Gnocchi in a Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Cream Sauce


Today I’ve got a delicious shortcut pasta recipe to share with you that includes a dairy-free tomato basil cream sauce. It’s slightly rich yet nutritious and very versatile. It pairs well with any pasta, most summer vegetables, or your added protein of choice, if desired.

Gnocchi in a Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Cream Sauce - healthy, vegan, gluten-free optional

As much as I love cooking from scratch, I’m certainly not immune to a little bit of convenience, particularly at lunch time. Tony and I work from home, which means I don’t have to pack lunches. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we have a whole kitchen full of food at our disposal. But on the other hand, the lack of forced planning means we are often ill-prepared for a good meal. After all, most food still needs to be sliced, diced, cooked, and served. More often than not, noon sneaks up on us as we’re working away, and I’ve got nothing.

My go-to meal for fast, healthy lunches has become big billowing salads. However, some days we want something with a little more comfort food appeal. So I turned to two of my favorite meal starters: jarred pasta sauce and gnocchi. Homemade is great, but I never feel like I’m cheating when I use good brands of marinara, like Amy’s or Organicville. Plus, it cuts out a ton of work when our stomachs loudly proclaim that time is of the essence. And gnocchi is speedy, taking just 3 minutes to cook!

For a delicious twist, this dairy-free tomato basil cream sauce is enriched with coconut cream and tossed with fresh, seasonal basil. It’s light and vegetarian, yet hearty enough to satisfy Tony’s finicky appetite. Coconut cream may sound like an odd flavor pairing, but the strong and acidic nature of the marinara dominates the scene. In fact, the two neutralize one another. The coconut cream helps to cut the acidity while the tomato overrides any coconut flavor or a wonderful, slightly sweet tomato basil cream sauce.

Gnocchi in a Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Cream Sauce - healthy, vegan, gluten-free optional

Special Diet Notes: Gnocchi in a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan / plant-based and vegetarian.

Note that milk ingredients and soy oil are often added to pasta sauces. For an option that’s both dairy-free and soy-free, try Amy’s Family Marinara.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gnocchi in a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 24-ounce jar dairy-free marinara sauce
  • ½ cup coconut cream*
  • Salt, to taste (I used a scant ¾ teaspoon, but start with ¼ teaspoon and work your way up)
  • Pepper, to taste (i used ½ teaspoon, but start with ¼ teaspoon and work your way up)
  • ½ cup (not packed) fresh basil chiffonade (basically twisted and sliced), plus extra for garnish if desired
  • 2 packages potato gnocchi (12 to 16 ounces each)**
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet (I use non-stick) over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and sauté, for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the mushrooms and sauté, for 2 minutes more.
  4. Stir in the marinara and coconut cream. Bring the heat up to medium for just a minute to get the sauce bubbling slightly, reduce it to low, and allow the sauce to simmer while you make the gnocchi.
  5. Make the gnocchi according to the package directions. Once the water is boiling, this step only takes about 3 minutes as gnocchi cooks very quickly. Divide the gnocchi between 4 to 6 bowls.
  6. Add salt and pepper to your sauce to taste. Turn off the heat, and stir in the basil. Pour the sauce equally over the bowls of gnocchi, and if desired, garnish with a few ribbons of basil.
Coconut Cream: You can buy coconut cream (not creme of coconut) or simply skin the cream from a can of chilled, full-fat coconut milk. I use So Delicious brand as it sets up into a nice thick cream.

Gnocchi: Some brands of gnocchi do contain dairy in some form, but there are many dairy-free brands. Don Bruno Gnocchi is vegan and Bartenura Gnocchi is even kosher parve. Conte's Gnocchi is dairy-free and gluten-free.

Zucchini Option: For some extra greenery, halve and slice 1 to 2 zucchini into ¼-inch half circles. Increase the oil to 1½ tablespoons and add the zucchini slices with the mushrooms.
Gnocchi in a Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Cream Sauce - healthy, vegan, gluten-free optional

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Pingback: 45 Dairy Free Recipes - A How To Guide

    • It isn’t enough to impart any coconut flavor, but the very light sweetness does cut the acidity in the sauce nicely and gives it that creamy, full-bodied taste. Coconut cream isn’t for everything, but it works well here!

  2. You know I have never loved gnochi but I think it’s because I’m not a pasta person…that being said I certainly won’t turn down a bowl this good!!! Love the idea of the coconut cream with the sauce!

    • Really?! You are perhaps the first person I’ve known of who wasn’t a pasta fan. That said, it’s the potato in gnocchi that gets me. I wonder if homemade would win you over? 🙂

  3. This sounds delicious! I always have a jar of store-bought pasta sauce in my pantry. I nearly almost make homemade, but like you said, there are always those days when I am rushed and have nothing planned. Love the added coconut cream in there too!

  4. I’m getting hungry just looking at that! I love gnocchi so much!! My husband’s grandmother taught us how to make it once, but usually I just buy it because it’s easier. 🙂

    On another note, I’ve never tried using coconut cream with my marinara and I am intrigued! I’ll have to try that.

    • Homemade gnocchi is at the top of my recipe bucket list. You’ve locked it in for me Michelle, I’m going to make it THIS year. Like you said, it’s just so easy to buy!

      I’m not liberal with coconut cream, but have tried it in different types of recipes to see where it works well. The acidity in tomato sauce overwhelms any coconut flavor (none is left!), while the light natural sweetness / sugars in the coconut actually does help to mellow the acidity a bit. In such a small amount, it really does work nicely here. I think you’d like it 🙂

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