Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi

Hank Shaw is back, tempting us with pumpkin ricotta gnocchi. It’s crazy good, and actually not as hard as you would think to make. Enjoy! ~Elise

Pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and sage is a classic for a reason: The color, the texture and the flavors of winter squash, fried sage and browned butter are a match made in heaven. But making ravioli requires a fair bit of skill. Gnocchi, however, are easy to make once you get the hang of it.

The key to making any dumplings is to make them as light as possible. We’ve all had leaden lumps of unhappiness before; they’re memorable, and not in a good way. What keeps these gnocchi fluffy are the ricotta cheese and a light hand with the flour. Gnocchi dough is often sticky, and it’s the ability to resist the urge to keep adding more and more flour that separates a good dumpling from a heavy one.

Keep in mind that some squashes are drier than others, and some pumpkins can be really wet. And the wetter the squash, the more flour you’ll need to hold the dough together — and that makes heavy gnocchi. While any winter squash (except spaghetti squash) should work with this recipe, I prefer to use butternut or kabocha squash.

When it comes time to serve, it is important to let your butter get hot, to keep your gnocchi in one layer in the pan, and to let them cook undisturbed for a minute or more. You want your dumplings to have a crispy side and a soft, pillowy side, and this is how to achieve that.

Could you use olive oil instead of butter? Sure. You can also substitute rosemary or oregano or thyme for the sage. I’ve tried other combinations, and they’re OK, but nothing is quite so wonderful as browned butter, pumpkin and sage.

The only thing that can make this dish even better is a dash of truffle salt. Truffle salt? Yeah, it’s fancy, but a little goes a long way and it will make a refined, date-night dinner even more swanktastic.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-8.

The amount of flour you need to make the dough will vary depending on how moist your pumpkin or winter squash is.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of puréed cooked pumpkin or winter squash (canned or homemade)*
  • 1 cup ricotta (use whole milk for best results)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 3-4 cups cake flour, Italian "oo" flour, or all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Truffle salt to taste (optional)

To make your own pumpkin purée, use a strong chef's knife to cut a small sugar pumpkin (or other winter squash) in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings. Lay the pumpkin face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft. Allow to cool, then scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork. Alternatively, if you are working with leftover fresh pumpkin pieces, roast or boil them until tender, and then cut away and discard the skin.

Method

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1 Mix the pumpkin puree, ricotta, parmesan, eggs and salt together in a large bowl. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well with your hands. The dough should be very sticky, impossible to work. Add another half cup of flour and mix that in — you want the dough to still be pretty sticky, but pliable enough to shape into a large log. If it's not, keep adding a little flour at a time until you can get a soft dough that will be rollable. It should never require more than 4 cups of flour. Cover the dough with a damp towel.

2 Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add enough salt to it so that the water tastes salty. Let this simmer while you make the gnocchi.

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3 To make the gnocchi, spread some flour on a large work surface and have more flour ready. Cut the dough log into four equal pieces. Take one piece and cut it in half. Roll the piece of dough into a snake about 1/2 inch thick, then cut it into pieces about the thickness of a fork.

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4 Dust the gnocchi with a little flour, then use one finger to push the dumpling up onto the tines of a fork. Let the gnoccho drop back to the work surface. This does two things: It makes the dumpling a little thinner and lighter, and it creates depressions and ridges that sauce can hold onto. If all this is too much bother for you, skip it. The gnocchi will not be quite as good, but they'll still taste fine.

5 Repeat this process with the other piece of dough and then, using a metal spatula, gently pick up a few gnocchi at a time and drop them into the water. Increase the heat to a rolling boil. Boil these gnocchi until they float, then remove them with a slotted spoon or spider skimmer. Lay the cooked gnocchi on a baking sheet and toss with a little olive oil so they don't stick together.

6 Now go back to the next big chunk of dough and repeat the process. it is important to boil gnocchi in small batches so they don't stick to each other.

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7 When all the gnocchi are made, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it stops frothing. Add enough gnocchi to the pan to cover it in one layer. Do not let them stack up on each other. Let them fry undisturbed for 90 seconds. Sprinkle half the sage over the pan. Cook for another minute, then turn out onto plates. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.

8 If you have to do this in several batches, keep the finished gnocchi on baking sheet in the oven set on Warm. Serve as soon as they're all done, dusted with black pepper and the truffle salt, if you have it.

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Follow on Pinterest

Links:

Baked Gnocchi with Two Cheeses - from Bell'Alimento
Gnocchi with Radicchio, Leeks and Ricotta Salata - from Herbivoracious
Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi - from Steamy Kitchen

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44 Comments

  1. lynn @ the actor's diet

    my favorite kind of gnocchi by far!

  2. Victoria

    This looks amazing! I always admire gnocchi recipes but have never actually made one – I think I will attempt this one, though, as the technique doesn’t look as complicated as I thought.

    For this much food, and this much work, I usually try to make a big batch and freeze most of it. Is there a way to do that with the gnocchi, or is it imperative that they be made fresh?

    I never freeze gnocchi, as they get more leaden when they’re defrosted for some reason. But many people do. I’d try freezing them individually on a cookie sheet, then bagging them in a feezer bag. Definitely eat within a month or so, though. ~Hank

  3. Katrina

    I need to try this! Yummmmm!

  4. Yatee

    These look wonderful. For some reason, I’ve only ever made gnocchi with sweet potato or pumpkin. I adore how they can be crsipy on the outside, but still be soft, little, delicious pillows!

  5. JP

    Oh mama. I am so making this when I get off my blasted diet.

    2 things:
    1. I’d like to pair this with a protein, but I don’t want anything to over-power the gnocchi and it’s flavor. I was thinking pork but I don’t usually eat pork so not sure which one of the pork dishes would go well with it – any suggestions? This is going to be a celebratory “I’m off that blasted diet!” dinner, so make it a good one!

    2. Elise, I just love your site. It’s like we have the same taste buds. Just about everything on here is something that not only I’d want to make and eat but I CAN. I love that everything is made from scratch – it helps with the budget and the waistline and I just feel better eating it. Thank you!

  6. Bev Weidner

    Now this is stinkin’ BEAUTIFUL!

  7. Kristine

    Can you use canned pumpkin?

    Yes. ~Hank

  8. Anna @ the shady pine

    Gnocchi are one of my all time favourite Italian dishes and I think the audition of pumpkin is a perfect addition!

  9. Mary

    There’s only two of us. Should I make 1/2 a recipe or will the extra gnocchi keep in the fridge for a day or two? (Hank, I’ve seen your earlier post discouraging storing in the freezer.

    The dough will keep a day in the fridge, and, unlike the finished gnocchi, freezes well. ~Hank

  10. Lauren T

    These are making my mouth water. Do you think whole wheat flour would work?

    Not really. Whole wheat flour is very heavy, which will make heavy gnocchi. If you don’t mind that they are not light and fluffy, then it will be otherwise OK. ~Hank

  11. Sylvie (A Pot of Tea)

    Those look like little parcels of joy.

  12. homegrown countrygirl

    Thanks Hank! Swanktastic post!

  13. Ella

    This looks really tasty, as do many of the recipes! Question though. Do you think a soft goat cheese would work with pumpkin? Sadly I can’t eat ricotta…

    I don’t know. Try it and let us know how it turns out. ~Hank

  14. Rocky Mountain Woman

    Have mercy! Those look sooooo amazing…

  15. Mike G

    Hank, how do you think this would work with gluten free flour – my daughter is a celiac. Might be a little heavy? Maybe I will just wait ’til she returns to school. ;)

    I am sorry, but I have no idea. I have never worked with gluten-free flour. Try it and let us know how it works out! ~Hank

  16. Jeff

    This looks very delicious. I’ve always wanted to make gnocchi, but have yet to find the right recipe until this came along.

  17. zee

    Wonderful! Are these served as a side dish or main meal? Also, can some sauce can be drizzled over them (similar to the Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi recipe on this website). Any sauce you’d recommend?

    I served them as a main course, but they can also be a smaller pasta course in a larger meal. As for a sauce, I like the brown butter and sage that’s in the recipe. Whatever sauce you choose, keep it light or you will mask the flavor of the gnocchi themselves. ~Hank

  18. Christina

    Hank, is this gnocchi or gnudi – and what the heck is the difference? Either way it looks fantastic. Can’t wait to try. Thanks!

    It is a gnocchi because there is a substantial amount of flour in the mixture. A gnudi is more of a drop-dumpling. In this case, you’d make pumpkin-ricotta gnudi by minimizing the flour to maybe a few tablespoons, then dropping the pumpkin-ricotta-egg mixture by the 1/2 teaspoonful into simmering water. ~Hank

  19. Mallory

    Ooo that does look good. I love gnocchi but I am always searching for variations that differ from your traditional potato dumpling. This fits the bill perfectly!

  20. Eileen Goddard

    This looks heavenly! Can’t wait to give these a try….have never made gnocchi before, but why not :)

  21. laura tillinghast

    i just made these (i mean i actually still have gnocchi in boiling water) – i made a test run with the butter and sage, OMG these are so good!!! thank you!

  22. Nina 1100 Reviews

    Sounds like a great recipe to make. I can’t wait to try it out for myself.

  23. marianne

    Love this and will be trying soon! What in the world is Italian oo flour??

    It is a very finely milled, fairly low-gluten wheat flour used in making tender, light pasta. It is not as “soft” as cake flour, but it is much finer and “softer” than all-purpose. You can find it in fancy supermarkets like Whole Foods. ~Hank

  24. Cecilia Gunther

    I make my own ricotta from the whey left over from the cheese I make. (does that make sense)And have then taken the ricotta and made some of the worst gnocchi on the planet. THIS recipe and the beautiful tutorial is what I needed. Thank YOU -heartfelt-edly! When I start milking again in the spring I shall return!! c

  25. shawn heneghan

    I had never made gnocchi but have made lots of homemade pasta. This is much easier. These gnocchi are wonderful. A little patience when frying in butter and they take on a wonderful golden brown color and lightly crunchy texture.

    I made a full batch and just wrapped the leftover gnocchi dough in a plastic bag and refrigerated it. It was perfect the next day. Rather then making the gnocchi and freezing I’d bet that the dough would freeze perfectly.

    That’s what I do, Shawn. It does freeze pretty well for a few weeks. Never let it go longer than that, though. ~Hank

  26. jmk

    We loved these – I made them tonight for dinner with beef tenderloin, and it was one of the best dinners I’ve had in forever. I didn’t change a single thing, and the truffle salt added a lot.

  27. Marty

    OOh! I have been dying to attempt gnocchi. I had some pumpkin gnocchi at Whole Foods the other day and am looking for a recipe. This one sounds wonderful! Especially with ricotta. Yum.

  28. arbridges

    I haven’t had gnocchi much less made it so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have heard how good they are, so when I saw this recipe all the ingredients were making my mouth water. Last night I made them and they were delish! I found the pumpkin flavor was very mild (meaning couldn’t really tell it was there), but they were wonderful! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  29. kay

    I just made these, and they turned out horrible. I have no idea what I might have done wrong, but they were not light and puffy, they were dense and chewy and gross. :( Any ideas? Off to find something for dinner…

    Gnocchi can be tricky. Most likely you used too much flour, which happens a lot when you first make gnocchi because this dough can be really sticky. And keep in mind this is still a squash-flour dumpling, so it will never be actually “light and puffy” the way a gnudi would; gnudi are held together only with egg, and are even trickier to pull off well. Sorry. ~Hank

  30. Beth

    I made these for dinner tonight and was disappointed in the lack of pumpkin flavor in the final product. Should there be a pumpkin flavor or is that ingredient more for the texture of the dough? The brown butter and sage made it a delicious dish, but the gnocchi on its own just tasted like flour dough. Is there anyway to amplify the pumpkin flavor?

    Not sure, but the pumpkin flavor is muted. It’s not supposed to be a big “pumpkin bomb,” so you didn’t mess up. The pumpkin does keep the gnocchi moist and it is also for color. Flavor is only part of the equation. ~Hank

    • Julie

      Oh how I wished I would have read this comment earlier… I completely agree with you- I felt like we were eating little flour dough pancakes. Yes the butter and sage was yummy- but the gnocchi itself was not so much. I used the purée pumpkin and wonder if the pumpkin pie purée (the one With the seasonings) would have been tastier. Maybe living in Italy for 4 years- Europe for over 8- has spoiled is, but it was nothing like we were craving.

      The instructions were very easy and great to follow! I we just wish the flavor would have been with more pumpkin.

  31. Redd H from Salted Spoon

    This is definitely going in the “make soon” folder! Looks absolutely delicious! I have a bunch of frozen pumpkin puree from a pumpkin I broke down back in November. This looks like a great way to use some up!

  32. Elizabeth

    Made these for a dinner party this week, AND again for dinner last night. They are de-li-cious! A little dense (and I only used 2 1/2c. of all purpose), so not too sure what happened there. The only thing I changed was to make a simple sauce with white wine, lemon, and half and half. I also put some gorgonzola crumbles on the side for those who wanted it. I know that you noted above that you don’t want to “mask the flavor”, but I thought it worked really nicely.

  33. GlutenFreeGabber

    I love pumpkin Gnocchi. And this looks amazing. I can hardly wait to try this recipe myself. This is a great comfort food and is so good during cold weather (like now).
    Thanks for this,
    Michelle (aka – GlutenFreeGabber).

  34. nancy henderson

    Thanks Elise (and Hank!) – Pumpkin gnocchi was delicious. After using a quarter of the dough, I froze the rest in 3 other ‘dough logs’. Used the first one last night (employing 7yr old granddaughter as my gnocchi roller) and the dough held up beautifully. To finish, I added a little bit of maple syrup, served with some lovely salmon and had a wonderful meal. Elise, the recipes you choose to post are always great – anything I’ve tried has come out perfect and delicious (actually looking like the pictures!!). Thank you!

  35. Angie

    To those with freezing questions, gnocchi are a snap to freeze formed but not cooked. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray, then transfer to a Ziplock bag. (They freeze quickly, so you can even freeze some as you form the rest and rotate out to keep the process moving!) To cook, drop frozen gnocchi into boiling salted water and cook until they float, then sauce or saute in butter. While it’s good advice to boil a few at a time if fresh, I often just chuck in the whole frozen batch (which would be enough gnoccho to feed 3 of us) at a time and they always come out fine. Can’t wait to try these, my family recipe has never used egg and I’m intrigued!

  36. Judemon

    Thanks so much for this recipe.
    I last made gnocchi too long ago to count, so this was really my first time. It was so easy and delicious, a new family favourite! We ate them with cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of parmesan. We are thinking of using them as a side, my meat eaters are full of ideas (sausages, pork). What is the traditional way to eat gnocchi – I guess as one course of many…?

  37. Joe

    I attempted this as a dinner date last night and it came out alright. I used butternut squash and was surprised at how discreet the squash flavor was. Although the gnocchi didn’t turn out as little leaden nightmares, they weren’t quite the fluffy little balls of joy I was hoping for. I think the key is being patient and adding as little flour as possible. I rushed it at the beginning thinking that my mixture was going to be an unworkable sticky nightmare. Regardless, we enjoyed them with a side of bruschetta and a nice pinot. And I still have enough leftovers to feed a small army!

    Thanks Elyse!

  38. Val

    Very good. I wanted to use kabocha squash but couldn’t find any, ended up using canned pumpkin that was very wet. Soaked up the extra liquid with lots of paper towels before incorporating it into the recipe and actually used quite a bit less flour than the recipe specified. Not as light as potato gnocchi I’ve made in the past, but certainly not heavy, actually quite a nice texture I would describe as ‘toothsome’.

  39. Jenny

    I made these and blogged about them. They are delicious and the instructions were wonderfully easy to follow. See what I did at theteenykitchenthatcould.blogspot.com/

  40. Rachel

    After the gnocchi are formed but not cooked could they be refridgerated to be cooked tomorrow?

    No. Either store the dough in the fridge or store the boiled gnocchi in the fridge. ~Hank

  41. Juli

    I made this recipe for the 29 of January, and have an italian friend over for dinner.
    The dough was very sticky, but I left it in the fridge for a couple of hours and it got a lot easier to work with. :)
    We all loved it!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  42. Deborah Dolen

    This recipe is crazy good! And the author made it easier about making gnocci than most cooks do. I used Semolina for flour and BTW this freezes well too!

  43. amanda

    made this last night for 15 ppl … absolutely awesome. but I cut down the butter a little. I like how this recipe is less delicate and harder to mess up than gnocchi ive made in the past :)

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