This easy one pan lemon chicken gnocchi recipe has tender pan-fried chicken and pillowy gnocchi nestled in a luxurious lemon cream parmesan sauce. It's ready in about 30 minutes!
Why you'll crave it
I'm certain this gnocchi with pan seared chicken breasts will become a regular on your table. It's fast, creamy, and comforting. The bright lemon sauce is really simple to make in this one-pan delight. Gnocchi might seem fancy but is actually very easy to cook with, and this is a fantastic recipe to introduce it into your repertoire.
Yes, the gnocchi cooks right in the sauce! There's no need to boil it separately. I've been making my easy one pan gnocchi recipes since 2017, and as long as people are loving them, I will continue coming up with new ones. Check out the one that started it all, this Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi. Apart from resulting in fewer dishes, I think everyone appreciates a recipe like this one that just feels special without a heck of a lot of effort.
What you'll need and why
- Chicken - we're using two chicken breasts cut into four smaller cutlets so they'll cooker faster
- Lemon pepper - for seasoning the cutlets to directly infuse tons of brightness. Lemon pepper seasoning is a blend of dried lemon zest, pepper, and sometimes includes salt and other spices. If you don't have any, you can season the chicken with salt & pepper, but the overall dish will taste less lemony. I buy McCormick brand lemon and pepper seasoning.
- Garlic powder - it's another level of savory flavor
- Olive oil and butter - for pan frying and the base of the sauce
- Garlic - use even more if you're a garlic lover. I use my handy garlic press to mince the cloves without the need to peel them.
- Chicken broth - for depth of flavor
- Lemon juice - always use freshly squeezed
- Heavy cream - it gives the sauce that signature luscious quality
- Gnocchi - we're using the shelf stable potato variety. See more tips below.
- Parmesan cheese - who doesn't love a bit of cheese?
- Spinach - it adds a pop of fresh goodness
- I use the shelf stable gnocchi that's typically found in the dry pasta aisle, but you can also find similar in the refrigerated pasta section.
- I don't recommend using fresh homemade gnocchi for the one pan technique as it can disintegrate as the sauce cooks since it's generally very delicate.
- The gnocchi releasing starch is integral to the thickening of the sauce, so if you opt for cauliflower gnocchi, be mindful that the sauce won't thicken the same. Perhaps try adding a cornstarch slurry or roux to thicken it up, but we haven't tested this.
How to make lemon chicken gnocchi
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Cut the chicken to make two thinner cutlets, and season them with the lemon pepper and garlic powder. Pan fry until golden, and transfer to a plate.
- In the same skillet, cook the garlic, followed by adding in the broth and lemon juice. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan for extra flavor.
- Stir in the cream and gnocchi. Let it bubble softly until the gnocchi is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
- Take the pan off the heat, and toss with the parmesan and spinach until it wilts. Add the chicken back in and serve right away.
Substitutions and variations
- You may sub the chicken breasts for chicken thighs if you prefer.
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for something like half-and-half or milk. With lower fat alternatives, the sauce is more prone to curdling from the acidity of the lemon juice. You could try using coconut milk if you're familiar with using it, but the flavor will be different.
- You can skip the spinach if you want or use another veggie like peas to change it up.
- Your sauce may end up slightly lighter in color depending how long your chicken takes to sear/how many brown bits are left in the bottom of your skillet.
What to serve with it
- It's a complete meal since it has a protein, starch, and veg, so it's great on its own or with a dinner roll. But I'd never turn down a slice of Cheesy Garlic Bread if it happened to appear on my table!
- For a lighter option to pair this gnocchi with, try throwing together some mixed greens and veggies with my Homemade Italian Dressing or Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
Tools for this recipe
- I use cooking tongs to make turning the chicken in the skillet effortless.
- A splatter guard is an inexpensive way to make clean-up easier.
- I think every kitchen needs an instant read thermometer. It ensures chicken isn't overcooked or undercooked. It's safe to eat at 165F.
- I use my Microplane to freshly grate the parmesan cheese on top for best taste and texture.
Leftovers and storage
- Any leftovers you have will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container, but keep in mind that the gnocchi will continue to release starch and thicken up the sauce over time.
- Reheat in a small saucepan over a low heat slowly. Add a splash of broth or cream to thin out the sauce if needed.
- I don't recommend freezing chicken gnocchi leftovers. The texture may change, and cream sauces don't do well in the freezer.
Questions about this creamy lemon chicken gnocchi? Talk to me in the comments below! If you made it, I'd love it if you wrote me a review or shared this recipe with a friend. 🙂
Lemon Chicken Gnocchi
- 2 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning see note
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 pound uncooked potato gnocchi
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cut the chicken in half lengthwise so you've got 2 thinner cutlets. Season each side with the garlic powder and lemon pepper. If the lemon pepper seasoning you're using doesn't contain salt, be sure to salt the chicken as well.
- Add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat and let the pan heat up for a few minutes. Sear the chicken for about 5 minutes/side or until it's golden and cooked though. Transfer the chicken to a plate (tent with foil to keep warm if you wish).
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic to the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the chicken broth and lemon juice and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the cream and gnocchi. Give it a good stir and ensure the gnocchi is submerged in the liquid. Let it bubble gently, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the gnocchi is cooked and the sauce has thickened. The gnocchi will release starch as it cooks, thickening up the sauce, so do not pre-cook the gnocchi. Keep in mind the sauce will thicken more as it cools, so don't let it get too thick (add a splash more broth if needed).
- Take the pan off the heat and add in the parmesan cheese and spinach. Toss until the spinach has started to wilt and it's nicely mixed in. Add the chicken back into the skillet (along with any juices from the plate) and spoon some sauce over top. Serve immediately.
- Lemon pepper seasoning is a blend of dried lemon zest, pepper, and often salt and other spices. If you don't have any, you can season the chicken with salt & pepper, but the overall dish will taste a bit less lemony. I use McCormick brand lemon & pepper seasoning.
- Sub the cream for something lower fat at your own discretion (I don't recommend it). The citrus is likely to curdle lower fat alternatives.
- Chicken is safe to eat when an instant read meat thermometer reads 165F.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.