Potato gnocchi are one of the easier types of ‘pasta’ to make at home and are most definitely worth the effort. The mini-hockey pucks that are sold commercially are, to put it bluntly, hardly worth eating—especially after you’ve tried the real thing. The best homemade potato 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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:
Place your gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet as you make them.
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).
Transfer to a bowl immediately and then dress them with the condimento of your choice.
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 varietal like Russets—the kind you would use for mashing or baking, not the firm, yellow-fleshed kind for a salad or 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.
They say a picture if worth a thousand words, but a video is probably worth two thousand. So, for a demonstration of making potato gnocchi, see this excellent video lesson from my fellow blogger, Nicoletta Tavella, of Cucina del Sole, aka The Sunny Kitchen.
- 500g (1 lb.) Russet or other mealy potatoes (see Notes)
- 125g (1/4 lb) flour, more or less
- 1 egg (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Break off a handful of the dough and roll that with both hands until you have a ‘rope’ about the thickness of your thumb.
- 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’).
- Place your gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet as you make them.
- 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.
- Transfer to a bowl immediately and then dress them with the sauce of your choice.
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Can I freeze them and if so at which stage, before cooking or after?
Yes, you can freeze the gnocchi before cooking. Lay them out on a cookie sheet, put them in the freezer let them get hard, then you can bag them and freeze them. You cook them, still frozen. They’ll take a little longer to cook, of course. —Frank
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Hi can you tell me please how many eggs and potatoes and flour l need to serve 10 people . Sadly my mother passed away many years and so l cant ask her how to make gnocchi for my family
My husband whom is Italian misses his Nonna’s gnocchi. I’m looking forward to try your recipe that is written in such a delightful and tempting way.
Awesome! Best of luck.
Ohhhh how wonderful it is to find the “true” recipe for real Italian gnocchi like my Mum used to make. I checked out many recipes but I finally came across your recipe and they turned out just like Mum’s.
Thank you. I will now be exploring more recipes you have.
My family came from Valdo Biadene, North Italy
Everything looks so wonderful, reminds me of my childhood and my dear grandmothers❤️
Thanks so much for the kind words, Karen. 🙂
this gnocchi recipe is exactly how my nonna used to make. I have fond memories of sneaking in the kitchen and steal some to eat raw…but as we all now nothing gets past the eyes of a nonna! But she just warned me not to eat too many or I’d get a belly ache 🙂
I do remember that she had troubles sometimes when the potatoes seemed too wet and needed too much flour. Now I make them myself and I have discovered an excellent trick to avoid the problem, I bake the potatoes and the gnocchi come out perfect every time.
I enjoy your blog very much and if I’ll find some alkermes I’ll let you know.
Baking does sounds like an excellent idea! And thanks so much for the kind words, Alida!
My daughter requested Gnocchi for our evening meal on her 10th Birthday. I used your recipe and it was a great success! Just looking at your other recipes and there are so many I would love to try. I am going to make Taralli next as my father in law is a great fan but they are difficult to find in New Zealand. Thank you for sharing your families heritage.
That’s wonderful, Elena. Delighted you’re enjoying the site!
I wanted to ask about using a pastry blender to cut in the flour, since this is what I use to cut in flour on a short crust while performing the least amount of work on the dough as possible. Good or bad idea?
I’ve never tried it, so I couldn’t say. But why not experiment and let us know what you think about the results?
My gnocci are drying out as I write this, but the dough tastes just like the gnocci from my favorite restaurant (I added a bit of nutmeg like they do) My 10$ potato ricer from canadian tire was a huge fail and it bent beyond recognition after the first pass even though the potatoes were cooked. My garlic press did the job way better then that piece of junk, though it took slightly longer. Thanks for the recipe, I’m sure they will taste great.
Sounds nice, Laura! Hope you enjoyed them… 🙂
I grew up on home made gnocci. My parents would make them on our macaroni board, the same board the family would eat polenta off of. My future sisters-in-law would love coming over in the winter and eating polenta this way. That board is now in my garage with my power washer sitting on it and my father is rolling over in his grave. But I try to keep traditions alive. I am never without home made gnocci in my freezer. When I set out to make them I set out for the afternoon, a bottle of wine(sometimes 2), and 7 or 8 large potatoes and crank out several hundred of the little darlins. Freeze ’em on cookie sheets and dump them in freezer bags and I’m good to go for a few months.
Sounds like a good way to have gnocchi any time you want them, Paul!
Frank ! can I add nutmeg or fine herbs to the gnocchi ???? Thanks..
Sure, you can! Go easy on the nutmeg, though, as it’s very powerful as you know.
Thanks for the lovely recipe..it seems so authentic and easy to follow too…will be trying it out soon!!
That’s fantastic, Deepa! Do let us know how it turns out for you. Cheers,Frank
Love recipe’s made with simplistic ingredients that taste great, and this nails it!
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
We just made gnocchi (butternut squash from the garden) this past week. Absolutely love them and how simple they are to make.
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.
Could be luck, or could be that your instincts are on target, Karen. I’d guess the latter.
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….
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thanks so much, Adri! They’re actually kind of fun to make…. a little like working with Play-Doh! ;=)
I love gnocchi!
So do I….:=)
I will try experimenting with a little egg next time I make gnocchi.
OK – this page has been saved to favourites. These gnocchi are going to be made very, very soon!
Excellent! Let us know how they come out.