Creamy and decadent, this gnocchi al forno is everything you want in a comforting and flavorful baked gnocchi recipe! Pillowy potato gnocchi is folded in with Italian sausage, a simple tomato sauce and a four cheese mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella and burrata cheese.
When it comes to weeknight cooking, I am all for easy, flavorful and comforting recipes (give me a bowl of pasta fagioli any day!). Italian cuisine is one of my favorites, and on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, you may find a simmering pot of meatballs in Sunday gravy on the stove. But on a standard weeknight, simple cheesy baked gnocchi comes to the rescue.
This four cheese gnocchi al forno hits all the spots! Light potato gnocchi is tossed with crumbles of Italian sausage, tomato sauce and a mixture of melty and soft cheeses. And if you happen to have extra cheese leftover (is that such a thing?), stuff them inside a cheese calzone!
- Gnocchi: Gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings that can be found in the pasta section of grocery stores. Gnocchi is fantastic in other sauces as well, such as tossed in a bright almond pesto.
- Italian Sausage: Links of Italian sausage are broken up into crumbles and tossed with the tomato sauce and cheeses. If you like spicy, look for hot Italian sausage, or for a mild flavor, look for sweet Italian sausage.
- Dried Oregano: Or use a few sprigs of fresh oregano, roughly chopped.
- Garlic: A few cloves of fresh garlic is finely chopped and added to the browned sausage mixture.
- Tomato Sauce: This recipe uses canned crushed tomatoes, but use what you have on hand, such as a store bought marinara sauce, passata or tomato puree.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Cubes of mozzarella are added to the sauce mixture and as the gnocchi bakes, the cheese gently melts and becomes gooey.
- Ricotta Cheese: Look for dry ricotta or ricotta that is packaged in a basket. This means that the ricotta will be thicker and creamier and not as watery.
- Parmesan Cheese: A healthy grating of Parmesan cheese is added towards the end of baking. Another option is Pecorino cheese.
- Burrata Cheese: Burrata is a ball of mozzarella with a very soft cream inside, called stracciatella. Burrata cheese is delicate and I suggest adding this after the baked gnocchi is finished.
- Fresh Basil: A few leaves of fresh basil brighten up the richer flavors.
See recipe card for quantities.
Brown the Sausage
- Drizzle a wide pan or Dutch oven with a bit of oil and bering up to medium-high heat.
- Add the Italian sausage and use a sturdy spatula to break up the sausage.
- Cook until halfway cooked, then add chopped garlic and dried oregano and continue cooking until sausage is cooked through and caramelized.
Make the Sauce
- Add the tomato sauce to the sausage mixture and stir to combine. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes so it reduces slightly.
- Add the cooked gnocchi to the sauce and stir to combine.
- Top with mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake the Gnocchi
- Place gnocchi in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese melts and under the broiler for 2-5 minutes for an extra crisp topping.
- Remove baked gnocchi from oven and roughly tear burrata cheese on top.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve.
- No Pork: If pork sausage isn't an option, look for an Italian flavored chicken or turkey sausage.
- Spicy: For added heat, add ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sausage mixture or a teaspoon of Calabrian chiles.
- Add Vegetables: Add quick cooking vegetables such as spinach, cubed zucchini or cubed eggplant.
Gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings that are soft and pillowy. Typically, gnocchi is made up of mashed potatoes, semolina flour and egg.
Gnocchi al forno is great to make ahead up to 3 days in advance and tastes better as it sits. If making ahead, add the burrata cheese and fresh basil after reheating.
What to Serve with Gnocchi Al Forno
Four Cheese Gnocchi Al Forno with Sausage
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the gnocchi and cook until the gnocchi float to the top, about 8 minutes. Then drain gnocchi, and set aside.
- Place a wide Dutch oven or pan on medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add the Italian sausage and use a sturdy spatula to break up the sausage.
- Once the sausage is halfway cooked, add the chopped garlic and dried oregano and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked through and outside is caramelized.
- Add the tomato sauce to the sausage and stir together and continue simmering for 10 minutes, so the sauce reduces slightly. Then add the cooked gnocchi to the sausage and stir to combine.
- Scatter cubes of mozzarella cheese onto the sauce and top with dollops of ricotta cheese and grating of Parmesan cheese.
- Please gnocchi al forno in the oven and cook until the cheese melts, about 15 to 20 minutes and then place under the broiler for another 3 to 5 minutes for an extra crisp top.
- Remove gnocchi from the oven and top with roughly torn burrata cheese and a fresh basil leaves.