Gnocchi Mac and Cheese is THE ultimate comfort food. Forget traditional macaroni and let those gnocchi balls ooze into the most delicious mac and cheese sauce imaginable!
Okay, you guys. This might literally be the comfiest comfort food recipe I’ve ever added to the blog. Like ever. Just think (and simultaneously drool) heavenly pillows of gnocchi, wrapped in a creamy cheesy mac and cheese sauce, topped with a crispy crunchy topping, then baked in the oven. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill.
And you know what, it really couldn’t be easier to make. Like barely any prep, no real skill involved and all in under 30 mins.
You might be a stone heavier than before you ate it, but so worth it.
Before we tuck into the recipe let me just quickly share with you some tips that will absolutely change your mac and cheese game. First things first:
Tips for the best Mac and Cheese sauce
- Make a roux – I don’t know about you but when I was young and foolish, just milk and a crap tonne of cheese was my go-to recipe for mac and cheese. But, slightly gritty and grainy right? The key to a smooth and silky mac and cheese sauce is making a roux. Simply melt butter, mix in some flour, then slowly add in milk until a nice thick and creamy sauce forms.
- Different Cheeses – After all, variety is the key to life. I tend to use cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan for the ultimate mac and cheese sauce.
- Seasoning – A cheesy roux? Meh, not bad. A cheesy roux with 3 different cheese? Better. A 3 cheese roux with garlic powder, onion powder, dijon mustard and white pepper? Ding ding! Those added ingredients will enhance that cheesy goodness more than you’d ever imagine.
- Bacon – Do I really need an explanation?
Just look how easy it is to make!
How to make Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
My one tip to emphasis when using gnocchi instead of macaroni is to make sure you undercook the gnocchi before you add it to the sauce. If you over boil it, it’s going to turn mushy in the oven. With the same token, if you don’t boil it at all, then the starch is going to turn everything really stodgy and gloopy in the oven.
So, the key is boiling it just enough to release some starch, but not too much that the extra cooking time in the oven turns it to mush. As soon as the first piece of gnocchi floats to the surface of the boiling water, drain and add the to the sauce.
My second tip is to make sure you have a crispy mac and cheese topping. As gnocchi is quite soft in comparison to regular pasta, it’s nice to counteract that with a nice crispy, crunchy topping!
Ugh, just look at that baked goodness!
Tips for the best Mac and Cheese topping
- 50/50 combo – I like to use a 50/50 combo of breadcrumbs and parmesan. This keep the perfect balance of crispy but not dry, and cheesy but not gloopy.
- Season – It’s important to season your topping. You’ve got a gorgeously flavoursome cheese sauce hiding underneath it, don’t spoil it with bland breadcrumbs. A find a pinch of salt and pepper before it goes in the oven and a sprinkle of fresh parsley when it comes out does the trick.
- Oil – To keep the breadcrumbs from drying up, I spray a little oil on top before it goes in the oven. Some recipes melt a little butter in with the breadcrumbs before they spread on top, but for me there’s more than enough calories already 😉 a few sprays of 1cal olive oil spray works perfectly!
Baked Gnocchi Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food for a quick dinner. Creamy cheesy goodness with a crispy crunchy topping, all in under 30 mins. You’d be a fool not to give the foolproof dinner a go!!
Now somebody get me a damn spoon, I’m hungry all over again.
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How to make Gnocchi Mac and Cheese (Full Recipe & Video)
'Gnocchi Mac and Cheese is THE ultimate comfort food. Forget traditional macaroni and let those gnocchi balls ooze into the most delicious mac and cheese sauce imaginable!'
- 2lbs / 800g lbs Gnocchi
- 4 rashers Streaky Bacon, diced
- 2.5 cups / 625ml Milk, at room temp
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 tbsp Plain Flour
- 1 cup / 100g Cheddar, grated
- 1 cup / 100g Mozzarella, grated
- 1 cup / 100g Parmesan, grated (save half for the topping)
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard (or more to preference)
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/4 tsp White Pepper
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup / 60g Breadcrumbs
- pinch of Salt & Black Pepper
- 5-6 sprays of Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 220c/430f.
Begin by frying your bacon in a large pot/pan until crispy. Drain away excess fat if necessary.
Melt in your butter, then stir in your flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in your milk 1/2 cup at a time, stirring throughout to ensure no lumps form.
Once thickened, add in your garlic powder, onion powder, dijon mustard and white pepper. Stir to blend, then add in your cheddar, mozzarella and half of your parmesan. Taste test for salt.
Pop your gnocchi in salted boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes. Do not cook for the full packet instruction time, take at least 1 minute off. Drain and combine with your cheese sauce. Pour into an oven safe dish.
Top with a layer of parmesan, then breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt and pepper then spray with oil to finish.
Pop in the oven for 15mins or until golden on the top and bubbling in the centre.
Watch how to make it!
a) Pasta Sub - You if you want to sub the gnocchi for regular pasta, then use 10.5oz/300g. Same advice as the gnocchi, make sure the pasta is only just cooked when you drain and add to the sauce. Do not cook the pasta for the full recommended packet instruction.
b) Salt - Cheese, especially parmesan, can be fairly salty so just be careful how much you use to season the gnocchi, sauce and topping. With the same token ensure it is unsalted butter you are using.
c) Gnocchi Timing - It's essential not to over-boil the gnocchi before you add it to the sauce and bake. The aim of the game is to boil it just enough to release some starch, but not enough where it fully cooks. As soon as the first gnocchi floats to the top of the boiling water, drain and add to the sauce. If you over-boil the gnocchi it's going to go mushy once it's baked!
d) White Pepper sub - I add white pepper because it's slightly 'spicier' than regular. Mac and cheese is notoriously rich, so it's nice to balance it out with a little spice. If you don't like/have white pepper, consider subbing 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or just use 1/4 tsp black pepper.
For another quick and easy gnocchi dinner, check out my Date Night Baked Gnocchi!