Easy Homemade Pesto Gnocchi
Pesto gnocchi with crispy pancetta is a summertime bowl of comfort! You can use store bought potato gnocchi, but we love to make it fresh at home. The light, pillowy texture of the gnocchi can’t be beat!
Here’s why we love this simple dinner so much:
- It’s got 5 simple ingredients: gnocchi, pesto, pancetta, mascarpone, and Parmesan!
- The crispy pancetta or guanciale is a great textural contrast to the light potato gnocchi.
- It’s creamy, without being heavy
- It tastes like summer!
You will make this dish again and again, promise!
Ingredients For Pesto Gnocchi
- Homemade or store bought potato gnocchi! There are so many wonderful brands of prepared gnocchi available, but we love the simplicity of DeLallo’s gnocchi kit — not sponsored, I just think the product is absolutely fabulous and it comes together in minutes, truly! Plus, it has the most amazing pillowy light texture.
- Homemade pesto! We’re using lots of fresh basil to make our walnut pesto, but any variety will work, and certainly you can use store-bought.
- Pancetta or guanciale! Pancetta is pork belly that’s been cured in salt, sugar, and spices, then dried, while guanciale is from pork jowl. Same curing process, just a different cut of meat. Both are highly delicious!
- Mascarpone cheese: To add a rich creaminess to the pesto sauce.
- Parmigiano Reggiano: As with most Italian gnocchi or pasta recipes, we recommend finishing with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano.
You’ll also need a large pot for boiling the gnocchi, a skillet for cooking the pancetta (and afterwards, the gnocchi), and if you’re making the gnocchi from scratch or from a gnocchi kit and want to give it little grooves, you’ll need a fork or one of these handy gnocchi boards.
How To Make Potato Gnocchi At Home
If you’re making gnocchi yourself, either follow your favorite recipe or use our recommended product: DeLallo’s gnocchi kit. The dough comes together in about 5 minutes, not an exaggeration! Follow the instructions to mix and then cut the gnocchi. You can roll them on a gnocchi board to add ridges. We usually find the DeLallo gnocchi kit in the pasta aisle.
Crisp up the pancetta or guanciale in a medium skillet (no need to add olive oil!), then drain (reserving 2 tablespoons of grease in the pan).
Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the potato gnocchi, then cook just a few minutes, or until they begin to float. Immediately spoon the gnocchi into the preheated skillet, along with ½ cup of basil pesto and ¼ cup of room temperature mascarpone.
Add a few tablespoons of reserved gnocchi cooking water, then stir until well mixed. Serve immediately with crispy pancetta and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. You can finish with some black pepper or a pinch of flaky sea salt if you like. Easy, flavorful weeknight pesto gnocchi!
Tips For The Best Pesto Gnocchi
- If the gnocchi dough is sticky, add a bit more flour until smooth!
- Add gnocchi cooking water to the sauce! The natural starches will help to thicken the sauce. Let simmer for a few minutes.
- Don’t have mascarpone? Swirl in a couple tablespoons of heavy cream right at the end for a creamy texture and flavor!
- If making pesto at home, be sure to toast the nuts first! Whether you’re using walnuts or pine nuts (both are fantastic in pesto!), toasting or roasting them first will add a warm nuttiness to the pesto sauce.
- Don’t overcook the pancetta! You’ll want it to be crispy, but with a slight chew. We recommend cooking over medium to medium-high heat, no higher, or you risk it burning.
Other Ways To Use Pesto
Now that you’ve got a big batch of pesto on hand, you’ll want to eat some every day! We love to stir it into scrambled eggs or use it as a sandwich spread (this chicken pesto panini is legit on another level!), but it’s also wonderful on roasted vegetables or spooned over grilled salmon or chicken.
I will be dreaming about this meal all summer long — it is so delicious! If you make this Pesto Gnocchi recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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More Italian recipes to try!
- Pappardelle With Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil Cream Sauce
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Chicken Marsala Pasta
- Lemon Garlic Pasta with Shrimp and Scallops
- Rigatoni Bolognese
- Large skillet
- Spatula or wooden spoon
- Small paper towel-lined bowl
- Gnocchi board optional for if you want to give the gnocchi ridges
- Large pot of water
- 1 lb gnocchi either store-bought or homemade, see note below
- 4 oz pancetta or guanciale, cubed
- ½ cup pesto homemade or store-bought
- 3 Tbsp mascarpone cheese
- 2 Tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano grated, for serving
- Crisp the pancetta. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add 4 oz pancetta or guanciale. Cook until crispy on all sides, about 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook, you want the pancetta to have a slight chew to it. Transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl. Drain and discard all except 2 Tbsp grease.
- Cook the gnocchi. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the potato gnocchi, then cook just a few minutes, or until they begin to float. Immediately drain the gnocchi, reserving ½ cup cooking water, into the preheated skillet, along with ½ cup of basil pesto and 3 Tbsp mascarpone.
- Finish cooking in sauce. Immediately drain the gnocchi, reserving ½ cup cooking water, then add to the preheated skillet, along with ½ cup of basil pesto and 3 Tbsp mascarpone. Stir until evenly coated and the cheese has melted.
- Finish, then serve. Add a few tablespoons of reserved gnocchi cooking water, then stir until well mixed. Serve immediately with crispy pancetta and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- Highly recommend DeLallo’s gnocchi kit, which is what we used here. The product is shelf-stable, and the gnocchi come together in minutes, not a typo! Truly so easy that anyone can make delicious, light homemade gnocchi on weeknights!
- Our favorite pesto recipes: walnut pesto, arugula pesto, or classic basil pesto