Kitchn Love Letters

I Tried Trader Joe’s Beloved Cauliflower Gnocchi and There’s One Thing You Should Know

updated Sep 30, 2023
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trader joe's freezer section
Credit: Lauren Masur

When I do my weekly scroll through recipes, there’s no denying that gnocchi is having its moment. I’m of the “Potatoes Improve Everything” camp, so when I spotted Trader Joe’s cauliflower version of the Italian dumpling a few years ago, I was hesitant but intrigued. But now my freezer feels empty without a bag or two stashed away.

There are those certain Swiss Army knife products out there that I’ll always have stocked in my freezer, and Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi absolutely is a major one for me — especially when having guests over with food sensitivities. With this frozen bag of gnocchi, I know I’m only about 10 minutes away from a last-minute dinner like chicken and dumplings or, my other favorite, Ali Slagle’s recipe for crispy gnocchi with burst tomatoes and mozzarella, that tastes like it took much longer to make — and has everyone covered.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

What’s So Great About Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi?

If you have celiac disease or are gluten-sensitive (or just looking to sneak in a vegetable here and there), there’s no better substitute for fresh gnocchi than this doughy alternative. The cauliflower flavor is incredibly neutral, although the texture is spot-on, with a perfect chew that makes it a seamless addition to your favorite sauce. I’ve used this bag in lieu of potato gnocchi and have yet to really notice a major difference.

Also, it makes recreating my Pawpaw’s chicken and dumplings way easier. A few winters ago, I felt a deep-in-the-bowels-of-my-soul need for my Pawpaw’s chicken and dumplings, but was not about to make my own dumplings from scratch. Truthfully, my Pawpaw didn’t either, as he opted for the frozen strips of dumplings offered all over his home state of North Carolina (but a bit thin in my home state of Florida). So I did what I had to do and swapped in some cauliflower gnocchi from my stash instead. After I apologized to the ghost of my Pawpaw, I took a bite of my creation, tentatively chewing and hoping for the best. You know what? It was spot-on.

What’s the Best Way to Make Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi?

There is just one thing you need to know in order to bring honor to your own family’s chicken and dumplings recipe: The heating instructions on the package are way off-base. I used to work for the grocer, so I’ve definitely had lots of time to play around with this particular bagged gnocchi, and the trick is to avoid the directions, which suggest cooking on the stovetop, leading to a gummy, sticky mass of gnocchi. 

Instead, I recommend roasting them on a sheet pan after tossing with olive oil (at 425°F for around 15 to 20 minutes). It lends a crispy crust to each individual gnocchi that makes the gnocchi easier to toss with sauce or when used as dumplings. With this preparation, I have a feeling my Pawpaw would never suspect I’ve snuck cauliflower into my own spin on his recipe and would give it a big thumbs-up. 

Find it in stores: Cauliflower Gnocchi, $2.99 for 12 ounces at Trader Joe’s

A version of this story was first published on July 5, 2018 by Elizabeth Licata.