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Cajun-Spiced Corn Chowder With Gnocchi

This easy Cajun-Spiced Corn Chowder With Gnocchi is creamy, full of flavor and has a lightly spicy kick that’ll have you coming back for more. And it’s ready in less than an hour!

It’s a fabulous fusion of Cajun, Italian and American cuisine that’s rich, hearty, and absolutely delicious. Great for a meatless meal, you can serve it for either dinner or lunch (or both, because leftovers are awesome)!

So…I had a batch of gnocchi left after last week’s quick and easy Instant Potato Gnocchi recipe, and I decided that I should turn it into another recipe to share with you this week.

I wanted to do something a little different than the usual ways to use gnocchi. I was also having a serious craving for corn chowder. The result? I replaced the potatoes in my favorite corn chowder recipe with gnocchi, and here we are.

What a winner! Note to self: consider replacing potatoes with gnocchi in other recipes.

The gnocchi are soft and pillowy. The Cajun seasoning and the onion, celery and bell pepper (aka “the trinity” in Cajun cooking) make the creamy and slightly thick broth so tasty.

The Cajun seasoning also provides a little bit of background heat that’s easy to handle, and it balances perfectly with the sweet kernels of corn.

And since you can use either fresh, frozen or canned corn, you can enjoy this gnocchi corn chowder any time of the year!

all of the ingredients needed to make Cajun-spiced corn chowder with gnocchi in bowls with each ingredient labeled with a text overlay

Ingredients You Need

  • Olive oil (not extra-virgin; use one made for sautéeing)
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • All-purpose flour (this is used to thicken the broth)
  • Chicken broth or stock (I use water mixed with a roasted chicken base because it has lots of flavor)
  • Heavy cream
  • Corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • Cajun seasoning (see Note below for the one I use)
  • Bay leaves (dried)
  • Gnocchi (fresh, frozen or the shelf-stable kind in the pasta aisle of the grocery store; I like to use my homemade Instant Potato Gnocchi whenever I can for the best results)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh parsley (for garnish; optional)

Note on the Cajun seasoning I use: I make a homemade blend using Emeril’s Essence recipe as the basis. I combine 2½ tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon each black pepper, onion powder, dried oregano and dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduced to tame the heat). I omit the salt so I can control the amount in whatever recipe I am making.

This is for a whole batch of seasoning that I keep stored in an airtight container in my spice cabinet for several months. You can scale it up or down depending on how much you want to make.

You can also use your favorite store-bought brand of Cajun seasoning. Just keep in mind that different brands will have different levels of salt and heat.

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

How to Make Cajun-Spiced Corn Chowder With Gnocchi

1: In a large pot, sauté the onions, celery and red bell peppers in the olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften.

2: Add the garlic; cook, stirring, for one minute.

2 numbered images; number 1 is of onions, celery and bell peppers being sautéed in a pot, and number 2 is of a spoonful of garlic being added to the pot

3: Add the flour; cook, stirring, for one minute.

4: Add the chicken broth, heavy cream, corn kernels, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaves; stir to combine.

2 numbered images; number 3 is of flour added to the pot, and number 4 is of the broth, cream, corn, seasoning and bay leaves added to the pot

5: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

6: Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water.

2 numbered images; number 5 is of the chowder simmering in the pot, and number 6 is of gnocchi cooking in a pot of boiling water

7: Add the gnocchi to the chowder. Adjust the seasonings if needed.

8: Ladle into bowls and top each serving with chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning, if desired. Enjoy!

2 numbered images; number 7 is of the cooked gnocchi being added to the chowder, and number 8 is of the finished chowder in a bowl topped with parsley and Cajun seasoning with text that says enjoy

Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. For the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • You can use either fresh, frozen or canned corn in this recipe.
    • Fresh is always best, especially when local corn is in season. Just cut the kernels off the cob and add them to your chowder.
    • Frozen is my second choice, and it’s what I use when I can’t get fresh (like right now in winter). And there’s no need to thaw it before adding.
    • Canned corn is my third choice because I don’t personally love the flavor or texture. But hey, if you love it, go right ahead and use it (drain it first)!
  • You can use fresh/homemade gnocchi (my favorite), frozen gnocchi, or the gnocchi that is in the pasta aisle of the grocery store. Packages usually range from 12 to 16 ounces; any of those sizes will do. 
    • I do not cook the gnocchi in the simmering chowder because they can easily become overcooked that way, and they can become mushy and fall apart. Cooking them separately and adding them to the soup last will help prevent that.
  • Remember that the heat level of the Cajun seasoning that you use will determine how much heat your chowder will have. Feel free to adjust the level of the seasoning to suit your own tastes.
  • I don’t add any salt until the very end because the broth has salt (and, if you’re using a store-bought Cajun seasoning, many of those have salt in them as well).
  • This chowder isn’t super thick. If you want a thicker consistency, increase the amount of flour.
  • You will get 6 to 8 servings from this recipe (2 or 1½ cups each). If you don’t need quite that much, you can easily halve it to make 3 to 4 servings.
close up of a ladle full of cajun spiced corn chowder with gnocchi being lifted out of the pot

Substitutions & Variations

  • Vegetable broth or stock can be used instead of chicken if you prefer.
  • Want more heat? Add cayenne pepper to taste.
  • If you’re not into bell peppers, try using diced carrots instead. Sauté them with the onions and celery, and then just make sure you simmer the chowder until they are tender.
  • You can use peeled and cubed potatoes instead of gnocchi (about 3 to 4 medium russet potatoes). Add them along with the with the broth, cream, corn and seasoning. Simmer the chowder until they are just fork-tender.
  • Sliced green onions and/or bacon are also a yummy toppings.
    • You can cook the bacon right in the pot first, remove it, and then use 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease instead of the olive oil if you’d like.
overhead view of 2 white soup mugs filled with cajun-spiced corn chowder with gnocchi with 2 spoons in between them

Storing Leftovers, Reheating & Freezing

Storing Leftovers

Store leftover corn chowder, once cooled, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Reheating

Reheat the leftover corn chowder in a pot on the stove over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Be careful not to overcook the gnocchi, as they can become mushy and fall apart if you do.

Freezing

I don’t recommend freezing this corn chowder because soups with cream will often separate and take on a grainy texture when frozen and thawed.

close up of a spoonful of cajun spiced corn chowder with gnocchi being lifted out of the bowl

What to Serve With Corn Chowder

Honestly, this chowder is so satisfying, it can be a meal all by itself, no sides needed. But I do like to pair it with either Italian bread or dinner rolls (which I use to mop up every last drop of that broth!).

A tossed green salad with a tangy dressing (such as my maple balsamic vinaigrette) is also an excellent choice and is a nice contrast against the richness of the chowder.

I hope you try this Cajun-Spiced Corn Chowder With Gnocchi recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Chowder & Soup Recipes To Try

Be sure to check out my Soup, Stew and Chili page for lots more soup recipes!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

Cajun-spiced corn chowder with gnocchi garnished with parsley and Cajun seasoning in a white soup mug

Cajun-Spiced Corn Chowder With Gnocchi

This easy Cajun-Spiced Corn Chowder With Gnocchi is creamy, full of flavor and has a lightly spicy kick that'll have you coming back for more. And it's ready in less than an hour!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8 (recipe makes about 12 cups total)
Estimated Calories: 569

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, not extra virgin; use one made for sautéeing
  • 2 cups chopped onions, ½-inch pieces (about 1 large onion)
  • 2 cups chopped celery, ½-inch pieces (about 4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped red bell peppers, ½-inch pieces (about 1 large pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock, I use water mixed with a roasted chicken base such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups corn kernels, see Notes below
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, add more or less to taste; see Notes below
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 12 to 16 ounces gnocchi, see Notes below
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot (I use a 5-quart pot) over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and red bell peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • While the veggies are sautéing, put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the gnocchi. You want it to be ready and waiting when it's time to cook them later.
  • Add the garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for one minute.
  • Add the flour; cook, stirring frequently, for one minute.
  • Add the chicken broth or stock, heavy cream, corn kernels, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaves; stir to combine.
  • Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. The soup will thicken a bit during this time.
  • When there is just a minute or two of simmering time left, add the gnocchi to the boiling salted water and cook according to the package directions (if using homemade gnocchi, cook them just until they float).
  • Using a slotted spoon, take the gnocchi out of the water and put them directly into the chowder; stir to combine.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
    I don't add any salt before this point because the broth has salt and, if you're using a store-bought Cajun seasoning, many of those contain salt as well.
  • Ladle into bowls and top each serving with chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use either fresh, frozen or canned corn in this recipe.
    • Fresh is always best when it is in season. Just cut the kernels off the cob and add them in. 
    • Frozen is my second choice, and it’s what I use when I can’t get fresh. There’s no need to thaw it first.
    • Canned corn is my third choice because it has a different flavor and texture. But if you love it, go ahead and use it. Drain it first.
  • You can use fresh, homemade (my favorite), frozen, or shelf-stable gnocchi Packages usually range from 12 to 16 ounces; any of those sizes will do. 
  • Different brands of Cajun seasoning will have different levels of heat and salt. For that reason, I use a homemade mix so I can control the heat and salt. See the “Ingredients You Need” section of the post for that recipe.
  • This chowder isn’t super thick. If you want a thicker consistency, increase the amount of flour.
  • Please refer to the post for additional tips and information on storing leftovers, reheating and freezing.
  • Estimated calories shown are based on using 14 ounces of gnocchi and 6 servings of about 2 cups each. You can also do 8 servings of 1½ cups each, which would be an estimated 426 calories per serving.
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