Women have been disproportionately penalized by the pandemic undermining or reverting recent equality progress rendering the mainstreaming of gender parity crucial for an inclusive recovery. The European Union provides a well-defined case to assess the saliency and cross-country heterogeneity of gender mainstreaming in the recovery. Its commonly financed recovery plan Next Generation EU (NGEU) embodies gender equality among its priorities, on the basis of which Member State drafted National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs). Our analysis exploits the NRRPs for a cross-country comparison of the saliency of gender through a mixed-method assessment complementing automated text analysis of the NRRPs with qualitative case studies. Findings show limited saliency of gender parity within national recovery investment and reform strategies, with substantial geographical differences favouring more gender-equal countries. Results highlight (heterogeneously) limited prioritization of gender equality across the EU risking widening gaps as a legacy of Covid-19.