This Creamy Gnocchi Carbonara is a dinner recipe that’s easy to make and is comfort food at it’s finest! It’s cheesy, creamy, and it’s a quick and easy meal that’s perfect for even a quick weeknight dinner.
Carbonara is one of my favorite sauces but I usually find it made with spaghetti noodles (and those aren’t very exciting).But, recently I went to a dinner at Cooper’s Hawk here in Central Florida and ordered their Gnocchi Carbonara. OH EM GEE!! It was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had and I knew I had to make my version at home. I played around with traditional carbonara ingredients and also added some not-so-traditional things and we have a winner!
The first thing you’ll want to do is prep everything. Carbonara sauce comes together quickly so you’ll want to have everything ready. That includes, dicing the pancetta, mincing your garlic, shredding the cheese, and beating the eggs.
How to make an extra creamy carbonara sauce:
First, I would like to say that I knowww adding cream is not traditional in a carbonara sauce. But it’ll be ok…I promise! I added it to this recipe because gnocchi also isn’t a traditional carbonara pasta. Gnocchi is made with potatoes and they absorb quite a bit of sauce. So adding the cream makes this recipe stay nice and silky without drying out as quickly and still giving you those amazing carbonara flavors!
The main part of this sauce is what’s pictured above: the eggs, cheese, and that oh-so-not-traditional cream! All that rich creamy goodness gets whisked together then we’re going to add even more flavor with the pepper and parsley. Carbonara sauce can be quite peppery but you can adjust that to your liking. The bite of the pepper cuts down a bit on the richness of the sauce so it goes very well together!
By the way, I got this cheese grater (affiliate link) because I DESPISE doing it by hand for dishes like this and it’s a life changer!! I had all of this cheese grated in less than 2 minutes!
What kind of cheese is best for carbonara:
Traditionally, a carbonara is made with pecorino-Romano which is what I use in this recipe. You could also use a true Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you can’t find those or the price is too high, you can substitute a freshly grated cheese labeled just parmesan. It will still be a delicious dish!
Once your sauce is made, you can start cooking your pancetta as it takes the longest to cook.
What can you substitute for pancetta:
If you don’t have pancetta or you can’t find it, you can use a smoky thick-cut bacon. Just stay away from sweet bacon flavors like maple or brown sugar for this dish.
While your pancetta is cooking, you can start a pot of salted water on the stove to cook your gnocchi. I just used store-bought gnocchi for this recipe and cooked according to the directions on the package. Be sure to save 1/4 cup of your hot pasta water before you drain the gnocchi.
(Side note, I don’t have a photo of my gnocchi boiling because my induction cooktop decided to malfunction and crack under my pot while I was boiling my gnocchi! So in the midst of that drama, I forgot to take a photo…sorry!)
Once your pancetta is nice and crispy and you’re ready to pull everything together, you’ll remove the pancetta from the skillet. Save only about 1-2 tablespoons of the grease (discard the rest) and toss in the drained gnocchi and minced garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes per side.
Now you’re ready for that creamy carbonara sauce! You’ll want to drizzle in the 1/4 cup of hot pasta water to your sauce mixture while whisking. This will bring your sauce up to a safer temperature and stop the eggs from scrambling when added to the hot pan. The heat from the pan is what will bring your eggs up to a safe temperature to eat.
Now you can add the sauce to the pan along with the gnocchi and add the pancetta back in as well. Toss in the sweet peas once your cheese has melted and you’re good to go! (If you’re using frozen peas, you may want to cover the pot and let them warm up for about 2 minutes.)
Creamy Gnocchi Carbonara
- 2 pounds gnocchi
- 2 teaspoons salt for the pasta water
- 8 ounces diced pancetta (can sub thick-sliced bacon in a pinch)
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly shredded pecorino-romano cheese (can sub Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 heaping teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup sweet peas
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta water from boiling the gnocchi
- This recipe comes together very quickly so it's best to prep everything first. Dice your pancetta, mince the garlic, shred the cheese, crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl and set a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Make the sauce mixture: In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until smooth then add the shredded cheese, cream, pepper, and parsley. Mix to combine then set aside.
- Add the pancetta to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes or until it's crispy.
- While your pancetta is cooking, you can can add your gnocchi to your boiling water and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until they float. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water then drain the gnocchi and set aside.
- Once the pancetta is browned and crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the skillet and set it aside on a plate or small bowl.Drain most of the grease from the pan leaving only about 1-2 tablespoons. Lower the heat in the pan to medium.
- Add the cooked gnocchi to the pancetta drippings. Cook for about 2 min per side, adding the the minced garlic and peas for the final 2 min.
- Turn the heat off of the skillet completely and add the pancetta back in with the gnocchi.
- Slowly drizzle the hot reserved pasta water into the bowl with the egg/cheese mixture while stirring continuously. This gradual heat will bring the eggs up to temperature and ensure they don't scramble in the pan.(if your reserved pasta water is no longer hot, you can warm it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds)
- Pour the sauce mixture over the gnocchi while stirring until the sauce forms and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately while hot.
“Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.”