Here’s how TJ’s newest gluten-free pasta really tastes.
Credit: Arielle Weg

Trader Joe’s butternut fries, salad kits, and seasoning blends are essential staples, but the real fun is sampling all of the new’s like they’re letting me in on a little secret.

Last weekend I walked into my local Trader Joe’s and sampled the cauliflower gnocchi that is taking over Instagram (and, seemingly, the world). And, spoiler alert: it was delicious.

I know you’re probably thinking that there’s no way a cauliflower-potato ball could hold a candle to traditional, melt-in-your-mouth potato gnocchi. And you’re right. But do cauliflower pizza or cauliflower rice taste like the real thing? Not so much. But they slash calories and fat from some of my favorite comfort foods, so I’m all for them.

For comparison, I snagged a few bags of the cauliflower gnocchi and some traditional potato gnocchi (I used Gia Russa), to see how the flavor stacked up.

The first thing to note is the nutritional advantage of choosing TJ’s cauliflower gnocchi over traditional. The cauliflower version has 113 fewer calories, 127mg less sodium, 20g less carbohydrates, and 2g more fiber in each serving—it’s also gluten-free and made from just five ingredients: cauliflower, cassava flour, potato starch, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt.

The bag suggests three cooking methods: Microwaving the bag from frozen, boiling the frozen gnocchi in water, or sauteing the gnocchi in a pan. I went for the pan saute, because it was listed as the “preferred” method. I poured the contents of the bag into a saute pan, added ¼ cup of water, covered it, and let it cook for six to eight minutes. I boiled the traditional potato gnocchi according to the package directions.

The first thing I noticed was that the cauliflower gnocchi was a bit sticky and gummy. It also left some residue on my non-stick skillet, and didn’t brown at all (despite the package image looking crispy, brown, and beautiful).

I tossed one bag of cauliflower gnocchi with a tablespoon of butter, salt, and pepper and the second bag with Trader Joe’s tomato basil marinara sauce. I repeated the same preparation for the traditional gnocchi. Then, our editors tasted them.

Credit: Arielle Weg

Even though it was supposed to be a blind taste test, it was obvious which batch was the cauliflower and which was the regular. The potato ones looked like what you’d see at a restaurant, while the cauliflower ones lost their shape and appeared gummy. Everyone had rave reviews of the classic gnocchi (because who doesn’t love potatoes?), and generally agreed from a taste standpoint traditional gnocchi is way better. One editor found the cauliflower gnocchi to be slightly chemical tasting, but overall we felt positive about the option.

The version cooked in sauce had mixed reviews. Some editors felt the sauce negatively amplified the gummy texture of the gnocchi, while others really enjoyed the combination. Here’s what they had to say:

“The sauce caused it to become mushy, but the overall cauliflower flavor and potato was nice.”

“A bit mushy, but the cauliflower flavor is nice in the tomato. I think I prefer it with just salt and pepper.”

“If I was gluten-free I wouldn’t hate it.”

Credit: Arielle Weg

However, the butter version was our overall favorite. Everyone acknowledged that you could definitely taste the cauliflower, but it was really good if you don’t mind it. Here’s what they had to say:

“Love this one! Have to say, one must like cauliflower to enjoy this.”

“I don’t mind the texture or taste. It’s not as off-putting as I thought it would be. I like it simple, but I can taste the jelly texture.”

“I can definitely taste the cauliflower in this, but the texture is nice and the flavor is good.”

So, simple might be better when it comes to cauliflower gnocchi. If you’re someone who buys gnocchi as a special treat every so often, it may be worth splurging and going for the real stuff. But, if you’re looking for a healthier version of your favorite pasta dish, the cauliflower gnocchi is delicious alternative. Give it a try in any of our delicious gnocchi recipes.