This creamy gnocchi sauce is done in minutes! Pecorino cheese, butter and pepper make the tastiest weeknight dinner: Italian comfort food at its finest.
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). Our version uses gnocchi pasta and it’s simply to die for. Alex and I 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
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.
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:
- Garlic Roasted Broccoli: This simple side dish comes together in a flash and brings in those needed nutrients and fiber.
- 10 Green Salad Recipes: Here’s a collection of our favorite green salads for pairing with main dishes. For this gnocchi sauce, some favorites would be our Best Kale Salad or Favorite Chopped Salad. (< I recommend that one all the time, because it really is our favorite!)
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.Print
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
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, seasoned with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt.
- Once the water is boiling, add the gnocchi and boil until they float, about 2 to 3 minutes. Save out 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the gnocchi and keep it in the strainer while you quickly make the sauce.
- In the same pan, melt the butter with the pepper and heat it over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and heat for 1 minute.
- Add the gnocchi back to the pan and add the Pecorino cheese. Stir for a minute until a creamy sauce forms. Add the gnocchi and 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 Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.