This robust Gnocchi Bolognese is the ultimate comfort food. You’ll find a super-rich bolognese sauce that is the heart of this recipe. It’s made with beef, pork, sautéed aromatics, tomato-forward ingredients, fresh herbs, and more. Slowly simmered and then paired with pillowy soft gnocchi to soak up all that bolognese richness!

gnocchi bolognese in speckled bowl with piece of bread on the side

The best time of the year for big ole pots of comfy-cozy goodness is here y’all! Between recipe testing and cooking for my house in general, I’m frequently using my dutch ovens, ha! Real talk, there’s so much bomb deliciousness headed your way. This gnocchi bolognese has been sitting in my drafts section since summer and I’m so happy to finally hit that publish button. Whewww!

⇢ More cozy vibes: braised short ribs, easy skillet chicken pot pie with biscuits, the best chicken and waffles, louisiana-style red beans and rice, and my favorite broccoli cheddar soup with sourdough croutons– yum! ♡

The Coziest Gnocchi Bolognese! 😍

Okay, this recipe starts with the star of the show…a wickedly good, bolognese sauce. It’s super rich, hearty, flavor-filled, and so scrumptious. We’re gonna take this bolognese and get it all cuddled up with pillowy soft, potato gnocchi. While this gnocchi bolognese might look intimidating, it really is easy to make with minimal work and restaurant-quality flair. My favorite kind of dishes!

gnocchi bolognese in large white pot with wooden utensil on the side

Back To Basics: What Is Bolognese?

In short, bolognese is an Italian meat-based sauce, classic of the city of Bologna. It typically features beef and/or pork fat, tomato ingredients, a soffritto: onion, carrot, and celery, spices/aromatics, white wine, broth/milk/cream, cheese, and a heap of herbs. Everything combines and melds over time into a lovely, robust sauce that is commonly served with pasta… >> comfort food at its finest!

An unbeatable level of delicious magic happens with braising: the meat connective tissues tenderize and break down while absorbing the flavors that it’s accompanied with in the pot. Scratch-made bolognese takes a few hours due to the simmering process, but man, the wait is worth it. Sheesh.

Bolognese is a wildly decadent, luxurious sauce. It’s definitely top tier! 👌🏾

ingredients for gnocchi bolognese laid out on beige surface

What You’ll Need For This Recipe

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Ground beef & ground pork: For that signature, meaty goodness, we’re using equal parts ground beef and ground pork for this bolognese. Both add a considerable amount of fat, flavor, and heartiness.
  • Olive oil: Used to sauté the soffritto/mirepoix.
  • Pancetta: Adds a more enhanced “porky” flavor that is delicious.
  • Soffritto: Italian trinity mixture of onion, celery, and carrot: A classic base to sauté when building a braise/sauce.
  • Garlic: What is an Italian recipe (or any damn recipe) without garlic?! You can mince garlic cloves or press into a paste.
  • Tomato paste: A must for huge, bold, and signature tomato-y flavor.
  • Red wine: Used to deglaze the pot. White wine is more traditional for bolognese-making, but I prefer the deeper intensity of a red here. I often use Chianti, however any dry red wine works. Otherwise, use any dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc) to deglaze the pot.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes: Super simple and found in the canned goods aisle. Fire roasted tomatoes are roasted over an open flame and as a result, they yield a distinct smokiness that gives an added oomph here.
  • Spices: We’re using seasonings like salt, pepper, chipotle powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, and bay leaves. All of them are perfect and the chipotle powder adds a subtle hint of heat for a contrast in flavor.
  • Chicken or beef broth: You’ll need liquid to build the sauciness. You can use either chicken or beef broth for a more flavorful bolognese!
  • Parmesan: Freshly grated parmesan thickens the sauce- and for serving.
  • Fresh herbs: Bolognese needs some freshness, and you get that with using fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. A little blend of poultry herbs, mmm.
  • To finish & assemble: Heavy cream and potato gnocchi. The cream is a secret ingredient in the sauce, just a touch for a richer depth of flavor.

This is everything you’ll need for a velvety, gnocchi bolognese that hits! 🤤

How To Make Gnocchi Bolognese

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Sauté the mirepoix: Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Toss in the carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté until tender and golden, about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add the flavor agents: Then add the diced pancetta into the pot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Then add in the garlic and continue cooking together until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Brown the meat & season: Create a well in the center of the pot and add in the ground beef and ground pork. Use a wooden utensil to break the meat into pieces and stir to combine with the mirepoix. Cook until completely brown, about 8-9 minutes. Then season the meat mixture with spices. Add the tomato paste into the pot and stir into the mixture.
  4. Deglaze the pot: Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the red wine to deglaze. Use a wooden utensil to stir the wine into the mixture, scraping up any bits. Allow the mixture to cook until the wine has mostly absorbed into the meat mixture, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Build the braise: Add the diced tomatoes, fresh herb blend, bay leaves, and broth into the pot, stirring well to combine.
  6. Slow simmer: Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Let the bolognese sauce braise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring every so often. 

Finishing & Assembling Gnocchi Bolognese

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Finish bolognese sauce: Remove herb stems and bay leaves from the pot. Then stir in the parmesan cheese and cream until combined. Remove the finished bolognese sauce from heat and set aside.
  2. Cook gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi according to your package directions. After cooking, remove about 1/2 cup of the gnocchi water and set aside.
  3. Assemble gnocchi bolognese: Transfer gnocchi with a slotted spoon directly into the bolognese sauce pot and gently toss to coat all the gnocchi. Adjust the pasta consistency with the reserved gnocchi water to preference.
  4. Serve this gnocchi bolognese right away and top with extra freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy, yay!
close up of gnocchi bolognese in large white pot with wooden utensil on the side

Tips + Tricks, & More For Recipe Success

Here are some additional notes for your homemade gnocchi bolognese 🤓:

  • Can I use bacon instead of pancetta?: Yes! Finely dice up some bacon and cook to a crisp just the same as the pancetta is written here.
  • Can I use homemade gnocchi?: Oh you fancy huh? Yes, you sure can!
  • Slow cooker bolognese sauce: If you want to cook your bolognese in a slow cooker vessel, let’s do it! For starters, I recommend following the recipe for sautéing/browning everything on the stovetop as noted in steps 1-4. Then all you need to do is transfer everything after deglazing (along with ingredients from step 5) into your slow cooker. Set the cooker to low to cook for about 6-8 hours. After the bolognese is done, finish the bolognese, cook the gnocchi, and assemble it all together in the cooker.
  • Heavy cream sub?: I recommend half and half or whole milk.
  • Gluten-free gnocchi needs: Use your favorite gf gnocchi here if needed!
  • Cooking gnocchi: I like to undercook the gnocchi by just 1 minute since it’ll be going straight into the still warm bolognese sauce. We want the gnocchi to be perfectly cooked and not gummy. A way to ensure that that does not happen, undercooking it slightly will yield a better texture. The residual heat from the bolognese will finish the gnocchi, chef’s kiss.
  • Make-ahead bolognese: Oh yes, this recipe is perfecttt for making ahead, y’all. The homemade bolognese gets even better as the flavors have a chance to sit and meld further. Make the bolognese sauce as instructed in the recipe card, below. Then let it cool down completely and transfer it, covered, into the fridge. When ready, simply reheat the bolognese on the stove, make your gnocchi, and then bring it all together.
  • Serving bolognese: This recipe is obviously paired with gnocchi; however, you can switch it up! Serve with pasta like tagliatelle, pappardelle, bucatini, or any other pasta you’d like! My only note here when serving with classic pasta: finely dice up the onion, carrot, and celery. Or pulse into a finer consistency in a food processor for a better texture when paired with noodles.
  • Extras on the side: A little crusty baguette piece or garlic bread…gahhh.
black hand dipping a piece of crusty bread in bowl of gnocchi bolognese

Why This Gnocchi Bolognese Recipe Works

Here’s why you’ll love this bolognese with gnocchi, friends:

  1. Restaurant-quality…Don’t we love us a homemade recipe that’s super straightforward, easy, and filled with that restaurant-luxe quality?! This gnocchi bolognese is exactly that, the wow factor is on point!
  2. Hello flavorrr…There’s a whole lotta flavor-filled depth here that you and your peeps will swoon for. The heart of this recipe is the bolognese sauce that’s loaded with rich, decadent flavor. There are no shortcuts, no sauce made in minutes, it’s a real-deal bolognese sauce, y’all 😏
  3. Make-ahead stunner…It’s one of my favorite things about this recipe. The bolognese can be made ahead of time and then simply reheated on the stove whenever you’re ready to assemble with the gnocchi.
  4. A versatile bolognese…Like I mentioned earlier, this recipe is so dreamy with fluffy and tender gnocchi, yum. But bolognese is best friends with noodle-y pasta, too. You can def switch it up and cook some of your fave pasta instead (I love it w/ chewy bucatini!). 🍝

How To Serve, Store, & Reheat Your Homemade Gnocchi Bolognese

This recipe will make a big pot of finished gnocchi bolognese, enough for 6-8 people. If you don’t intend to feed that much at one time, here’s what I suggest. Make the bolognese as written and then cook a lesser amount of gnocchi to go with it. You can keep the bolognese separate from the gnocchi, and just boil off more gnocchi when ready to serve.

Once you combine the gnocchi with the bolognese, this dish is best served right away. Assembled leftovers will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Simply reheat on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave until warmed through completely. You might need to add a splash of more broth/water to loosen.

Freezing bolognese: Make sure the bolognese has cooled down completely. Then transfer the bolognese sauce into an airtight container or in freezer-safe bags (than can be flattened like a pillow). When ready, defrost/thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat as needed. You might need to add a splash of more broth/water to loosen. Because the gnocchi texture will change, I do not recommend freezing assembled gnocchi bolognese. When stored in the freezer, the bolognese will keep for 3 months.

close up of gnocchi bolognese in speckled bowl

If you’re in the mood for comfort, this Gnocchi Bolognese recipe is simply where it’s at…so incredibly good. Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

Love slow-cooked, cozy meals? Same here, don’t miss:

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gnocchi bolognese in speckled bowl with piece of bread on the side

Cozy Gnocchi Bolognese

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop, Braise
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Description

This robust Gnocchi Bolognese is the ultimate comfort food. You’ll find a super-rich bolognese sauce that is the heart of this recipe. It’s made with beef, pork, sautéed aromatics, tomato-forward ingredients, fresh herbs, and more. Slowly simmered and then paired with pillowy soft gnocchi to soak up all that bolognese richness!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced/pressed, or 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use grass-fed)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • herb blend, I use 3-4 sprigs each fresh rosemary & thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth

To finish & assemble gnocchi bolognese:

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 32 ounces potato gnocchi, I use shelf-stable

Instructions

  1. Sauté the mirepoix: Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, gently swirl the pot to evenly coat the bottom. Toss in the carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté the mirepoix until tender and golden, stirring often, about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add the flavor agents: Then add the diced pancetta into the pot and cook along with the mirepoix until golden, about 2-3 minutes. The pancetta will render its fat, be sure to stir every so often for even cooking. Then add in the garlic and continue cooking together until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Brown the meat & season: Create a well in the center of the pot and add in the ground beef and ground pork. Use a wooden utensil to break the meat into pieces and stir to combine with the mirepoix. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and completely cooked through, about 8-9 minutes. Then season the meat mixture with salt/pepper- to taste, chipotle powder, dried oregano, and smoked paprika- stirring well to fully combine. Add the tomato paste into the pot and stir into the meat/mirepoix mixture to coat. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes to meld. 
  4. Deglaze the pot: Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the red wine to deglaze. Use a wooden utensil to stir the wine into the mixture, scraping up any bits that have collected on the bottom of the pot. Allow the mixture to cook until the wine has mostly absorbed into the meat mixture, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Build the braise: Add the diced tomatoes, fresh herb blend, bay leaves, and broth into the pot, stirring well to combine.
  6. Slow simmer: Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Let the bolognese sauce simmer and braise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, going back to the pot to stir every so often. 
  7. Finish bolognese sauceNote: after braising, you may need to skim off any excess fat from the top of the sauce. Use a large serving spoon or small liquid measuring cup to do so, as needed. Remove the herb stems and bay leaves from the pot. Then stir in the parmesan cheese and cream until combined. Remove the finished bolognese sauce from heat and set aside while you cook the gnocchi.
  8. Cook gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi according to your package directions. Note: I recommend undercooking the gnocchi by just 1 minute since it’ll be going straight into the still warm bolognese sauce. After cooking, remove about 1/2 cup of the gnocchi water and set aside.
  9. Assemble gnocchi bolognese: Transfer parboiled gnocchi with a slotted spoon directly into the bolognese sauce pot and gently toss to coat all the gnocchi, bring it all together beautifully. At this stage, adjust the sauce until it’s just right to your liking. For a thinner sauce consistency, stream a splash of the reserved gnocchi water into the pot until the desired consistency is reached. To thicken sauce, sprinkle in more grated parmesan cheese.
  10. Serve gnocchi bolognese immediately in pasta bowls and top with extra freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.