These 5-ingredient homemade Italian potato gnocchi are so light and fluffy! Russet potatoes bake until fork-tender, and the peeled potatoes are pressed through a ricer, then mixed with egg and just enough flour to form a soft dough.These gnocchi have a perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture, ideal for pairing with delicious sauces.
But the one shape that has always felt intimidating to me is none other than...potato gnocchi! I perfected a recipe for ricotta gnocchi, but the potato variant was another story. Over the years, I've researched, explored, and experimented with many different homemade pasta shapes, from classic egg pasta dough to regional varieties like pici.
Eventually, after *successfully* testing a potato gnocchi recipe for an upcoming pasta cookbook1, learning from an Italian home cook in Italy, and perusing countless blogs and cookbooks, I figured it out. I'm happy to report that I can now share my homemade potato gnocchi recipe with my findings!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's a perfect weekend project. Homemade pasta is #1 on my list of weekend projects. It's meditative, fulfilling, and oh-so-satisfying!
- Baking the potatoes instead of boiling them removes excess moisture, reducing the amount of flour you need for the dough, yielding light and fluffy dumplings.
- Step-by-step photos and instructions eliminate any headaches. Let's face it. Homemade potato gnocchi can feel intimidating. But it doesn't have to be that way! This post covers all of the important techniques, tips, and tricks so that you can be on your way to soft, pillowy heaven! 🤌
Journey to Better Gnocchi
During my gnocchi-making journey, I learned a few important techniques.
Moisture is the enemy. Boiling potatoes can lead to waterlogged spuds. Excessive moisture is bad for a couple of reasons: a) it can lead to mushier gnocchi, and b) it can actually cause *denser* dumplings, because you'll need to add more flour to compensate for how wet the potatoes are.
In Emiko Davies' Florentine Cookbook2, she notes, "In Italy, you will often see recipes calling for 'old potatoes'. The idea behind this is that old potatoes have a lower water content...The process is all about removing as much moisture as possible from the potatoes to ensure pillowy gnocchi." Another way to remove moisture is to bake the potatoes3, which is the method we're using today.
Lumpy gnocchi are quite unpleasant. For years, I refused to purchase a potato ricer, annoyed that I'd have to deal with another appliance. Unfortunately, the technique of mashing potatoes with a fork results in lumpy, sub-par dumplings. A ricer (or food mill) is *the* best tool for achieving silky smooth gnocchi.
Use *just* enough flour to form a dough4,5. Flour is important because it provides structure to the gnocchi. Too much flour, though, leads to a dense or gummy texture.
Homemade gnocchi requires just a few simple ingredients!
- Potatoes: The best potatoes for gnocchi are starchy, floury ones, like russets. The combination of a high starch/low moisture content allows them to break down easily in cooking, yielding a soft and fluffy texture. Avoid waxy varieties, such as new potatoes or yukon gold.
- Flour: Some cooks swear by 00 flour's finer texture for gnocchi, but I think all-purpose flour works just fine here! You can use either interchangeably.
- Egg: Some recipes call for egg, some don't. While eggless versions can yield even lighter gnocchi, I found that it's worth adding, as it 1) makes the dough easier to work with6 and b) binds the dumplings better.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, refer to the recipe card.
- Bench Scraper - Optional: Though optional, a bench scraper allows you to cut the flour into the potato-egg mixture, minimizing additional kneading time.
- Potato Ricer or Food Mill: A potato ricer (or food mill) is your absolute best bet at getting a perfectly smooth and fluffy dough. Mashing the potatoes with a fork is just not going to cut it here. It'll increase the risk of gumminess, and it doesn't guarantee a smooth texture.
- Gnocchi Board - Optional: If you like the traditional ridges on gnocchi, I recommend a gnocchi board (also called a rigagnocchi). You can also use the back of the fork! Tip: Use a toothpick to clean the board after using.
What's the Benefit of Using a Gnocchi Board?
Rolling the pieces against a gnocchi board has two advantages: 1) It creates appealing ridges, and 2) It forms a slight "cup" shape that improves sauce adhesion to the dumpling6.
Personally, I think they are just as cute in a simple pillow shape! You absolutely don't have to roll them, but if you do want the sauce to cling better, you can indent each piece with your thumb to emulate the cup shape.
How to Make Potato Gnocchi
Bake & Rice the Potatoes
Step 1 - Bake the potatoes: Prick the potatoes all over with a fork to allow steam to escape during baking. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour until fork-tender. The potatoes need to be completely tender so err on the side of overcooking here (Image 1).
Step 2 & 3 - Once cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and push them through a ricer (or food mill). Don't burn yourself, but aim to rice the potatoes as soon as possible (Images 2 & 3).
Step 4 - Allow the riced, cooked potatoes to cool until no warmer than lukewarm. Mix with the egg until combined (Image 4).
Make the Dough
Steps 5 & 6 - Form the dough: On a clean work surface (or wooden cutting board), sprinkle ¾ of the flour and salt on top, then cut it into the egg mixture using your hands or a bench scraper. Knead for about 1 minute until a shaggy mixture forms. The dough will feel slightly sticky, but if it's very sticky, knead in the remaining (Image 5 & 6).
Step 7 - Shape into a rough rectangle and generously dust with flour on top and bottom (Image 7).
TIP: The dough does need a minute or so of kneading to form enough structure. That said, you do *NOT* want to overknead, which can lead to sticky, gummy, and/or dense gnocchi. The dough *will* be a bit sticky - that's fine! As long as it feels like a solid, mostly homogeneous mass, you should be good to go.
Step 8 - Cut gnocchi dough into 1 ½-inch wide portions (Image 8).
Roll & Shape the Potato Gnocchi
Step 9 - Roll each portion into a long rope about ½-inch in diameter, then slice each rope into bite-sized, ½-inch pieces. Repeat rolling and cutting the remaining dough (Image 9).
Step 10 - 12 - Shape the pieces: There are a few options for shaping the gnocchi.
- Ridged Texture: The most classic way is to roll the gnocchi over a gnocchi board with your thumb (Images 10 - 12). This creates a ridge on one side, and a slightly cupped shape on the other end. You can also use the tines of a fork if you don't have a gnocchi board. Make sure the board or fork is very well-floured to prevent sticking. For a visual instruction, this step-by-step video demonstrates rolling malloreddus, which is the same process as forming potato gnocchi.
- No Texture: You can also leave the gnocchi as cute little pillows, and they'll be just as delicious! I do recommend indenting each piece slightly with your thumb to create a cupped shape for holding sauce.
Transfer each piece to a well-dusted, parchment-lined baking sheet. Evenly arrange in a single layer.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, set a large skillet over low heat and warm up your favorite sauce.
Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water in batches. Once the gnocchi float to the top, cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute or so until they're tender. Transfer them to the skillet with a slotted spoon, and toss to combine. You can add a little pasta water if necessary to thin out the sauce.
Alternatively, you can pan-fry the gnocchi after boiling if you want them to crisp up! Heat a pan with a bit of butter or olive oil, and toss with the cooked dumplings until golden-brown. Serve with your desired sauce, and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
The following techniques are essential for light and fluffy gnocchi, and they're baked into the recipe for optimal results. Let's talk through each one in more detail:
Measure 1 Part Flour to 4 Parts Riced Potato:
Like I said previously, the amount of flour you use can significantly affect the texture of the gnocchi. Too much flour, and they will be too dense. Not enough flour, and they may fall apart.
TIP: America's Test Kitchen found the optimal ratio to be 1 part flour to 4 parts riced potato8. In the recipe, I provide an approximate amount of flour based on how much yield I got from my potatoes. I recommend measuring your own yield to confirm the amount of flour is roughly the same. If it's wildly off, use the amount of flour according to the ratio!
Test the Gnocchi:
Want to know a surefire way to prevent your gnocchi from falling apart? Test it! Right after making your dough, cut off a small, bite-size piece of gnocchi, roll it over a gnocchi board if you wish, and boil it until tender. If it stays together, it's good to go! If it disintegrates, you need more flour.
Engage Your Intuition:
Working with dough involves a lot of art and science. When you're new to this process, it can feel challenging to have a "gut instinct." That said, I encourage you to try! Do your potatoes feel not-quite-fork-tender? Keep baking them. Does the dough feel *incredibly* sticky? You may need more flour.
Great gnocchi can be achieved with the proper technique, and a little bit of practice. You got this!
Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions
Once you shape the gnocchi, you'll want to cook them within 20 minutes or so (otherwise, they begin to stick). Leftover cooked potato gnocchi can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 - 2 days. I recommend lining the container with layers of parchment paper, and evenly arranging them so they aren't touching each other.
Freezer Instructions: To freeze potato gnocchi for long-term storage, cook in boiling water until they just begin to float. Air-dry on a clean kitchen towel, then transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour until solid, then transfer to an airtight Ziploc freezer bag for up to 1 month. Cook frozen gnocchi in boiling water (do not thaw) until they float again.
I haven't tried this myself, but I have seen a method for grating the boiled potatoes using the large holes on a box grater. Just make sure the potatoes are *very* tender before doing so, otherwise the dough may not come together. For best results, use a ricer.
The sky's the limit! You can serve them boiled or pan-fried with a variety of sauces. I recommend serving them "Sorrentina" style (baked in tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese). But you can also enjoy them with kale puree and whipped ricotta or brown butter and sage.
When cooked, the gnocchi will float to the top of the boiling water. It should taste tender, with no traces of residual flouriness.
From my experiments, baking is the way to go! It prevents the potatoes from getting too waterlogged while also removing excess moisture. It's also very hands-off!
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Homemade Italian Potato Gnocchi
Make the Gnocchi Dough
- Bake the potatoes: Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F/204°C. Scrub and dry the potatoes, then prick them all over with a fork. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until completely fork tender.20 ounces russet potatoes
- Rice the potatoes: Peel the potatoes while they are still warm, but cool enough to handle. Pass through a ricer (or food mill) and allow to cool until no warmer than lukewarm temperature. My riced potatoes yielded about 13.7 ounces. Note: If the riced potatoes weigh significantly more or less than 14 ounces, you will want to re-measure the flour so that it's ¼ the weight of your potatoes.
- Make the dough: On a large wooden surface (or in a large mixing bowl) combine potatoes and egg with a fork. Sprinkle ¾ of the flour and the salt on top of the mixture, then use your hands or a bench scraper to begin cutting the flour into the egg-mixture. Once a shaggy mixture has formed, knead for about 1 minute until mostly combined. If the dough feels very sticky, gently knead in the remaining flour. Form into a rough rectangle, and dust the top and bottom of the rectangle with a generous amount of flour.Note: The dough does need a minute or so of kneading to form enough structure. That said, you do *NOT* want to over-knead, which can lead to sticky, gummy, and/or dense gnocchi. The dough *will* be a bit sticky - that's fine! As long as it feels like a solid, mostly homogeneous mass, you should be good to go.1 large egg, 100 grams all-purpose flour, 5 grams Diamond-Crystal Kosher Salt
- Optional - Test the Gnocchi: If this is your first time making gnocchi, I recommend the boil test! Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a ½-inch square of gnocchi. Using your thumb, indent it slightly. Add the dumpling to the water, and cook for 1 ½ - 2 minutes, or until soft and tender; the gnocchi should be floating on the surface of the water. If it held together and didn't disintegrate, great! You're good to proceed to the next step. If it did disintegrate, you will want to add a bit more flour and gently knead to help the dough come together. Test again.
Roll Out the Gnocchi:
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and dust generously with semolina flour.Using the bench scraper (or a knife), slice the dough into 1 ½-inch wide portions. Roll each portion into a rope, about ½-inch thick. Slice into ½-inch pieces to form the shape of a pillow.Semolina flour
- Optional - For a Ridged Texture: Using the side of your thumb, roll each piece against a flour-dusted gnocchi board or the back of the tines of a fork, rolling and flicking the dough to form a curled, cupped shape on one side and a ridged surface on the other. Continue dusting the board with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Note: Gnocchi can be delicate, so make sure to very gently roll them against the gnocchi board. If you don't want a ridged texture, I recommend indenting each "pillow" slightly with your thumb. The cup shape holds sauces better. Transfer each piece to the baking sheet, making sure they don't touch.
Boil & Serve:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the gnocchi in batches. Once the gnocchi float to the top, cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute or so until they're tender. Transfer them to the skillet with a slotted spoon, and toss to combine. You can add a little pasta water if necessary to thin out the sauce. Serve with your desired sauce, and enjoy! Alternatively, you can also pan-fry the gnocchi after boiling for a crisper texture.Note: Avoid a *vigorous* boil, which can cause the gnocchi to disintegrate.
- Don't Over-Knead: This may feel counterintuitive, but the more you work the dough, the stickier it will feel. What's more, over-kneading can lead to a denser, gummier result.
- While you need to knead the dough a little bit, this isn't like a pasta dough or bread dough! You'll want to work with it as little as possible until it comes together into a solid block. It's okay if it's not completely smooth or homogenous!
- Storage Instructions: Once you shape the gnocchi, you'll want to cook them within 20 minutes or so (otherwise, they begin to stick). Leftover cooked gnocchi can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. I recommend lining the container with layers of parchment paper, and evenly arranging them so they aren't touching.
- Freezer Instructions: To freeze gnocchi for long-term storage, cook in boiling water until they just begin to float. Air-dry on a clean kitchen towel, then transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour until solid, then transfer to an airtight Ziploc freezer bag for up to 1 month. Cook frozen gnocchi in boiling water (do not thaw) until they float again.
6, 7 Serious Eats
8 Potato Gnocchi Recipe (America's Test Kitchen). I can no longer find the original source on the America's Test Kitchen website, but I do see the notes on Reddit (linked).