Toasted gnocchi with spinach garnished with parmesan cheese and parsley in a round white bowl with a stainless steel fork in front and a white and brown towel behind all on a wooden surface (with logo overlay)

Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

Though gnocchi is made from potatoes, they are as versatile as pasta. Gnocchi toasted with a bit of spinach and lemon makes a quick appetizer or meal for busy weeknights.

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In the last year, I’ve been experimenting with more recipes that use gnocchi. That’s how I came up with this recipe for Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach. The gnocchi is always my favorite part of Chicken & Gnocchi Soup, but I didn’t realize there would be many ways to use it. I love gnocchi, with its pillowy-soft texture and perfect bite-sized pieces. And of course, I will eat almost anything with potatoes, so gnocchi is right up my alley.

Now that I’ve been looking, there are multiple options for gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi with butter and sage. Put it in a red sauce similar to spaghetti. Cook it in soups. Toast it with spinach.

There are a few ways to make gnocchi. Typically from potato or wheat flour with egg, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or other similar ingredients. You can get them either plain or flavored with seasonings. Gnocchi is Italian in origin and dates back to the Roman era. The singular form of the word is gnoccho. But since there is usually a group of them, that word is hardly ever used. Gnocchi is believed to be the predecessor of pasta.

Originally, gnocchi was made with soft wheat flour. But that didn’t give a uniform texture. It was discovered that potatoes gave a better texture. Then most started to make their gnocchi with potatoes. The flour versions weren’t common anymore. Potato gnocchi started around the 16th to 17th century after the Spanish brought potatoes to Italy from South America.

I am quickly learning that gnocchi is as versatile as any other type of pasta. Maybe even more.

When we made this recipe the first time, the lemon was a little overpowering for us. Since then I cut back on the lemon juice. Now it’s more of a garnish. It tasted much better that way. If you like a lot of lemon flavor, then go ahead and increase the amount to one tablespoon of lemon juice.

You can use this as a light meatless main dish or as an appetizer or side for other meals. It is a versatile option that can suit various dietary preferences.

Simple Ingredients


I like the texture and flavor that butter adds to this dish. If you are trying to keep it a bit healthier, though, you could substitute the first two tablespoons of butter with olive oil. That’s used just to toast the gnocchi. But you’ll want to keep the other two tablespoons as butter for the creamy sauce. 

Potato Gnocchi

Soft pillowy gnocchi are perfect for this dish. Gnocchi is versatile, cooking like pasta, but with that potato taste. Store-bought gnocchi is usually located near the pasta at our grocery store. There really is no substitute for gnocchi, unless you make it yourself. But pre-made gnocchi is delicious and much quicker and easier to work with. 


You can either mince fresh garlic cloves or use the jarred garlic. Both have enough flavor to add to this great recipe. 


Fresh herbs are always best when it comes to preparing a meal. But if you don’t have fresh thyme, you can use dried thyme in its place. Another option for a slightly sweeter flavor would be to use fresh basil instead of thyme. 

Chicken Broth

The chicken broth becomes the base of your cream sauce. I like to use canned chicken broth. You can also substitute it with vegetable broth for a vegetarian option. 

Salt and Pepper

Just a bit of salt and pepper go a long way to adding flavor to a dish and this spinach gnocchi recipe is no different.

Spinach Leaves

Fresh spinach leaves are perfect to add some texture, flavor, and greens to this dish. I like to get fresh baby spinach because they are a bit easier to work with and eat at that size. But if you get large spinach leaves you can chop them before adding to the pan. 


​Again, using fresh herbs is best, but the dried herbs are a great second option. That’s what I use most of the time because of their shelf life. For a bit of extra flavor, use Italian seasoning instead of just parsley. 

Lemon Zest

If you zest the lemon before you juice it, then one lemon is enough for this easy recipe. Don’t skimp on the lemon zest unless you just don’t want to taste much lemon. But, in my opinion, the lemon flavor is what completes the meal. 

Lemon Juice

The juice of one lemon is the perfect amount for the recipe. If you love the taste of lemon and want something a bit more bitter, you could add a little more lemon. 

Parmesan Cheese

The parmesan cheese tops off this dish with a bit of that slightly nutty flavor that parmesan cheese has. If you want this to be dairy-free, you could omit the parmesan cheese (and use vegan butter). 

Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach Step by Step


  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 17 oz potato gnocchi
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 14.5 oz chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 oz spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese


Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi. Stir occasionally until the gnocchi start to brown on the outside, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and thyme and stir for one minute. Then mix in the chicken broth, salt, and pepper, bringing it to a boil.

Cook everything until the liquid has reduced by half. This takes about 5-7 minutes. Then add the spinach, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Stir constantly to keep from scalding to wilt the spinach and melt the butter which takes about 2-3 minutes.

Top with parmesan cheese and serve immediately because this will cool very quickly.

Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach Leftovers

Storage: The best way to store leftovers is in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Reheating: For the best results, reheat the gnocchi and spinach in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. If it seems dry, add a small amount of butter or chicken broth to the pan.


Originally Published On: May 2, 2018

Last Updated On: March 31, 2024

Toasted gnocchi with spinach garnished with parmesan cheese and parsley in a round white bowl with a stainless steel fork in front and a white and brown towel behind all on a wooden surface

Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach

Though gnocchi is made from potatoes, they are as versatile as pasta. Gnocchi toasted with a bit of spinach and lemon makes a quick appetizer or meal.
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Side Dish
Servings: 2 cups
5 from 8 votes


  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 17 oz potato gnocchi
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 14.5 oz chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 5 oz spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese


  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat
  • Add the gnocchi to the pan and stir often until they are browned, about 8-10 minutes
  • Add the minced garlic and thyme, stirring for about one minute
  • Mix in the chicken broth, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil, cooking until reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add the spinach, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tbsp of butter
  • Stir constantly until the spinach has wilted and the butter is melted
  • Garnish with parmesan and serve immediately
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Nutrition Facts
Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach
Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)
Calories 360 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 39mg13%
Sodium 1060mg44%
Potassium 280mg8%
Carbohydrates 46g15%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 3902IU78%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 220mg22%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.



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44 thoughts on “Toasted Gnocchi with Spinach in a Creamy Lemon Sauce”

  1. I love gnocchi! I haven’t made it in forever and now this sounds and looks like such a delicious dish. I am definitely going to have to try it.

  2. I have never cooked with gnocchi and have only had it a handful of times, but this sounds so delicious. I love lemon and would be curious if I would want to cut it back like you did or have it full flavor.

  3. 5 stars
    What is the texture of gnocchi? My daughter seen it instore the other day and wanted to try it but shes very strange with textures was curious if this is one she handles well

  4. 5 stars
    I never had toasted gnoochi before. I have to try this recipe to see how toasted gnocchi taste like with my favorite veggie right now, Japanese mustard spinach.

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