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Enjoy a comforting dish of Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce in just 30 minutes! This quick and easy dinner recipe, featuring store-bought gnocchi and simple ingredients, is ideal for busy weeknights.

gnocchi with pesto sauce in a bowl on a table,

Why you’ll love this Pesto Gnocchi recipe!

  • Quick and Easy Recipe. This is a tasty 30-minute recipe perfect for a weeknight main dish.
  • Creamy and Comforting. The creamy sauce and bright pesto flavor with tender potato gnocchi bring comforting feelings, perfect for the chilly winter weather.
  • Simple Ingredients. One of the best things about this flavorful meal is how simple the ingredients are. You can make it even more straightforward by using your favorite store-bought pesto. However, the homemade version is worth it!

Pesto gnocchi is also a delicious recipe to impress guests when hosting family and friends.

ingredients for gnocchi with pesto on a table.

Ingredient notes

  • Pesto | I like to use my homemade basil pesto. While store-bought pesto is convenient, homemade pesto with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil can take the dish to the next level. It’s a bit more work but well worth it if you have the time!
  • Gnocchi | Choose your favorite brand of potato gnocchi from the pasta aisle. It should be uncooked to be freshly prepared for this recipe. So, stay away from shelf-staple gnocchi, which is already cooked.
  • Oil | Use quality olive oil to start the recipe by sauteing the onion and fresh garlic. I like to use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Onion | Add diced onion for a subtle sweetness that compliments the buttery gnocchi. Use yellow or white onions, whichever you prefer.
  • Garlic | For spice, sprinkle in some minced garlic cloves. If necessary, add garlic powder instead.
  • Half and half | Achieve a creamy gnocchi sauce with half and half. 
  • Parmesan | Add freshly grated parmesan cheese to the creamy and cheesy notes of the recipe.
  • Basil | Garnish the dish with chopped fresh basil leaves.
  • Salt and pepper | Season with kosher salt and black pepper to round out all the flavors.

How to make Gnocchi with Pesto

In 30 minutes, have a delicious weeknight meal with just a handful of simple ingredients, homemade pesto sauce, and soft, pillowy gnocchi!

STEP 1 | Sauté onion and garlic

Set out a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Then, toss in the diced onion and minced garlic to sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion becomes translucent and both are fragrant.

process steps for making pesto cream sauce for gnocchi.

STEP 2 | Make the creamy sauce

Next, add the half and half, chicken broth, pesto, salt, and black pepper, stirring everything together and simmering for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

STEP 3 | Add gnocchi

Now, add the gnocchi to the skillet with the creamy sauce. Gently toss everything together, ensuring the gnocchi are well coated. Let the gnocchi gently cook in the sauce for about 10 minutes.

stirring gnocchi and parmesan cheese into a cream sauce.

STEP 4 | Mix in the cheese

Then, sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the gnocchi and give it a good stir to incorporate, letting the cheese melt into the sauce.

STEP 5 | Garnish and serve fresh!

Finally, plate the delicious creamy basil pesto gnocchi and sprinkle freshly chopped basil and a little parmesan cheese as a garnish and pop of color. Enjoy!

tips

  • If you prefer a thicker sauce, reduce the amount of half and half or chicken broth. Conversely, if you like it even creamier, you can increase the quantities of these liquids.
  • This recipe is best enjoyed right after preparation when it’s hot and creamy. It tends to thicken as it cools, so thin it out with a bit of warm chicken broth if it gets too thick.
gnocchi in pesto sauce on a table with parmesan cheese and basil leaves in the background.

Variations and substitutions

  • Vegetarian Gnocchi. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth to make this dish completely vegetarian.
  • Add Veggies for Flavor. Include extra vegetables like fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red bell peppers for added flavor and nutrition.
  • Creamy Alfredo-Pesto Sauce. For an indulgent twist, replace the half-and-half with heavy cream and add extra Parmesan cheese to create a creamy Alfredo-pesto sauce.
  • Citrus Twist. Grate some lemon zest into the sauce to brighten the flavors, and add a refreshing citrusy note. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice can also work wonders.
  • Your Favorite Protein. Make chicken pesto pasta by adding freshly grilled chicken breast to the recipe. Or use another protein, like shrimp, crumbled bacon, or crispy pancetta.
  • Homemade Gnocchi. Take this recipe a step further by making your very own gnocchi!
  • If preferred, replace the black pepper with red pepper flakes.

Storage and reheating tips

  • Store leftover gnocchi in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Add it to a skillet to reheat, stirring over medium heat until warmed through. Or microwave the leftovers for quicker results.
  • It’s not recommended to freeze this dish as the creamy sauce may separate upon thawing, and the texture of the gnocchi may change. Freshly made is best.

Frequently asked questions

What wine pairs well with pesto gnocchi?

What a great question! Make this simple dinner special with the perfect glass of wine. I like serving it with a crisp, dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. If you prefer red wine, Pinot Noir also goes well with the cream sauce of gnocchi al pesto!

Can I prepare creamy pesto gnocchi ahead of time?

Sure! Make the pesto and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Then, continue with the rest of the recipe when ready to serve this tasty dish!

Can I use frozen or dried basil to make pesto?

Fresh basil makes a difference in homemade pesto. Frozen basil may make the pesto watery with less flavor and the dried basil also lacks flavor.

a serving of gnocchi with pesto sauce in a serving bowl on a table.

Serving suggestions

Add a juicy cut of meat to the easy pesto gnocchi recipe, like sliced Steakhouse-Quality Pan-Seared New York Strip Steak or classic Grilled Sirloin Steak sprinkled with a bit of extra parmesan cheese. Or make it extra special with tender Rosemary Garlic Broiled Lamb Chops– Yum!

Looking for more  30-Minute Meals?

Everyone needs a long list of easy 30-minute meals for the days with limited time or energy. I like to keep my Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup, Chicken Shawarma Wrap, saucy Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, and Salmon and Rice Bowl with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipes handy for busy weeknights or fun-filled and relaxing weekends.

a bowl of gnocchi with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

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gnocchi with pesto sauce in a bowl on a table,

Gnocchi with Homemade Creamy Basil Pesto Sauce

This dish combines the earthy goodness of potato gnocchi with the vibrant flavors of pesto and a lusciously creamy sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 264 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 16-oz. pkg. potato gnocchi uncooked
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves chopped

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant.
  • Pour in the half and half and the chicken broth, then add the pesto, salt, and black pepper. Stir everything together and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the gnocchi to the skillet with the creamy sauce. Gently toss everything together, ensuring the gnocchi are well coated. Let the gnocchi gently cook in the sauce for about 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the gnocchi and give it a good stir to incorporate and let the cheese melt into the sauce.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle freshly chopped basil.

Notes

  • While store-bought pesto is convenient, using homemade pesto with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil can take the dish to the next level. It’s a bit more work but well worth it if you have the time.
  • If you prefer a thicker sauce, reduce the amount of half and half or chicken broth. Conversely, if you like it even creamier, you can increase the quantities of these liquids.
  • This recipe is best enjoyed right after preparation when it’s hot and creamy. It tends to thicken as it cools, so if it gets too thick, you can thin it out with a bit of warm chicken broth.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 6gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 865mgPotassium: 119mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 942IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 197mgIron: 0.4mg

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword 30 minute recipe, Basil, cheese, easy dinner, gnocchi, pasta sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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