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This creamy gnocchi sauce is done in minutes! Pecorino cheese, butter and pepper make the tastiest weeknight dinner: Italian comfort food at its finest.

Easy Creamy Gnocchi Sauce

Dinner in 15 minutes? Oh yes. Alex and I have a new trick we’ve been dying to share with you: our Creamy Gnocchi Sauce! It takes just minutes to make the sauce, and the gnocchi boil up in 3 minutes. The flavor? It tastes like the fanciest ever mac and cheese: but takes literally no effort at all. We modeled it after one of our favorite Italian recipes, Cacio e Pepe pasta (literally “cheese and pepper pasta” in Italian). We curled up with bowls of this comfort food on the couch on a rainy evening and it was pretty much perfection!

Another top gnocchi recipe? Try our Tomato Basil Gnocchi.

Easy Gnocchi Sauce

Secrets to the fastest gnocchi sauce

So, back to that Cacio e Pepe. Alex and I had this famous simple pasta dish in Rome and fell in love. It’s a sauce made with Pecorino Romano cheese, a hard cheese that’s like Parmesan on steroids. It’s so savory and salty, you barely need to use salt with it! In traditional Cacio e Pepe, you’ll make the sauce with just Pecorino cheese, pepper, butter and pasta water. Then you’ll serve it over spaghetti.

For a twist on this classic concept, here we’ve used gnocchi instead: those doughy pasta balls that are a little like tiny dumplings. Let me tell you: this creamy Pecorino sauce is truly incredible with gnocchi! It’s amazing that 3 simple ingredients come together into this most flavorful, creamy sauce. Here are the secrets to the sauce:

  • Use Pecorino Romano cheese (a must!). You can’t get away with Parmesan here: Pecorino is essential for the flavor. You can find it at most grocery stores near the Parmesan.
  • Save that pasta water. Here, using the water the pasta was cooked in lends a creamy body to the sauce. Along with butter, it’s essential for making the right consistency, so don’t forget to save it out!
  • Use a healthy dose of black pepper. Using 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper might seem like a lot, but the sauce doesn’t come out too spicy: we promise! It brings in the final element of the flavoring.
Gnocchi Sauce

Serving this gnocchi with creamy sauce

All you need to do to serve this gnocchi sauce is garnish: we suggest a little more Pecorino Romano cheese. If you’d like to bring in a little color, you can add chopped fresh herbs like basil, thyme or oregano. But it’s really not needed at all (honestly, we just did it to make the photo look happier!).

Some nights all we want to eat is doughy balls of goodness in a creamy gnocchi sauce. But to make it a balanced meal (which, would probably be good too!), here a few side dishes we recommend pairing with it:

Creamy Gnocchi Sauce

Other fast & easy weeknight dinners

Alex and I love creating easy weeknight dinners for you, because let’s face it: it’s really hard to find them! And it’s hard to find “one size fits all” type of dinners: every person and family has different tastes, diets, and definitions of the word “easy”.

But we think this one is pretty darn fast and easy, if we might say so ourselves! Here are a few more of our favorite go-to easy weeknight dinners for when we’re in a rush:

  • Epic 5 Minute Tacos Here’s the fastest dinner recipe we’ve ever created. It’s actually possible to make in 5 minutes (if you rush!) and SO GOOD.
  • Chickpea Curry This chickpea curry is so fast to make and full of flavor, it’s almost impossible to believe. It’s made with garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry powder, and swirled with coconut milk.
  • Quick Shrimp Couscous If you’re a shrimp lover, this one takes about 15 minutes and looks way fancier than the effort involved.
  • 5-Minute Seared Ahi Tuna Seared tuna is another seriously delicious and super-fast weeknight meal.
  • Everything Bagel Pasta This quick pasta is just like eating an Everything Bagel with cream cheese, in dinner form.

This gnocchi sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten free, use Gluten Free Gnocchi.

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Easy Creamy Gnocchi Sauce

Easy Creamy Gnocchi Sauce

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 1x


This creamy gnocchi sauce is done in minutes! Pecorino cheese, butter, and pepper make the tastiest easy weeknight dinner: Italian comfort food at its finest.


  •  1 pound packaged gnocchi (for gluten-free, use gluten free gnocchi)
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, seasoned with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the gnocchi and boil until they float, about 2 to 3 minutes. Save out ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the gnocchi and keep it in the strainer while you quickly make the sauce.
  3. In the same pan, melt the butter with the pepper and heat it over medium heat for 1 minute. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add the gnocchi back to the pan and add the Pecorino cheese. Stir for a minute until a creamy sauce forms. Serve warm, garnished with more Pecorino.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta

Keywords: Gnocchi Sauce, Gnocchi, Fast Dinner, Fast Dinner Idea, Easy Weeknight Dinner

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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    1. Hi! You are welcome to add the kosher salt to taste for any of our recipes. We don’t specifically organize by low sodium.

  1. WOW just made this and you weren’t kidding, what a great flavor!! Was so quick to put together, will make again and again. Might throw roasted broccoli or asparagus in it next time!

  2. Hi there
    I love this recipe, so tasty and so quick but I can’t get the pecorino to melt into a cheesy sauce. If I cook it for long it becomes a big globule and if I cook it for 1min it just doesn’t melt at all. Any tips?

    1. Interesting, we’ve never had that happen! Are you using Pecorino that comes grated? Maybe try getting a big block of Pecorino and grating it finer — we use a microplane to get a good fine grating. Could that have been the issue? Otherwise, we’d recommend adding a little more pasta water and heating for a little longer to get a creamy sauce (but not too long so that it gums up).

  3. This recipe is sooo delicious and so easy!! Literally the definition of comfort food. Will most definitely be making this again next week…or maybe this weekend ? thanks guys!

  4. I want to try this but I have a couple questions (new to cooking!)
    1. What temperature of the stove do I melt the butter with the pepper for one minute? Should it be medium heat? Medium low? Low?
    2. Do I melt the butter in a separate pan? I was confused when it says, pour the butter mixture into gnocchi pan, since the gnocchi was already removed. Can’t I just melt the butter in the gnocchi pan itself and then add the gnocchi back into it, so it could be a one pan meal?
    Thanks !!

    1. We made some updates to the recipe to clarify! It should be medium heat. We usually infuse the butter with pepper in a separate pan, but you can also do it in the same pan. Added notes to the recipe to clarify that!

  5. Please clarify. In the last step of your recipe, you say” put gnocchi back in pan and add pecorino cheese. Stir fir a minute until a creamy sauce forms. Add the gnocchi and serve warm.”

    So do you add gnocchi after stirring pecorino cheese for a minute or do you add gnocchi before you add cheese? Thanks!

    1. Great question — that was a typo! It should say “Add the gnocchi back to the pan and add the Pecorino cheese. Stir for a minute until a creamy sauce forms. Serve warm, garnished with more Pecorino.” We’ve updated the recipe — thank you!

  6. I used Cauliflower and Broccoli Gnocchi from Green Giant and used Parmesan instead of Pecorino Romano because It’s all I had. It tasted amazing.

  7. This was beyond delicious! Thank you for making gnocchi so much less intimidating!

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