Potato Gnocchi

My parents took their first trip to Europe a couple years ago, spending a week in the Tuscany region of Italy. They both came back inspired by the Italian food they enjoyed and, as a result started to make many of the Italian dishes they had while in Italy. This is one of the dishes we started making as a result of their trip, and we’ve experimented with various ratios of potato to flour. What you want is a minimal amount of flour, too much and the gnocchi will be too dense. The trick, we’ve learned, is to use older potatoes, and to bake them, not boil or steam them, so that they get pretty dried out. Also it helps to put them through a potato ricer for a smoother consistency. Gnocchi goes well with practically any good pasta sauce.

Potato Gnocchi Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs whole baking potatoes
  • 2 beaten egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Your favorite pasta sauce (for example, this basic, delicious tomato sauce)

Method

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1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Spear the potatoes with fork tines in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook. Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let cool on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape.

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2 Scoop out the potatos from their skins. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and into a large bowl. (If you don't have a potato rice you can mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them up a bit with a fork.) It is best to work with the potatoes when they are still warm.

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3 Add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Do not overmix.

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4 Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Take the dough, a piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough. Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.


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5 Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about one inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce). As the gnocchi are made, place them on flat baking pan, lightly dusted with flour or lined with wax paper. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray, then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. To cook, just put the frozen gnocchi into the simmering water for the next step.

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6 Bring at least 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a shallow saucepan. Gently drop the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, draining well. Arrange on a warm serving dish. Continue cooking the gnocchi in the same manner.

7 As soon as all the gnocchi are ready, pour heated pasta sauce over them and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Tuscany The Beautiful Cookbook, by Lorenza de'Medici.

Links:

Video on Gnocchi making from Chef Taryn Wa
Potato Gnocchi with Sautéed Mushrooms from Béa of La Tartine Gourmand
Ultimate Gnocchi from Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Once
French-style gnocchi from Sam of Becks & Posh
Gnocchi with a taste of herbs and Gnocchi alla Romana from Ilva of Lucullian Delights
Gnocchi in Sage Garlic Butter from Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey

62 Comments

  1. Francine

    Elise:
    For a delicious and lighter version, you can substitute Ricotta in place of potatoes. I was doubtful until I tried it and my very Italian family all loved the lighter taste. We also use our regular marinara or meat sauce with gnocchi.

  2. stella

    I love gnocchi, all kinds of them. Has anyone tried carrots or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes? What is the wildest mix you have made?

  3. Narnia

    You can use pureed carrots, sweet potatoes (I made sweet potatoes & cinnamon ones once as a dessert, with coffee and chocolate sauce), spinach, pumpkin, ricotta, red pepper (pimiento), and almost anything. You just need something creamy, with the same consistency of mashed potatoes.

    I’ve never used egg on the mix, I think your problem is with the kind of flour. In my country we eat gnocchis every 29th, with some money under our dishes. If you eat the whole serving, you’re supposed to have a great month (on the money side).

  4. Denise

    I have made both potato and ricotta gnocchi and the consistency of the mixture is different so be sure to try a recipe specifically for ricotta.

  5. Kalyn

    Very interesting post. This is one of the things I’ve always loved in restaurants but never tried making myself. (And not very South Beach friendly, but the ricotta version mentioned by Francine sounds interesting!)

  6. beth

    Recipe looks great, as do the variations. Question: if one doesn’t have a potato ricer, how much of a difference will it make, and are there other options?

  7. Lady Amalthea

    Oh, I love gnocchi! Thanks for the tip about baking the potatoes. I’ll have to try that next time I make some from scratch. From what I can tell, they’re one of the easier pastas to make.

  8. Susan from Food "Blogga"

    The only thing better than eating gnocchi is making them (then eating them). I’ve tried several recipes, and I prefer eggs in the dough as they create a firmer consistency. I completely agree with you about baking the potatoes and using a ricer. Baking makes forming the dough much easier. I’ve been planning on making gnochhi and posting about it. Thanks for this great post!

  9. Mazz

    I love reading this blog, and I will definitely have to try this gnocchi recipe. I love gnocchi anyway, and when we went to Rome a few months ago, I got to eat some proper Italian gnocchi in carbonara sauce. DELICIOUS!

  10. Francesca

    I have used Ore-Idaho frozen mashed potatoes, instead of starting from scratch, for the gnocchi. It eliminates guessing the amount of flour used after a couple of attempts. It seems their potatoes are more consistent in texture and water content.

  11. courtney

    Perfect timing, I was planning on trying my hand at gnocchi this weekend. Thanks for the primer on it!

  12. courtney

    For those of you that don’t have a potato ricer, I highly suggest getting one if you like smooth mashed potatos. It lets you eliminate all lumps without over beating the potatos. Plus my husband who hates the kitchen even asks to help when it is time to use it. It reminds us of the playdough gadgets! They cost less than $10 at target.

  13. Amber A.

    Longtime lurker here…:-) I love gnocchi! I watched a cooking show years ago with Lidia on it and she demonstrated the technique of making them which included running the gnocchi over the back of a fork to get the little ridges… but I like your little indentations better. They are a fun kitchen project—I might get my kids involved. Thanks!

  14. Cris

    We love gnocchi here at home and I think this is great to get kids involved in kitchen too. Interesting how you bake the potatoes instead of cooking them, this might explain the reason the gnocchi fails sometimes when we boil the potatoes. Thanks!

  15. Chigiy

    Elise,
    Good tip on the “older potatoes” I’ve made gnocci before with Rich’s grandmother’s recipe. I used a fork to push it down and roll each one of the little critters out with, to give them something for the sauce to hold on to. It’s the same idea as the little dimple you gave yours.

  16. Sandra

    Hello, it is my first time here, I love gnocchi, I always make it and I have another 2 tips I’ve learned a long time ago, to share with you,first, you can put the potatoe with the skin in the potatoe ricer because the skin will remain in the in the container ( if you know what I mean, it separate itself ) and also, after doing this wait until the potatoe gets cold to add the other ingredients, because sometimes you need to add more flour ( usually ) when the potatoe is hot…

  17. Garry

    Another way to make gnocchi is with instant mashed potatoes. Use a 50% mix of flour and instant mashed potatoes.

  18. Jaclyn

    Wow, I never realised gnocchi was such an easy pasta to make! It’s one of my brother’s favourite things, so I’d love to make it for him the next time I see him. However, since I’d like to be able to eat it with him and that requires it being gluten-free, what are your thoughts on alternative flours? I’m thinking it could work well with glutinous (white) rice flour or sorghum flour.

    Opinions from the peanut gallery? Would it be necessary to add baking powder and/or xanthan gum to the flour?

  19. brent

    Just to let everyone know you can pick a potato ricer up at Target for $7. Might as well just grab one. =D They make wonderful mashed potatos as well. ;)

  20. rhiannon

    Do you have to freeze the gnocchi before cooking it? If not, are the instructions the same? I have a small, full, freezer and don’t really have room for a cookie sheet.

  21. Hank

    Nice recipe – I like the alternative gnocchi shape. But I would suggest you par-cook the gnocchi before freezing because it sets the dough properly. Basically, you drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and when they rise to the surface, you take them out and drop them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Then you can freeze them for a few weeks – either way, however, frozen gnocchi are WAAAY worse than fresh ones. Why? Potatoes don’t freeze well; their structure breaks down.

    My $.02

    PS – for those without a ricer or a food mill (ever rarer in today’s kitchen) I would push the potatoes through a metal colander set over a bowl.

  22. melissa

    Oh thank you SO much for a Gnocchi recipe. I think I tried to make gnocchi once but failed and have always wanted to try again. You recipes are always so great. And than all the comments following you learn even more. Thanks.

  23. David

    Your recipes are always fantastic! I make a gnocchi sauce with gorgonzola and cream as well. My aunt (from the Friuli region in Italy) always boils her potatoes with the skin on, then peels them right after cooking (hands of steel). Her results are always incredible! Great job as always!

  24. Charlotte

    I’ve never made gnocchi before and took the suggestion of using sweet potato. Although I found I had to add a lot more flour due to how moist they were, they turned out really well. I’ll have to try potatoes sometime too.

  25. Eric

    Actually on the previous comment I would suggest not precooking them. The ice crystals that form will turn them to mush and as you mentioned spuds don’t take well to the cold as it is.

    Great recipe though I’ve never though of making gnocchi but I do make a fantastic red sauce, thank you for the inspiration!

  26. Michael

    In forming the gnocchi, I always use a combination of what people have suggested above: both thumb and fork. If you sit the fork on the table with the tines curving up, you can take the gnocchi (gnoccho?) and push it onto the tines with your thumb. Presto! Ridges on one side, dimple on the other. Shamelessly stolen from Lidia Bastianich, but it works well.

  27. jess

    Another crazy suggestion that just might work is to use your garlic press if you don’t have a ricer. I say this because I have a large press that was great for demolishing the larger chunks of potato but eventually I gave up and I didn’t get every lump out, prehaps if I had been more methodical (cut the potato in the chunks to begin with and riced them all with the garlic press systematically) it might have worked.

  28. Erich

    I left out the egg yokes to make it Vegan. Came out very well. Very easy to make and so I have told several people already.

  29. Lauren

    Surprising how delicious and easy this was. Froze really well. Great with a tomato cream/parma rosa sauce.

  30. JLA

    This was fantastic! Perfectly light and tender, and not too difficult to make. The dough came together much more easily than previous recipes I’ve tried, all of which morphed into The Blob. Thanks!

  31. giovana

    Hi great site thanks for all the wonderful tips I also used to make gnocchi with my grand mother and she used her thumb or finger and made the perfect dimple and made them like lightning or like a machine, but to help me she had me use a cheese grater I would run the gnoccho gently over the cheese grater that also works great and today I do it her way with wonderful memories. Thanks.

  32. Mandy

    Wow. I tend to cook late at night, and this turned out to be the perfect recipe to use up the 2.5 pounds of red-skinned taters I bought. These are going to last me a LOOONG time (or maybe not, depending on if I can restrain myself from eating them all in one or two goes!)

    Yummy! I didn’t have tomato sauce on hand so I went with my standard — olive oil, basil, a bit of salt.

  33. Joe Horn

    Hi Elise, I just made a baked gnocchi with choux pastry and it was great. Heavy cream, Gorgonzola and prosciutto. They were great! I like your idea of using a finger to create the dimple.

  34. Amelia

    Just tried this, and used sweet potatoes, and liked it. I tossed all into the food processor- 3/4 c flour, 1 egg yolk, and the scraped-out innards of three smallish microwaved sweet potatoes, a pinch of nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, some salt, and zoop, zoop, til all balled up in a nice smooth clump. Dumped the ball of pasta out, rolled it into a snake as directed, snipped with kitchen scissors, and poked each piece with a fingertip. Dropped them into a pot of boiling water, and while waiting for them to float to the surface, microwaved a little creme fresch with snipped chives. Then lifted the gnocchi out with a slotted spoon, tossed them in the cream, added a bit more nutmeg. Whole thing, from looking it up on the internet to serving it forth took maybe twelve minutes. Worked very nicely with sauteed pork chops with fresh snipped rosemary, and Caesar salad. The grated orange rind and a bit of orange juice in the homemade Caesar-salad dressing went nicely with the other dishes- not sweet, but pleasant flavors. Was plenty for three diners.

  35. HUGO

    I love gnocci. They’re so easy to make. When I have twice left over mashed potatos left over I turn them into gnocchi and freeze them. However, they’re best with a ”micro waved” potato skin on and then skinned. I also use a whole egg as it gives them a slight levening. Sweet potato gnocchi goes good with a ”basil alfredo sauce”
    At times I have left over garlic smashed potatos skin on. ”Skin on” makes no difference–just as easy and just as good.

  36. kris

    Excellent recipe! Easy to make and came out delicious. To save time, I microwaved small potatoes, but allowed them the steam to escape before proceeding. Total time from start to eating: 1/2 hour. The gnocchi were delicate and delicious.

  37. Anita

    Elsie: Another FABULOUS recipe. It took next to no time from start to finish. We had it straight out of the pot with freshly-grated parmessan cheese sprinked on top. Simply Delicious! Thank you!!

  38. Tim

    On 101 cookbooks she says that traditional gnocchi is made with little flour and her recipe calls for only half an egg. What do you think of this? I feel that the recipe you present is much more friendly to my neanderthal palette. I am really curious as to anyone’s thoughts though on this other recipe…

    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/how-to-make-gnocchi-like-an-italian-grandmother-recipe.html

    Something needs to hold the gnocchi together. The real trick to gnocchi isn’t the egg, but the handling of the dough, and a low amount of flour. You need to roll it out like a snake with a very light touch or else the dough will compress and you will get something dense, not pillow-like. It’s this touch that is key, and is so hard to describe in a recipe. Whether no egg, half and egg, whole egg, doesn’t really matter as long as you can get the dough to hold together while at the same time not compressing it. ~Elise

  39. Shelly

    Hi Elise, the boyfriend and I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious… came out great. We ate ours with the meat sauce from your lasagna recipe. Yum!

  40. W&G

    Thank you sooooo much for the recipe! The little dimple idea is so much better than trying to roll them on a fork or whisk – way less time consuming!! The biggest trick we’ve learned about the dough, though, is to “test” it when you think it’s absorbed enough of the flour. We live in super humid Hawaii and it sometimes takes a bit more flour than the recipe says…so we make one little gnoccho and drop it in boiling water to make sure it doesn’t fall apart while cooking. If it survives, we know we’re good to start rolling and shaping. Thanks again for the great recipe! We adore your blog! Aloha! :)

  41. Farmageddon

    Elise,

    I made this last night and it was very easy and turned out great. I’ve made around 5 or 10 different recipes from this site and they have all been wonderful.

    Thanks!
    Jason

  42. Cheri

    Wow am so happy to have a recipe for “noogies” as my kids used to call them. Always have used the packaged ones from Italy but so heartening to know exactly what’s going into the dish.

    Thanks–
    Don’t know what I would do w/out your blog
    Cheri

  43. alex129

    wow, this was my first time making gnocchi and they turned out great! Easy and fun to make, they looked impressive and tasted great.

  44. potato ricer

    I just made a baked gnocchi with choux pastry. I had to use diary free cream, and goats cheese as my son is lcatose intolerant. Still worked out great! Many thanks!

  45. Queen of Quirky

    Elise ~ do you think one could make the gnocchi the night before and then boil/sauce them the next day? Basically, do I need to freeze if I’m just doing it the next day?

    I think you can just make them ahead and refrigerate them for a day. ~Elise

  46. Queen of Quirky

    Thanks, Elise! The gnocchi is made and ready to go tomorrow for my weekly girls’ cooking/wine night. Plan to dress with a brown butter, pine nuts and spinach sauce. I did a test run on three of them and holy cow were they tasty!

  47. stephen

    Hi Elise….
    Just a note to say that some friends and I gathered to make gnocchi together last night…I had always used a recipe from Marcella Hazan but one of my friends – from a big Italian family – insisted that she had the best recipe…I assumed it was her grandmother’s but she showed up with a printout of this post! We had a great time and the gnocchi were perfect. I made two sauces – brown butter with sage, garlic and grape tomatoes and a simple chicken liver, porcini and Marsala sauce from Elizabeth David’s Italian Food.

    Thanks for facilitating a great meal!

    best, Stephen

  48. shawn

    I make this recipe using left over mashed potatoes, and make a basic white sauce with mild cheddar to jazz it up.

  49. Helene

    Thank you for this wonderfully detailed and precise recipe. I tried this recipe this week end for family although many thought they didn’t like gnocchi.
    Thanks to this recipe, they’ve reconsidered their position and can now say that good gnocchi are light and fluffy! Baking them to remove extra moisture is an great tip.
    The only change I made was to use one full egg as that was all I had on hand.
    I will try to find a potato ricer to see if they get even better, as such, I just squashed the baked potatoes with a fork. Plus, I want to try your recipe for crispy hashbrown :)

  50. Heather

    I was told by my husbands Slovak grandmother that you could use the fine segment of a cheese grater and grate the potato after cooking and skinning it. She boils her potatoes though…so I’m not sure if it would work well with baked potatoes.

  51. Tina

    Thank you for this recipe…I just made it and it turned out awesome. I couldn’t find a potato ricer so I did use a cheese grater. Worked great!!

  52. Janet

    I make gnocchi since I’m a teenager, another way is to make “croquettes” like shape, instead of the little version, boil the same way (they rise too)place them on a oven pan side by side in rows, make a white sauce pour on top,sprinkle with grated cheese, bake till it gets brownish. Serve and add the tomato suace.This is easier and satisfying.

  53. Matty

    I literally just made this recipe, it is delicious! I did not use a potato ricer, the fork tinges worked just wonderful. I found that I had to add a tiny bit of water though at the end or the dough was crumbly. I love how the dough was warm when rolling it out!

  54. Frances

    You can also push the baked potatoes through a mesh seive or grate them with a cheese grater if you don’t have a potato ricer. With the seive, just leave the skin on the cut potato so when you push it through, only the skin remains (no need to scoop it out first!).

  55. Naomi

    I have tried a few recipes for gnocchi but this one is really helpful. The end result was little pillows of goodness!! Was perfect!!

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.