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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
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Dinner in 15 minutes? Oh yes. We have a 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. 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 (“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!

Secrets to the fastest gnocchi sauce

About that Cacio e Pepe. We 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 and serve it with spaghetti.

For a twist on this classic, 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. You can’t get away with simple Parmesan here: Pecorino is essential for the flavor. You can find it at most grocery stores next to the Parmesan cheese.
  • Save that pasta water. 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 good 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, like 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 prettier!).

Some nights all we want to eat is doughy balls of goodness in a creamy gnocchi sauce. But to make it a balanced meal, here a few side dishes we recommend pairing with it:

Easy Gnocchi Sauce

Can you use homemade gnocchi?

If you have time and energy, you can make homemade gnocchi with potatoes and flour. But it’s a bit of a process! Do it on a day off when you have energy to channel Italian grandmother vibes. If you make homemade gnocchi, it should work well here. Let us know if you try it in the comments below!

More fast & easy weeknight dinners

We love creating easy weeknight dinners for you, because let’s face it: it’s hard to find them! 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:

  • These Epic 5 Minute Tacos are the fastest dinner recipe we’ve ever created. It’s actually possible to make in 5 minutes (if you rush!) and SO GOOD.
  • Try this Chickpea Curry: 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.
  • This 5-Minute Seared Ahi Tuna Seared tuna is another seriously delicious and super-fast weeknight meal.
  • These Easy Garlic Butter Noodles are so quick and simple!
Creamy Gnocchi Sauce

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


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4.7 from 7 reviews

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

Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale
  •  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

Instructions

  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

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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32 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    You say this is a vegetarian sauce? Pecorino cheese is not vegetarian.

  2. Amy says:

    Just in case folks out there aren’t familiar with P. Romano cheese (I wasn’t), it’s flavor is strong and somewhat stinky cheese-ish. Just FYI in case that’s not a favorite in your household.

  3. Beth says:

    Very good but salty. Next time I will probably not put kosher salt in the water and opt for non-salted butter. Otherwise, it was quick and super easy.






  4. Steven C Milsteen Sr says:

    Is there a particular type of Gnocchi that you have to use. I have recently purchased the skillet Gnocchi by Rana. It specifies cooking it in the skillet vs boiling. Can the skillet style be boiled as well? I am really eager to try your recipe just want to get it right.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      That sounds delicious! We’re not familiar with the skillet brand. I’d follow the package instructions — from Googling it it looks like you may be able to also boil them. You can cook them with either method and then add this sauce!

  5. E says:

    So yummy!






  6. V says:

    Love this! I like to use half Pecorino, half Parmesan, as I find just Pecorino to be a tad too salty. I also recommend adding a clove or two of minced garlic to sauté in the butter. Goes great with asparagus.






  7. André de Viliers says:

    Looking forward to some mind blowing ideas for super dishes……keep on munching !!

  8. Dexter Collins says:

    I am enjoying my gnocchi as I write this, but I just had to let you know how much I love this recipe! I found it in a random Google search and, as fate would have it, I had all of the ingredients on hand (LOVE when that happens!).

    I cannot believe how fast and EASY it was to prepare. I especially love that no cream or milk was needed to make the sauce. I was a little scared of adding all that the pepper, but I went with it and you were right; it really livens up the flavor and leaves a nice tingle on the tongue.

    This will be my go-to gnocchi recipe from now, but I like to throw in some peas and roasted red peppers. Thank you so much!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Nothing like a fast, easy meal that tastes like it took twice as long 😊

  9. Jim Hadley says:

    I am subscribed to you web site, and for some reason, I am not able to print receipes on your site. I don’t have any problems with other sites. Any suggestions ? Thanks, Jim

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Are you using the Print button on the recipe cards?

  10. Lana M says:

    Love! Quick and easy great for a busy weekday dinner. My 2 year old ate sooo much I thought she was going to turn into a gnocchi! I do recommend adding fresh chopped basil on top to give some color






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