Easy Gnocchi Gratin (with pre-made gnocchi)
The pillowy gnocchi in this gnocchi 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.
Using pre-made fresh potato gnocchi, of course, cuts the time and effort way down. The gnocchi have few or no additives and cook in just a few minutes.
What’s to love
- Easy: The dish is easy to make. It’s just a simple white cheese sauce with a few seasonings – combined with store-bought cooked gnocchi.
- Great make-ahead party appetizer: When I use the gnocchi recipe as an appetizer, I love being able bake it a few hours ahead then broil it when guests arrive. It’s also great as a main or side dish.
- Comfort food! When you wrap a yummy, cheesy sauce around the soft plump gnocchi, the dish becomes real comfort food – sort of like upscale gnocchi mac and cheese.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Gnocchi: The vacuum sealed packages of handmade gnocchi – or even the more common Olivieri brand – work really well. You can also use frozen pre-made gnocchi. No need to thaw. If you want to make your own gnocchi, here’s a good recipe for homemade gnocchi. Fun!
Cheese: I use Gruyere or Emmanthal cheese. Fontina, provolone or other melty cheeses would work as well.
Seasoning: 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.
Sauce: The cheese (gratin) sauce is made with milk or cream, cheese, butter, flour and seasonings. 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.
Step by step instructions
Gnocchi are small dumplings made from potato, semolina, or flour. It is not a pasta. In Italy, gnocchi is mostly commonly eaten with a light butter sauce or extra virgin olive oil and fresh sage. Other serving ideas include cream-based sauces, tomato-based sauces or butter and cheese.
Gratin means that a dish is topping with cheese and baked or broiled in the oven until golden brown. The topping is sometimes mixed with breadcrumbs and butter as well.
- Talk about easy Italian recipes and easy dinners. 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 (see Make Ahead) since the bake time increases substantially.
How to serve gnocchi gratin
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.
For an appetizer, I suggest serving it with toothpicks and having some cut up French bread available for dipping the delicious sauce.
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.
What to make with gnocchi
As a main dish, gnocchi gratin goes beautifully with a simple green vegetable like microwave green beans, steamed broccoli or peas.
As a side dish, serve it with crispy baked fish or simple herb stuffed salmon.
I also like to serve it with a side salad like citrus salad with greens, fig salad with pomegranates or peach salad with walnut dressing.
Instructions for make ahead baked gnocchi gratin are in the recipe. The bake time will take longer as the dish will be cold if you make and refrigerate it the day before.
Looking for another easy gnocchi recipe?
Try our veg gnocchi Indain-style recipe 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.
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Easy Gnocchi Gratin (with pre-make gnocchi)
- 1 package gnocchi, fresh or frozen 375-500 g or 13-16 ounces
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
White Cheese Sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon butter salted or unsalted butter is fine
- 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- pinch black pepper
- pinch nutmeg optional
- 1 1/2 cup milk, 2% or whole (1/4 cup of this can be light or heavy cream for extra richness)
- 1 cup grated white cheese e.g. Gruyere, Fontina, Emmenthal, Monterey Jack, Provolone
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- PREHEAT OVEN to 400F/204C. Spray a small 7-8 inch/18-20cm ovenproof baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray
- BOIL GNOCCHI: Bring salted water to boil in medium saucepan. Put gnocchi in boiling water, bring water back to boil, and lower to medium low heat. Gently boil for 2 minutes. Drain gnocchi or remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- MAKE CHEESE SAUCE: Melt butter on medium heat in a medium or large 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 grated 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: Spoon mixture into prepared gratin dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup 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 creamy casserole with toothpicks as an appetizer or as a regular 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 in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to use, sprinkle Parmesan and chopped parsley over surface. Bake in preheated 400F/204C 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.