Gnocchi Bolognese

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Gnocchi With Bolognese Sauce- This is one of the easiest dinners you’ll ever make! Homemade meaty Bolognese sauce with pillowy soft Gnocchi that cook right in the sauce. This one pan meal will have everyone running to the table, and you hardly have to do a thing!

Hands holding a plate of gnocchi and Bolognese sauce.

What Is Gnocchi Bolognese? 

This dish is as simple as it sounds. This is nothing more than gnocchi in a Bolognese sauce. It’s so easy, you may never want to buy jarred sauce again! I love this recipe because not only is it easy to throw together, but there are no special ingredients to buy. You may very well have all the ingredients you need to make this sitting in your kitchen at this very moment.

Homemade gnocchi bolognese is a hearty and comforting dish perfect for a cool evening when you want to warm up from the inside, but not necessarily spend lots of time in the kitchen. If you’ve been following me for long, you know I adore a good meal made from scratch. To read more about how this site can help you make fresh easy food from scratch, be sure to visit the about page.

My busy family requires me to have a number of easy dinners just like this one that I can pull out of my hat at a moment’s notice. I have been making Gnocchi Bolognese for many years, and I felt that it deserved a place on the blog. 

What Makes A Bolognese A Bolognese?

Bolognese sauce is from Bologna, a city in Northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. This sauce always contains meat, usually a mixture of beef and pork. I’m using just beef in this recipe, because ground pork is not always available where I live. Bolognese also contains Soffritto, a mixture of carrot, celery, and onion that is sauteed and adds wonderful flavor to the sauce. You’ll also find Soffritto used as the base of Minestrone soup as well as other Italian dishes. 

There is another ingredient in Bolognese sauce that makes it stand out from the rest: milk. Why is milk added to Bolognese sauce? Tomatoes are often quite acidic. One way to balance acidity in a dish is to add sweetness, and milk contains natural sugars. That’s why you will often find sugar added to tomato sauce.

Instead, Bolognese sauce gets its sweetness and balance not only from the vegetables (carrots and onions both contain natural sugars), but from the milk. These ingredients not only add their own wonderful layers of flavor, but they balance out the acidity in the tomatoes. 

Typically, a Bolognese is cooked longer than what we are doing for this recipe, but you can still get a lot of well developed flavor in the cooking time given. Why the shorter cooking time? It is really so that you can have this meal on the table in a shorter amount of time. If you have the time and want to simmer your sauce a bit longer, feel free to do so! I have some notes on that down in the recipe card.

Vegetables for the Soffritto.

Ingredients You’ll Need For Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Ground Beef- I like my ground beef on the leaner side, less fat to drain off. See recipe notes for the best ground beef to use.

Yellow Onion- These are the best variety for cooking. Any variety of yellow onion is fine for this recipe.

Celery- Make sure your celery is crisp and firm, and has not started to brown.

Carrot- This might seem to be a surprising ingredient in a red sauce, but it is one of the things that makes Bolognese sauce what it is.

Garlic- Use fresh garlic, not garlic powder!

Dried Herbs- Normally I prefer fresh herbs when I cook, but for this recipe dried herbs are just fine. See the recipe card for which herbs you will need. 

Milk- Don’t leave it out, it really does make the sauce sing! Check out the recipe notes for more info on the milk.

Crushed Tomatoes- Fire roasted tomatoes are the best, but if you can’t find them that’s ok. Be sure they are crushed tomatoes, they help keep the sauce thicker.

Gnocchi- Homemade or store bought gnocchi are fine here either way!

How To Make Gnocchi Bolognese

This sauce is so easy, even if you are someone who typically doesn’t make sauce from scratch. Be sure to head down to the recipe card for full instructions, notes, and helpful tips!

  1. Brown the meat.
  2. Saute the vegetables with the meat.
  3. Add the seasonings. 
  4. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer.
  5. Finish the gnocchi in the sauce.

You might be wondering why this sauce does not have any wine, as most red sauces do. My kids are not big fans of the flavor (even though the alcohol cooks off) so I just leave it out. If you want to add wine, see my notes.

Can You Make One Pan Gnocchi Bolognese Ahead Of Time?

Yes! You can do this one of two ways:

  1. Cook the sauce in advance, don’t add the gnocchi and refrigerate the sauce. Once you are ready to serve, heat up the sauce in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and once the sauce is simmering, add the gnocchi and cook.
  2. You can cook the whole thing in advance (including adding the gnocchi) and reheat when ready to eat. I would not let this sit for more than a day if you are going to do it that way, if it sits too long it could make the gnocchi a bit gummy.

What To Serve With Gnocchi Bolognese

I love this topped with plenty of fresh parsley and good Parmesan cheese, along with a salad and crusty bread. Here are a few of my best suggestions to pair with this dish:

For a salad dressing idea, try my Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette. For an extra pop of flavor, try adding a spoonful of Pesto di Basilico to each plate. It is not the traditional way to serve pesto or the Bolognese, but the flavors do combine nicely.

Gnocchi Bolognese on a blue plate.

Is One Pan Gnocchi Bolognese Suitable For Leftovers?

Most definitely! As I mentioned before, this is best eaten the next day if you have any left over. The gnocchi can get a bit on the mushy side if left refrigerated in the sauce too long. The leftovers are great to take to work for lunch the next day.

If you are reading this, thank you for being here. I hope you and your family love this Gnocchi Bolognese recipe! If you tried it, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Just leave a rating or comment below. 

If you’d like all the latest updates, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. I have all sorts of exclusive content just for newsletter subscribers, and I’d love for you to join. Happy Cooking!

Two plates of gnocchi with bolognese sauce.
Yield: 6 Servings

Gnocchi Bolognese

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This quick and easy Gnocchi Bolognese has veggies right in the sauce, and is on the table fast. If you need a comforting and hearty meal that takes little effort, this is the recipe for you!


  • 1 Tbsp of Avocado Oil
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef (I used 90/10 ground sirloin)
  • 1/2 of a medium sized Yellow Onion (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 2 stalks of Celery
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp of Salt
  • 3/4 tsp of Black Pepper
  • 4 tsp of Dried Basil
  • 2 tsp of Dried Oregano
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 28 ounce can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of Whole Milk
  • 1 16 ounce package of Gnocchi (or about 2 1/2 cups of homemade gnocchi)


  1. Heat a 4 quart Dutch oven or stock pot on medium high heat. Add the 1 Tbsp of oil and the pound of ground beef.
  2. While the meat browns, finely dice the 1/2 an onion, two celery stalks, the two cloves of garlic, and large carrot. You want the vegetable pieces to be small.
  3. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot and stir. Cook the mixture until the meat is browned and the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes or so.
  4. Add the chopped garlic, 1 Tbsp of salt, 3/4 tsp of black pepper, 4 tsp of dried basil, 2 tsp of dried oregano, and the bay leaf. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  6. Uncover the sauce, remove the bay leaf, and add the 1/2 cup of whole milk. Stir well, bring to a simmer and cook for about another 5 minutes.
  7. Add the packaged or homemade gnocchi, and stir it into the sauce. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until the gnocchi has softened. Serve and enjoy!


If you want a longer cooking time for your sauce, once it is covered you can cook this sauce on medium low heat at a gentle simmer for more than the 30 minutes the recipe calls for. Rest assured that you will have plenty of great flavor by cooking it for 30 minutes!

Fire roasted canned crushed tomatoes have the best flavor, but you can still use those that are not fire roasted and have a great sauce. Be sure to use crushed tomatoes as opposed to any other type, they help add a bit of thickness to the sauce.

I have not tested this recipe with any type of non dairy milk, so I cannot speak for how well it would turn out if you were to give it a try.

Whole milk is best for this recipe.

If you want to add wine during the cooking process, add 1/4 cup of good red wine during Step 3, and cook the wine with the meat and veggies before adding the tomatoes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 416Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1512mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 29g

All information presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian and any nutritional information should only be used as a general guideline. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is provided for recipes contained on this site. This information comes from online calculators. Although The Copper Table attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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