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Pesto Gnocchi

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This recipe for pesto gnocchi is a weeknight game changer. With only 5 ingredients, you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes! Using store-bought gnocchi and jarred pesto, it's rich and creamy, with soft, tender dumplings.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Close up image of a pan of pesto gnocchi.

Pesto gnocchi is a quick and easy recipe using shelf-stable, store-bought gnocchi. Usually sold vacuum-packed, you can often find pre-made gnocchi in the pasta aisle of the grocery store.

The texture of pre-packaged gnocchi varies between brands, but it generally cooks in four to six minutes. I always keep it on hand to cook as a weeknight main dish or for a quick batch of chicken Florentine soup. The starch released from the gnocchi as it cooks will thicken to a “sauce,” so you don’t need much cream for this recipe.

I have two pesto recipes—homemade basil pesto and a spinach pesto with arugula. Both are simple and delicious. However, for this recipe, I used store-bought pesto. If you can help, don’t skip the optional pine nut garnish! They add a toasty, buttery texture and flavor that really compliments the pesto sauce.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

✔️ Both kids and adults love it.
✔️ It takes 15 minutes from start to finish.
✔️ You can serve it as a meal or a side.

Ingredients To Make Creamy Pesto Gnocchi

Ingredients to make pesto gnocchi.

Ingredient Notes

  • Basil Pesto: Provides the foundational flavor for the dish, introducing a rich blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan.
  • Chicken Stock: Used as the cooking liquid for the gnocchi al pesto.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Adds a salty, nutty flavor and helps thicken the sauce when melted.
  • Pine Nuts: Optional, but recommended for their buttery texture and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Potato Gnocchi: The main ingredient, these vacuum-sealed dumplings are soft and tender, serving as a hearty base that absorbs the flavors of the sauce.
  • Whipping Cream: Introduces richness to the dish, smoothing out the pesto into a creamy sauce that lightly coats the gnocchi.

It’s important to note that when making substitutions in recipes, the texture and flavor may be slightly different. However, these substitutes are the best options for changing the original recipe.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Basil Pesto: Can be substituted with any other pesto you like.
  • Chicken Stock: Vegetable broth is an excellent alternative to make a vegetarian version.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Use Asiago or Pecorino Romano for a sharper, saltier taste.
  • Pine Nuts: Substitute with chopped walnuts or almonds, which, when toasted, also provide a nice crunch and nuttiness.
  • Potato Gnocchi: If you’re feeling ambitious, make homemade potato gnocchi.
  • Whipping Cream: Use whole milk, or for a non-dairy alternative, use full-fat coconut milk.

Recipe Variations

Try any of the following for a twist on this pesto gnocchi recipe:

  • Bacon Bits: Adding crispy bacon bits adds a smoky flavor and texture contrast.
  • Charred Vegetables: Charred vegetables like broccoli or sweet peppers will introduce a smoky, slightly bitter contrast that complements the creamy pesto.
  • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes: Roast cherry tomatoes until they burst to add a sweet and tangy flavor that complements the richness of the creamy pesto sauce.
  • Sautéed Mushrooms: Incorporate sautéed mushrooms for an earthy depth of texture and flavor.
  • Spinach and Artichoke: Stir some cooked spinach and chopped artichoke hearts for a veggie boost that makes the dish heartier and adds a mild, sweet flavor.
  • Grilled Chicken Or Sausage: Add grilled chicken or sausage to balance the creamy textures.
  • Sundried Tomatoes and Olives: For a Mediterranean vibe, stir in sundried tomatoes and sliced olives.
  • Spicy Calabrian Chili Paste: Swirl in some Calabrian chili paste for a spicy kick that cuts through the creaminess.

Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of this post, or scroll to the bottom to see the PRINTABLE recipe card with ingredient measurements and complete instructions.

How To Make Gnocchi With Pesto

Process shots 1 to 4.

STEP 1: Add the chicken stock and gnocchi to a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium heat.

STEP 2: Bring to a gentle boil and cook the gnocchi for 2 to 3 minutes.

STEP 3: Add the cream to the pan.

STEP 4: Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the gnocchi for 3 to 4 minutes.

Process shots 5 to 8.

STEP 5: Reduce the heat to low when the sauce is thick enough to leave a track when stirred.

STEP 6: Add the pesto and Parmesan cheese.

STEP 7: Stir to combine.

STEP 8: Gnocchi with pesto is ready to serve once the sauce is thick and creamy.

Expert Tips

1. When it’s ready, the sauce should coat the back of a spoon. If it’s too thick, add a bit more chicken stock or cream. If it’s too thin, let it simmer for a few additional minutes.
2. Use a large pot if you don’t have a 12-inch skillet.
3. The cream sauce will continue to thicken as the gnocchi pesto sits.

Recipe Notes

  • Have all your ingredients measured and prepared before you start. This dish comes together quickly, so being organized will help ensure a smooth cooking process.
  • The quality of the pesto dramatically influences the flavor of the dish. If you’re not making your own, choose a good-quality store-bought pesto.


  • If you have leftovers, they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
A pan of pesto pasta topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves.

Recipe FAQ

What do you eat with pesto gnocchi?

Gnocchi can be served as a meal with garlic bread or as a side dish with chicken, fish, or roasted sausages.

Do I need to boil gnocchi before frying?

No, store-bought gnocchi does not need to be pre-cooked. Ensure you have enough liquid in the pan so it doesn’t stick as it heats.

Is gnocchi a main or a side?

It can be either! When serving gnocchi as a meal, cook two packages to have leftovers for the next day.

Did you make this basil pesto gnocchi? Please rate the recipe and tell me how it went in the comments below. Also, stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see more delicious food and recipes!

Printable Recipe Card

Close up image of a pan of pesto gnocchi.

Pesto Gnocchi

Author: Kelly Neil
This recipe for pesto gnocchi is a weeknight game changer. With only 5 ingredients, you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes! Using store-bought gnocchi and jarred pesto, it's rich and creamy, with soft, tender dumplings.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Pasta & Risotto
Cuisine European / Canadian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 381 kcal

Special Equipment

  • 1 12-inch (30-cm) skillet
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • Liquid measuring cup(s)
  • Measuring cups or digital kitchen scale
Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams.


  • ¼ cup pine nuts , raw, optional
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • One 500 g potato gnocchi, vacuum-sealed, store-bought
  • ½ cup 35% whipping cream
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • fresh basil , optional, for garnish


  • Place a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium heat. If using, add the pine nuts to the hot dry skillet. Toast the pine nuts, stirring often, until they are golden and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a small heat proof vessel and set aside. If not using pine nuts skip this step.
  • Return the skillet to the stove top. Add the chicken stock and gnocchi to the pan. Give the gnocchi a good stir and bring the chicken stock to a light boil. When you see bubbles, cook the gnocchi for 2 to 3 minutes more. If the gnocchi is sticking to the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat a bit.
  • Pour the cream into the pan and stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low. You want the gnocchi to simmer (lightly bubble) but not boil rapidly. Continue to cook the gnocchi in the cream sauce until the sauce is thick enough to leave a track in the pan when stirred, about 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Reduce the heat to low. Add the pesto and Parmesan cheese to the gnocchi. Stir together until well combined. Serve the gnocchi hot with more Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and fresh basil leaves on top.

Recipe Notes

  • As you cook the gnocchi in the chicken stock the stock will become cloudy. This is typical as the starch is released from the dumplings. The starch helps thicken the sauce.
  • Store pesto gnocchi in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.


Serving: 250gCalories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 11gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 666mgPotassium: 189mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1231IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 234mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. If accurate data is important to you, please verify it independently.

Did you make this recipe?Let me know on Instagram @kellyneildotcom or tag #kellyneil!

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