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Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms

June 10, 2024

With just three main ingredients, this ultra speedy gnocchi recipe will make you look like a weeknight whiz. Which you definitely are, of course.


homemade Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms in a bowl with a spoon

The Case for A Pantry Full of Gnocchi

Being in charge of dinnertime—particularly on weeknights—can make a person feel like a short-order cook because you’ve got to deliver, night after night, and you’ve (usually) got to be quick about it. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to scrambled eggs and grilled cheese! This speedy, easy gnocchi sauce recipe gets its magic from a few simple, powerful ingredients and is sure to please! Fennel bulbs sit right at the center of this recipe. They taste bright, herbaceous and springy and, best of all, are in season in the winter. If you’ve ever seen them at the market and skipped over them because you weren’t sure how you’d use a fennel bulb, this easy gnocchi recipe is your answer!

fennel bulbs, olive oil, mushrooms, gnocchi, salt, pepper, parsley and Calabrian chili peppers in bowls on the counter

What You’ll Need To Make the Best Gnocchi Sauce Ever

Sauce is maybe a generous word for the lovely amalgamation of things that come together to make this gnocchi recipe work so deliciously well. The olive oil becomes slightly scented with the fennel bulbs, the mushrooms release their earthy goodness and that melds into the boiled gnocchi as they all scooch around together in the skillet. And then, then, we pull it all together with those flaming red-hot Calabrian chilies. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, we are referring to these lovely Calabrian chilies. You can buy them online, but they’re also widely available at Trader Joe’s. Preserved in oil and salt, these chilies aren’t just a source of spicy heat—though they are that—they also add a ton of savoriness to any dish. A little goes a long way, too. That one tablespoon of Calabrian chilies will season the whole skillet! All that said, if you don’t have these in your pantry yet, it’s OK to substitute a few teaspoons of chili flakes. It won’t be quite the same, but it will do in a pinch! OK, so other than those chilies, and some salt and pepper, what will you need to make this quick, easy gnocchi? Not much! Here’s your list:

  • Fennel bulbs

  • Olive oil

  • Mushrooms

  • Gnocchi (you can use the shelf-stable stuff, or the packaged gnocchi that you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Any packaged gnocchi will work.)

  • Fresh parsley

thinly sliced fennel and olive oil in a skillet
fennel cooked in olive oil and salt in a skillet
cooked fennel and mushrooms in a skillet
fennel, mushrooms, chilies, parsley, salt and pepper in a skillet

OK, but How Fast Is Fast? How Easy Is Easy?

So fast! So very easy—like about 20 minutes and very little brain-power required. Truly! Give us 20 minutes and your most minimal baseline effort and we’ll give you a dinner that feels downright restaurant-y. Here’s how to make the best gnocchi sauce ever:

  1. Sauté the fennel with a bit of oil. Sprinkle it with salt and then cover the skillet and leave the fennel to cook for about 5 minutes.

  2. This is a great moment to get the gnocchi cooked. 5 minutes in boiling water and you're done!

  3. Back to the gnocchi sauce! Add the mushrooms to the skillet, then the chilies, parsley, gnocchi, salt and pepper.

  4. Stir everything together until it looks like one cohesive, irresistible dinner!

homemade Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms in a skillet
homemade Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms in a bowl

Tools You’ll Need

More Gnocchi Sauce Recipes To Try

homemade Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms in a bowl
homemade Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms in a bowl with a spoon

The Need for Speed

We all need trusty, quick, simple recipes that give us bang for buck and make the people we are rushing to feed happy, too. With a grocery list short enough to remember easily and a cooking method that can largely be summed up as “sauté stuff”, it’s within reach for home cooks of any experience level and simultaneously interesting enough for just about any food lover. If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 365



  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until it glistens. Stir in the sliced fennel. Once every slice is covered in oil, spread them out in a single layer. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover the pan with a lid and cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring often, until the fennel is golden brown and tender, about 8 more minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot set over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 5 minutes, using a colander, drain and set aside.

  3. Add the sliced mushrooms and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet with the fennel. Cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the par-cooked gnocchi, remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, pepper, Calabrian chilies and parsley to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, for another 2-3 minutes, until the gnocchi is tender. Remove from heat and serve warm topped with fennel fronds and flaky salt.

Note: If you don’t like spicy food, feel free to use less of the Calabrian chilies. Likewise, if you love spice, feel free to use more!

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories365
  • Protein9 g
  • Carbohydrates53 g
  • Total Fat13 g
  • Dietary Fiber7 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium820 mg
  • Total Sugars7 g

Spicy Gnocchi with Fennel and Mushrooms

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Ellen

    What exactly is fennel and what does it taste like (onion)?

    Hi Ellen, it is part of the carrot family, it has a bulb and leaves and all parts can be eaten. It is "anise-flavored." Hope this helps!

  • Karen

    Can you use calabrian chili paste for this recipe?

    Yes, you can. You can still use 1 TBSP of the paste unless you would like it a little less spicy.

  • Debi

    This was a hit! I had homemade cavatelli so I used them. Added a little cream and pasta water at the end! Delicious!

    Thanks Debi, so glad you loved it!

  • Jess

    I have been making this since it was published (big fan!), but I would substitute red pepper flakes since had a hard time finding Calabrian Chilis that weren't really expensive. Of course, I just found a jar at Cost Plus World Market - I can't wait to try the recipe as intended and spice up other dishes!!

    Thanks Jess, so happy you love this recipe!

  • Lauren

    Made this for dinner tonight with minimal changes based on what I could find at my local grocery store. I used a “gourmet blend” of mushrooms that included cremini mushrooms and diced hot cherry peppers. I was initially concerned that just using olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley for seasoning would produce a bland dish but I was so wrong. This spicy gnocchi was awesome! It packed so much flavor and I did not find the spice level overwhelming. I definitely recommend taking the time to thinly slice the fennel and brown it as written in the recipe.

    Thanks Lauren, so glad you enjoyed this one!

  • Keekrock

    This was delicious and had great flavor. We made it with the peppers from Trader Joe's, which came salted, so the end result was a bit too salty. If I make this again I'll use only 1/4 tsp. salt at the end and only about 8 oz mushrooms. Also tried it with the Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi you've recommended elsewhere, and they made it really tasty, gluten free, and vegan!

    Thank you, we are so glad you like this recipe! Good tip if you buy salty peppers to start lower with salt and add from there to your taste preference!

  • Kristine

    This was fantastic. Made it for dinner tonight - it was so quick and easy but felt like a luxurious dinner.

    This is so great to hear Kristine! We are so glad you loved it!