How to Make Gnocchi
How to make gnocchi! These light, pillowy little potato dumplings pick up sauces and broths like nothing else. Find all the best tips here!
I used to make gnocchi on a pretty frequent basis, but over the last few years I had gotten away from it. So I’m really stoked to be bringing this gnocchi recipe to you today!
Making them for you reminded me how fun and easy the process is, and how absolutely scrumptious they can be!
So if you’re feeling a little blue or in need of a hug, this recipe will get the job done for you. Curl up with a steamy bowl of potato gnocchi in sage brown butter and it will make it all better!
Table of Contents
- What are gnocchi?
- What’s great about this gnocchi recipe
- What do gnocchi taste like?
- Special equipment
- How to make potato gnocchi
- How to serve
- Expert tips
- Frequently asked questions
- A few more of my favorite Italian recipes
What are gnocchi?
Gnocchi are an Italian dumpling made from potatoes.
They’re used in a similar way to pasta, but while pasta is made with semolina, these are made with potatoes.
Typically, they’re cut into little pillows and then rolled into a cylinder shape, with ridges along the sides to catch sauce.
You can serve them in lots of different ways. Sometimes, they’re boiled then tossed in a tomato sauce, sometimes a creamy gorgonzola sauce, sometimes just brown butter, fresh sage, and parmesan.
I’ve even seen them added to soups to make them a little more hearty and filling.
What’s great about this gnocchi recipe
- Tastes amazing: Because the potatoes are baked instead of boiled, the flavor is so much better!
- Few ingredients: You’ll only need 4 basics to make a big batch.
- Fun to make: Shaping the individual gnoccho is so meditative and soothing!
- Versatile: Gnocchi can be used in so many ways!
What do gnocchi taste like?
These gnocchi have a pronounced potato flavor. They’re almost like eating mashed potatoes, but a little more firm. It’s kind of a cross between mashed potatoes and pasta.
You’ll only need 4 basic ingredients to make this recipe.
Potatoes are the main component of this gnocchi recipe.
I like russet potatoes best because they bake up so light and fluffy. And that’s what you’re really looking for in gnocchi.
Some cooks might recommend a waxy potato like red bliss or Yukon gold, but those are not my favorite. I think they make for heavy, dense gnocchi, and I prefer mine to by more pillowy.
All-purpose flour is my go-to, but you can swap it out for any kind of whole-grain option if you like. You may need slightly less if you go that route.
A gluten-free flour blend that can sub 1:1 for regular flour should also work just fine, if you’d like to make gluten-free gnocchi.
An egg will bind the dough and keep it firm as it cooks, so your gnocchi don’t dissolve into nothingness when you go to boil them.
Use a large chicken egg, or a plant-based egg substitute that subs 1:1 for a vegan option.
It’s best if the egg is at room temperature, but I don’t find this to be critical.
Salt carries the flavors and intensifies them.
I like kosher salt best because it doesn’t have any additives (table salt usually contains iodine which can leave a bitter taste), so the flavor is pure. It’s also inexpensive and easy to find in a regular grocery store.
Not all of these are required. There’s always another option that will work in a pinch. But I find a couple of these tools will make the process so much easier!
- Measuring cups and spoons: For measuring out the flour and salt.
- Clean work surface or large bowl: On or in which to mix up the dough.
- Potato ricer: I love this tool! It mashes and aerates the potatoes all in one easy step.
- Fork: To start incorporating the eggs and salt.
- Bench knife: I love this tool too! It makes quick work of the cleanup, as well as portions out the dough.
- Gnocchi board: I don’t actually have one of these, but a lot of cooks swear by them. They’re for creating the signature ridges that help grab onto the sauce. You can also just use the back of a fork.
How to make potato gnocchi
This recipe comes together in just 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Cook the potatoes
Prick the potatoes all over with a fork or sharp knife, then bake them in a hot oven until tender.
Steam is your #1 enemy here, so as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise and let that steam out.
Then, scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.
Step 2: Rice them into the flour
Spread your flour in an even layer over the work surface.
Push the cooked potato through a ricer and onto the flour.
The ricer will mash and aerate the potatoes, all in one easy step. It’s a really handy tool!
Now just toss the flour and riced potatoes together with your hands. You want to get every particle of potato coated in flour.
Step 3: Add egg and salt
Gather the potato and flour mixture into a pile, and make a well in the middle.
Crack the egg into the well and add the salt.
Starting from the center and working your way out, beat the egg and the salt together with a fork, gradually bringing the potato flour mixture in from the sides of the well.
After a little while, the mixture will start to become too stiff to work with the fork. At this point, you’ll switch to kneading with your hands.
Try not to over-knead the dough. The less you work it, the lighter and more tender your gnocchi will be.
Use as few strokes as possible to gather the dough into a ball.
Step 4: Shape
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.
Then roll each portion out to a long rope, about 3/4-inch in diameter.
Cut the rope down into individual dumplings.
If you like, you can pretty much stop there. I think the pillow shape is pretty cute!
But if you want sauce to really cling to them, its a good idea to make ridges.
Roll the dumplings down the back of a fork (or use a gnocchi board) to create the lines around the outside of the gnocchi.
Step 5: Boil or freeze
A lot of times, I’ll make gnocchi ahead and keep them in the freezer.
If you’d like to do this, just arrange the uncooked gnocchi in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Make sure they aren’t touching each other, or they could stick together.
Slide the tray into the freezer.
When the gnocchi are frozen solid, they can be transferred to a zip-top bag and stored in the freezer until you’re ready to cook them up.
Whether you freeze them first or not, cooking gnocchi is very quick and easy.
Just bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a handful of salt.
Then tip in as many gnocchi as you like, and let them boil for a minute or two. They cook really quickly, even if you drop them in straight from the freezer.
You’ll know they’re done when they bob to the surface of the water.
Fish them out with a slotted spoon as they come up, and they can go straight into the sauce.
How to serve
I mentioned a few different preparations above, but for what you see here, I just tossed them into a skillet of brown butter and added a few leaves of fresh sage. Then I showered them with parmesan.
This is a really traditional way to serve gnocchi, and I especially like it at this time of year.
If you’re not sure how to make brown butter, I have a little tutorial here: How to Brown Butter.
Bake don’t boil
You may notice that a lot of gnocchi recipes use boiled potatoes.
I prefer to bake them!
Added moisture is not your friend when it comes to making gnocchi. Excess water in the potatoes means you have to add more flour to get a workable dough. And more flour means heavier, denser dumplings.
We want light and airy!
So bake the potatoes instead of boiling them. You’ll end up with a nicer texture, and I think this improves the flavor too!
Let the steam out
If your potatoes sit for too long, the steam goes back into the flesh and turns to moisture. To balance out this added moisture, you’ll need to add more flour.
The best way to make gnocchi is to use as little flour as possible.
So be sure to open up your potatoes asap, and let that steam out!
Kneading strengthens the natural glutens found in flour, creating a stretchy, elastic texture. This is really satisfying if we’re talking about bread, but not so much for gnocchi.
We want light, pillowy gnocchi, so bring the dough together with as little kneading as possible.
Frequently asked questions
If you don’t add an egg, or if you don’t add enough egg, your gnocchi could dissolve into nothingness when you go to boil them. Eep!
This will happen if you boil them too long.
They should pop to the surface of the water within a minute or two of adding them in.
Fish them out with a slotted spoon as soon as you see that happening, and transfer them straight into the sauce.
If you overwork the glutens in the flour, your gnocchi could come out tough, rubbery, or bouncy. This is not ideal!
When you’re making the dough, work quickly and knead it as little as possible. As soon as it holds together in a ball, divide it up and start shaping.
Uncooked gnocchi will keep in the fridge for a day or so, or in the freezer for a couple of months.
If you have cooked gnocchi left over, they should last in the fridge for a few days. Reheat in a pan over medium-low heat or in the microwave until warmed through.
This recipe makes enough to feed 4 people.
The serving size noted in the nutritional info below is for 1/4 the batch.
It does not include any kind of sauce. Just the potato gnocchi alone.
A few more of my favorite Italian recipes
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- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and prick the potatoes all over with a fork so the steam can get out.
- Bake the potatoes until tender (approx. 1 hour).
- Place the flour in a wide pile on a clean work surface or in a large mixing bowl.
- As soon as they are cool enough to handle, split the potatoes lengthwise, scoop out the flesh, and run it through a ricer onto the flour.
- Toss the riced potato and flour together with your hands.
- Make a well in the center of the potato/flour mixture, crack in the egg, and add the salt.
- Working from the center outward, beat the egg and salt together with a fork, then slowly begin drawing the potato mixture into the egg, a little at a time.
- Continue working the ingredients together, until the dough becomes too thick to mix with a fork.
- Quickly and gently finish incorporating the dough with as few kneads as possible. (It should be soft but not sticky. If it's too sticky, add more flour.)
- Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, then roll each portion into a rope about 3/4-inch in diameter.
- Cut the ropes into individual dumplings, about 3/4-inch.
- Roll the dumplings over a gnocchi board or the back of a fork, to create ridges.
- Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet as you work, making sure they aren't touching each other.
- Lightly cover the tray with plastic wrap, freeze, then transfer the gnocchi to a zip-top freezer bag and keep in the freezer for up to a few months (if desired). Or, boil the gnocchi in salted water for 1 to 2 minutes, drain, and serve immediately with brown butter, sage, and parmesan.