Gnocchi carbonara is an incredibly easy and creamy dish that only takes 15 minutes to make. Use shop-bought gnocchi for a quick yet comforting dinner featuring a rich carbonara sauce with crispy bits of pancetta. Are you hungry yet?
To say that I love carbonara is surely an understatement. A plate of classic carbonara has been my go-to order at Italian restaurants for ages, but I'm never saying no to a moreish bowl of homemade carbonara either.
Gnocchi carbonara has basically the same sauce but with fluffy gnocchi instead of pasta. The pillowy shape and the texture of gnocchi pair incredibly well with authentic carbonara sauce. Add a glass of white Italian to the mix and you can make me very happy.
It only takes 15 minutes to make gnocchi carbonara, but the result is truly delicious, just like something you'd have at a restaurant.
What gnocchi work well in this recipe?
You could always make your own gnocchi as there really is quite a difference, but I'm all for simplicity and sometimes I decide what I want for dinner five minutes before starting cooking said dinner. Shop-bought gnocchi come in very handy in situations like this.
Make sure you use some quality gnocchi, though, as some types don't retain their shape well, which could ruin your carbonara. I like the gnocchi from Garofalo, which have just the right texture and remain intact after boiling and frying them for a couple of minutes.
What can I use as a guanciale substitute?
Carbonara is traditionally made with guanciale, but it might not be easy to get your hands on it if you live outside of Italy. It's almost next to impossible to find it here in Scotland, so pancetta it is for me.
Pancetta is a great guanciale substitute, even though. It has a slightly different texture and flavour. Guanciale is pork cheek cured in a mix of spices and salt, while pancetta is pork belly cured in much the same way. The differences are quite subtle, so you can definitely substitute guanciale with pancetta for carbonara.
What kind of cheese do you need for carbonara sauce?
Pecorino Romano is the traditional cheese used in carbonara, but you can substitute it with grated Parmesan if you want. You can also use a mix of Pecorino and Parmesan.
Step by step instructions
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, but be careful not to overdo it because you'll need to add some of the pasta water to the egg mixture, which is already salty from the cheese.
Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks with the pecorino in a bowl and add 1-2 tablespoon of gnocchi water to thin the mixture a bit. Season with some freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Crush the garlic clove with your hand and add it to the pan. Fry it for a minute, then remove it from the pan and discard it.
Add the pancetta to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat until slightly crispy. Stir in the cooked gnocchi and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until they become slightly golden.
Turn off the heat (this is VERY important, as you don't want the eggs to become an omelette). Wait a minute to allow the pan to cool down a bit, then stir in the egg and pecorino mixture. Toss to coat the gnocchi and add a bit of gnocchi water if it looks too thick.
Serve immediately with more freshly ground black pepper.
Extra recipe tips for gnocchi carbonara
- Before adding the eggs, make sure you turn off the heat and allow it to cool down for a minute. Only then add the egg mixture. The pan shouldn't be hot enough to scramble the eggs. You want to cook them gently in the residual heat of the pan.
- This recipe serves four people (or two very hungry ones).
- Never add cream to carbonara. Not only is it not the authentic way to make it, but there's already enough fat from the pancetta, and you really don't need anymore.
- This is not a recipe that you can reheat or freeze — it's meant to be enjoyed immediately, so pick up a fork and tuck in with abandon.
If you liked this gnocchi carbonara recipe, have a look at some of my other quick and easy dinner recipes:
- 500 g (17.5 oz) gnocchi
- 3 medium egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove
- 130 g (4.5 oz) guanciale or pancetta
- 40 g (1.5 oz) pecorino cheese, grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the gnocchi according to the instructions on the package. (They're typically ready when they start floating.) Reserve some water before draining.
- Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks with the pecorino in a bowl and add 1-2 tablespoon of gnocchi water to thin the mixture a bit. Season with some freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Crush the garlic clove with your hand and add it to the pan. Fry it for a minute, then remove it from the pan and discard it.
- Add the pancetta to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat until slightly crispy. Stir in the cooked gnocchi and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until they become slightly golden.
- Turn off the heat. Wait a minute to allow the pan to cool down a bit, then stir in the egg and pecorino mixture. Toss to coat the gnocchi and add a bit of gnocchi water if it looks too thick.
- Serve immediately with more freshly ground black pepper.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 200mgSodium: 1436mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 15g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.