Silky gnocchi carbonara is an easy fancy meal you can make at home. It's done in about 30 minutes, and has deep buttery, meaty flavors. It's a simple richer, gnocchi version of the tasty lemon carbonara.
[This gnocchi carbonara recipe was originally posted in July 2020. It has been updated with cooking instructions, expert tips, FAQ, related recipe, and ways to repurpose/use up ingredients]
Table of contents
Make enough gnocchi carbonara for dinner + lunch leftovers with this easy recipe. It reheats well and is easier than trying to figure out how to use ½ egg in a recipe.
If the gnocchi is too rich, I recommend mixing in some broccoli or green beans. This will spread out the rich sauce. It's delicious both ways, just adjust it based on your preferences!
It's a great recipe to use up leftover guanciale, pancetta, bacon, etc. If you don't plan on using all the gnocchi, freeze it uncooked for later.
Scroll down to the gnocchi carbonara recipe card for the amounts of each ingredient, but here's a quick visual + description of what's in this recipe.
- Gnocchi: Tender, pillowy gnocchi are great with this rich sauce. You can use regular pasta instead, but try it with gnocchi one time.
- Chopped meat: guanciale is traditional for carbonara, but when you're cooking for one substitutions save you time, money, and wasted ingredients. Bacon, pancetta, or chopped salami would all work.
- Egg: An uncooked egg is the classic thickener/sauce for carbonara. Go for a pasteurized egg if food borne illness is a concern for you, or get fresh eggs.
- Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated parmesan cheese is great in this gnocchi carbonara dish, parm from the can works too. Pecorino romano cheese is more traditional, if you have it, use it instead.
- Lemon Juice: I love adding some acidic lemon juice to carbonara sauce. it brightens up the rich sauce, and is tasty.
- Vegetables (optional): If you would like to have some vegetables with your gnocchi carbonara, I recommend just adding some to the gnocchi while cooking. Then toss with the rest of the ingredients to get coated in sauce.
Scroll down to the gnocchi carbonara recipe card for more detailed instructions. Here's a quick overview + photos to see how to make this recipe in general.
1.Boil gnocchi according to the package directions.
2. Cook chopped meat (pancetta, chopped hard salami, ham) in a cast iron skillet.
3. Mix sauce: Whisk together egg, parmesan cheese, lemon juice.
4. Save some water from gnocchi, Add a dash to the egg mixture. Add gnocchi to meat, cook to browned.
5. Remove from heat. Add egg mixture, mix until incorporated. Add reserved pasta water, to thin out your creamy carbonara sauce. Cook gnocchi carbonara over low until sauce is desired thickness.
Serve the gnocchi carbonara immediately, garnish with parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate leftovers in air tight container for 3-5 days.
- If using chopped ham, add 1 teaspoon oil to pan
- Save lemon to add more to finished carbonara sauce, if desired.
- Store bought gnocchi is a great quick ingredient for this recipe.
- Make sure to take the pan off of the heat to add the egg mixture. If it's too hot, the egg will scramble and won't be like a sauce. Adding a Tablespoon of gnocchi water to sauce to temper it before adding to pan will help.
- Taste the carbonara, if it's too rich, add in some frozen vegetables and mix all together. This will spread the sauce over more and it won't be as rich in flavor.
- Other Great Add-Ins: frozen, fresh, or canned vegetables, red pepper flakes are all great in gnocchi carbonara.
When eggs get heated enough, they'll start to scramble. Make sure your pan isn't too hot and/or your egg mixture too cold. Remove pan from heat, and temper egg mixture with reserved pasta water to heat it up a bit more.
Tempering your eggs with water, add about 1 Tablespoon of hot reserved pasta (as is in the recipe) to the egg mixture. Whisk together. This should warm it up and help prevent scrambled egg carbonara.
Traditional carbonara sauce is made up of an egg/yolk, pecorino romano cheese, and black pepper. Adding in reserved pasta water helps make your sauce extra creamy and silky. It helps stick to the pasta or gnocchi too.
I usually use parmesan cheese, because it's what I have on hand. I also like a bit of lemon juice added for acidity. Follow this recipe or my Lemon Pasta Carbonara. There are lots of different recipes.
Egg helps thicken up this carbonara sauce, as does the cheese-slightly. You can add a dash of flour, if needed, but I just recommend thinning out you carbonara slowly to avoid having to thicken it.
Other good pasta recipes
- 15 Minute Pasta
- Pasta with Mushroom Sauce
- Black Bean Taco Pasta
- Single Serving Mac & Cheese
- Easy Pasta Recipes for One
What to do with leftover ingredients
When you're cooking for one, you often have leftover produce, cans of whatever ingredient, etc. Here are a couple ideas on how to use up the leftover ingredients. It'll help you save money by wasting fewer ingredients.
- Gnocchi: Swap for pasta in this 15 Minute Pasta Recipe or Pistachio Pesto Pasta
- Pancetta: add leftovers to Chicken Parmesan Pasta, Zucchini with Corn and Feta, or Pesto Pasta.
- Lemon juice: Instant Pot Potatoes and Carrots, Triple Berry Lemonade or Pan Seared Salmon with Summer Salad.
Did you make this gnocchi carbonara? Leave me a comment & rating to share how it turned out!
- Medium sized pot
- small mixing bowl
- cutting board
- Cast iron skillet
- Measuring cups, spoons
- 1 lb package Gnocchi
- ¼ cup chopped pancetta, salami, or ham (if using ham, add a teaspoon to cook)
- 1 whole egg
- ⅛ teaspoon grated parmesan cheese
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup frozen broccoli or green beans (optional)
- Boil 16 oz (1 lb) gnocchi according to package directions.
- While gnocchi is cooking, heat cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ cup chopped meat (pancetta, chopped hard salami, ham) to hot cast iron skillet. Cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes. (if using chopped ham, add 1 teaspoon oil to pan).
- While meat and gnocchi are cooking, mix sauce. Crack an egg into a small mixing bowl, grate ⅛ cup parmesan cheese into bowl, add about 1 Tablespoon hot gnocchi water, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to egg. Whisk until all incorporated. Set aside.Adding gnocchi water will help temper the sauce so it's less likely to turn into scrambled eggs in the pan.
- When gnocchi has been floating for 30 seconds, drain water. Save 1 cup of remaining gnocchi water, and set aside. Add cooked gnocchi to meat in the cast iron skillet. Spread gnocchi out into a single layer on pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until gnocchi is browned on at least one side.
- Once one side is crispy and browned, remove from heat then add egg mixture. Mix gnocchi and egg mixture until well incorporated. Add gnocchi water ¼ cup at a time to thin out the sauce. Return to low heat, simmer until sauce is desired thickness.Adding reserved pasta water thins out the sauce just enough, and will help it stick to the gnocchi and meat. It's key to a nice, silky sauce.
- Serve immediately, garnish with parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
- If using chopped ham, add 1 teaspoon oil to pan
- Save lemon to add more to finished gnocchi, if desired.
- REMOVE from heat before adding egg mixture, unless you want scrambled egg carbonara.
- Taste gnocchi, if it's too rich, add in some frozen vegetables and mix all together. This will spread the sauce over more and it won't be as rich in flavor.
Recipes are great, but you’ll need a simple 3 step process to create a meal plan that make cooking easy & helps you stop wasting food. Check out this expertly developed meal planning guide to get started.