how to make homemade gnocchi

how to make homemade gnocchi

Have you ever tasted homemade gnocchi? I’m not talking about the stuff that’s shrink-wrapped and powdery in the pasta isle of your grocery store. Not that I’m knocking store-bought gnocchi — it’s perfect for quick weeknight meals and satisfies the potato pasta craving. But there’s nothing like real, homemade gnocchi. They’re much less dense than the pre-packaged kind — soft and pillowy, like a dumpling, but still as sturdy and chewy as you’d expect.

I was first introduced to homemade gnocchi when I was a mere pre-teen punk. My parents were close friends with an Argentinian couple who made them once a month. In Argentina, it’s tradition to make gnocchi on the 29th of each month and serve them with a dollar bill placed under the plate to attract prosperity (more over at Wikipedia). I can’t remember how the gnocchi tasted, but I remember it was good. Delicious, even.

how to make homemade gnocchi

I made an enormous batch this weekend as a special Sunday Supper for Tom’s birthday and served them with lamb and veal ricotta meatballs in a hearty Parmesan and shitake broth (recipe for those later this week). While making gnocchi may not be for the beginner cook, they’re not as difficult as you might think. Just keep a box of pasta in the pantry in case something goes wrong.

how to make homemade gnocchi

The most difficult thing about making gnocchi is that measurements are a rough guideline and you’ll have to go by feel for a lot of this. There are a lot of variables that make giving precise measurements tricky — potato sizes vary, egg sizes vary, altitude affects dough, etc. So, here’s a rough recipe, along with tips and pointers for getting your dough just right. I encourage you to give these a try. Unlike fresh pasta, fresh gnocchi is much more difficult to find at the store and definitely worth the extra effort for homemade.

Update: Forgot to mention that I froze 2/3 of the gnocchi I made since it was a double batch and only 5 people came for dinner. (I always make too much.) To freeze fresh gnocchi, just cover the parchment paper with another sheet of parchment and roll it up like a fruit roll-up or sushi roll. Gently place the rolled parchment into a gallon-sized freezer bag and seal, making sure you push as much air out of the bag as possible. The layers of parchment will prevent them from sticking together or getting freezer burn when they freeze.

How to Make Homemade Gnocchi
I served my gnocchi with lamb and veal ricotta meatballs in a hearty Parmesan and shitake broth. These would be great pan-fried in a bit of butter or olive oil, or tossed with roasted pumpkin, olive oil, sage and pumpkin seeds for a lovely fall dish. Your favorite pesto sauce or light marinara sauce also work well here.

Fresh gnocchi can be frozen* and the recipe can be doubled if you’d like to make a big batch on a weekend, freeze the excess and cook them up in more reasonable portions. Just toss the frozen gnocchi into boiling water and they’re done when they float.

2 large russet potatoes
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (or cake flour)
1 tsp. sea salt
2 extra large eggs, beaten until combined

Halve the potatoes (skin on) and place them in a large pot of salted water over high heat. Allow the water to come to a boil and let cook until the potatoes are completely tender, but not water-logged, about 35 – 40 minutes. Remove the potatoes to a cutting board with a slotted spatula and reserve the water.

While they’re still hot, peel and fluff the potatoes one at a time. I find that you can peel the skin right off with your fingertips. Be careful not to burn yourself. Place each potato cut-side down and peel each potato half, then run the tines of a fork down the sides to fluff it up (see photo). You don’t want to mash the potato with your fork or a potato masher because that will make for more dense gnocchi. You want them light and airy.

how to make homemade gnocchi

Once you’ve fluffed the potato halves, transfer them to a floured work surface and let the potatoes cool a bit. You want them to still be warm, but not so warm that eggs will cook once mixed in.

When your potatoes are the right temperature, sprinkle with about 3/4 cup of flour. Mix the salt into the eggs and pour those on top too. This is going to get messy :)

Using your hands or a pastry scraper (I like to use my hands) begin kneading everything together until evenly combined. You want your dough to start off like mashed potatoes and slowly become less sticky as the flour incorporates. Keep sprinkling the dough with flour until it’s no longer sticky. Make a big dough ball.

Now, your ready to form the gnocchi. Place a large sheet of parchment paper (or plastic wrap) next to your work surface. Pull a piece dough off the dough ball the size of a baseball, or your fist. Place on a floured surface and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Roll the dough out into a long, round piece the shape of a breadstick.

Using the side of a fork, cut a small rectangular piece off. Size doesn’t matter here. You want your pieces to be small-ish (bite-sized), but they don’t have to be uniform in size. Don’t worry about cooking time – gnocchi tells you when its ready. Now, hold the gnocchi on it’s small sides with one hand, and gently roll the back of your fork tines over the top to create the traditional gnocchi shape. You can skip this step and just have smooth gnocchi, but I recommend you try it. Your gnocchi don’t have to be perfect – rustic is good here.

Lay the gnocchi on your prepared parchment paper as you go. When your gnocchi are ready to boil, add more water to the potato water so that you have a nice, full pot. Return the water to a rapid boil and add more salt. Add the gnocchi in batches of 20 or so. You know they’re done when they start to float. Fish them out of the pot with a slotted spatula or spoon as soon as they float and transfer them to a bowl. You may want to add a little olive oil to the bowl to prevent them from sticking, but I usually eat the right away and they don’t stick together.

Serve with your favorite sauce.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

*To freeze fresh gnocchi, just cover the parchment paper with another sheet of parchment and roll it up like a fruit roll-up or sushi roll. Gently place the rolled parchment into a gallon-sized freezer bag and seal, making sure you push as much air out of the bag as possible. The layers of parchment will prevent them from sticking together or getting freezer burn when they freeze.

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42 Comments

  1. W-O-W! I love the pictures. They look like little chopped off fingers, in a good way though :)

  2. That sounds like a lot of work, but it might be worth it!

  3. You have managed to do what no other recipe book could…and that is to inspire me to make my own gnocchi!!! Thanks so much!

  4. Amanda – weird! but thanks :)

    Alex – it’s time-consuming, but not very dificult and totally worth it!

    nina – Yay! Let me know how they turn out :)

  5. You have given me hope! I’ve tried making my own gnocchi a couple of times, without success. I’ll try again!

    Love your site…

  6. Valerie – Thanks. What went wrong last time? Was the dough too tacky? Did the gnocchi fall apart in the water? Maybe I can help…

  7. OOh, I love gnocchi, thanks for the great instructions :)

  8. First time visitor to your blog. I love it!! Can’t wait to try this recipe and many more out!

  9. My mom and I used to make gnocchi when I was younger, and I have so many happy memories associated with those times. When I saw this pic on Serious Eats it looked just like the kind we used to make–I am happy to add it to my repertoire and give it a try again!!

  10. I had no idea gnocchi could be so easy to make! I love the idea of homemade so I am definitely going to try these this weekend! I can only imagine these taste so much better than “store bought”! Thank you for sharing this great recipe! Great photos too!

  11. As always, love your homemade pastas. I might have to try this one next :)

  12. I’m really excited to try this recipe! I made gnocchi from Jamie Oliver’s latest book last week, and I was very sad :( because they turned into mashed potatoes. I’m sure it’s not Jamie’s fault, but I think I’ll try yours next time! Much more detailed instructions! Thanks!

  13. cupcakelust – Just keep adding flour. If they’re really mashed potato-y, break off pieces and roll them in flour then knead. The mashed potato-ness should go away and become much more like floury gnocchi.

  14. Your gnocchi look gorgeous, light and pillowy! Beautiful pictures and looking forward to the broth recipe.

  15. i love gnocchi with a deep and unholy love. i will never made any as good as my nonna’s but i will die trying. thanks for the reminder that i need to make a new batch to re-stock my freezer. (and great pix!)

  16. Pingback: veal & lamb ricotta meatballs in shitake parmesan broth at bitchincamero

  17. Pingback: Crisp Gnocchi with Lemon & Garlic Greens | bitchincamero

  18. I stumbled upon your recipe and have wanted to make gnocchi for the longest time and with your help, I think it will be a success. It’s nice to know that there are other people out there who share my love for food and want to create their own masterpieces. Keep it going! Anyway I will let you know how things go :)

  19. Melissa – Thanks! Great comment :)

  20. Ok, now for an update. I made the gnocchi and it worked phenomenally! You’re directions on how to make it were so easy to follow and very descriptive. I took some photos if you’d like to see. Take care and thanks again!

  21. Melissa – Yay! I am SO glad the recipe worked out for you! Please send me some photos :) melcamero [at] gmail [dot] com

  22. Nancy in wi. says:

    My huband wants homemade goncchi for his birthday the way Nonna Noni used to make. The family cookbook seems to have changed the recipe, (using dried potato flakes) so I was glad to see your recipe. I am trying it tonight!! I am very ecxited!! Will let you know how it turned out!

  23. Nancy – Good luck! Hope they turn out well :)

  24. Need to know if you can make gnocchi the day before serving them at a dinner party. Is it okay to make them and then heat them in the sauce the next day. or do you have to cook them right away and then store in the sauce and reheat the following day. I make such a mess when I make these, that it would be great to make them ahead.

  25. Gaga – You can make the gnocchi the day before. You can place them on a cookie sheet and separate the layers with plastic wrap, then refrigerate. Boil them just before your ready to eat and toss with your sauce. :)

  26. Hello, I love your site and your instructions were awesome. Last night I attempted to make gnocchi from scratch for the first time (before I found your site and used a foodnetwork.com recipe) and things were going smooth (I thought) until I put the gnocchi in boiling. They broke apart into little pieces. I am guessing where I went wrong was with the measurements for the ingredients, but I still wanted to check with you. Thanks! :)

  27. Lauren – Hmmm. I’m guessing it’s something to do with the potato/egg ratio. Were your potatoes completely fluffy and lump-free before you started? Did you use extra large or jumbo eggs? Did you knead the dough before you cut it?

    If you try again, perhaps use 3 eggs instead of 2. Your gnocchi will be a bit more dense, but less likely to fall apart. Gnocchi are definitely not easy to make. Did the Food Network recipe work out better for you? If so, what was the difference between the two recipes?

    Also, don’t be afraid of flour. Your smaller dough ball should be kneaded with a little flour so that it’s not at all sticky and has a powdery exterior.

  28. Hello, and Happy Valentines! I was looking for a recipe for gnocchi so I could recreate my husband’s favorite meal at the Italian restaurant where we got engaged. Your recipe is fabulous. I made them this morning, while they’re probably not as light and airy as they should be, they still turned out good, and that’s saying something because I am not the most advanced cook! Thanks for the detailed instructions and great pictures! I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes on your site.

  29. Asheley – Thanks! I know gnocchi are supposed to be “light and airy” but I kind of like them a little bit dense and chewy. Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day :)

  30. Melissa – I love grocery shopping too; I’m there almost everyday. It gives me a chance to find out what the guys are craving that day, plus, fresher food with less to throw out.

    I have bought those soft, floured, & shrink-wrapped gnocchi you described. My guys were on the fence about them and I’d been looking for a decent home-made recipe. Your’s sound a little the way my grandmother made them but that memory is a bit fuzzy. I like your tips & comments given along the way for a visual – I am definately going to try them. :)

    You wouldn’t happen to have/know where to find a good home-made cavetelli pasta recipe? I believe ricotta is in it but not sure of the rest. Boxed is just not the same, regardless of the sauce used, I just can’t bring myself to eating them; home-made is so much better!

  31. Lovely lovely lovely!!
    really enjoyed following this.. great photos and a great recipe.
    thanks Mel

  32. Pingback: Homemade Gnocchi or Gnocchi di Patate | Eat Boutique

  33. I hope my preparetion will also come up as good as yours. I will attempt this Indian food recipe during holidays. I am confused if the frying is supposed to be on high flame or low flame ?

  34. A distinctive Blog about how to make LACTO-VEGETARIAN recipes.

  35. Thank you so much for the receipe. my gnocchi were not pretty but they were so delicious … My girlfriend was impressed and our 4 years old tore them appart … So thanks !!!

  36. Thanks for including pictures with the recipes! Instuctions are easy to understand and follow so I will be trying this out soon.

    One question, do you use eggs at room temperature (I keep my eggs in the fridge)?

  37. unItalian – I’ve done both and haven’t really noticed a difference. If you want to take the chill off of your eggs, just run them under warm (not hot) water for a minute.

  38. When freezing the gnocchi, do you freeze them before or after they are cooked? I’m assuming before. I have tried making gnocchi using the recipe out of the French Laundry cookbook… but the instructions (and I think salt proportions) were off. I will be trying this recipe tonight!

  39. Tobi – I freeze them before I cook them, then just throw them right in the boiling water when I want to use them. How’d they turn out?

  40. Tobi – I freeze them before I cook them, then just throw them right in the boiling water when I want to use them. How’d they turn out?

  41. loved your recepie. Hubby too will make a big batch next time thanks
    LOLA

  42. Thanks, thats very useful stuff to know! I admit to being a bit of a failure in the kitchen, but I’m trying my best to learn. Admitting iis the first step right!? I promised to cook a whole meal for my wife this weekend for the first time – very exciting! I found some really simple recipes at this site, seems to be designed exactly for people like me, which is perfect! Anyway, thanks, I’ll be sure to bookmark this site to read more.

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