Weeknight Baked Gnocchi with Sausage & Kale

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This easy, cheesy Oven Baked Gnocchi with Sausage & Kale is a weeknight dinner dream! Pillowy, tender gnocchi bake in a hearty marinara sauce loaded with Italian sausage, veggies, & greens. Thanks to a few flavor-building secrets, this cozy gnocchi bake tastes like it's simmered all day but it's an easy, one-pot recipe that comes together in 40 minutes or less!
Overhead shot of baked gnocchi in a large oven-safe skillet, atop a creamy white surface. The pasta bake is garnished with fresh basil & ground black pepper.

Can you bake gnocchi?

Y-E-S you can, & lemme tell you – it’s some serious one-pot weeknight dinner magic! 🙌🏼✨

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you think of ‘baked gnocchi’ is the type of sheet pan-style meal that’s become especially popular in recent years (FWIW, they’re absolutely delicious!). But, with our temps getting cooler amidst the busy back-to-school season, the baked gnocchi I’m craving these days is just as easy as a sheet pan meal, but a liiittle bit cozier. And that’s exactly what’s happening in this Easy Baked Gnocchi with Sausage & Kale.

This gnocchi bake is inspired by complete nostalgia for the classic pasta bakes my mom made this time of year throughout my childhood. I’ve added a few of my own twists to yield an especially cozy & hearty meal, with rich, crave-worthy flavor.

It starts with good ol’ jarred tomato sauce, which we zhuzh up with the rich flavor of good olive oil, spicy Italian sausage, & a splash of wine. This little bit of TLC transforms an easy pre-made shortcut into something that smells & tastes like it’s been simmering all day long. Stir in some packaged gnocchi, cover it with a blanket of cheese, & the oven does the rest of the work. The gnocchi cook right in the tomato sauce (yep, there’s no need to boil it separately!), resulting in the coziest, quick & easy dinner – & there’s only one pot to wash!

Baked Gnocchi Recipe Highlights

You’ll love this easy baked gnocchi because it’s…

  • MADE WITH SIMPLE STAPLES. The combination of a handful of fresh ingredients & high-quality pantry staples yields rich flavor despite a short cook time.
  • A ONE-POT WONDER! Pillowy, tender gnocchi bake right in the tomato sauce, so there’s no need for extra pots & pans!
  • SERIOUSLY COZY. A totally hearty meal filled with veggies (& topped with plenty of cheese for good measure!), this baked gnocchi recipe is one you’ll crave all fall & winter long!

Some serious weeknight dinner magic! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Weeknight Gnocchi Bake, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Gnocchi Bake Key Ingredients

The genius behind this one-pot gnocchi bake is a well-crafted ingredients list. A combination of simple, fresh ingredients & high-quality staples yields a dish with rich flavor despite a relatively short cook time.

Baked Gnocchi ingredients arranged on a creamy cement surface - olive oil, Italian sausage, bell pepper, yellow onion, kale, garlic, tomato paste, Calabrian chili peppers, dry white wine, tomato sauce, gnocchi, whole milk ricotta, fresh mozzarella, & parmesan cheese.

Note: Full Ingredients List, including measurements, is included in the Recipe Card, below.

You will need…

  • Gnocchi – Of course! I always have a box of DeLallo’s Potato Gnocchi in my pantry. They’re pillowy, tender, & so easy to prepare!
  • Italian sausage – I love using spicy Italian sausage, but you can easily use mild or sweet – whatever you love most!
  • Veggies – This gnocchi bake is built off my go-to flavor base of onion, bell pepper, garlic. I also like adding finely shredded kale for a good dose of greens. If kale isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it out with spinach or arugula, or simply omit the greens altogether.
  • Jarred tomato sauce – One of my favorite kitchen shortcuts is good, high-quality jarred tomato sauce – something that’s already been slowly simmered for maximum flavor. My absolute favorite sauces come from DeLallo’s Pomodoro Fresco line – you’ll always find a few jars in my pantry for quick & easy meals!
  • Pantry staples – Some simple flavor-building staples to help zhuzh up the jarred pasta sauce, like good olive oil, tomato paste & dry white wine.
  • Cheese – I like using a triple threat of ricotta for its creaminess, fresh mozzarella for its ooey-gooey meltiness, & grated parmesan for its rich, salty flavor. If you keep a bag of grated mozzarella or an Italian blend on hand, it’ll work just fine in this gnocchi bake, too!

How to Make this Easy Gnocchi Bake (without Boiling Gnocchi!)

The fun thing about this gnocchi bake is it’s the kind of meal that tastes like it has slowly simmered all day long, but it’s a one-pot recipe that comes together in 40 minutes or less. (Yep, you don’t even need to boil the gnocchi – serious weeknight dinner magic!)

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Here’s what you’ll do…

  1. Brown the sausage & sauté the veggies: First, brown the Italian sausage with peppers, onions & kale. Once the sausage is browned & the veggies are softened, stir in garlic & tomato paste. Cook a couple minutes longer, until super fragrant & browned. Why? ⇢ These first steps build a foundation of rich flavor for this baked gnocchi recipe – they’re so important! The browned bits that develop on the bottom of the pan (i.e. fond) create a flavorful base for our zhuzh-ed up tomato sauce.
  2. Build the tomato sauce: Deglaze the pan by slowly pouring in white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Once the wine is almost cooked off, stir in the pasta sauce. Why? ⇢ The wine creates steam as it hits the hot pan, releasing the browned bits (i.e. fond) on the bottom of the pan. This is where the flavor is, so you want to scrape it up to incorporate it into the tomato sauce.
  3. Assemble the gnocchi bake: Stir the gnocchi into the skillet, then top it all off with cheese. Transfer to the oven & bake for 15-20 minutes, until the gnocchi is tender & the cheese is melted. Why? ⇢ The gnocchi slowly simmers in the tomato sauce, reaching beautiful al dente texture just as the cheese melts into ooey-gooey perfection. A perfectly timed meal, with just one pot to wash!

Baked Gnocchi Serving Suggestions, Plus Quick Tips & Easy Recipe Variations.

Once it’s baked to perfection, all that’s left to do is serve your baked gnocchi & enjoy!

Serving suggestions. ⇢ This gnocchi bake is a fabulously cozy & hearty meal all on its own. Spoon it into your favorite bowls, & serve alongside a hunk of crusty Italian bread & your favorite dry white wine or light red. If you’d like to add extra veggies, a classic Caesar salad is always a welcome addition! Or, toss some mixed greens with a light & tangy vinaigrette to help balance the richness of the cheesy baked gnocchi.

Baked gnocchi plated on a speckled ceramic plate, topped with fresh basil, ground black pepper, & crushed red pepper flakes. A silver fork rests on the plate & the plate sits atop a creamy white surface. A blue & white striped linen napkin & a rind of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano rest alongside the plate.

Easy Variations + Other Gnocchi Bake Tips:

For a Lightened-Up Gnocchi Bake ⇢ While the richness of traditional pork Italian sausage is crucial for building rich flavor in a short amount of time, you can easily swap it out with turkey sausage, chicken sausage, or even plant-based sausage. I suggest adding a couple extra tablespoons of olive oil to recoup some of the richness & flavor.

For a Vegetarian Gnocchi Bake ⇢ Or, omit the sausage altogether & amp up the veggies! Double the bell pepper & add in another hearty veggie that you love, like mushrooms or eggplant, along with a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Again, I suggest adding a couple extra tablespoons of olive oil to recoup some of the richness & flavor.

Meal Prep Tip! ⇢ Nearly all of the active prep work for this baked gnocchi comes from prepping the veggies. Take care of this in advance by chopping the onion, bell pepper, & kale. It takes 10 minutes, tops, it’ll help you jump straight in to cooking during the week! Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance.

Baked gnocchi plated on a speckled ceramic plate, topped with fresh basil, ground black pepper, & crushed red pepper flakes. A silver fork rests on the plate & the plate sits atop a creamy white surface. A blue & white striped linen napkin, a glass of white wine, & a rind of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano rest alongside the plate.

I can’t wait for you to try this Weeknight Baked Gnocchi with Sausage & Kale. It’s cheesy & cozy weeknight dinner magic, & I know you’ll love it as much as we do! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Love easy, weeknight pasta recipes? You’re in the right place! Be sure to try my Spicy Italian Sausage & Peppers Pasta, Gnocchi all’Amatriciana, or Weeknight Bolognese next. Happy cooking! ♡

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Overhead shot of baked gnocchi in a large oven-safe skillet, atop a creamy white surface. The pasta bake is garnished with fresh basil & ground black pepper.

Easy Baked Gnocchi with Sausage & Kale

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 46 1x
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop, Skillet Recipes, Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Pillowy tender gnocchi bake in a hearty tomato sauce loaded with sausage, veggies, & greens. Thanks to a few flavor-building secrets, this cozy baked gnocchi tastes like it’s simmered all day but it’s an easy, one-pot recipe that comes together in 40 minutes or less!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound bulk sweet or spicy Italian sausage (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 bell pepper, deseeded & diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cups shredded kale or baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped⁠ or grated
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste⁠
  • optional: 2 tablespoons finely chopped Calabrian chili peppers or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry white wine⁠
  • 2 cups DeLallo Pomodoro Fresco Tomato Basil (roughly 2/3 of 25-ounce jar)
  • 16 ounces DeLallo Potato Gnocchi
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: grated parmesan or pecorino romano, finely chopped basil or parsleycrushed red pepper flakes, etc.

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, positioning the oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven, about 10 inches below the broiler. Prep the veggies, dicing the bell pepper & onion, & shredding the kale. Gather & measure remaining ingredients according to Ingredients List, above, placing them within an arm’s reach of the stovetop for a smooth cooking process.Baked Gnocchi ingredients arranged on a creamy cement surface - olive oil, Italian sausage, bell pepper, yellow onion, kale, garlic, tomato paste, Calabrian chili peppers, dry white wine, tomato sauce, gnocchi, whole milk ricotta, fresh mozzarella, & parmesan cheese.
  2. Brown the sausage & sauté the pepper & onion: Add the olive oil to a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the sausage, bell pepper & onion, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook 5-6 minutes until the veggies are softened & the sausage is browned. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it cooks. If anything starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low. Stir in the shredded kale, cooking 2-3 minutes until wilted slightly.How to make Weeknight Baked Gnocchi with Sausage & Kale, Step 1: browned Italian sausage, bell pepper & onion, kosher salt & ground black pepper in an oven-safe skillet, sitting atop a creamy white cement surface.
  3. Build the tomato sauce: Add the garlic, tomato paste, & chili peppers (if using). Stir to coat the sausage & veggie mixture & cook 1-2 minutes, until deeply red. Deglaze the skillet with white wine. Once the wine simmers, stir in the pasta sauce. Simmer 1-2 minutes more, just until everything is combined, then remove from the heat.Overhead shot of browned Italian sausage, peppers, onions, & kale for oven baked gnocchi in a large oven-safe skillet, atop a creamy white surface. There is a wooden spoon nestled into the mixture used to brown the ingredients on the stovetop.
  4. Build the gnocchi bake: Add the gnocchi into the skillet, stirring well to combine. Dot the ricotta cheese over the top of the saucy gnocchi, then top with a sprinkling of grated fresh mozzarella & parmesan.Overhead shot of browned Italian sausage, peppers, onions, & kale covered in dots of fresh ricotta, mozzarella, & a sprinkle of fresh parmesan for oven baked gnocchi in a large oven-safe skillet, atop a creamy white surface
  5. Bake the gnocchi skillet: Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted & the gnocchi is tender. If desired, broil for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. ⁠Overhead shot of baked gnocchi in a large oven-safe skillet, atop a creamy white surface. The pasta bake is garnished with fresh basil & ground black pepper.
  6. Serve immediately, topped with additional grated parmesan, chopped basil or parsley, &/or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper, as desired. Enjoy!Baked gnocchi plated on a speckled ceramic plate, topped with fresh basil, ground black pepper, & crushed red pepper flakes. A silver fork rests on the plate & the plate sits atop a creamy white surface, next to a striped blue & white linen napkin, a small plate with with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a glass of white wine, & a bunch of fresh basil.


Notes

  • Italian sausage:  I highly suggest using traditional pork Italian sausage in this baked gnocchi; its fat content is crucial in building deep, rich flavor in a short amount of time. If you’d like to swap it out with chicken or turkey Italian sausage, be sure to add 1-2 tablespoons more olive oil to help compensate the loss in richness & flavor. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you can simply swap the spicy sausage with mild or sweet – be sure to omit the Calabrian chili/crushed red chili pepper, too!
  • Storage & Reheating: Leftover baked gnocchi will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this baked gnocchi comes from prepping the veggies. Take care of this in advance – it takes 10 minutes, tops – & you can jump straight in to cooking during the week:
    • Dice 1 medium yellow onion & 1 bell pepper. Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (<5 minutes active)
    • Remove kale leaves from ribs. Thinly slice or tear until you have 4 cups shredded (roughly 1 medium bunch of kale). Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active)

Keywords: baked gnocchi, gnocchi bake, pasta bake, dinner, hearty, easy, weeknight recipe, 45-minute recipe, date night, girls night, fall, winter

Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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