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A bowl full of tender spinach gnocchi covered in a meaty bolognese sauce.

Gnocchi Bolognese (100% Homemade & So Easy)

Homemade gnocchi Bolognese or (gnocchi ragù Bolognese) is a pasta bowl full of bear hugsit’s warm, cozy, and 100% satisfying! Total comfort food. This recipe is made completely from scratch and in the authentic Bologna way which puts it squarely in superstar pasta territory. Pillowy spinach dumplings covered in a meaty wine-infused Authentic Bolognese sauce sprinkled with a handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese makes pure magic. And while it sounds awfully fancy, it couldn’t be easier to make!

If you’re looking for more Bolognese recipes you may want to check out this authentic Lasagna alla Bolognese here, or if you don’t have time to make a true slow-simmered Bolognese sauce, check out this Abruzzese Almost Bolognese recipe over here — delicious!

What is Gnocchi Bolognese?

Gnocchi Bolognese is a dish comprised of two of the best Italian inventions ever made — Bolognese sauce and homemade potato gnocchi! This is one of our go-to pasta recipes and one of my favorites to meal prep and freeze for 10-minute meals any night of the week.

It’s a hearty dish with tender potato gnocchi covered in a slow-simmered Bolognese sauce made with a base of soffrito, beef, pork, milk, wine, tomatoes, and stock, and all topped off with a generous handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It’s delicious, robust, and the perfect fall dinner recipe your whole family will love (even the kids)! And it makes the perfect Goblin Ragù or Green Monster Pasta for a Halloween dinner that won’t scare off the adults.

The foundation for the best gnocchi Bolognese is of course the sauce, or ‘Ragù alla Bolognese‘ which originated in Bologna, Italy, and the greater Emilia Romagna region just about an hour and a half from where we live. I’ve learned a lot from spending time in the region over the last 15 years, speaking to locals, and eating the real deal dish in its birthplace. You’ll be happy to know this hearty Italian dish is incredibly humble and easy even if the sauce needs ample time to cook and work its magic.

And if you’re a fan of Bolognese sauce, you may also want to try this authentic classic Italian lasagna Bolognese next!

Overview: Gnocchi Bolognese Recipe (From Scratch)

If this is your first time making a homemade gnocchi recipe or Bolognese sauce, I recommend taking a look at my Ultimate Guide to Authentic Bolognese Sauce and also at this Classic Potato Gnocchi post to get all the best tips and techniques before you get started. These two posts outline everything you need to know from the best potatoes and flour to use, to what ingredients are traditionally found in Bolognese (and what’s never included), plus I include real gnocchi and Bolognese pasta photos we’ve ordered from our local restaurants. Here’s everything you’ll find in this post:

For this recipe, I’ve used my #2 Bolognese sauce (I have two favorite authentic Bolognese sauce recipes) which is perfect for clinging to every gnocchi nook and cranny and somehow still leaves you feeling light even after an entire bowl full.  I’ve opted to pair the sauce with homemade spinach gnocchi which takes just about 15 minutes of actual hands-on time and is ready from start to finish in just under 1 hour. Why spinach gnocchi instead of regular gnocchi? Spinach is a classic pairing for traditional Bolognese sauce like how traditional Lasagna Bolognese is made using sheets of fresh spinach lasagna

Feel free to substitute store-bought gnocchi or make this classic potato gnocchi instead — it’s all delicious no matter what! When meal-prepped and frozen, gnocchi Bolognese is what I like to call Italian fast food — wholesome, completely homemade, ready in 10 minutes, and the best thing you’re going to eat all week!

You can even transform this into the best cheesy gnocchi bolognese bake of your life (I tell you how below).

Why We Love This Gnocchi Pasta Recipe

  • It’s 100% homemade which means it’s healthier for your family
  • Both recipes are authentic from right here in Italy
  • Spinach gnocchi (any homemade gnocchi) is super easy to make
  • Best meal prep 10-minute weeknight dinners for fall and winter
  • This tastes just like what you’ll eat at our local trattorias and restaurants
  • With a handful of stringy cheese, this recipe makes the best baked bolognese
  • Authentic Bolognese sauce is incredibly easy to make & all but about 30 minutes is hands-off simmering

Gnocchi Bolognese Pronunciation

In case you’re wondering how to say ‘gnocchi Bolognese’ like an Italian you can sound it out like: ‘Nih-yoki’ ‘bōh-luhn-ny’ay-zeh’. The ‘gn’ is silent and takes on the ‘ny’ sound like in the words ‘canyon’ or ‘onion’.

Overview: Gnocchi Bolognese Ingredients

This gnocchi with meat sauce uses basic ingredients (nothing fancy) you just need to set aside some time to make it. Below is an overview of the ingredients but you can find the full recipe with measurements in the recipe card.

For the Bolognese: (if you’re looking for a Bolognese sauce without butter click over here)

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • unsalted butter
  • onions
  • carrots
  • celery
  • pancetta
  • ground beef (well-marbled cuts like the neck, skirt, chuck, or sirloin)
  • dry red wine such as Sangiovese di Romagna (sub cabernet, merlot, pinot nero, or other dry red wine))
  • chicken broth
  • milk
  • tomato passata
  • tomato paste (sub regular tomato paste))
  • salt and black pepper to taste

For the Spinach Gnocchi:

  1. Flour: 00 Italian flour with 11% -11.5% protein (or in a pinch substitute King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour with 11.7% protein). High-quality flour means better gnocchi. The goal is to use the least amount of flour as possible to keep gnocchi light and tender.
  2. Salt: I’ve used Himalayan salt, but any salt will do.
  3. Yukon Gold Potatoes (or Kennebec potatoes). They’re creamy (semi-waxy) with a good amount of starch and we think they’re tastier than russets.
  4. Frozen Spinach (sub fresh): I’ve used frozen puréed spinach for this recipe which we easily find here in Italy, but I also use regular frozen spinach. Use what you can find. When making large bulk gnocchi batches, I process the frozen spinach in a food processor or blender, but when making a half or regular batch I just mince the spinach using a chef’s knife.
  5. Egg yolk: I’ve used a single large egg yolk for a little extra fat and flavor. Using eggs in potato gnocchi is the way we make gnocchi here in the Veneto, although in some other regions across Italy, eggs and egg yolks are not used at all. In fact, for a no egg spinach gnocchi, you could simply omit the egg yolk in this recipe.

*I use gram measurements when making gnocchi because it’s more consistent, especially when there are already many variables out of your control (i.e., moisture and starch levels in the potatoes and the flour absorption potential). And this recipe has never failed me!  However, I’ve included approximate measuring cup equivalents for those of you without a scale.

Overview: How to Make Gnocchi Bolognese

Here’s an overview of how to make homemade gnocchi Bolognese, but you can find the full instructions in the recipe card. I like to make both the gnocchi and the Bolognese sauce in advance, then portion and freeze it to make really convenient 10-minute weeknight meals. But you can totally make it all in one day without any problem if you have a lazy afternoon you need to fill up!

To Make the Bolognese Sauce

This recipe takes 3 hours from start to finish to make, but it only includes about 30 minutes of actual hands-on time with the rest being the time it needs to simmer. And it even tastes better the next day once all the flavors have melded together.

  1. Sauté the vegetables in butter and olive oil adding them one at a time and allowing them to cook a few minutes before adding the next.
  2. Add the pancetta to the vegetables and cook (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add 1/2 the beef and cook until no longer pink and it’s lost most of its moisture (about 5 minutes). 
  4. Add the last 1/2 of the beef and cook until no longer pink and it’s lost its moisture (about 10 minutes). 
  5. Deglaze the pot with wine and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato passata and the tomato paste diluted in chicken stock and milk. Cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.  Use right away or cool it and store it. 

To Make the Spinach Gnocchi *(or substitute your favorite store-bought gnocchi)

I’ve made rather large unctuous gnocchi, but you can turn this into gnocchetti pasta by simply cutting the gnocchi into much smaller pieces. 

  • Cook the potatoes: Add the potatoes to a medium sauce pot, cover with water, and boil until fork tender (about 25 minutes). Remove the peels while they’re still hot.

  • Mix everything together: Mix the flour and salt together, add riced (or grated) potatoes and spinach, and stir until it looks crumbly. Add the egg yolk and stir just to incorporate it.

  • Form the dough: Using your hands (and the technique outlined in the full recipe), bring the dough together to form a log and divide it into 4 smaller equal-size logs.

  • Let the dough rest: Place the logs under the mixing bowl and allow them to rest for 30 minutes to let the dough relax.

  • Cut the gnocchi: Working with one log at a time, roll the logs into long ropes and cut them into gnocchi or gnocchetti using a floured bench scraper or knife. Roll each gnocchi over a gnocchi board, cheese grater, or the tines of a fork while applying gentle pressure to make indentions in the dough.

  • Cook the gnocchi: Cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water or homemade broth just until they float to the top. You may also freeze them uncovered on the baking tray. After they are frozen solid, drop them into an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Gnocchi Bolognese Step-by-Step Recipe Photos

How to Make the Best Gnocchi Bolognese Bake 

Gnocchi is versatile and tastes great in soup or crisped up as a gnocchi bake in the oven. You can easily turn this recipe into the best Sunday night gnocchi Bolognese bake you’ve ever had just by loading it up with some cheese and placing it under the broiler until the top is ooey-gooey and crispy! You won’t be sorry you did — it’s delicious.

If you’ve never baked Bolognese with gnocchi, I suggest first cooking the gnocchi as directed (3 to 4 minutes in boiling water for fresh homemade gnocchi), before adding them to the sauce to bake. This ensures the texture is springy, tender, and never mushy plus, you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re cooked through. 

  1. Cook gnocchi in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes (or for one minute after they float to the top) and add them to a cast iron skillet with the Bolognese sauce and toss everything to coat.
  2. Add a handful of stringy cheese (like mozzarella, etc.) give everything a quick stir, top it with a generous handful of grated Parmigiano (or Parmesan) cheese, and pop it into the oven under a preheated broiler for about 8 minutes, or until bubbling and top is golden brown. *Alternatively, you can just add grated Parmesan to the top of the gnocchi and place it under the broiler which is healthier and makes a lower-calorie Bolognese bake. 

Best Cheeses for Gnocchi Bolognese Bake?

There are a few options for what cheeses to use in your gnocchi bake, but for us freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Parmesan) is non-negotiable — it’s a must! Here are a few other cheese options that are perfect for this baked gnocchi dish:

  • mozzarella
  • fior di latte
  • scamorza
  • provolone
  • ricotta

More Gnocchi Recipe Ideas

We love gnocchi for its delicious texture and taste and also because it’s one of the easiest authentic Italian recipes you’ll ever make. I’ll be adding all of our favorite gnocchi recipes here soon and updating this list with pumpkin gnocchi, sweet potato gnocchi, creamy spicy sausage gnocchi, and more, but classic gnocchi is a great first place to start.

Easy Gnocchi Sauces the Whole Family Will Love

Here are some of our favorite gnocchi sauces whether you’re in the mood for creamy cheesy gnocchi, a vegan gnocchi sauce, or something so light you only know it’s there by the flavor that hits your mouth with each bite.

Let’s get started!

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A bowl full of tender spinach gnocchi covered in a meaty bolognese sauce.

Gnocchi Bolognese (Easy, Cozy, 100% Homemade)

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  • Author: Kelly
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings Gnocchi Bolognese (+ 4 Additional Bolognese Servings of Sauce to Freeze) 1x


Homemade gnocchi Bolognese is like a pasta bowl full of bear hugsit’s warm, cozy, and 100% satisfying! Total comfort food. This recipe is made 100% from scratch and in the authentic Bologna way which puts it squarely in superstar pasta territory. Pillowy covered in a meaty wine-infused Authentic Bolognese sauce sprinkled with a handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese make pure magic. And while it sounds awfully fancy, it couldn’t be easier to make!

*This recipe makes 4 to 5 servings of Gnocchi Bolognese with just enough Bolognese sauce leftover to freeze for making Lasagna Bolognese or Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. You’ll be happy to have these leftovers to freeze! 


Units Scale

For the Bolognese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste (30g)
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced (9 1/2 ounces) (270g)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely diced (6 ounces) (170g)
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced (3 1/2 ounces) (100g)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) Mutti finely chopped canned tomatoes (120g)
  • 1 pound ground beef (450g)
  • 6 1/2 ounces cubed pancetta, finely chopped (185g)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) dry red wine like Sangiovese, Pinot Nero, Cabernet (150g)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups low-sodium homemade beef stock, or store-bought (240g-720g)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste (30g-45g) (sub regular tomato paste)
  • 1 cup whole milk, or more to taste (240g)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Spincach Gnocchi:

  • 200g Italian 00 Flour with 11% -11.5% protein (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) (sub King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 500g Yukon Gold Potatoes (1 pound) (sub Kennebec potatoes) *potatoes measured before cooking or peeling
  • 90g spinach, puréed or finely minced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg yolk (from a large egg)
  • 6g sea salt (1 teaspoon)

*I prefer to use gram measurements for consistency and best results but feel free to use measuring cups as long as you the ‘scoop and level’ method to measure your flour. Also, you may need to use just a little more or less flour depending on what type you use.



For the Bolognese Sauce:

  1. Sauté the vegetables. In a large Dutch oven set over medium-low heat, add the butter, olive oil, and onions, season with salt, and sauté until translucent but not browned and most of the moisture has evaporated (about 10 minutes). Turn up the heat to medium, add the carrots, and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the celery and cook for 5 minutes more.
  2. Cook the pancetta. Add the ground (or finely diced) pancetta to the pot and sauté until cooked through and most of the fat has been rendered (about 10 minutes).
  3. Cook the beef. Add 1/2 of the beef to the pot breaking it up into small pieces with the back of a spoon, season with salt, and cook until no longer pink and some of the moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the beef, season with salt, and cook until the moisture has evaporated (about 10 minutes).
  4. Deglaze the pot with wine. Add the wine while scraping the browned bits (the fond) from the bottom of the pot. Let the mixture cook for at least 20 minutes and up to 25 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
  5. Add the milk, tomato, and broth, and finish the ragù. Add the tomato passata to the pot. Stir the tomato paste into the chicken stock and milk, and add it to the pot. Season with a little salt and black pepper, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer covered, stirring occasionally for approximately 2 1/2 hours. You may add chicken stock a 1/4 cup at a time to thin it out only as needed. Turn off the heat, adjust the seasonings, and set aside while you cook the gnocchi.

For the Spincach Gnocchi:

  1. Boil the potatoes: While the bolognese sauce is simmering, add the potatoes to a medium sauce pot cover with about 2 inches of water, and add salt to taste. Bring the pot to a boil and cook until fork tender (about 25 minutes). Strain the potatoes and use a fork to hold each potato steady while you use a knife or a spoon to scrape off the skins while they’re still hot. Discard the peels, or use them to make homemade broth. *Alternatively, you may bake the potatoes until fork tender (about 1 hour at 400°F/205°C) if desired. 
  2. Make the dough: In a large mixing bowl or on a countertop, mix the flour and salt together using your hand and make a well in the middle. Rice or grate the potatoes into the well while the potatoes are still hot to very warm (you’ll see steam coming off of them), add the spinach, and stir everything together using a fork until mostly combined and crumbly looking. Add the egg yolk, stir just to incorporate it, and then bring the dough together using your hands.
  3. Form the dough: Place the dough onto a non-stick baking mat (or a lightly floured work surface) and press it down slightly to form a larger rectangle. Fold the dough like a letter bringing in both sides to the middle. Flatten it once more and then fold in the opposite sides like a letter. Pinch the dough together and using your hands gently roll it into a 16-inch log. Divide it into 4 smaller logs (each about 4 inches long) using a floured bench scraper. The dough will still be warm at this point and feel like a cross between pasta dough and mashed potatoes (sturdy, but soft).
  4. Let the dough rest: Place the upside-down mixing bowl over the tops of the logs to cover them and allow them to rest for 30 minutes to let the dough relax.
  5. Cut the gnocchi: Working with one log at a time, roll the logs into long ropes and cut them into gnocchi or gnocchetti using a floured bench scraper or knife. Roll each gnocchi over a gnocchi board, cheese grater, or the tines of a fork while applying gentle pressure to make indentions in the dough or if the dough is really soft, just use a fork to make imprints on the tops. Place the gnocchi onto a lightly floured parchment-lined baking pan leaving space in between each and repeat with the remaining dough. *Alternatively, you can simply cut the gnocchi and press an indention into them using your thumb if you don’t want to make the ‘rigate’ or ridges. 
  6. Cook the gnocchi and assemble the dish: Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top plus about 1 minute more (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add 1/1/2 to 2 cups of the Bolognese sauce (or more or less if desired) to a skillet set over medium heat, add the cooked gnocchi and a splash or two of starchy gnocchi cooking water and toss everything to coat. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve. Enjoy!



  • Substitute beef broth with low-sodium chicken stock or vice versa.
  • Make the ragù ahead.  It can be made up to 3 days in advance. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover in an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat and use needed.
  • Freeze bolognese in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before you need to use it in a recipe.
  • When dicing the vegetables, try and cut them the same size so that they’ll cook evenly together. For a smoother sauce like recipe #2, finely dice the veggies instead of the regular dice I’ve used in recipe #1.
  • Don’t overwhelm the sauce with too many vegetables.  According to the official Bolognese recipe, equal amounts of onion, carrots, and celery should be used (50g) of each for every 450g of total meat used. I love onion and the sweet carrots we have in Italy, so I use more of these two vegetables than the celery. Do what you prefer, but don’t overwhelm your sauce with too many vegetables.
  • If you don’t have tomato paste, substitute with 1/2 cup (120g) of finely chopped tomatoes, whole peeled whole tomatoes, or tomato passata.
  • Do not oversalt the sauce. Be sure to season the vegetables, beef, and sauce as the ingredients are added so that each layer of this ragù is properly seasoned.  However, be careful not to salt it as you would say a 30-minute spaghetti sauce because as the ragù cooks the liquid reduces all of the flavors are concentrated which intensifies the salt. Remember, you can always add salt but can never take it away.
  • If you’re looking to make just enough Bolognese sauce to make 4 to 6 servings of gnocchi,  simply cut this recipe in half using a scale. I’ve provided the gram measurements for each ingredient which makes it super easy to halve it. But this beef Bolognese is delicious, it freezes so well, and it consumes a lot of energy to simmer it for 2 1/2-3 hours so I don’t recommend making less. This is up to you though:)
  • If you want to make a slow cooker Bolognese, all you have to do is transfer the bolognese sauce mixture from the stovetop to a slow cooker after you add the milk, tomatoes, and broth and cook the mixture for 6 hours.
  • For a no-wine Bolognese sauce substitute chicken broth or beef broth for the wine.
  • For a no-pork Bolognese sub equal amounts of beef.
  • Make a Kosher Bolognese Sauce. Omit any dairy called for in the recipe (butter or milk) and any pork and instead use only olive oil and beef.
  • To make this a Cheesy Bolognese Gnocchi bake, see the main post for instructions.


  • If you’re not working on a non-stick baking mat, you may need to add a little flour as you begin to roll the dough into a log. Only add just enough to keep it from sticking to the surface.
  • Do not use bread flour to make gnocchi because it contains too much protein.
  • Do not make spinach gnocchi in advance and refrigerate it. The dough is delicate and will start to dry out too much. Instead, meal prep spinach gnocchi, and freeze it (see instructions and details below).
  • You may freeze raw spinach gnocchi uncovered on the baking tray (leaving room in between them so they don’t touch). Freeze for 30-45 minutes, or until frozen solid, then drop them into an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Cook directly from frozen (never thaw gnocchi first) in a pot of boiling salted water or broth (they’ll take a few minutes longer to cook than fresh gnocchi).
  • Cook gnocchi in plenty of boiling water so they don’t stick together as they cook. Gently stir them frequently which also helps keep them from sticking together as they cook.
  • Here are 5 easy ways to reheat leftover gnocchi:
    • Emergency: Place it in a microwave-safe bowl and cook it for 30 seconds to 45 seconds, or until heated through (method not recommended, but sometimes you need gnocchi fast:).
    • Skillet: Place gnocchi (with or without sauce) in a skillet with a little EVOO and toss cooking over medium-high heat for about 4 to 6 minutes.
    • Boiling water or broth: This is the most common method for reheating gnocchi that doesn’t have a sauce. It’s easy and warms cold gnocchi beautifully. Just be sure to only leave the gnocchi in the water for a couple of minutes until warmed through so you don’t overcook them.
    • Oven Broiler Place the gnocchi in a cast iron skillet or other broiler-safe dish and heat the gnocchi with a little olive oil or sauce under a preheated broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until warmed through.
    • Regular Oven: Place gnocchi in a baking dish with sauce covered loosely with foil and add it to a preheated 375°F/190°C for about 6 to 8 minutes.


  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 4 Servings of Gnocchi Bolognese (+4 additional servings of Bolognese Sauce)
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