Gnocchi is one of those dishes you enjoy at restaurants but the homemade version never quite levels up. Countless cooks have been fooled by the simplicity of potatoes, flour and egg, into thinking "how hard can it be?".
But beneath these humble ingredients stand hundreds of years of Italian home cooking and the development of culinary methods that mean the difference between fluffy pillows and chewy gluey lumps.
Luckily for you we have been perfecting our gnocchi game for quite a few years and we're here to lay out the path to success.
To learn the secrets to making light fluffy gnocchi and the answers to all your gnocchi questions, read on.
If you'd like our easy gnocchi recipe jump to the end.
What are the ingredients for gnocchi?
What kind of potatoes do you use for gnocchi?
Use old potatoes. Moisture is the enemy of gnocchi and young potatoes have more of it than old potatoes. Next choose fluffy baking potatoes with higher levels of starch, not waxy salad potatoes.
Varieties will vary by location but some good varieties of potatoes for gnocchi include any russet varieties, Desiree, Yukon Gold, Agria, Red Rascal. Any variety that is good for roasting, baking and chips will be good for gnocchi.
How much flour do you use for gnocchi?
Next to egg, this is the most debated point amongst gnocchi makers. Infuriatingly good gnocchi creators will shrug and tell you "enough". Not that useful a measure is it.
What everyone in the gnocchi world does agree is that you can have too much and that is bad, very bad. Too much flour and gnocchi turns to doughy undercooked lumps.
Bottom line is you add enough flour to bring the egg and potato together into a dough and no more.
From our trials "just enough" flour is 1/4 cup for every 500g (1lb) of uncooked potatoes and even then it is added in stages because the moisture content of the potatoes differs each time.
Some people will tell you to use 00 flour but premium flour is wasted on gnocchi. Any all purpose white flour will do fine for making potato gnocchi.
Do you need egg in gnocchi?
You can make gnocchi without eggs. However, if you use egg yolks in your gnocchi you don't need to be so precious with it. Egg yolk added to your gnocchi dough helps improve texture, and keep it together while cooking.
Gnocchi is traditionally made with eggs in Veneto and no eggs in Piedmont, the two Northern Italian regions famous for gnocchi. We vote for egg yolks at the rate of 1 per (500g) 1 lb of uncooked potatoes used.
How do you make Cauliflower gnocchi?
Take a whole cauliflower, boil it until soft and ring the life out of it through some cotton cheesecloth until you have removed as much moisture as possible.
For every 325g (11oz) of finished cauliflower pulp add 1/2 cup of chick pea flour, 1/4 cup of arrowroot, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan.
You need more eggs to help bind the looser dough together when cooking. Also bake them in a lightly oiled oven pan don't boil them.
Is there anything you can't make out of cauliflower? This vegetable of the moment is popping up pretending to be all sorts of things so why not gnocchi?
I'll do a whole blog with the full recipe for you but if you're desperate for a simple gluten-free cauliflower gnocchi recipe without any weird ingredients, that is it.
How do you make Sweet Potato Gnocchi?
Sweet potatoes and pumpkin make good gnocchi but, triple the egg yolk ratio to help them stick together when cooked. Bake them, don't boil them and enjoy crispy roasted gnocchi. They are both quite good with a grate of nutmeg and the addition of some hard cheese.
How do you make Gnocchi with Ricotta?
Gnocchi with ricotta instead of potato is called Gnudi. Almost worth making it just so you can say "we're having Gnudi for dinner". They are pretty fragile and finicky to make and can be a bit tasteless, and that is coming from someone who loves ricotta. If you're curious, here is a good recipe from The Guardian.
How do you make potato gnocchi?
Once you've assembled the right ingredients, making gnocchi comes down to the right method. Here are some simple things that work for us.
Do you boil or bake potatoes for making gnocchi?
Never boil potatoes for gnocchi. Always bake potatoes in their skins to make gnocchi from. It removes maximum moisture from the potato.
Don't bake them in advance as you need to use them as soon as they come out of the oven. Juggling hot potatoes is not easy but if you leave them to cool the starch changes and your gnocchi will be inedible.
Top Tips for Gnocchi Dough
Cut them in half and scoop out the hot potato flesh into a potato ricer.
Squeeze them into a wide bowl and let the steam evaporate.
Gently mix the flour, potatoes, and egg yolks into a dough.
Try not to knead it as kneading will develop the gluten and make your gnocchi chewy.
Keep some flour in a cup for dusting the board and your hands as you work to stop the dough sticking.
Cut your dough into 6 pieces and roll them each into fat ropes about as thick as your thumb.
Some people recommend resting the dough at this stage for 30 minutes but we haven't found any difference in the finished gnocchi by doing this.
With a sharp knife, slice your gnocchi ropes into rectangle shapes, slightly longer than they are wide. As you roll them down the board sideways this length creates more ridges.
Do you need to use a Gnocchi Board?
Yes you do, and not just for the ridges on the outside. Rolling your gnocchi dough down the wooden gnocchi boards not only makes deep ridges on the outside, it also creates a little pocket on the rear where your thumb presses.
These ridges and pockets ensure the sauce to gnocchi ratio is high in every fork-full of your finished dish. Dusting the gnocchi boards lightly with flour before you start to roll is a good idea to stop them sticking.
What is the best way to cook gnocchi?
Do you boil or fry gnocchi?
Traditionally gnocchi are boiled in a pan of salted water. Being a purist I poured scorn on the notion of frying them, but I did roast gnocchi in the oven on a sheet pan. They form crunchy crispy little parcels that are actually surprisingly good.
Pan roasted gnocchi baked with a little olive oil or butter, are particularly good for softer gnocchi doughs such as pumpkin, cauliflower and sweet potato.
How long does gnocchi take to cook?
Gnocchi cook quickly, within 2-4 minutes, in a pan of boiling water. Cook in batches so you don’t overload the pot and cool the water down too much. You known when gnocchi is cooked because the float to the surface.
Fish them out gently with a spatula and set aside in a warm plate while you cook the rest.
Can you cook them from frozen?
You can cook frozen gnocchi. Allow an extra couple of minutes and have the water at a gentle simmer. To freeze gnocchi, lay them out on a baking tray and freeze them, then transfer to a freezer bag when frozen.
Why are my gnocchi mushy?
Your gnocchi may be mushy because of any or all of the following reasons:
- boiled the potatoes instead of baked them
- used waxy new potatoes with too much moisture in them
- not used eggs to help texture
- cooked them too long
How to Serve Gnocchi - Top 5 Sauces
Gnocchi doesn't need a lot of embellishment and our favourites are the simplest sauces.
- Sage Butter
- Tomato Bolognese Ragu
- Creamy Alfredo
- Tomato and Pesto
- Blue Cheese & Bacon (or mushroom)
The Secrets to Perfect Potato Gnocchi
1 hour 5 minutes
3lbs (1.3kg) raw unpeeled old floury baking potatoes (not waxy)
3 free range egg yolks
3/4 cup of all purpose white flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Wooden Gnocchi Board
Wash and scrub the potatoes to remove dirt, leave the skins on, prick them with skewer.
Bake in a medium oven 350°F (180°C) for an hour until they are completely soft.
Make the Gnocchi Dough
Tip half the flour on a wooden board and sprinkle with the salt
Remove the skins from the potatoes while they are still hot and push the cooked potato flesh through a potato ricer onto the flour from a height.
Make a slight well in the middle of the potato and add the egg yolks
Sprinkle half of the remaining flour on top of the potato and eggs.
Flour your hands and very gently combine the flour, potato and eggs into a dough. Be careful not to knead the dough. Do just enough to bring it together into a ball.
If the mixture is too wet add the remaining flour. Add only enough flour to bring it together and to keep it from sticking to surfaces
Shape the Gnocchi
Flour the board and gently roll the dough into the shape of an oblong fat loaf of bread. Cut it into 6 slices.
With floured hands and a lightly floured board, gently roll each slice into ropes as thick as thick as your thumb (1" - 2.5cm)
Slice each rope into pieces slightly longer than they are wide and push to one side of the floured board.
Lightly flour the wooden gnocchi board and with your thumb, roll each piece of dough gently down the board width ways to make the ridges for catching the sauce.
When you push each gnocchi off the board give it a little pressure with your thumb as this makes a nice well on the inside of each gnocchi to catch more sauce.
NOTE: If you want to freeze the gnocchi, now is the time. Lay them on baking trays lined with paper and once they are frozen transfer to an airtight freezer container. Cook from frozen allowing a couple of extra minutes. Do not thaw.
How to Cook Gnocchi
Put a large pan of water on to boil and salt it generously. Heat a dish to transfer the cooked gnocchi to. You will be cooking them in batches so a heated dish keeps them warm.
Prepare the sauce you will be serving with your gnocchi so that it is hot and ready to serve immediately when the gnocchi are cooked. See our favourite sauces in the blog above.
Turn the water down to a gentle simmer and add 1/3 of the gnocchi to the pan to cook. Don't overload it. If you have a small pan, cook smaller batches. Let them bob to the top and after 30 seconds fish them out with a slotted spoon, draining away the excess water. Place the cooked gnocchi in the warmed dish while you cook the rest.
When the gnocchi are cooked, add to the sauce or tip the sauce over the gnocchi and gently mix. Sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan. Take straight to the table and enjoy!
NOTE: there is a typo in the video caption - it should say no more than 1/4 cup of flour per lb. of potatoes.
Calories 290, Carbs 40 grams, Protein 8 grams, Fat 10 grams, Sodium 580 milligrams, Fiber 4 grams