Creamy Pesto Gnocchi made with soft and pillowy store-bought potato gnocchi, basil pesto, heavy cream, and shredded parmesan. Ready in just 20 minutes, serve this easy gnocchi recipe as a side dish or meatless main course.
Pesto is hugely popular around here. It’s versatile, delicious, and actually quite easy to make homemade whenever I feel up to it. For the times that I’m not, I like to keep a jar of store-bought pesto stashed in my refrigerator – perfect for last-minute weeknight dinners.
Like this one.
A family favorite, this creamy pesto gnocchi is made with simple delicious ingredients:
- Potato gnocchi
- Chicken broth
- Parmesan cheese
Delicious homemade comfort food, this creamy pesto gnocchi takes just 20 minutes to make. Sometimes I’ll add some chicken or shrimp for protein and veggies like peas or asparagus to make it a complete meal.
How to Make Creamy Pesto Gnocchi
Before getting started remember that fresh and refrigerated gnocchi only need about 2-3 minutes to cook. I like to bring a pot of water to a boil but wait to cook the gnocchi until the sauce is nearly finished. This way I can simply transfer the cooked gnocchi (using a slotted spoon) from the pot of boiling water directly to the sauce (and thus reduce the chance of them getting stuck together).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large skillet, cook the garlic in the butter until fragrant.
- Add the chicken broth, pesto, heavy cream, and black pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer then reduce heat to low. Hold off on adding any salt until the very end of cooking.
- Cook the gnocchi according to package directions (you know they’re ready when they float to the surface of the water).
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked gnocchi to the creamy pesto sauce.
- Stir in the shredded parmesan cheese.
- Allow everything to cook for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with reserved gnocchi water or chicken broth.
- Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste and garnish with additional parmesan cheese, fresh basil, or red chili flakes (all optional).
Tips and Substitutions
- If you are a strict vegetarian, omit the added parmesan cheese and make sure that the pesto is suitable for vegetarians (as it often contains parmesan).
- Wait to add additional salt until the very end. Pesto is often quite salty, as is parmesan cheese and any of the water used to boil the gnocchi.
- You may swap the heavy cream for half and half, but I do not recommend using milk of any percentage (skim, 2%, or whole milk). The lower fat content could result in a curdled sauce.
- Add some flair to this pesto gnocchi recipe. Try adding any of the following: peas, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bacon, chicken, or shrimp!
Creamy pesto gnocchi is delicious leftover, however, I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Keep leftover stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, microwave at 30-second intervals, gently stirring in between each interval. The sauce will have thickened, so plan on adding a splash of chicken broth or milk to help thin the cream sauce as it warms.
Looking for more delicious vegetarian recipes? Try these reader favorites:
- Vegetarian Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe (Instant Pot)
- One-Pot Creamy Mushroom Tortellini Recipe
- Easy Crustless Quiche Recipe
- Easy Instant Pot Risotto with Butternut Squash
- Stuffed Shells Recipe (How to Make Stuffed Shells)
Have you tried making this Creamy Pesto Gnocchi Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi
- 1 pound uncooked potato gnocchi
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ⅓ cup pesto - homemade or store-bought
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese - plus more for serving (optional)
- fresh basil - to garnish, optional
- crushed red pepper - to garnish, optionalBrin
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Note: Fresh/refrigerated gnocchi only requires 2-3 minutes to cook, so hold off on cooking until your creamy pesto sauce is nearly ready.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic to the melted butter and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken broth, pesto, heavy cream, and black pepper to the pan. Gently whisk to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes, or until just starting to simmer. Reduce heat to low.
- Cook the gnocchi for about 2 minutes. Before draining, reserve at least one cup of the boiling water that was used to cook the gnocchi. Drain and add the cooked gnocchi to the sauce.
- Add the grated parmesan cheese and gently stir to combine. Allow everything to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, thin using the reserved water or any leftover chicken broth.
- Just before serving season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve garnished with additional parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and red chili flakes, if desired.
- You can also cook the gnocchi directly in the creamy pesto sauce without boiling first, however, this creates a super thick sauce that keeps requiring more and more added broth or water to thin it out. Instead, I like to cook my gnocchi separately for just about 2 minutes, and then allow it to finish cooking in the cream sauce. This way it still releases enough starch to thicken the sauce, but not too much that the sauce turns into a paste.
- Feel free to add your favorite veggies (peas, mushrooms, broccoli, onions) or protein (chicken, shrimp, bacon) to make it a complete meal.
- You may substitute the heavy cream for half-and-half. I do not recommend using skim milk, or 2% milk as it can result in a broken sauce due to the lower fat content.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)