Easy Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)

126 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

This delicious crockpot chicken gnocchi soup has it all – it’s creamy and comforting, it’s low calorie, and you need just 20 minutes to prepare it. Whether you know and love Olive Garden’s creamy chicken and gnocchi soup or not, you’ve got to try this easy copycat version! Prefer to make the soup in your pressure cooker? I’ve got you covered there too!

A close up of crockpot chicken gnocchi soup in a white bowl with a spoon

Why you’re going to love it

Looks good, right? So let’s just dive right in (with a big spoon) and find out why this dreamy, creamy easy chicken and gnocchi soup might just be your new favourite crockpot (or pressure cooker!) chicken soup recipe…

  • If you’ve ever had a similar soup at Olive Garden, this recipe will teach you to make your own version. I can’t promise it will be EXACTLY the same, but it’s close. If you haven’t tried it, make it anyway and find out what all the Olive Garden soup fuss is all about.
  • Thanks to the evaporated milk you use (rather than cream), this is a LIGHTENED UP creamy soup.
  • There are just 7 main ingredients in this soup. You see – so easy.
  • You make it in your slow cooker with only 20 minutes hands-on time. So why not chop up your vegetables the night before and then throw them in the pot with chicken and stock/broth in the morning for an effort free and delicious dinner?
  • Had a craving for this Olive Garden chicken soup at work? No worries – just make the recipe in your Instant Pot / electric pressure cooker when you get home instead.
  • This is a very balanced but substantial meal. It’s packed with nutritious vegetables: carrots, celery, onion, spinach. It’s got protein (hello delicious shredded chicken). And let’s not forget those cute little potato dumplings aka gnocchi carbs!

So what’s gnocchi and how do you make it?

As gnocchi is usually right next to the fresh pasta at the supermarket, you might be wondering… erm, is gnocchi a type of pasta? Or is it a sort of potato?

As traditional gnocchi is made from mashed potato, flour, egg and sometimes cheese, it’s actually more like a kind of dumpling.

In fact, in Italian, gnocchi means ‘lumps’. I’m sure this sounds more appetizing in Italian though than it does in English!

Most people boil gnocchi but my favourite way to eat it is to bake it, like in this 30-minute gnocchi with sausage, peppers and tomatoes recipe. Or try pan frying potato gnocchi – they end up almost like crispy little roast potatoes like in this amazing pan fried gnocchi with cherry tomatoes recipe.

For this gnocchi soup recipe, I either buy a good quality ready made gnocchi from the supermarket, or I make my own. It’s actually pretty easy to make gnocchi. I usually use the ricotta gnocchi recipe in this post which is super quick because I don’t use any potatoes – just ricotta cheese, flour, egg, and parmesan cheese!

Whether you buy gnocchi or make it, you know it’s ready when it floats to the top of the soup!

What ingredients you need

2 images showing the ingredients for crockpot chicken gnocchi soup
chopped veggies (& spinach!), plus chicken, stock, garlic & herbs, evaporated milk, and cornflour. Oh, and gnocchi, of course!

I really wanted to keep the ingredients down to a minimum so that it’s a really easy win of a meal. But I wanted to make sure that it still has plenty of flavour.

So… these are the main ingredients in my soup, plus oil for sauteing and salt and pepper for seasoning, of course:

  1. 4 kinds of vegetables: carrots, onions, celery and spinach
  2. garlic and Italian herbs (for some good but simple flavour)
  3. chicken breasts (the best quality I can find)
  4. chicken broth / stock (again, I try to stick to really good quality)
  5. evaporated milk (so it’s creamy but lightened-up!)
  6. cornstarch mixed with a bit of water for thickening the soup
  7. gnocchi (of course!) – either homemade or store bought. To be honest I usually buy my gnocchi ready made, but I look for a good quality brand.

Pro tip: As there are only a few ingredients, I try to use the BEST QUALITY INGREDIENTS I can find. I particularly like to buy good quality chicken and organic vegetables, and use good quality stock/broth (if I have some homemade, all the better!).

You can find other recipes for copycat Olive Garden soup recipes online, but many of them have a much longer ingredients list. There are just 7 MAIN INGREDIENTS in this soup!

How to make it in the slow cooker or electric pressure cooker

6 images showing how to make crockpot chicken gnocchi soup

Photo 1: Chop the vegetables (carrots, celery, onion, garlic – everything apart from the spinach) and get all the other ingredients ready to go. So measure out the stock/broth, wash the spinach, get the herbs out of the pantry…

Throw the chopped vegetables, garlic, chicken and stock/broth into the slow cooker or instant pot. Slow cooker: cook for about 6 hours on low. Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker: 10 minutes on high, then let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes (on my pressure cooker I use the ‘auto quick release’ setting which takes about 5 minutes).

Photo 2: After the cooking time is up, grab two forks and shred the chicken in the pot.

Photo 3: Now it’s time for the lightened-up creamy magic to happen! About half an hour before you want to eat, stir in a can of evaporated milk, some corn flour/cornstarch mixed with water (for thickening!) and the gnocchi. Replace the lid of the crockpot, turn it to high and let it bubble away for a few more minutes to cook the gnocchi and let the cornstarch do its thing. If you’re using your pressure cooker just use the saute function here.

Photo 4: Stir in a bag of spinach and let it wilt into the soup.

Photos 5 and 6: Season to taste and serve!

More things to know (recipe FAQ)

How can I make this soup thicker/thinner?

After much testing of this recipe over the years, I finally decided that 3 tablespoons of cornflour gives you the perfect thickness.

If you’d prefer your soup to be more like a hearty chowder or casserole, just add a tablespoon or two more of cornflour. 

If you’d prefer a much thinner soup, simply reduce the cornflour to just 2 tablespoons.

The soup is lovely heated up the next day, but I sometimes find some of the liquid is soaked up by the gnocchi in the fridge. Simply add a bit of water to thin it out again to your liking.

What should you serve with chicken gnocchi soup?

Mostly, we just eat it as it is (it’s a wonderful one pot meal!), but if you want to serve some toasted bread with it go ahead! This 2-minute toasted bread with olive oil and salt is my favourite. If you have an air fryer, go with air fryer garlic bread. If you have a little more time, try this delicious no-knead Greek bread.

Can you make it with chicken thighs instead of breasts?

Yes, no problem! Cook for the same amount of time if using your crockpot. If using your pressure cooker / Instant Pot, you can reduce the cook time to 8 minutes if using thighs.

Can you use frozen chicken?

Yes! The cook time won’t change if you’re using your slow cooker.

Here’s a handy guide for using frozen chicken when cooking the soup in your pressure cooker / Instant Pot:
For frozen chicken breasts: cook for 14 minutes on high pressure and release pressure for 5 minutes (I use the ‘auto quick’ setting on my electric pressure cooker).
For frozen chicken thighs: cook for 10 minutes on high pressure and then release pressure for 5 minutes.

Can you use cooked chicken?

If you happen to have a whole load of cooked chicken to use in the soup instead, I’d suggest adding it in at the end with the evaporated milk. This will give it enough time to reheat properly without overcooking and becoming tough.

Can you use frozen spinach?

Yes again. Just defrost the spinach, then squeeze out any excess water before stirring into the soup.

Can you leave the crockpot on all day?

Although the recipe states to cook on low for 6 hours, your gnocchi soup will be fine left cooking all day. Out at work for 8, 9 or even 11 hours? No worries!

Once you’ve added the cornflour, gnocchi and spinach and the soup has bubbled and thickened, it’s also fine to leave the soup on the ‘keep warm’ setting for a while until you’re ready to eat.

Can you reheat and/or freeze it?

Absolutely. Reheat either in a saucepan or in the microwave at 50% power (so the chicken doesn’t get tough!). See how it looks when it’s reheated, but feel free to add a drizzle of milk or water if it’s looking too thick.

You can freeze for up to 3 months. Simply let defrost, then reheat as above.

Someone eating a bowl of crockpot chicken gnocchi soup with a spoon

How to make your soup taste better than Olive Garden’s!

I say this with my tongue in my cheek. But I truly don’t think you need a ton of fancy ingredients to get a meal that tastes just as good.

In my very humble opinion, all you need to do is use the VERY BEST QUALITY ingredients you can find and/or afford.

In other words:

  • local fresh and in-season vegetables. Organic if you can find or afford them.
  • fresh and/or organic supermarket chicken stock / broth or homemade stock. How do you make homemade chicken stock? Sometimes, instead of throwing away a roast chicken carcass, I place it in my electric pressure cooker with: half an onion, some (unpeeled) garlic cloves, a carrot, a bay leaf, salt and pepper and some fresh or dried herbs. Then I pour water over (until everything is just covered) and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. I then let it cool, strain and freeze for the next time I want to make this chicken soup (or these amazing Greek potatoes)! [No worries if you don’t have a pressure cooker. just simmer for 4 hours on the stove top or cook it on low for at least 8 hours in your slow cooker.]
An overhead image of crockpot chicken gnocchi soup from Olive Garden

More easy slow cooked meals

More easy comfort food

Last but not least: Need a quick and easy dessert to serve after this meal? Here are 11 really easy dessert recipes (6 ingredients or less).

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Someone holding and eating a bowl of crockpot chicken gnocchi soup
4.18 from 123 votes

Easy Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)

This crockpot chicken gnocchi soup is a hearty, nutritious, creamy and yet lightened-up soup packed with chicken, gnocchi and vegetables, just like the one you love at Olive Garden! Get the best quality ingredients and you can make a truly delicious meal in your slow cooker or pressure cooker with just 7 main ingredients.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 to 7

Ingredients 
 

  • 1.5 pounds chicken breasts, skinless boneless (3 medium to large)
  • 1 onion, large, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 sticks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or chopped
  • 4.5 cups chicken stock, (US=chicken broth)
  • 1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs, e.g. basil, thyme, oregano (or Italian seasoning)
  • 14 ounces evaporated milk, (1 can)
  • 3 tablespoons corn flour, dissolved in a little water (US=cornstarch)
  • 16 ounces gnocchi
  • 7 ounces spinach, (baby spinach)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Place the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, stock and herbs in the crockpot and cook on low for six hours minimum (or high for four). If you prefer to use an electric pressure cooker/Instant Pot, cook for 10 minutes on high pressure (70kpa), then quick pressure release (either instant or auto quick which takes 5-10 minutes in my pressure cooker).
  • At the end of the cooking time, shred the chicken in the pot with two forks.
  • Stir in the evaporated milk, cornstarch/water, and gnocchi (no need to cook it first). Bubble on 'high' until the soup has thickened a little and the gnocchi is cooked (a few minutes). If cooking in a pressure cooker, use the saute function instead.
  • Wilt the spinach into the pot, grind in plenty of salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Notes

Ingredients

As this recipe only contains a few ingredients, I highly recommend using really good chicken, stock and vegetables. It makes a huge difference, giving the soup much more flavour! 

Cooking time

6 hours on low (crockpot) is the minimum. It’s fine to leave it longer if you’re out all day! It’s also fine to keep it on the ‘keep warm’ setting until you’re ready to eat.

Slow cooker or electric pressure cooker? 

Yes, you can make this chicken gnocchi soup in your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker!
Cook for 10 minutes on high pressure (70kpa), then quick pressure release (either instant or auto quick which takes 5-10 minutes in my pressure cooker).

Can you use chicken thighs instead of breasts, and can you use frozen chicken? 

Yes to both! If using your crockpot, the cooking instructions don’t change. If using your Instant Pot / electric pressure cooker: 
For chicken thighs: you can reduce the cook time to 8 minutes if using thighs and a pressure cooker.
For frozen chicken breasts: cook for 14 minutes on high pressure and release pressure for 5 minutes (I use the ‘auto quick’ setting on my electric pressure cooker).
For frozen chicken thighs: cook for 10 minutes on high pressure and then release pressure for 5 minutes.

Can you use frozen spinach?

Yes! Just defrost, then squeeze out any excess water and add to the pot as you would with fresh.

Adjusting the thickness of the soup

After quite a lot of experimenting with this recipe over the years, I finally decided that 3 tablespoons of cornflour gives you the perfect thickness.
If you’d prefer your soup to be more like a hearty chowder or casserole, just add a tablespoon or two more of cornflour. 
The soup is lovely heated up the next day, but I sometimes find some of the liquid is soaked up by the gnocchi in the fridge. Simply add a bit of water to thin it out again to your liking. 

Can you reheat and/or freeze a chicken gnocchi soup? 

Reheat either in the microwave (slowly on 50% heat so that the chicken doesn’t get tough) or in a saucepan. 
Cool and freeze in glass containers with lids for up to 3 months. When you want to eat, let defrost in the fridge, then reheat as described above.
Add a little more water or milk if the soup seems too thick when reheating (the gnocchi may have absorbed some of the liquid).

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 778mg, Potassium: 1171mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 6824IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 269mg, Iron: 5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

126 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    Literally all we tasted was evaporated milk…..had the best scent as it was cooking all day and it was just totally overpowered by the evaporated milk. Absolutely disappointed. Followed the recipe to the tee.

    1. Sorry to hear this, Jordan, but thanks for the feedback – I appreciate it whether it’s good or bad! 🙂

      1. I mean…some advice would help? I’m not trying to have something in the crockpot for 6 hours just for it to taste like nothing but milk….what are we supposed to differently? This is your recipe and I followed it completely. Did more like 12 oz of milk even not the 14 YOU call for. Come on

      2. Hello Jordan. I find the key to getting good flavor out of any recipe with just a few ingredients is to use the best quality you can. In this case really good quality chicken and broth/stock. I find this makes a huge difference. Also, I can’t emphasize enough to taste at the end for seasoning. You may need to add a little more salt and/or pepper to enhance all the other flavors. You can also add more herbs and even some cherry tomatoes/sundried tomatoes for a different contrast of flavor. Try some fresh herbs added at the end if you like. Let me know how you get on if you do try it again.

  2. Hi – if this recipe is doubled, would it fit in a standard size crockpot? Would you recommend increasing the cook time at all?

    1. Hello Lisa! I haven’t tried this but my guess is that the pot would be a little too full in a standard sized pot. An extra large one would work, however, or make it in 2 crockpots at the same time. If you did double it, you could keep the cook time the same since it’s a slow cooked meal. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

    1. Hi Jen! Yes you can definitely use frozen gnocchi! You don’t need to defrost it first – in fact I’d say don’t. The half hour the gnocchi is in the soup is plenty to let it defrost and cook if not already cooked. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    This is the most delicious, easy, crockpot soup I’ve
    ever made! Thank you so much for such a great go to recipe! I’ll make it again and again!!

    1. I’m so happy to hear this, Michelle! Thank you for letting me know and getting my Monday morning off to a good start! I hope you find some more equally as yummy recipes on the site soon! And do let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. 🙂

      1. Hi Sammy! Just scroll right down to the printable recipe card. You can choose to view the ingredients in either cups/ounces or metric (grams). Good luck!

  4. 5 stars
    This is one of my favorite soups! I had it at Olive Garden last time I was there, and it’s better when I make it at home. Soooo good!

  5. Hi McKenzie! The key to this recipe is to use really high quality ingredients – so the best chicken you can afford, good quality broth etc. Also to season it really well – so keep tasting until it tastes good. I always try to use as few ingredients on this site as possible while still keeping the recipes really tasty. Having said all this, this recipe just might not be the one for you. I hope you find one you like better. Thanks for the feedback anyway though – it may be helpful for others to know! All the best. 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Shelby,

    Shouldn’t you have the actual recipe since you worked there? Hmmmm

    Helen, I think this soup is great. Thanks and sorry about the internet trolls….

    1. Thanks Meg! And thank you for your support! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! That’s OK – I realise some recipes aren’t for everyone. I always reduce a recipe to its simplest form while still attempting to keep it tasting delicious. I think this is a pretty delicious soup but it’s important to make sure it’s seasoned properly and you use really good quality ingredients. Thanks again and have a great day!