The pillowy gnocchi in this easy gnocchi recipe au gratin is transformed with a rich, velvety white cheese sauce. Serve it as an appetizer, side or main dish using fresh store-bought gnocchi for a great shortcut.
I served this dish to my guests a while ago as an appetizer. Some ate it with toothpicks, but most scooped a few gnocchi onto their plates with a spoon and then proceeded to use the cut up bread from another appetizer as a tool to mop up any remaining sauce.
When I went to check how things were going about 10 minutes after I planted the dish on the coffee table, I found the bowl scraped clean. I guess it was a success! Truth be told, this is the one dish I stressed over that night as I wasn’t sure it was going to work as an appetizer. It does. Needless to say, it also makes a nice main dish or side dish.
I love being able to make the baked gnocchi a few hours ahead then broil it when guests arrive. And the dish is easy to make. It’s just a simple white cheese sauce with a few seasonings.
Using store bought fresh potato gnocchi, of course, cuts the time and effort way down. A great shortcut in my opinion. The vacuum sealed packages of handmade gnocchi – or even the more common Olivieri brand – work really well. They have few or no additives and cook in just a few minutes.
When you wrap a yummy, cheesy sauce around the soft plump gnocchi – which, by the way, are small dumplings made from potato, semolina, or flour – the dish becomes real comfort food – sort of like upscale gnocchi mac and cheese.
Tailor To Your Taste
- I use Gruyere or Emmanthal cheese. Fontina, provolone or other melty cheeses would work as well.
- A key flavor booster in this baked gnocchi recipe is poultry seasoning – a combination of sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and pepper. If you don’t have any, try combining sage and one or more of the others.
- Basil would be nice substitute in a summer version of this dish.
- For a main or side dish, try adding chopped fresh baby spinach at the same time you add the gnocchi to the sauce. Extra nutrition. Serve with a fig salad with pomegranates if using the cheesy gnocchi as a main meal.
- For an appetizer, I suggest having some cut up French bread available for dipping the delicious sauce. Try a great appetizer combo: the baked gnocchi and a spicy cherry tomato sauce (used as a dip) with some fresh dunking bread for both.
- I use 2% milk and a splash of half and half cream for added richness. Feel free to use whole milk or a lighter combination if you prefer.
Want to try homemade gnocchi?
- Here’s a good recipe for homemade potato gnocchi.
- As noted, the big shortcut is using store-bought potato gnocchi. Buy it fresh if possible, but frozen is fine too.
- One blog I read said it’s not necessary to boil the gnocchi before adding it to the sauce. If you want to try this, I suggest doing it when you are making the dish the day before since the bake time increases substantially.
- Instructions for make ahead baked gnocchi are in the recipe. The bake time will take longer as the dish will be cold.
Another easy gnocchi recipe you might like
- Try our Indian style gnocchi that uses the same fresh packaged potato gnocchi. It has deep, rich Indian flavors with a creamy tomato-based sauce. Make it in just 20 minutes.
How to make this baked gnocchi au gratin
Easy Gnocchi Recipe (Au Gratin)
- 1 package fresh potato gnocchi (375-500 g or 13-16 ounces)
- 1/4 cup (22.5g) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley for garnish
White Cheese Sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
- pinch nutmeg optional
- 1 1/2 cup (375ml, 12 oz) milk, 2% or whole (1/4 cup of this can be cream for extra richness)
- 1 cup (83g) grated white cheese e.g. Gruyere, Fontina, Emmenthal, Monterey Jack, Provolone
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- PREHEAT OVEN to 400F. Spray a small 7-8 inch/18-20cm ovenproof dish with oil.
- BOIL GNOCCHI: Bring salted water to boil in medium saucepan. Put in gnocchi, bring to boil, and lower heat to medium. Gently boil for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- MAKE CHEESE SAUCE: Heat butter on medium in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add flour and seasonings, stirring for 2 minutes. Add milk (and cream if using), whisking until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in cheese until smooth sauce is formed. If too thick, add a bit more milk (but note that sauce will thicken further with baking and standing). Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in gnocchi and green onions.
- ASSEMBLE AND BAKE/BROIL: Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the surface. Bake for 7 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes to brown, watching to ensure it doesn't burn. Let stand for a few minutes (sauce will thicken more) and serve with toothpicks as an appetizer or as a side or main dish.
- Make Ahead: Follow instructions above to boil gnocchi and make cheese sauce, including mixing in gnocchi and green onions. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to use, sprinkle Parmesan and chopped parsley over surface. Bake in preheated 400F oven for 20-25 minutes. Broil for 2-3 minutes if further browning is needed.
- Servings: Makes 6-8 appetizer servings, 2-3 mains, 4-5 sides.
This easy gnocchi recipe au gratin, originally published in 2018, has been updated with new pictures and information.