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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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

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


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

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 and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  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

  11. Maureen Thomson says:

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

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Soo glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Terry Ross II says:

    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.

  13. Janet tezak says:

    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. Sonja Overhiser says:

      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!

  14. Patti Lawson says:

    what is your favorite brand of pre made gnocchi?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Delallo is good if you can find it!

  15. Cassandra says:

    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. Sonja Overhiser says:

      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!

  16. Zoe says:

    How big is a serving?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We don’t have a cup measure. 1/4th of the recipe (it’s not a huge serving).

  17. Amanda says:

    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!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  18. Victoria Chamberlain says:

    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. Sonja Overhiser says:

      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).

  19. Mary says:

    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!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Broccoli or asparagus would be great. Glad you enjoyed!

  20. Susan says:

    Do you have any recipes with low sidium

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

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

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