan cheese
  • Minced chives or parsley for garnish
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Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare the gnocchi according to the package’s instructions, then drain.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and sauté until it’s golden and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes begin to soften and the butter starts to brown, roughly 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the heavy cream, increase heat to medium-high and let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then reduce heat back to low maintain a bare simmer until the tomatoes start to burst. Break them apart by pressing on them with the flat side of a wooden spoon.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese until the sauce is creamy and smooth.
  • Combine the gnocchi and the sauce, tossing until the gnocchi are evenly coated. Serve immediately, garnished with minced chives or parsley.
  • Keep the heat low and don’t preheat the pan. You don’t want the butter to brown too quickly.

Video

Notes

 
  • Leftovers: Pack it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Garlic: Sauté the garlic just until fragrant to prevent bitterness. Remove from heat promptly to avoid overcooking.
  • Cream: Simmer the cream gently over low to medium heat. Avoid boiling to prevent the sauce from becoming grainy. You can swap in evaporated milk or 
  • Cheese: Add the Parmesan cheese off the heat. Stir it in gradually until smooth to stop it from clumping.
  • Seasoning Water: Salt the gnocchi water well. It should taste like the sea to properly season the gnocchi and enhance the sauce.
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 126mg | Sodium: 756mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1977IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 283mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. Dan Q. says:

    whats the best way to freeze this sauce? first time trying

    1. Tara Z. says:

      Let it cool, then put it in an airtight container before freezing.

  2. Becca W. says:

    I added some spinach to the sauce for a little health boost. Turned out great!

  3. Chris F. says:

    can i make this sauce in a microwave? dont have a stove lol

    1. Lana H. says:

      might wanna be careful with that, wouldn’t want a kitchen disaster

  4. Maggie L. says:

    Love the simplicity of this sauce. Truly a keeper.

  5. derek_s says:

    does it come with a guarantee i wont mess it up haha

  6. Ronnie B. says:

    aint potatoes for gnocchi need to be riced? you didnt mention

  7. Debby says:

    5 stars
    This sauce was simple yet incredibly flavorful.

  8. Jess K. says:

    making this gnocchi ahead of time is a game changer, thx for the tip!

  9. Tim J. says:

    This gnocchi recipe was fantastic. My family loved it.

  10. Karla M. says:

    hey, so i tried making the gnocchi sauce and it kinda came out lumpy? did i do something wrong with the flour or something? help pls