Try this recipe for a Tuscan-inspired gnocchi in cream sauce when you need an easy but full-flavored meal. It’s got pillowy gnocchi, tender spinach, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, butter, and garlic. And you’ll love that it’s all made in one pan in about 15 minutes.

Pasta bowl with a serving of Tuscan gnocchi in a cream sauce.

This recipe is the ultimate comfort food. It’s got amazing flavors and texture, and lends itself to being eaten out of a cozy little bowl.

What makes this Tuscan gnocchi, you might ask? I know you love similar flavors dressing up this creamy Tuscan chicken, tortellini, white beans, and a great chickpea stew, but I’ll be the first to say this is not a traditional recipe passed down from grandmothers of the Italian countryside. It is a flavor combination marked by tomatoes, spinach, and Italian herbs, popularized by none other than the Olive Garden.

That’s OK. It doesn’t have to be from the old country to be delicious.

Ingredients & Common Substitutions

Labeled photo showing shelf-stable gnocchi, baby spinach, cream, broth, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, butter, Parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper, all laid out in prep bowls ready to cook.

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions. 

  • Shelf-stable gnocchi: You want the kind found in the dry pasta aisle for this recipe. This is what works best with the one-pan method we use here.
  • Cream: Half and half is an acceptable substitute, but your sauce will be slightly more watery.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth: Use a certified vegetarian vegetable broth or stock to keep this recipe meatless. You can also add a splash of white wine in addition to or in place of the broth.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: For this recipe you want the kind that are packed in oil and julienned, which means pre-cut into long, thin strips. If you can only find whole oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, buy those and just chop them yourself, it will only take an extra minute.
  • Baby spinach: Just a few handfuls. You can leave it out if spinach isn’t your thing, or substitute with another green of your choice.
  • Parmesan: Fresh-grated if possible, because we’ll want it to melt right into the sauce.
  • Garlic, butter, salt, and pepper.
  • Fresh basil: An optional but really nice garnish.
  • NOT PICTURED: Lemon juice. This is technically optional but really brightens and brings the whole dish to life.

Is gnocchi pasta or potato?

Although we commonly think of gnocchi as a type of pasta, they are actually tiny dumplings most often made from riced potatoes. Potato gnocchi, or gnocchi di patate, are a favorite of Italian and Italian-inspired cuisine, because when prepared well, they are tender, pillowy, and miraculously light yet filling at the same time.

Of course there are other types of gnocchi, as well, such as those made with a base of ricotta cheese or butternut squash. And there are Roman gnocchi, which are made from semolina flour and have an entirely different shape.

What kind of sauce goes well with gnocchi?

The shape of gnocchi — each is a small nugget lined with ridges — is well-suited to a creamy sauce, one that won’t simply slide off the gnocchi. You can use a simple cream-based sauce like the one in this recipe, and then, if you want to branch out, try gnocchi with a creamy pesto or vodka sauce. They are extremely versatile, however, and also delicious in a simple preparation like this brown butter sage sauce.

How To Make Gnocchi in Cream Sauce

The true beauty of this recipe is that the gnocchi cook directly in the sauce, which serves several purposes:

  1. Reduces the number of dishes to wash.
  2. Subtly enhances the gnocchi’s flavor.
  3. Naturally thickens the sauce as the gnocchi releases starch as it cooks.

To make it, you’ll simply melt butter in a large skillet, pot, or saucepan. Be sure to use one with a lid! Then sauté garlic in the butter just for a moment before adding the cream and broth to make the base of your sauce.

Pro Tip: You can use the olive oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes in place of or in addition to the butter. Tasty and economical! Use 1-2 teaspoons, just enough to coat the pan.

Bring the liquids to a simmer, then stir in the uncooked gnocchi together with the sun-dried tomatoes. Do not boil the gnocchi separately! It will cook in the sauce.

Cover and cook for 4 minutes. Test and simmer for another 1-2 minutes, uncovered, only if necessary. As soon as the gnocchi are tender, stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The lemon juice may seem inconsequential, but it brightens and brings to life all the other flavors!

Salt and pepper to taste, a little fresh basil for color and that little zap of flavor, and dinner is done!

Close up creamy Tuscan gnocchi in a skillet.

Serving Suggestions

This gnocchi dish is very satisfying, which is an invitation to you to keep the sides simple. An easy salad or steamed veggies will pair with it perfectly. And of course, if serving a crowd, this is easy to stretch by serving with breadsticks or garlic bread, or by stirring in some shredded chicken.

Storage & Reheating

Tuscan gnocchi keeps and reheats very well. Leftovers are virtually guaranteed to disappear!

  • Store individual portions or a larger amount tightly-covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, then reheat at full power in the microwave until warmed through, or on the stovetop over medium heat.
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools! If you are reheating this dish and it looks a little too thick for your tastes, stir in 1-2 teaspoons of broth and rewarm until it returns to your desired consistency.

More Easy Gnocchi Recipes

Love gnocchi? Try this our recipes for creamy pesto gnocchi, gnocchi with charred cherry tomatoes, and gnocchi alla vodka next. Prefer a soup? This crockpot chicken gnocchi soup always hits the spot.

If you try this Tuscan Gnocchi, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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4.84 from 37 votes

Creamy Tuscan Gnocchi

An easy but full-flavored meal with pillowy gnocchi, tender spinach, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, butter, and garlic. You’ll love that it’s all made in one pan in about 15 minutes.


  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi uncooked
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes julienne style
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1-2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • fresh basil optional garnish


  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (Use a skillet with a lid.) Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant, then stir in the cream and broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then stir in the gnocchi and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, untouched.
  • Uncover the pan, stir well, and test a gnocchi. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the gnocchi is tender and the sauce slightly thickened.
  • When the gnocchi is tender, stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice to taste. (I usually start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 8-10 cranks of black pepper, but this will vary to your preference.) Once the spinach has wilted, remove pan from the heat.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and more Parmesan, as desired. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 440 kcal, Carbohydrates: 45 g, Protein: 12 g, Fat: 25 g, Saturated Fat: 15 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g, Cholesterol: 66 mg, Sodium: 662 mg, Potassium: 281 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g, Vitamin A: 1662 IU, Vitamin C: 13 mg, Calcium: 217 mg, Iron: 5 mg
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