How To Make Gnocchi and Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About It

Oct 5, 2020 | Cooking Tips, Pasta, Recipes

Gnocchi, you’ve probably had it at your favourite Italian restaurant, or maybe you’re lucky enough to come from an Italian family or at least are friends with one. Either way, if you’ve eaten gnocchi, you’ve likely wondered how to make it. Well, wonder no more. Today, I will show you, step by step, how to make delicious, light gnocchi from scratch whenever you want. What’s going to blow your mind is just how simple this is. Are you ready? Yeah, me too. Let’s learn how to make homemade gnocchi.

What is Gnocchi?

I’m guessing that there are some people out there that don’t know what gnocchi is. No problem! Let’s get that out of the way first. You can think of gnocchi in two ways. The first way is as a little potato dumpling. Or, you can think of gnocchi as small balls of pasta made with potato. Both of those are correct. But here’s the thing, gnocchi is easier to make than pasta and dumplings. Really. You cook potatoes, peel them, mash them, mix them with egg, flour, butter, and a few flavourings, roll it, cut, and cook it. That’s it. Let’s look at that process in a little more depth.

How To Make Gnocchi

The Right Potato For Making Gnocchi

As I said, gnocchi is little bits of pasta or dumplings made with potato. So, we have to start with potatoes. Typically, for gnocchi, you don’t want to use a mealy potato like russets. You want a potato with a reasonably high starch content to help bind the dough. I suggest Yukon gold potatoes or other yellow-fleshed variety. These will provide a great flavour and the right consistency for your gnocchi.

Cooking The Potatoes

Some people say that when making gnocchi, it is best to bake the potatoes to prevent them from retaining too much moisture. I always either boil or steam my potatoes for gnocchi, and I have never found that there has been an issue with the moisture content being too high. However, I do find that boiling or steaming the potatoes whole, with the skin still on, does help prevent the potatoes from getting too wet.

To cook the potatoes, put them in a pot of cold, salted water. The cold water will help the potatoes cook more evenly than if they started in hot water. The last thing you want is for the outside of the potatoes to be mushy, while the middle is still hard. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or so depending on their size. Really, time isn’t what you should be paying attention too. What’s important is that the potatoes are cooked through but not overcooked. Cook the potatoes just until a knife slides easily into the middle of the potato.

Steam Drying The Potatoes

One other little thing that I find helps prevent any moisture issues is allowing the potatoes to steam dry for a few minutes before peeling them. All I mean by steam drying is that once the water is drained off the potatoes, they are left to sit in the colander for a few minutes before peeling. All the steam that is coming off of the potatoes is excess moisture leaving the potatoes. I go into this in more depth in this post I did way back in January all about 5 Tips For Better Mashed Potatoes. Make sure not to let the potatoes sit for more than a few minutes because you want them to be hot as you mash them. Cold potatoes will become a gummy mess that is next to impossible to work with.

Peeling The Potatoes

Because the potatoes are cooked, the peels will come off fairly quickly. However, the potatoes will still be hot. So, either hold the potato in a towel in one hand and scrape the skin off with a paring knife in the other hand. Or, rub the skin off using a kitchen towel. Rubbing the skin off works well, but it makes a pretty big mess.

Peeling Potatoes For Gnocchi

Mashing The Potatoes For Gnocchi

There are a few ways that you can “mash” the potatoes for gnocchi. The first and my least favourite is to use a regular old potato masher. I’m not a fan of this method because it is next to impossible to get perfectly smooth potatoes without overworking them and turning them into a gummy mess. The same goes for a mixer. The methods that I prefer are to use a food mill, potato ricer, or if you don’t have either of those, a cheese grater. The goal is to get the mash as smooth as possible while working the potato as little as possible. You also have to work quickly enough so that the potatoes don’t cool down too much. I promise that this is the most complicated this process gets.

Pushing the potatoes through a food mill while making gnocchi.

Adding Other Ingredients To That Potatoes

Okay, I think that we have covered just about everything there is to cover about the potato portion of the gnocchi. Of course, gnocchi isn’t just potato so let’s look at what else there is. Two ingredients that pretty much stay the same are egg and butter. For one pound of potatoes (before being cooked), use one large egg and a quarter cup of butter. To the mix, add in a big pinch of salt and a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Now, this is where things get mildly complicated again.

The Flour

First of all, I use all-purpose gluten-free flour to make my gnocchi. I notice no difference between my gnocchi now and when I could eat it with regular flour. So, gluten-free people, don’t despair. Our gnocchi can be just as good as everyone else’s.

Whether you are using gluten-free flour or regular flour, you have to keep a few things in mind when adding it into the gnocchi dough. The moisture content in the potatoes and the level of humidity in the air will affect how much flour the dough will need. Whatever recipe you’re using (I hope it’s mine which you can find at the end of this post), starts with only half the flour listed. Mix it in and add more as needed. You only want to add enough so that a cohesive dough forms. You want the gnocchi to be light but still hold together. The more flour you add, the heavier the gnocchi will be.

Forming the Gnocchi

To form the gnocchi, divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into a snake about the width of your thumb. Cut the snake into pieces that are as big as your thumb from the tip to the first knuckle. While you are rolling the dough, keep the rest covered with a clean dishcloth. Once the gnocchi is formed, you can roll them on a gnocchi board or on a fork to get the classic gnocchi lines. Those lines will help the gnocchi hold on to whatever sauce you toss them in. You don’t have to do this last step, but it does make the gnocchi look cool and helps them collect the sauce a little better. Once the gnocchi is formed, put them on a lightly floured plate or sheet pan. Do not stack them. Be gentle with them. They should be pretty soft, and you don’t want to deform them.

One thing to keep in mind is the longer the other pieces of dough sit, the wetter they will get. So, you want to work as fast as you can. Even so, you may notice that the last two pieces of dough will be stickier than the first few. That’s okay. You’ll just need to put a little extra flour down on the counter when you are rolling them.

Storing the Gnocchi

With the gnocchi all formed, you have three options. You can cook the gnocchi right away. You can store them in the fridge for a few hours covered with a floured tea towel. Or, you can freeze them in a single layer on a floured sheet pan. Once they are frozen, you can break them apart and store them in the freezer in a ZipLock bag for a few months. Then, cook them right from frozen the same as you would with fresh gnocchi.

Cooking Gnocchi

You want to cook the gnocchi in two to three batches. The reason being that you don’t want to cool the cooking water down below the boiling point. If the water stops boiling, the gnocchi will sit on the bottom of the pot. If the gnocchi sits, they are going to stick and break apart. So, to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Divide the gnocchi into three batches. Take the first batch of gnocchi and gently drop them into the boiling water a few at a time until the whole batch is in the pot. If you dump them all in at once, you risk them breaking and sticking together.

The gnocchi are cooked when they float. Scoop them out of the pot and into your sauce using a slotted spoon. Don’t dump the gnocchi into a colander like you would with pasta. The force of the water will crush and break them. Just scoop them out. And just like that, you’ve made gnocchi.

Additions To The Dough

Like pasta, you can add other ingredients into gnocchi dough for colour and flavour. Cooked, chopped, well-drained spinach makes a great addition to gnocchi dough. You can substitute up to two-thirds of the potato for sweet potato or squash, but you may need to up the amount of flour. You can even add some ricotta or parmesan cheese into the mix. The point is that you can take this basic recipe, add another ingredient or two to it and make it something completely new. But of course, that is up to you and how creative you are feeling.

Sauces For Your Gnocchi

Gnocchi, like other forms of pasta, goes well with a variety of sauces. You can serve it with bolognese sauce, as I did in the picture at the beginning of this post. It goes well with classic tomato and basil. Gnocchi is fantastic in a blue cheese cream sauce. It even pairs perfectly with sage and brown butter, or pesto. Essentially, any sauce you can think of to put on pasta will probably be really good on gnocchi as well.


An easy and delicious recipe for light and flavourful homemade gnocchi.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Gnocchi, pasta
Servings: 4 people
Author: Chef’s Notes


  • 1 lb Yukon Gold or another yellow potato
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ cup Butter
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • tsp Nutmeg


  • Boil the potatoes whole until they are tender when poked with a fork.
  • Let the potatoes cool slightly then peel.
  • Pass the potatoes through a food mill or grate on a cheese grater into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the egg, butter, flour, salt and nutmeg into the potatoes and mix just enough to combine all the ingredients.
  • Divide the dough in two. Cover half the dough with a tea towel and roll the other half of the dough on a floured surface into a finger-width rope.
  • Cut the rope of dough into 1-inch pieces and place them on a floured baking sheet.
  • Roll and cut the other piece of dough.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Place the gnocchi into the water and wait for about 3 minutes for them to cook. Once the gnocchi starts to float scoop them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and into your sauce.
  • Once all of the gnocchi have been scooped out of the pot, toss them with the sauce, garnish with parmesan and fresh parsley and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Nothing about making gnocchi is hard. Yes, you have to put some thought into it regarding moisture and flour and all of that, but it is not difficult. But here is the thing, it seems like it is. People think that it is. Even now, you probably are skeptical about how easy I’m making it seem. Because most people believe that gnocchi is hard to make, when you serve it to them, it will blow their minds. So, make this, get a feel for it, then the next time you have people coming over for dinner, make it again. You won’t believe the reaction you’ll get. Plus, it’s fun, and gnocchi is delicious, so what do you have to lose?

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1 Comment

  1. Angela

    5 stars
    this is exactly what wanted. You answered all my questions. Thank You!

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