This gorgeous one-pot baked gnocchi with vodka sauce is one of my new go-to simple, easy, and deliciously creamy vegetarian dinners. It’s ready in less than 30 minutes, contains just nine ingredients, and requires just one pan to make!
One-pot dinners are a top-tier weeknight recipe in my book. At the end of a long day, the last thing any of us wants to be doing is washing up a million dishes or loading the dishwasher. Other one-pot recipes I’ve published previously include my viral French onion pasta, this creamy mushroom pasta, baked orzo with meatballs, and this gorgeous vegan butterbean and chorizo stew.
This easy gnocchi with vodka sauce is such a dreamy recipe, finished with melty golden mozzarella and fresh basil. Plus, it takes less than 30 minutes to make with minimal ingredients – so you can have dinner on the table in no time (and just one dish to wash up at the end of the night!)
Let’s dive into how to make this gorgeous baked gnocchi recipe.
Ingredient Notes & Possible Substitutions
The exact quantities of the ingredients you need for this recipe are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here, I’ve added a few notes on the ingredients you need, plus a few potential substitutions you could make if you can’t eat/find a certain ingredient.
- Gnocchi: Fresh gnocchi works best for this recipe, giving a soft, pillowy texture. If you can’t find fresh, the shelf-stable or frozen varieties are good alternatives. Just make sure you bake the gnocchi for long enough to cook it through.
- Garlic: I used a (very) large clove of freshly minced garlic for this recipe. 2 medium, average-sized cloves will work too.
- Tomato paste: Tomato paste, or tomato puree, gives the vodka sauce that important deep, tomato flavor.
- Vodka: Essential for the unique flavor of the sauce, but if you prefer a non-alcoholic version, you can omit it.
- Heavy Cream: If you’re from the UK or other parts of the world, this is double cream. Do not substitute for single cream, it will not work.
- Vegetable stock: I use a vegetable stock cube and mix it with the correct amount of water for this recipe. You could also use a pre-made stock, or use chicken stock if you are not vegetarian.
- Cheeses: We use a mix of pecorino and mozzarella for this recipe. Pecorino can be replaced with Parmesan if you don’t follow a vegetarian diet, and if you’re not a fan of mozzarella, feel free to use any good melting cheese.
Substitutions & Variations
- To Make This Recipe Vegan: Use coconut cream or a plant-based double cream alternative instead of heavy cream. You could either omit the Pecorino and mozzarella entirely and just serve the gnocchi with vodka sauce topped with fresh basil and black pepper. Or, you could top the gnocchi with a vegan mozzarella alternative – it may not melt the same, though.
- To Make This Recipe Gluten-Free: Opt for gluten-free gnocchi. All other ingredients listed should be suitable for a gluten-free diet.
- To Make This Recipe Alcohol-Free: Simply skip the vodka for a delicious tomato cream sauce without the alcohol.
How To Make This Cheesy Gnocchi in Vodka Sauce Recipe
Again, the exact step-by-step instructions and ingredient quantities will be in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Below is an overview of making this recipe, plus some process shots to help you visualize how this recipe should turn out.
Step 1) Saute Your Garlic in Butter
Start by heating your butter in a casserole dish. Once it’s melted, add your minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Take care not to overcook the garlic and let it brown here.
Step 2) Add tomato paste and vodka
Stir in the tomato paste, followed by the vodka, letting the alcohol cook off for a couple of minutes. Make sure you’ve fully combined the butter, garlic, tomato paste, and vodka.
Step 3) Add heavy cream, stock, and seasoning
Pour the heavy cream, vegetable stock, and seasoning into the pan and stir to fully combine everything. Allow the sauce to simmer (not boil) and thicken for a few minutes.
Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon, you can add the gnocchi.
Step 4) Add gnocchi
Add pecorino and gnocchi, ensuring they are well-coated in the sauce. Top with mozzarella and basil, and finish with a sprinkle of black pepper before baking.
Step 5) Bake until golden and bubbling
Bake the cheesy gnocchi with vodka sauce until the mozzarella has melted and the sauce is bubbling. The top parts of the gnocchi may also have turned golden and slightly crispy, which makes them even more delicious!
- Sauce Consistency: If your sauce isn’t thickening, simmer it over low heat for a couple more minutes. You could also remove some of the sauce if you feel you have too much Avoid boiling as it might separate the cream.
- Gnocchi Texture: For the best texture, bake until the mozzarella is golden. The gnocchi should be soft but slightly crispy on the outside, especially at the top of the dish. If you prefer a softer gnocchi, simmer in the sauce instead of baking.
- Creaminess: Don’t substitute the heavy cream (double cream) for single cream! I accidentally did this the first time I tested this recipe and the sauce was extremely watery and did not thicken at all. Heavy cream is a must for the vodka sauce to be thick and creamy.
What To Serve With This Dish
This baked gnocchi with vodka sauce is a complete dish in itself, and you could serve it up in one pot and call it a day!
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Simply reheat before serving in the microwave or the oven (provided your container is oven-proof).
If you are planning on freezing this dish, I would recommend freezing it before you’ve added the mozzarella, as mozzarella’s texture can begin to suffer after being frozen. You could also make the vodka sauce and freeze it. When you’re ready to make the gnocchi, simply defrost the vodka sauce completely before reheating and stirring the fresh gnocchi through.
Yes, you can prepare the sauce in advance and simply assemble it with the gnocchi and mozzarella before baking.
Absolutely, the alcohol in the vodka cooks off, leaving only the flavor which adds a beautiful depth to the tomato sauce. You can’t actually taste the vodka, so it’s perfectly suitable for all ages. If you would rather omit the vodka, you can – the recipe will still be delicious without it.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing the mozzarella as it’s texture can change upon defrosting. You could make the sauce in advance and freeze it until you are ready to assemble the full dish.
Yes, of course, The creamy pasta sauce would be equally delicious with any type of pasta. Simply cook your pasta separately according to the package instructions, then add it to the sauce before topping with the mozzarella and basil
Other Recipes You’ll Like:
- 400g (14 oz) fresh gnocchi
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp (1.5 oz) tomato paste
- 30ml (2 tbsp) vodka
- 125ml (½ cup) heavy cream
- 125ml (½ cup) vegetable stock
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) salt
- 15g (½ oz) pecorino (or alternative hard cheese)
- 80g (3 oz) mozzarella, sliced thinly
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 handful (10 - 12 leaves) fresh basil
- Preheat your oven to 395°F| 200°C/
- Heat your butter in your casserole dish, and once it’s melted add the minced garlic.
- Saute for 1-2 minutes until the garlic turns fragrant, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add the tomato paste and stir it into the garlic and butter.
- Add the vodka, stir, and allow the alcohol to cook off for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the heavy cream, vegetable stock, and salt. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to warm through for 4-5 minutes. It should begin to turn thick and velvety - stir often.
- Add the pecorino and the gnocchi. Use your spoon to ensure the gnocchi is fully coated in the sauce.
- Top the dish with your mozzarella slices and basil leaves, then finish with freshly cracked black pepper.
- Put the dish in your oven and bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted and turned slightly golden on top.
If you don’t want the extra mozzarella, you can omit the final two steps and simply simmer the sauce with the gnocchi in it for 2-3 minutes to ensure the gnocchi is fully cooked before serving.
If your sauce isn’t thickening, either continue to cook over a low heat and give it a little more time (without letting the sauce boil), or remove a spoonful or two of the sauce before stirring in the gnocchi.
This dish is best served immediately when the cheese is bubbling and melted and the gnocchi with vodka sauce is piping hot! However, it’s also great to keep as leftovers. Store any leftover gnocchi vodka bake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and reheat before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 762Saturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gFiber: 2gSugar: 3g
Nutritional information is not always 100% accurate.