The Only Way We Cook This Trader Joe's Freezer Find—Don't Follow Package Instructions|Recipes Spots

  • on March 10, 2023
trader joe's storefront

trader joe's storefront
Simply Recipes / Andy Christensen

A few years ago, cauliflower had its moment — and boy, did the sneaky little cruciferous vegetable take full advantage. It was everywhere, all at once. Cauliflower rice, pizza crust, mashed potatoes, “steaks,” “wings,” you name it and cauliflower was in it.

It was all fun and games until we found ourselves desperately wringing out cooked cauliflower in a cheesecloth, only to make the crumbliest cauliflower pizza crust of all time. Then just when we thought the cauliflower hype was over, in 2018 Trader Joe’s introduced their frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi, and we fell in love with the vegetable all over again.

TJ's cauliflower gnocchi
Simply Recipes / Wanda Abraham

To put it simply, this product is iconic — it has a cult-like following and is still one of the top vegan/vegetarian products according to customers. They are soft and pillowy Italian dumplings made with just cauliflower, cassava flour, potato starch, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt.

To us, gnocchi is aspirational. We only ever have it at fancy Italian restaurants where the prices are too high and the portion sizes are too small. Trader Joe’s has brought it down to earth by making it affordable, accessible, and delicious with minimal preparation required. It’s honestly just a bonus that it’s gluten free and made from cauliflower. We jumped right on the bandwagon and fell in love. Many, many years later, we’re still on the same ride. 

The one problem we have with Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi is the cooking instructions.

Trader Joe’s provides three methods for cooking the gnocchi: in a pan cooked with a little water and then browned with oil or butter, boiled, or microwaved. The pan method leads to gummy and mushy gnocchi getting stuck to the pan. Plus it requires us to be on our A game, adding water, steaming, stirring, making sure they don’t stick. Stressful! Boiling or microwaving is easier but leads to soft, one-dimensional gnocchi without any crisp or texture. 

baked caulflower gnocchi
Simply Recipes / Julie and Amy Luxemberg

Thankfully, we never gave up. After a lot of experimentation, we figured out the best way to cook Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi: bake it. Here’s how: 

Turn your oven up to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Space out the frozen gnocchi on the baking sheet. You can spritz them with a non-stick cooking spray or toss them with a dash of olive oil, just for that extra crisp, although it is not necessary to. Bake them for 20 to 22 minutes, until they’re golden brown on the outside.

And that’s show biz baby! It is by far the easiest method that yields perfectly cooked gnocchi. They’ll be crispy on the outside while remaining soft and chewy on the inside. Now for some gnocchi inspiration (our favorite kind of inspo).

Cauliflower gnocchi tossed in pesto
Simply Recipes / Julie and Amy Luxemberg

Our favorite ways to enjoy Trader Joe’s baked cauliflower gnocchi:

  • Creamy Pesto Gnocchi: Mix Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto with cashew cream or coconut milk and pour it on the baked gnocchi.
  • Garlic and Oil Gnocchi: Toss the baked gnocchi in olive oil and garlic with plenty of black pepper, salt, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice.
  • Twice Baked & Cheesy Gnocchi: After baking the gnocchi, stir it with your favorite tomato sauce and pour it into a baking pan. Sprinkle it with cheese and broil until melted.
  • Veggie Dumpling Soup: Toss the baked gnocchi into a simple vegetable soup.
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