This creamy vegan gnocchi is easy to make, delicious, and the perfect meal for a casual weeknight or that special date night! Fragrant garlic, juicy tomatoes, and fresh basil make this creamy gnocchi one for the books!
The secret to this vegan creaminess … Cashews, but you would never know! As mentioned, this meal is vegan, can easily be made gluten free, and made with only natural sugar!
💬 Featured Comment
"Making this for the second time tonight! It was so good the first time, I haven't stopped thinking about it! Can't wait to have it again." Thanks to Madeleine for their kind words!
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Ingredients & Substitutions
All substitutions are a 1:1 substitute unless otherwise noted. See the recipe card for quantities.
- Gnocchi: Pretty much any type of gnocchi can be used for this. Frozen, potato gnocchi, cauliflower, gluten-free, a combo. Some things to keep in mind - when using cauliflower gnocchi, it tends to cook much faster and become soft. Keep an eye on them while cooking or pan-fry them first and then mix them into the sauce.
- Regular pasta can also be used but the cooking time will be longer to allow for pasta to cook. We love the frozen 40% cauliflower gnocchi at Target and the packaged gluten-free Whole Foods gnocchi.
- Onion and garlic: 1 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder could be used in a pinch but really really hope you can try this with fresh onion and garlic.
- Vegetable Broth
- Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes: Regular diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes can be used.
- Nutritional Yeast: This is NOT the same as active yeast for baking or bread.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Basil: Dried basil or minced basil (that comes in a tube) can be used in place of fresh. Fresh spinach would also make a great addition.
- Dairy-Free Milk: Cashew milk, flax milk, macadamia milk, hemp milk, lactose-free milk, or regular milk can be used.
- Additions: Vegan sausages make a great addition to this dish. You can also add a little heat with jalapenos, chili flakes, or cayenne pepper.
How to make this:
- The day before!! Place cashews in a jar or bowl with ¼ of a cup of water to soak.
- Dice onion and garlic
- Cook onions over medium heat
- Add in garlic!
- Blend ½ the can of diced tomatoes, cashews (with the water), nutritional yeast, salt and black pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. You will need to blend for 4-5 minutes to ensure the cashews are nice and creamy.
- Add vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, tomato cashew mixture, and remaining diced tomatoes to the pan with onions and garlic. For dairy-free milk, we prefer cashew milk, flax milk, or lactose-free milk, if just dairy-free. Mix well to combine.
- Add gnocchi to pan. Pat gnocchi down to ensure they are all covered in sauce. This is where the deeper pan comes in handy.
- Let the creamy sauce come to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until gnocchi is soft. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
- Add basil. Tear or chop the fresh basil and carefully stir into gnocchi. At this point, you should have pillowy soft gnocchi so I recommend using a silicon spatula, like this one, to not squash the gnocchi.
- Enjoy! If just dairy-free and not vegan, you can add in sausage either at the beginning or cook separately and stir it in.
Nutritional yeast can be found at Trader Joe’s, Target, Walmart, and many local grocery stores now, and on Amazon, here. Nutritional Yeast is the deactivated cousin of bakers' and brewers' yeast. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor, making it perfect for mimicking cheese in this Creamy Vegan Gnocchi. It’s also high in protein! (Source)
Gnocchi is not supposed to be chewy but instead should resemble thick mashed potatoes - creamy, but solid in shape.
Gnocchi will become mushy if overcooked. Gnocchi has little to no flour, so there isn't protein to provide structure to the gnocchi. Once gnocchi begins to break up, it will turn into a mashed potato-like consistency.
Gnocchi will dissolve if left in the pasta water for too long. Be sure to drain the water from your gnocchi as soon as it's done cooking to prevent the gnocchi from dissolving.
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- ½ of a yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup vegetable stock
- 1 14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- ⅓ cup dairy free milk
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 pound gnocchi packaged or frozen
- ½ cup whole, unsalted cashews soaked
- 1 handful basil torn
- 2 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes in oil or dried
- 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 pound Italian Sausage
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- Prep - Soak cashews in ½ cup of water in a jar for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Dice onion and garlic. If using Italian sausage you can cook that with the onions or cook it separate and add at the end.
- Heat sauce pan or deep skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil or avocado oil.
- Saute onion until translucent, 3-4 minutes
- Add garlic to pan and saute until fragrant, 1 minutes
- Blend half of the can of tomatoes, cashews (including water), nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if using, in a blender until smooth, 4-5 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, milk, and tomato cream sauce mixture into pan with onion and garlic, add the remaining diced tomatoes, stir. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Add gnocchi to the same pan and stir to coat and cover the gnocchi completely in sauce. Allow sauce to come to a boil.
- Once sauce starts to bubble, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until gnocchi is fully cooked.
- Uncover and stir carefully as the gnocchi will be tender and will become smooshed easily. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes until the gnocchi has cooked through and sauce is thickened.
- Tear basil and add to gnocchi dish. Carefully stir basil into gnocchi.