In a mad rush for dinner, most of us grab the nearest box or bag of pasta to create an easy weeknight meal. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but with just a little time and effort, you can make pasta night extraordinary with fresh pasta. With our easy-to-follow guide, you don’t need to be a master in the kitchen to create homemade gnocchi. Step by step, we’ll take you through the process of creating these famous Italian potato dumplings. It takes only a few simple ingredients and a little muscle to make a classic in your kitchen.
Just what are gnocchi, anyhow?
This plump, pillowy potato pasta originated in Northern Italy, where the colder climate was much more conducive to growing potatoes than grains. Gnocchi was filling and inexpensive, which made it a popular meal. That said, Northern Italy is the birthplace of other hearty Italian classics too, like risotto and polenta. What gnocchi has become, however, is much more than its humble peasant roots.
These lovable dumplings are one of the most popular pasta shapes in Italian-American cuisine. It helps that they are so versatile too! Gnocchi can be dressed in a number of incredible sauces—from a simple brown butter and sage sauce to an herbaceous tomato marinara to a lush and creamy pesto. How will you enjoy your fresh homemade gnocchi?
…and of course, a dry work space.
*General rule of thumb: 1 medium-sized potato per serving or person. For every potato, you want to use approximately 1/2 cup of flour.
Boil potatoes: In a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on. The skin helps the potato not too absorb access water. (Dry potatoes are good. Water potatoes are bad.) Boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
Drain well: Remove potatoes and drain well. Allow them to cool in a colander or over cheesecloth.
Peel potatoes: Peel boiled potatoes, removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.
Rice potatoes: Using a potato ricer, rice peeled potatoes. If they appear watery at this point, allow them to rest on a dishtowel to absorb excess water.
The foundation: Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour.
Salt: Sprinkle with salt.
Make a well: Using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.
Add egg: Break egg into the center of the well. Beat the egg with a fork.
*This is where you would add the cheese for the cheese version.
Incorporate ingredients: Using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.
Begin to form: Use your hands to combine ingredients, beginning to form the dough.
Knead dough: Pull together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.
Shape dough: Shape dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.
Cut dough: Cut dough into 8-10 pieces, about 4 inches long.
The secret to perfect gnocchi: Knead just enough for the dough to come together. Dough should have a loose airy texture, not gooey or dense.
Roll into ropes: Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope. For shorter, heavier gnocchi, roll dough into thick ropes and cut into 1-inch pieces. For thinner gnocchi, roll longer ropes.
Cut dough ropes: Using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 1-inch pieces. Cut ends at an angle.
Keep floured: To prevent sticking, keep gnocchi in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while they are waiting to be cooked or frozen.
Ridges or indents: You can use a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb. This process isn’t necessary, but adds to the asthetic of your final dish.
To cook: Gently shake away any excess flour and place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook gnocchi until they float to the top, about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes. Do not wait longer than 45 minutes to cook gnocchi or they will begin to stick to each other.
This gnocchi recipe makes 4-6 servings. Click here for our straight-up recipe for homemade gnocchi (no step-by-step photos).
Storage Options. If you want to make the gnocchi ahead of time you have 2 options:
Freeze: Arrange gnocchi on a baking sheet with excess flour to keep from sticking. Place baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until they are completely frozen. Once they are frozen, remove from pan and store until you are ready to cook. Do not thaw gnocchi. Cook frozen gnocchi in boiling water. Gnocchi can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Cook and refrigerate: Follow the cooking instructions above. Once cooked, gently remove gnocchi and place into a bowl of ice cold water (ice bath) to cool down. Drain well and toss lightly with a touch of olive oil to prevent sticking. Store in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you are ready to serve, simply toss gnocchi with warmed sauce in saucepan.
Looking for homemade gnocchi with less work? Try our Potato & Cheese Italian Gnocchi Kit!
Looking for more homemade pasta ideas? We have you covered!
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