How to Make Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi are one of the easier types of ‘pasta’ to make at home and most definitely worth the effort. The mini-hockey pucks that are sold commercially as potato gnocchi are, to put it bluntly, hardly worth eating—especially after you’ve tried the real thing. The best homemade gnocchi are as light and airy as a down pillow and really do taste of potatoes. Once you’ve gotten the method down pat, they will take you no more than an hour to make, including the initial cooking of the potatoes. It is a skill well worth cultivating.

Ingredients

Makes enough gnocchi for 4-6 persons

  • 500g (1 lb.) Russet or other mealy potatoes (see Notes)
  • 125g (1/4 lb) flour, more or less
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Salt

Directions

Boil (or even better, steam) the potatoes with their jackets on until quite tender. To test for doneness, stick a pairing knife into one of the potatoes; if you can slip it out easily without picking up the potato, then it’s done.

Drain the potatoes and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel them and pass them through a food mill or potato ricer into a large bowl.

Gnocchi (prep 1)

Working very gently with a wooden spoon or spatula, mix into the puréed potato a generous pinch of salt, the egg (optional) and enough flour to make a smooth, soft and only slightly sticky dough. Do not knead the dough or it will become gummy, just mix the ingredients together as gingerly as you can. Form the dough into a ball and place it on a well floured surface.

Gnocchi (prep 2)

Then break off a handful of the dough and roll that with both hands until you have a ‘rope’ about the thickness of your thumb.

Gnocchi (prep 3)

Cut this rope into 2.5 cm (1 inch) lengths. Take each bit of dough and flip it with your index finger against the inside of a fork (or if you have one, the special rigagnocchi, or ‘gnocchi paddle’ pictured below, which you can find in some speciality food shops). This will cause the gnocchi to take on a concave shape with ridges on the outside, which will ‘catch’ any sauce you put on them, like so:

Gnocchi (prep 4)

Place your gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet as you make them.

Gnocchi (Prep 5)

Cook them in a gently boiling well-salted water. They are done just as soon as they rise to the surface of the water, or “vengono a galla“, as they say in Italian (see photo below).

Gnocchi (prep 6)

Transfer to a bowl immediately and then dress them with the condimento of your choice.

Notes

Making potato gnocchi is simple, but it is all too easy for them to come out too stodgy, on the one hand, or so light that they fall apart when you cook them, on the other. The key is the ratio of potato to flour. The more flour you add, the more chewy your end product will be. Most people like light, fluffy gnocchi—the ‘al dente‘ concept does not really apply to gnocchi—so, generally speaking, the less flour you add to the dough, the better. But if you add too little, the gnocchi will fall apart when you boil them. (It is a good precaution, especially if you are early into your gnocchi-making career. to make a single gnocco and boil it to test it out. If it stays together as it cooks, then continue.)

The measurements given above usually work well, but be flexible—as for making fresh egg pasta, the exact amount of flour you’ll need will depend on a number of factors, most importantly how much moisture your potatoes may have absorbed while cooking, which is why it’s important to boil your potatoes with their skins on or, even better, steam them with their skins on. This will minimize the moisture in the potato and you’ll need less flour. If you have some time on your hands, another trick, featured in our recent post on crocchette di patate, would be to leave the potatoes to dry out for several hours, or even overnight.

The choice of potato is also very important. You want a mealy, white-fleshed potato like Russets—the kind you would use for mashed or baked potatoes, not the firm, yellow-fleshed kind for potato salad or a gratin. Finally, as mentioned, be sure not to work the dough any more than you have to. The more you work the dough, the more you will develop the gluten in the flour—good for bread or pasta, bad for gnocchi. For the same reason,  do not use a standing mixer or food processor to mix the dough. This is one of those recipes you need to make entirely by hand.

One key variation is whether to add egg or not. I usually do add a small amount of egg (1 for the measurements given above, just the yolk for a smaller batch). I find adding a bit of egg makes gnocchi making a lot easier. Many purists will tell you that the egg tends to make the gnocchi too firm, but I find a small amount of egg helps make a workable dough and produces a perfectly acceptable gnocco. Why not try both methods and see which gives you the more agreeable results.

Post scriptum

They say a picture if worth a thousand words, but a video is probably worth two thousand. So, for a demonstration of making gnocchi, see this excellent video lesson from my fellow blogger, Nicoletta Tavella, of Cucina del Sole, aka The Sunny Kitchen.

How to Make Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

How to Make Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb.) Russet or other mealy potatoes (see Notes)
  • 125g (1/4 lb) flour, more or less
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Boil or steam the potatoes with their jackets on until very tender. To test for doneness, stick a pairing knife into one of the potatoes; if you can slip it out easily without picking up the potato, then it's done.
  2. Drain the potatoes and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel them and pass them through a food mill or potato ricer into a large bowl.
  3. Working very gently with a wooden spoon or spatula, mix into the puréed potato a generous pinch of salt, the egg (optional) and enough flour to make a smooth, soft and only slightly sticky dough. Do not knead the dough or it will become gummy, just mix the ingredients together as gingerly as you can.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it on a well floured surface.
  5. Break off a handful of the dough and roll that with both hands until you have a ‘rope’ about the thickness of your thumb.
  6. Cut this rope into 2.5 cm (1 inch) lengths. Take each bit of dough and flip it with your index finger against the inside of a fork (or if you have one, the special rigagnocchi, or ‘gnocchi paddle’).
  7. Place your gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet as you make them.
  8. Cook the gnocchi in a gently boiling well-salted water. They are done just as soon as they rise to the surface of the water.
  9. Transfer to a bowl immediately and then dress them with the sauce of your choice.
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23 Responses to “How to Make Homemade Potato Gnocchi”

  1. CORREIA JORGE
    8 June 2014 at 15:55 #

    Frank ! can I add nutmeg or fine herbs to the gnocchi ???? Thanks..

  2. Deepa
    5 May 2014 at 09:56 #

    Thanks for the lovely recipe..it seems so authentic and easy to follow too…will be trying it out soon!!

    • 6 May 2014 at 21:59 #

      That’s fantastic, Deepa! Do let us know how it turns out for you. Cheers,Frank

  3. 17 April 2014 at 23:19 #

    Love recipe’s made with simplistic ingredients that taste great, and this nails it!

  4. Henry
    31 January 2014 at 11:45 #

    Many good cooks are poor food writers:
    Even more food writers are bad cooks. You are the exception that proves the rule. A superb food writer who cooks very well indeed. After far too many years working as a professional chef I am so pleased to see such well written and useful recipes. Well Done you
    Henry

  5. 9 December 2013 at 20:02 #

    We just made gnocchi (butternut squash from the garden) this past week. Absolutely love them and how simple they are to make.

  6. 11 November 2013 at 23:55 #

    I’ve only made gnocchi once and they turned out great. I didn’t measure…just winged it. I’m sure it was just luck. I can’t wait to try your recipe.

    • 12 November 2013 at 11:51 #

      Could be luck, or could be that your instincts are on target, Karen. I’d guess the latter.

  7. 11 October 2013 at 13:34 #

    tu hai il dono di far sembrare tutto facilissimo Frank! L’importante è trovare il tipo di patata giusta e non esagerare con la farina, sembra facile……Buon fine settimana, ho voglia di gnocchi adesso….

  8. 11 October 2013 at 12:47 #

    I have to try you recipe. When I’ve made gnocchi I baked the potatoes. And I love that gnocchi paddle. Looks easier than using a fork!

  9. Bonnie
    11 October 2013 at 11:06 #

    I made these once but didn’t have your recipe and now I don’t even remember how I made them but wasn’t too impressed. But now I know YOUR recipe, I’ll certainly give it another go. I don’t remember using egg. Maybe that was the problem. Thank you for this recipe. I know it will be fine since it’s coming from here.

  10. 13 September 2013 at 05:48 #

    I remember my first try at gnocchi (which I don’t make very often, I am wondering why after reading this post – you are so convincing!) … inedible… well, except that it was the begin of my relationship with my then-boyfriend/now-husband, so he somehow managed to force them down out of sheer love.

    • 16 September 2013 at 07:15 #

      Ha ha! Love is blind and apparently lacks taste as well. ;=) Just kidding, of course, I’m sure those gnocchi weren’t half as bad as you imagine. Even when they’re misshapen, as can happen sometimes, they’re still good. Like so many things, it’s all a matter of practice.

  11. 25 August 2013 at 09:00 #

    I love gnocchi, but to be honest, I rarely make them. I guess I ought to change that! This is such a well written and beautifully produced lesson, Frank. You’ve inspired me. Bravo!

    • 27 August 2013 at 07:10 #

      Thanks so much, Adri! They’re actually kind of fun to make…. a little like working with Play-Doh! ;=)

  12. 12 August 2013 at 13:58 #

    I love gnocchi!

  13. 12 August 2013 at 10:28 #

    I will try experimenting with a little egg next time I make gnocchi.

  14. 12 August 2013 at 04:49 #

    OK – this page has been saved to favourites. These gnocchi are going to be made very, very soon!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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