6 Tips to Take Your Homemade Gnocchi to the Next Level

Our secret: Use ricotta instead of potatoes for perfectly fluffy dumplings ready in just 20 minutes. Plus 9 gnocchi recipes to try.

Gnocchi are one of the world's great comfort foods. There are dozens of kinds, and a whole world of shapes and sizes. Some are made with breadcrumbs while others feature cheese, herbs, or purees. The most pervasive form of gnocchi uses potato, but gnocchi can thrive without this common ingredient. How? By marrying flour with ricotta instead.

Ricotta gnocchi aren't new, but this old-school version has gained popularity recently, in part because they're so simple. Instead of boiling, peeling, and handling hot potatoes; you start with cool, flavorful ricotta, which is much easier to handle.

If you ever wanted to learn how to make gnocchi from scratch, or just want to upgrade or simplify your homemade gnocchi game, you can make perfect gnocchi. All you need is ricotta, flour, 20 minutes, and these six simple tips.

01 of 06

Skip the Egg

Gnocchi recipes usually call for an egg, but there's really no need. Egg helps ingredients bind together into a dough; but egg introduces extra moisture, and this makes for a dough that requires more flour, which isn't good. The less flour you use, the fluffier your final gnocchi. Skipping the egg lets you use less flour, making for a fluffier meal. (Don't worry: Ricotta holds the dough together.)

02 of 06

Don't Overdo With Flour

Use as little flour as possible—even when working without an egg. You want the dough to be just a little, tiny-bit sticky. If you use too much flour, the dough loses its stickiness and you'll be on a highway to denser gnocchi.

03 of 06

Nail the Basic Technique

Making gnocchi comes with fantastic creative possibilities. When forming dough, you can build flavor layers with additions: cheese. spices, anything you can dream. But before conjuring next-level flavorings, get comfortable with this basic, two-serving, ricotta gnocchi recipe:

  • Whole milk ricotta (1 cup)
  • White flour (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • Grated Parmesan (1 tablespoon)
  • Generous sprinklings of salt and pepper
04 of 06

Mix With Your Hands

Mixing with your hands lets you feel the dough's stickiness. Using as little flour as possible, you want the dough to be firm enough to easily shape the dumplings. Using a bit too much flour the first few times you make ricotta gnocchi is not a deal breaker. You'll get a feel for your flour threshold with experience.

05 of 06

Take Your Time When Shaping

Once you've massaged ingredients into a uniform ball, you're ready to shape your gnocchi. You don't have to knead the dough, simply lightly flour a work surface (for rolling dough) and a baking sheet or platter (for holding gnocchi). Let's go!

  1. Tear a golf-ball-sized chunk from your dough.
  2. On the floured surface, roll it out into a rope ½-inch thick.
  3. Using a butter or pastry knife, cut the rope into pieces about ½ by ½ inch, and place them on your tray. (There's no need to mark the gnocchi with a fork to create furrows, but you can if you want.)
  4. Repeat with a second golf-ball-sized hunk, and again until your original mass of dough is gone, transformed into a tray of gnocchi ready for cooking.
06 of 06

Don't Let Water Reach a Full Boil

Cooking gnocchi only takes 2 or 3 minutes. Unlike pasta, gnocchi don't require fully boiling water. In fact, a light boil or strong simmer is preferable, making for a gentle environment; whereas a hard boil can break gnocchi apart. Also, heating your water below a boil gets your gnocchi cooking sooner.

Once they've bobbed to the surface, give your gnocchi another 15 or 30 seconds, and then remove them with a slotted spoon. Transfer gnocchi directly into their sauce—be it pesto, marinara (like in our gnocchi alla vodka recipe), butter and sage, or whatever you've prepared. Thoroughly but gently, toss the gnocchi and let the sauce coat and permeate into them, keeping your pillowy ricotta gnocchi intact and ready to enjoy.

9 Gnocchi Recipes to Try

Now that you've perfected them, we gathered some recipes that feature pre-made gnocchi as an ingredient. Whether yours came from our ricotta-based recipe, a traditional potato recipe, or was store-bought (no judgement here!), make your gnocchi the star of a meal to remember. The best part (besides the gnocchi): All are ready in 45 minutes or less.

Steak With Gnocchi and Green Beans

Steak With Gnocchi and Green Beans
Victor Protasio

It's elegant, insanely delicious, and the hanger steak makes it surprisingly affordable. Once you've made the gnocchi, this balanced meal comes together in your kitchen in less than 30 minutes.

One-Pot Italian Sausage-Gnocchi Soup

One-Pot Italian Sausage-Gnocchi Soup
Jennifer Causey

This dish proves you can make a hearty, flavorful soup in just 30 minutes. Its turkey sausage, canned tomatoes, and fresh spinach in a flavorful chicken broth infused with Italian seasoning will take you back to the Old World.

Gnocchi With Sausage and Spinach

Gnocchi With Sausage and Spinach
Quentin Bacon

This recipe transforms your pre-made gnocchi, fresh spinach, and Italian seasoning into a warm, satisfying meal in minutes. Just sauté and top with Parmesan for weeknight dinner perfection.

Gnocchi With Roasted Cauliflower

Gnocchi With Roasted Cauliflower
Jose Picayo

Roasted cauliflower florets and sage leaves combined with your gnocchi (fresh or frozen) are topped with a Parmesan finish. Add any protein to this stunning side to make it a meal.

Gnocchi Alla Vodka

Gnocchi Alla Vodka
Caitlin Bensel

This recipe mimics the popular Italian-American pasta dish, but swaps gnocchi for the traditional penne. The vodka intensifies and accentuates the flavor of the tomato-cream sauce, but you can substitute with dry white wine or vegetable broth and hardly miss a beat.

Pork Tenderloin and Gnocchi Ragù

Pork Tenderloin and Gnocchi Ragu
Antonis Achilleos

This dish pairs a juicy pork tenderloin with gnocchi sautéed in the meat's drippings. Toss that crispy pasta with grape tomatoes and fennel, finish with creamy butter sauce, and you have a delectable meal that's way easier than it looks.

Crispy Gnocchi With Arugula and Prosciutto

Crispy Gnocchi with Prosciutto and Greens
Jennifer Causey

Is it a salad, a main, or a side? However you serve it, it's a winner. If you have 15 minutes, you can whip up this dish tossed in a bright lemony dressing.

Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Broccoli

Gnocchi and Broccoli Sheet-Pan Dinner Recipe
Jennifer Causey

Sheet pan meals are a busy cook's best friend, and this one is no exception. Starting with your prepared gnocchi; toss with broccoli, onion, pesto, and crushed red pepper; and then roast, top with feta, and serve. 

Gnocchi and Sweet Potatoes With Hazelnuts

Gnocchi and Sweet Potatoes With Hazelnuts
Greg Dupree

Butter, garlic, sage, and sherry combine to flavor this hearty meatless dish. A hazelnut topping adds a crunchy finish, resulting in a restaurant-quality creation in just 15 minutes.

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