An easy meatless spin on “marry me chicken”! Crispy fried gnocchi is perfect with the creamy sundried tomato “marry me” sauce that has taken over social media. A truly luxurious, date night worthy meal that is ready in 30 minutes!

In my quest to discover the best vegetarian “marry me chicken” spin offs, I’ve tried chickpeas and I’ve tried butter beans + pasta. And I thought I might be able to leave it to rest after that, but no, because the idea of crispy fried gnocchi came to mind and I could not let that go.

If you’re wondering what on earth “marry me chicken” is anyway, allow me to explain. This concept is loosely based on the Ina Garten “engagement chicken” recipe (which at some point got adapted into “marry me chicken”) and it is essentially chicken with a creamy sundried tomato parmesan sauce and yes, the sauce is really really good, which is why legend has it that it will inspire someone to propose to you if you feed it to them.

So at some point this recipe blew up on social media, and then came all the spin offs, and that’s when the vegetarians like me entered the chat.

Gnocchi is obviously nothing like chicken, but the crispy crust you get from pan frying gnocchi brings a great texture to the dish. I’ve added spinach to bulk out the nutritional side of things but you could add kale or even some other vegetables if you’ve got them. It’s very flexible like that.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions:

  • I am using dry packaged gnocchi, but any gnocchi will be fine here. To pan fry fresh or frozen gnocchi, you may need to pre boil it first and then move it to the frying pan once drained.
  • Ideally you want your sundried tomatoes to come from a jar packed with herby oil. The herby oil is used to saute all of your ingredients, imparting an extra flavor boost everywhere. SO GOOD.
  • The spinach is optional, and could be swapped for kale (especially if you’d like something more substantial and textured).
  • Basil could be replaced with parsley if you need to.
  • Parmesan style cheese means parmesan, pecorino, any Italian hard cheese. But as a vegetarian I use a generic Italian hard cheese that is made without animal rennet.

You can bulk out this meal with extra veggies

As you can see in the photos, this gnocchi is very saucy – this means you can easily add some extra ingredients without spreading the sauce too thin. Some ideas:

  • Using kale instead of spinach makes for a bulkier, chewier texture in the bowl.
  • Mushrooms, zucchini and/or peppers would be tasty – just saute them alongside the onion in Step 1 until they’re sufficiently cooked down and browning, before proceeding with the recipe.
  • Eggplant would be great too, I’d recommend cutting it into tiny cubes and crisping it up in a pan before adding it to the sauce (you could do this in the same pan you’ll cook the gnocchi in- just do the eggplant first).
  • Frozen peas are a quick and easy option that would work just fine here. Add them to the sauce alongside the cream and cheese. They should defrost quite quickly.
  • For protein, a can of lentils would work well – I suggest pan frying them a little bit first with some smoked paprika and fennel seeds (take a look at how the lentils are treated in this recipe for inspiration).

Creamy Sundried Tomato “Marry Me” Gnocchi

An easy meatless spin on "marry me chicken"! Crispy fried gnocchi is perfect with the creamy sundried tomato "marry me" sauce that has taken over social media. A truly luxurious, date night worthy meal that is ready in 30 minutes!
5 from 1 rating


  • 18 oz (500 g) gnocchi, or another short pasta shape
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch red pepper or chili flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tsp mixed Italian seasoning
  • cup (140 g) sundried tomatoes, chopped, see notes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (puree)
  • cup (160 ml) vegetable broth
  • cup (160 ml) heavy (double) cream
  • ¾ cup (80 g) parmesan style cheese, grated
  • 1 small bunch basil, chopped
  • 1-2 handfuls baby spinach, chopped


  • In a large, deep saucepan with a lid, heat a little olive oil (ideally the oil from the sundried tomato jar) over a low-medium heat and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic, chili or red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and sundried tomatoes to the pan. Continue to saute for a few more minutes until everything is soft and fragrant.
    1/2 red onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tsp mixed Italian seasoning, 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, 1 pinch red pepper or chili flakes
  • Add the tomato paste and saute for another couple of minutes before pouring in the broth. Simmer, partially covered, while you pan fry the gnocchi – it will reduce a little bit form a thick sauce.
    2 tbsp tomato paste (puree), 2/3 cup vegetable broth
  • Pan fry the gnocchi. Heat a layer of olive oil over a low-medium heat (again, this would ideally be the oil from the sundried tomato jar) and pan fry the gnocchi until crisp and golden on all sides. Given the lower heat, this can take a little time – maybe 10 minutes – but low and slow is best to ensure the middle gets nice and soft as well.
    18 oz gnocchi
  • Once the gnocchi is ready (or in the last few minutes of the gnocchi cooking, if you're happy to multi-task with two pans) quickly finish off the sauce.
    Add in the cream and cheese, simmering over a very gentle heat until the cheese has melted in, then add the spinach and basil to the pan and stir through until it is just starting to wilt.
    2/3 cup heavy (double) cream, 3/4 cup parmesan style cheese, 1-2 handfuls baby spinach, 1 small bunch basil
  • Toss the gnocchi through the sauce, plate up and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Sundried tomatoes weight: If you are using weight to measure your sundried tomatoes, please note that 140g is measured as a proportion of the jar you’re using. I used half of a 280g jar for this recipe (which is a pretty standard size in the UK). Don’t scoop out the sundried tomatoes and weight them – the weight is going to vary so much depending on how much oil sticks to them, the results won’t be so consistent. 
Calories: 463kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Sodium: 986mg, Potassium: 582mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 2545IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 328mg, Iron: 7mg