This creamy kale gnocchi recipe makes for an amazing quick weeknight dinner that your whole family will love. Includes pillowy potato gnocchi with chewy kale and a savory creamy white sauce. 100% dairy-free and vegan.
If you love quick and easy dinners, then you have got to try this kale gnocchi recipe.
I pretty much always have a package of gnocchi just so I can whip up dinner last minute without much planning ahead. I shared this gnocchi bake earlier this year that is made with store-bought marinara sauce, another quick meal, and this vegetable creamy gnocchi soup that hits the spot whenever we crave comfort food.
And this time I had some fresh kale I had to use up, so I made a simple creamy kale gnocchi dish and it was absolutely amazing.
It comes together in under 30 minutes and is so easy to prepare. The gnocchi are first roasted in a pan, and then combined with a simple creamy kale sauce. The sauce is inspired by my vegan bechamel, which is very easy and healthier (no cream, no butter, dairy-free).
The chewy bites from the fluffy gnocchi are in perfect balance with the tender kale and creamy white sauce. The hint of lemon and garlic flavor from the sauce might be the best part, so don't skip on them!
I hope you give it a try! ❤️
Why you should give this recipe a try
- Fast and easy recipe, the perfect dish for busy weeknights
- Very satisfying and filling
- Budget-friendly meal using simple pantry-friendly ingredients
- Makes for an amazing vegan comfort food recipe
- Very versatile: add any veggies that you like!
- Loaded with healthy greens
- Family-friendly meal
- Vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free
Ingredients you will need
- Gnocchi: Gnocchi are like little dumplings made out of potato starch and flour. I used the store-bought vegan potato gnocchi from the brand De Cecco that I got online. They are sealed and shelf-stable gnocchi, which I find convenient. You can also easily find them in the pasta aisle in your regular grocery store. You might also be able to find fresh gnocchi, which would be a treat here (check the ingredients if vegan) or use homemade gnocchi!
- Kale: I prefer dinosaur kale (lacinato kale) for this kind of recipe since I like its dense color and delicious chewy bite once cooked. That being said, you can also use curly kale, purple kale (might change the color of the sauce) and even baby kale (lighter in flavor and texture).
- Onion: it adds so much flavor to white sauces, which is amazing here.
- Garlic: also important to add flavor to the sauce, which could be bland without it. I used 3 large cloves, but feel free to add even more.
- Flour: to thicken the cream sauce. I used an all-purpose flour, but you can use any kind of flour.
- Plant-based milk: I used the full-fat oat milk from Oatly, which is my favorite milk to make savory sauces. You can also use almond milk, soy milk or cashew milk, although make sure it is unsweetened and unflavored (taste it first!).
- Nutritional yeast: adds a delicious background of umami and cheese flavor to the cream sauce, try not to omit it!
- Lemon: helps brighten up the flavors. Add some zest and lemon juice to taste and serve with extra wedges.
How to make a creamy kale gnocchi
This is a one-pot meal that's made in 3 easy steps. To make this recipe faster, you can get started by pan-frying the gnocchi while chopping the onion, kale and garlic.
Pan-fry the gnocchi
Warm up a large skillet (a non-stick pan works well) with a little olive oil (I like using oil spray) and then add the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi on medium-high heat stirring often until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes.
Once done, transfer the gnocchi to a plate and set them aside.
Make the cream Alfredo sauce
Put the pan back on the stove and add a little more oil. Once warmed up, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook on medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes.
Then, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Sprinkle the flour over, stir right away and keep cooking for 1-2 minutes. This will help remove the raw taste from the flour and enhance the overall flavor of the sauce.
Pour the plant milk over and add the nutritional yeast. Stir or whisk right away and keep cooking on medium heat until bubbly (about 3-5 minutes). The sauce should start thickening.
Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and taste to adjust the salt and nutritional yeast to your preference.
Then, add the kale (bite-sized pieces), stir to combine and keep cooking until wilted. Add more milk if too thick.
Combine and serve
Once the sauce is done, then transfer the cooked gnocchi back to the pan and stir to combine with the sauce. The gnocchi might thicken the sauce even more, so add more milk if needed (keep it on low heat at this point so it does not stick to the bottom).
Serve and enjoy right away with a side of lemon wedges, a generous crack of black pepper and some vegan parmesan cheese.
- Roasting the gnocchi in the pan first is not really optional: it helps create more flavor on the gnocchi and makes them crispy on the outside and tender on the outside.
- Again, make sure you taste your milk before using it. I have had some "plain" milk before that actually had a hint of vanilla flavor, even if not mentioned in the ingredient list. You want to ensure it is completely free of flavoring ingredients to make this savory cream sauce!
- Ideally, you should have everything ready once you start making the sauce. I chop/prep them while the gnocchi are roasting in the pan. It goes pretty fast once you start cooking the onion!
- Feel free to use a bag of pre-cleaned and pre-chopped kale to save some time!
This dish is best when served with a dust of vegan parmesan cheese. It adds more flavor but also an extra layer of texture. You can also top with vegan bacon bits for a smoky flavor and extra protein.
Don't forget to serve with more lemon wedges (I love mine extra zesty) and add some ground black pepper. Red pepper flakes would work well here to add a nice spicy kick to your creamy gnocchi.
For some more freshness, top your bowl with fresh basil or mint. You can also lighten up your meal by accompanying it with a side salad.
You can easily swap the kale for whatever veggies you like or already have. If your kids aren't fans of kale, then swap for baby spinach. Here are more vegetables you can add to this dish:
- Red pepper
- Butternut squash
- Sun-dried tomatoes
If you end up adding lots of extra vegetables, then I would recommend making a double-batch of the sauce so it is nice and saucy.
Here are more ideas to try:
- Pesto: add a generous dollop of pesto to the cream sauce to make a herbed version.
- Ultra creamy: for an ultra-rich result, then you can also add some vegan cream to the dish once everything is combined. This plain creamer from the brand NutPod would be amazing!
- Baked gnocchi: you can finish up the dish in the oven if you would like. In this case, add extra milk to the sauce as it will keep thickening in the oven while baking. To garnish, you can use a herbed breadcrumb mixture (check out this vegan cauliflower gratin for inspiration) or simply top it off with store-bought vegan Mozzarella.
- Higher in protein: you can add a can of white beans, such as cannellini beans or navy beans, or simply add tofu or tempeh.
This dish is best enjoyed when just prepared since the gnocchi will lose their crispiness over time and the sauce tends to thicken while resting.
If you have some leftovers, then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheat using the microwave or the stove. You will likely have to add an extra splash of milk to recreate the saucy consistency.
Are all gnocchi vegan?
No, a traditional gnocchi recipe often includes eggs and sometimes parmesan cheese. That being said, you can now find potato gnocchi that happens to be vegan in most grocery stores in the pasta aisle. These are made with potatoes, flour and salt.
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
Gnocchi are made using flour, so the tricky part will be to find gnocchi made using a GF flour (and egg-free in this case for a vegan recipe). I found these GF and vegan gnocchi online from the brand L'oro Del Sud that would work well here. Also, use a GF flour to make the white sauce!
More recipes like this to try
- Oat milk Alfredo pasta sauce
- Vegan manicotti
- Quick kale noodles
- Simple cashew white sauce
- Vegan spinach pasta
- Vegan cauliflower Alfredo
- Creamy lemon garlic pasta
- Creamy mushroom miso udon
I hope you like this vegan creamy kale gnocchi recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Creamy Kale Gnocchi (Easy Recipe)
- 16 oz potato gnocchi - I used the vegan gnocchi from the brand De Cecco
- 1 small onion - finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1½ tbsp flour
- 1½ cup plain oat milk - unsweetened, plus more for desired consistency
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- half lemon - zested
- ½-1 tbsp lemon juice - or to taste, plus more wedges for serving
- 3-4 large leaves of kale - cleaned and chopped in bite-size
- salt - to taste
- vegan parmesan cheese - to serve, optional (find the parmesan recipe here)
- Warm up a large pan with a little oil (I like using oil-spray) and add the gnocchi. Cook on medium-high heat, flipping them occasionally, until browned and tender (about 8-10 minutes). Once done, transfer to a plate.
- Put the pan back on the stove, add a little more oil and the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5-7 minutes stirring often until softened. Then, add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Sprinkle the flour over and stir to coat the onion. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then, pour the milk over and add the nutritional yeast, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well until uniform and bring to a simmer.
- Once it is simmering, add the kale and keep cooking until wilted. The sauce should thicken pretty quickly (add more milk if it gets too thick). Transfer the gnocchi back to the pan with the sauce and combine. Taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice, then serve with vegan parmesan cheese.
- Storage: this meal is best when enjoyed right away as the sauce will thicken while resting and the gnocchi won't be as crispy after a while. That being said, if you have some leftovers, then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove and add more milk if needed to recreate the creamy consistency.
- You can add more veggies to this recipe, such as broccoli, asparagus, red pepper or mushrooms. If you end up adding a lot more veggies, then feel free to double up the sauce.