My Gnocchi Carbonara is the ultimate comfort food! In just 15 minutes and with a handful of ingredients, you’ll have the most satisfying, creamy carbonara on the table. If you’ve never made Italian carbonara from scratch, now is the time!
Italian carbonara sauce often gets labeled as difficult and is a recipe that is put into the ‘too hard’ basket. So, I know you’ll love that this recipe for Gnocchi Carbonara is made simple and achievable for the average home cook.
In no time at all, you’ll have an incredibly cheesy and creamy carbonara sauce that is seasoned with fiery ground pepper to cut through the richness. Although it isn’t traditional, I love serving gnocchi in a carbonara sauce because it forms a hearty and warming dish that is perfect for chilly nights.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Gnocchi Carbonara is super fast and comes together in less than 15 minutes.
- Chances are that even the most understocked pantry and fridge has these ingredients making it a great week night dish.
- The creamy carbonara sauce is authentically Italian and heavenly when paired with potato gnocchi.
- My recipe for Gnocchi Carbonara is incredibly rich, delicious and cheesy. Even the carbonara skeptics will love it!
- You’ll love the tips and tricks I’ve included to create an authentic carbonara sauce that works every time.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
- Gnocchi - I used good quality store bought potato gnocchi to make this carbonara recipe. I recommend checking the ingredients of the gnocchi to ensure they only include flour, potatoes, eggs and salt just like my homemade gnocchi recipe.
- Guanciale - this is Italian cured pork cheek which is wonderfully fatty and adds so much flavor to my Gnocchi Carbonara.
- Eggs - You will need two whole eggs and two egg yolks for this recipe. It is important that the eggs are very fresh and at room temperature.
- Pecorino Romano cheese - I always buy a piece of Romano and grate it myself, but if you’ve got a good delicatessen they can do this for you. Don’t buy the pre grated cheese in packets at the supermarket. This cheese has powder added to stop it clumping but it’s what will also stop the cheese melting quickly into a smooth carbonara sauce.
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese - The same goes for the Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese.
- Black Pepper - Freshly cracked pepper is the best here. Black pepper isn't just a seasoning in this dish. It's an integral ingredient so freshness is important.
- Salt - The carbonara sauce has plenty of salt from the guanciale and cheeses, so you won’t need to season it. But the boiling water for the gnocchi will need to be salted lightly.
- Take the skin off the guanciale and slice it into even strips
- Whisk the eggs and egg yolks very well in a medium bowl.
- Add the cheeses and mix well to combine into a thick cream consistency. Season with black pepper.
- Cook the guanciale until the fat melts and the edges of the guanciale are crisp.
- Cook the gnocchi and with a slotted spoon, transfer to the frying pan with the guanciale.
- Mix the cooking water into the egg and cheese mixture.
- Add the egg and cheese mixture to the gnocchi and guanciale. Keep stirring until the sauce is creamy.
- Season with extra black pepper.
Hint: Whisk the eggs very well so that the yolks and whites are completely combined. You don't want streaks of white through the sauce.
- You can use bacon or pancetta instead of guanciale. It won’t be as fatty as guanciale, so you may need to add a little olive oil to emulsify the carbonara sauce.
- Although I love the combination of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, you could use just one. Just be sure to double the quantity.
- If you’re more of a traditionalist, make this carbonara sauce with rigatoni or spaghetti instead of gnocchi.
- Why not try frying up some ground Italian sausages instead of guanciale for a change?
- A friend of mine, adds a handful of ground pork when cooking the guanciale.
- It might not be a classic ingredient, but you could stir in some sweet peas or mushrooms to the carbonara sauce.
Tips & FAQs
Have all the ingredients and utensils that you need ready before you begin. This is a quick recipe with few ingredients and the technique is very important. You don’t want to be hunting around for tongs or spoons at the crucial moment.
Gnocchi Carbonara is all about the eggs and so it is important to use the freshest eggs you can find. Because the eggs are only partially cooked through, it’s best to take precautions if you are pregnant or have health issues. You are the best judge of your own body plus it’s important to consider who you are serving this dish to.
Getting the heat just right is what gnocchi carbonara is all about. You don’t want it too hot as it will scramble the eggs or too cold as the sauce won’t thicken. The guanciale frying pan in which you stir in the gnocchi and egg mixture should have some residual heat, but should not be sizzling.
Part of getting the heat right is having the eggs at room temperature. Once you add the eggs to the pan of gnocchi and guanciale, move quickly. Stir until the sauce in the warm pan until it’s thickened and glossy.
Add some reserved pasta water to the carbonara sauce if you think it’s too thick.
Heat the serving bowls and plates to everything warm and ensure that the sauce remains luscious and smooth.
Finally, don’t be afraid of Gnocchi Carbonara! Be brave. Show it who’s boss.
Creamy carbonara sauce is made out of simple but delicious ingredients - guanciale, eggs, cheese and black pepper. You won’t find cream, garlic or oil in an authentic carbonara sauce.
Traditionally spaghetti or rigatoni is used in authentic carbonara recipes. This recipe for Gnocchi Carbonara might not use a traditional type of pasta, but it is incredibly delicious. Gnocchi Carbonara takes carbonara to the next level!
Carbonara is best fresh, but it is possible to carefully reheat a plate of Italian carbonara pasta if you have leftovers. I recommend reheating carbonara over a bain marie. Add a little boiling water to loosen it and stir constantly until the carbonara pasta has completely heated through adding more boiling water as necessary.
Be sure to take the container of leftover carbonara pasta out of the refrigerator about half an hour before you want to begin heating. Do not try reheating it in the microwave as the high heat will curdle the eggs.
Gnocchi Carbonara is a very rich and indulgent dish, you won’t need large portions. Instead, serve a lovely refreshing salad like my Mediterranean Cucumber Salad, to follow the pasta course. If you feel like something sweet after, try my Cooked Fruit for a light dessert.
Made this recipe?
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Gnocchi Carbonara Recipe
- 1 pound gnocchi (500 grams) See Note 1
- 8 ounces guanciale (225 grams) See Note 2
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (85 grams)
- 3 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (85 grams)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground Black pepper
- Salt for boiling the gnocchi
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Whisk the eggs and egg yolks very well in a medium bowl. Add the cheeses and mix well to combine into a thick cream consistency. Season with black pepper. Set aside
- Take the skin off the guanciale being careful to keep the seasoned crust and slice into thin even strips.
- In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the guanciale until the fat melts and the edges of the guanciale are crisp. Set aside and keep warm.
- By this time the water should be boiling, salt well and add the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi in the salted water according to package instructions.
- With a slotted spoon, scoop up the gnocchi and transfer to the frying pan with the guanciale.
- Stir the gnocchi gently to coat in the guanciale fat.
- Mix ¼ cup of the cooking water into the egg and cheese mixture. Stir well.
- Slowly pour the egg and cheese mixture into the gnocchi and guanciale stirring all the time.
- Keep stirring until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy and glossy. Add more pasta water if necessary.
- Season with extra black pepper. Most likely it will be salty enough from the guanciale and cheeses.
- Serve in warmed bowls.
- Use good quality pre package gnocchi or make your own. This doesn't seem like a lot for 4 people but the sauce is very rich and you'll want smaller portions.
- Substitute smokey bacon or pancetta.
- Have all the ingredients and utensils ready before commencing cooking.
- Eggs must be at room temperature.
- The eggs in this dish are partially cooked through. If you have any concerns or health issues perhaps try my creamy Tortellini alla Panna or Pasta al Forno.
- One of the key techniques to success of this dish is getting the heat right. If the pan is too hot, the eggs will scramble. If the pan has cooled down too much, the eggs won't thicken and become creamy.
- Add the reserved pasta water to the carbonara sauce if you think it’s too thick.
- Heat the serving bowls or plates so that the gnocchi are still hot when served.
- Buy the freshest eggs from a refrigerated section of the supermarket
- At home, keep eggs refrigerated until needed.
- Gnocchi Carbonara contains eggs that are only partially cooked therefore eat it at your own risk.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.