One of my favorite ways to eat packaged gnocchi is pan fried in lots of butter. These potato bite-sized dumplings get crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. They are a quick, easy side dish as is, or spruce them up with your favorite sauce.
For this recipe I use butter, Parmesan, Italian seasoning and lemon for a "sauce", but pan-fried gnocchi is so versatile when it comes to sauce pairings. I've included some other sauce ideas further down. You can also substitute the butter for olive oil. Here are the ingredients:
- Packaged Gnocchi - Feel free to make your own gnocchi, but I find the packaged gnocchi the most convenient for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Butter - The butter is the sauce for this basic recipe, but feel free to use olive oil instead for a healthier fat option.
- Dried Italian Seasoning - This is another convenient ingredient I always have on hand in the pantry. You could substitute fresh herbs instead!
- Lemon - I love adding a squirt of lemon for some acid to balance out the fattiness of the butter.
- Fresh Herbs - This ingredient is totally optional. I happen to be making this in the summer when I have a ton of fresh basil on hand. Fresh sage or thyme would also be delicious.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium size skillet over medium heat and stir in the gnocchi coating each dumpling in butter.
Cook until the gnocchi gets golden and toasty on the outside. Take off the heat and top with some Parmesan, dried Italian seasoning and lemon. Toss with fresh herbs if you'd like. If you find them too dry, add more butter after they have cooked or toss them in your favorite sauce.
How to Serve Pan Fried Gnocchi
Fried gnocchi can be even more delicious with pesto or with a tomato sauce. If it's a busy weeknight, I just use a store bought sauce for convenience but check out these ideas if you want something homemade:
Basil Pesto Sauce
Make your favorite pesto recipe and toss it into the freshly fried gnocchi! Try out my favorite recipe, Homemade Pesto in a Blender.
Simple Cherry Tomato Sauce
Remove fried gnocchi from the pan and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 pint of cherry tomatoes to the pan over medium high heat. Let the tomatoes blister and burst. Add some fresh minced garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes before tossing the fresh fried gnocchi back into the pan.
Simple Alfredo Sauce
Remove fried gnocchi from the pan and set aside. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the pan and bring to simmer. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and stir until the cheese has melted. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt as you like. Toss the gnocchi in the sauce and serve. Add more cream if you like it extra saucy.
Mushroom Cream Sauce
Remove fried gnocchi from the pan and set aside. Add some sliced mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and cook the mushrooms until soft. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and some extra parmesan for a quick cream sauce. Toss the gnocchi back into the sauce.
Brown Butter Sauce
Remove fried gnocchi from the pan and set aside. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the pan and cook on medium and stir until the butter solids become browned (careful not to burn!). Toss the gnocchi back into the butter sauce.
Make it a Meal
This dish can be bulked up simply by adding your preferred protein or vegetable of your choice. You could use shredded rotisserie chicken bought from the store, or fry up some bacon and crumble it on top. Cooked Italian sausage would also be delicious.
To keep this recipe vegetarian, I love adding some white beans with the simple cherry tomato sauce mentioned above. You could also cook some mushrooms and spinach in the same pan. Any seasonal vegetable would work well in this basic recipe.
If you love this recipe I would love to know!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Gnocchi is an Italian dumpling most often made with potatoes. It can be prepared by boiling, roasting or in this case pan frying. You can make it from scratch, buy it frozen or packaged dried (which is what this recipe uses).
Packaged gnocchi is a convenient ingredient which can be boiled for 3-5 minutes until they float to the top, roasted or pan fried for at least 5 minutes until plump.
Yes! You do not need to boil the gnocchi before frying.
I like to pan fry gnocchi for at least 5 - 7 minutes until they are visibly plump and a little soft to the touch.
Looking for more gnocchi recipes? Here are my other favorites!