This creamy and delicious Gnocchi Carbonara combines pillowy soft potato gnocchi with a silky carbonara sauce, crispy bacon, peas and Pecorino Romano cheese.
This dish is absolutely decadent. I love gnocchi and I’m always looking for a way to dress it up beyond my favorite browned butter and sage version, like this pulled pork gnocchi and this baked tomato mozzarella gnocchi.
Whether you make the gnocchi yourself or buy it pre-made, you can whip this dish up in no time and it’s oh so tasty. The sauce is an authentic Italian carbonara with eggs and Pecorino Romano cheese.
What is Authentic Carbonara?
In Italy, carbonara is a typical pasta dish that contains guanciale, Pecorino Romano, eggs, and pepper. If you order spaghetti alla carbonara in Italy, this is how it will be served. In the U.S., we tend to bend the rules quite a bit and the result is something that doesn’t necessarily resemble carbonara.
The hardest part about making an authentic carbonara sauce is cooking the eggs right. Because you’re adding raw eggs to a hot pan, if you don’t do it just right the eggs will begin to resemble scrambled eggs. But there are some tricks to this.
What You Need
I’ve bent the rules myself a little bit in this recipe, because I’ve used bacon instead of guanciale (it’s just too difficult to source for many people) and I’ve added peas because I like the addition of veggies in the dish. If you can find guanciale, you should definitely use it in place of the bacon. And you can obviously leave the peas out if you want.
With that being said, here are the ingredients you’ll need for your gnocchi carbonara:
- Gnocchi – I like to make my own gnocchi, which involves cooking the potato and running it through a ricer, then combining it with flour and egg and rolling it out into dumplings. It’s not difficult. You can find the recipe here. You can also just buy pre-made gnocchi. Be sure to taste test a few before you decide on one. Some can be very subpar.
- Guanciale or bacon – Guanciale is a pork product which comes from the jowl or cheek of the pig. As I’ve mentioned already guanciale is a bit difficult to find in the states, so you might need to substitute with lardons or bacon.
- Peas– Just to add some freshness and veggies to the dish. You can leave them out if you wish.
- Pecorino Romano – Production of Pecorino Romano is allowed only on the islands of Sardinia, Lazio, and in the Tuscan Province of Grosseto. It’s a hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese. If you can’t find it, you can use Parmesan instead.
- Eggs – You do use raw eggs in this recipe. It cooks slowly and lightly so that it forms a sort of creamy sauce, rather than a scrambled egg.
- Salt & Pepper
How to Make Gnocchi Carbonara
Set a pot of water on the stove to get it boiling.
In the meantime, heat a frying pan over medium high heat and saute the guanciale (or bacon) until browned.
When the water comes to a boil, turn it down to get a slow bowl and add the gnocchi to the pot. Let it cook on a light boil for about 3 minutes, until the gnocchi starts to float on the top of the water. You don’t want to overdo it, so don’t go much longer than 3 minutes. Drain the gnocchi, but keep some of the cooking water.
In a bowl, mix the egg, egg yolk, and cheese until fully incorporated.
Place the gnocchi gently into the frying pan with the guanciale and add the peas. Toss to incorporate it all.
Remove the pan from the heat and count to 10. You want the pan to cool down slightly, so you don’t cook the egg when you add it.
After 10 seconds, add the egg mixture to the pan. Toss a few times to coat. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of the hot gnocchi water to the pan to loosen up the sauce. Toss a few more times. You want the egg to cook, but it doesn’t need to go back on the heat. This will take about 3 minutes. If the sauce starts to seize up and get firm, add a bit more pasta water.
Serve the gnocchi right away while it’s still warm and creamy. Grate some additional fresh Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese over the top.
Why Use Gnocchi in This Recipe?
The most typical way you will see a carbonara is Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Spaghetti is a great choice for this sauce because it’s so long and slim, with so much surface area for the sauce to hold on to. That’s why I love substituting gnocchi.
The gnocchi offers a perfect surface for the sauce. And the potato flavor meshes very well with the egg and cheese sauce. It’s divine.
You can use any gnocchi you like in this recipe – even make it yourself! I do find that there are good and bad gnocchi you can buy, so I always recommend trying a few brands before you choose one to use.
How Do I Keep From Scrambling the Egg?
It’s a fine line between making a nice smooth, creamy sauce with the egg in this recipe, or making it a bit too hot and scrambling it. No one wants a scrambled egg carbonara.
To keep from cooking the egg to much, our two best tips are to remove the pan from the heat then count to 10 before adding the egg sauce. Stir it constantly with a spatula until the sauce is incorporated into the dish. Then add some hot gnocchi cooking water to the pan and stir again to loosen the sauce.
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- 2 cups uncooked gnocchi 300 grams use this recipe
- 3 ounces guanciale chopped (or bacon pieces)
- 1 egg whole
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated
- 1/4 cup fresh peas
- Salt & ground black pepper to taste
- Heat a pot of boiling water over high heat. When boiling, lower heat slightly and lightly boil the gnocchi just until it floats.
- In a frying pan over medium high heat, saute the guanciale until browned, then add the peas.
- In a bowl, mix the egg, egg yolk, and cheese until fully incorporated.
- Place the gnocchi gently into the frying pan with the guanciale and peas. Toss to coat.
- Remove from heat and add the egg mixture to the pan. Toss a few times to coat. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of the gnocchi water to the pan to loosen up the sauce. Toss a few more times. Then serve with additional cheese grated on top.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.