Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon

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This Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon is a quick one-pan dish that can be whipped up in under 20 minutes. It’s full of rich and refreshing flavors, filling, and a perfect weeknight meal!

Close up of pesto gnocchi on a spoon.

Warm and comforting, and full of flavor, this quick pesto gnocchi recipe packs a serious punch! Here, we simplify things substantially by using storebought pesto and gnocchi. That means dinner on busy nights just got easier.

The key is using a flavorful pesto sauce you really love. It makes the creamy sauce pungent and delightful. But the secret ingredient in this flavorful meal is lemon zest. Without a doubt, it adds a punch of freshness and lightens up the rich flavors. 

Furthermore, this easy dinner is paired perfectly with a glass of light Pinot Grigio! Be sure to add this to your list of quick meals because the total time to get delicious food on the table is under 20 minutes. It doesn’t get quicker than that!

Need more ideas for pasta night?? If you love gnocchi, you must make this amazing Gnocchi All Sorrentina (Baked Gnocchi) and this Italian Sausage Gnocchi Bake! Also, try my Mexican Spaghetti, this Chicken Spaghetti with Rotel and Velveeta, or this amazing pasta with vodka sauce (Gigi Hadid’s Viral recipe)!!


  • Dinner in 20 minutes?! Do I need to say more?!
  • Very few ingredients are needed–you probably already have most of them.
  • Pairs perfectly with a light white wine and my Simple Arugula Salad 🙂


This easy one-pan meal comes together with 6 simple ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores.

Ingredients needed to make creamy pesto gnocchi with lemon.


Gnocchi – Storebought gnocchi typically comes in 16-ounce packages, refrigerated or non-refrigerated works. If you want to be extra fancy, you can use homemade gnocchi but the storebought version is fine.

Pesto – Unquestionably storebought pesto makes this dish come together quickly and effortlessly. However, if you want to whip up a batch of my quick (5-minute) Basil Arugula Pesto to use in this dish, you will not be disappointed!

Chicken stock – Again, store bought chicken broth or stock both work and simplify this dish. You can also use white wine but give yourself more time for the alcohol to evaporate.

Heavy cream – This is important for a rich and delicious texture. I do not recommend substituting half and half or regular milk.

Lemon zest – A little lemon zest will go a long way to give a very refreshing and lovely flavor.

Parmesan cheese – It would be wrong to serve a gnocchi dish without grated parmesan cheese. 


Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!

Step 1: First, whisk together pesto, chicken stock, and cream in a large skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle simmer.

a large skillet with cream chicken stock and pesto being combined.

Step 2: Add gnocchi and cook, occasionally stirring, for 2-3 minutes until gnocchi is cooked through and the sauce begins to thicken.

Creamy pesto gnocchi in a skillet cooking before cheese and lemon are added.

Step 3: Next, turn off the heat and stir in parmesan and lemon zest. If the sauce is a bit thick, add a splash of chicken stock.

Creamy pesto gnocchi with parmesan and lemon zest being added.

Step 4: Last, season with freshly cracked black pepper and salt as needed. Serve immediately.

A skillet with creamy pesto gnocchi, the finished dish.


Certainly, this easy one-pan meal is pretty simple on its own. But consider these helpful tips for best results:

  • Hit the easy button and use your favorite store-bought pesto. However, you have the flexibility to use a homemade version, too if you have a little extra time.

  • Don’t be tempted to substitute the heavy cream with half and half or regular milk as these have lower fat content and will separate under heat. On the other hand, you can reduce the heavy cream with additional chicken stock to lighten up the recipe. 

The sauce will thicken very quickly because of all the starch in the gnocchi. If it becomes too thick, add a little more chicken stock or a splash of water to thin it to the desired consistency.


Storage: Leftover lemon gnocchi can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 

Reheating: Reheat it in the microwave until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat it on the stovetop in a small covered pan over medium heat for a few minutes. Add a splash of heavy cream or chicken stock to loosen up the sauce a bit.


Wine: Using a dry white wine in place of the chicken stock takes this dish to a new level. Just cook the sauce a bit more so the alcohol has a chance to cook off.

Chicken: Adding in leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken makes this a complete, super quick one-pan meal!


What should I serve with this creamy pesto gnocchi?

Lots of crisp garlic bread and a simple salad are always on my menu! Need more ideas?? Here are 21 ideas on what to serve with gnocchi!

Does the gnocchi have to be cooked first before adding it to the pan?

The beauty of this creamy gnocchi recipe is it does not require cooking gnocchi according to package directions first. You add it directly to the saucepan and it cooks in the pesto, chicken stock, and heavy cream mixture. As the gnocchi cooks, it creates a very rich and creamy pesto sauce.

Can I freeze creamy pesto gnocchi dinner?

Yes! Cook the recipe as written, then cool and store in a freezer-safe airtight container. When you are ready to have this dish again, thaw overnight, add to a skillet, and reheat it with a bit of chicken stock to loosen up the sauce. Lastly, top with extra lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Can I substitute milk for heavy cream?

I do not recommend substituting half and half or regular milk because the fat content is considerably less. As a result, the milk solids may separate from the fat under heat.

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A bowl of creamy pesto gnocchi with lemon on a table with parmesan cheese.


Check out all of my kitchen essentials in my Amazon store!

Large Skillet: This is my FAVORITE large skillet–love that it also has a lid!

Lemon Zester


I hope you love this Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

pesto gnocchi with lemon served from a white pot

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon

Casey Rooney
This Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon is on the table, start to finish, in less than TEN MINUTES! Ten! Full of flavor, filling and the perfect weeknight meal!
4.75 from 4 votes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 383 kcal


  • 1 17 oz. package uncooked gnocchi See Note 1
  • 1/3 cup prepared pesto or this easy homemade Basil Arugula Pesto
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup parmesan


  • To a pan over medium heat, add pesto, chicken stock and heavy cream. Bring to a bubble, then add in gnocchi.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes until gnocchi is cooked through and sauce begins to thicken (See Note 2).
  • Turn off the heat and stir in parmesan and lemon zest. If sauce seems a bit thick, add in a splash of chicken stock.
  • Season with fresh ground pepper and salt (as needed) and serve immediately.


Note 1: Gnocchi typically comes in 16-17 oz packages, refrigerated or non refrigerated are both fine!
Note 2: Sauce thickens very quickly because of all the starch in the gnocchi, so if it becomes too thick, just add in a little more chicken stock. 
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Calories: 383kcalCarbohydrates: 46.1gProtein: 11.7gFat: 17.5gSaturated Fat: 7.1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 358mgPotassium: 15mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1.5gCalcium: 204mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. I love simple, yet flavorful pasta dishes like this! 🙂 And that Basil Arugula Pesto sounds amazing- can’t wait to make it.

  2. The combination of the rich and creamy pesto sauce with the tangy lemon zest is simply divine. It’s the perfect balance of flavors and makes for a truly delightful and satisfying meal.

  3. I absolutely love how simple and delicious this dish is. Perfect when I want something comforting and easy to make on a weeknight!