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All your gnocchi questions answered, including what is gnocchi, how to make gnocchi, and how to use premade gnocchi.

By Nadia Hassani
Updated January 06, 2021
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What is Gnocchi? What is Potato Gnocchi?

Gnocchi (pronounced NYOW-kee) are an Italian pasta, the most common of which is classic potato gnocchi (Gnocchi di patate). They are made of cooked mashed potatoes, flour and eggs. Some gnocchi recipes add ricotta to the dough. "Gnocchi" is the plural for "gnoccho," (which you rarely hear, perhaps because who can eat just one?).

How do I Make Homemade Gnocchi?

One of our most popular homemade gnocchi recipes on Allrecipes — Gnocchi I — takes only three ingredients: Cooked potatoes, flour, and egg.

Top tips to make gnocchi:

  • For best results, use a starchy potato like a russet (aka Idaho or baking potato) instead of a waxy potato such as Yukon Gold.
  • You can cook the potato by boiling or baking; just be sure to let moisture steam out of the mash afterwards so your gnocchi dough won't be soggy.
  • Press cooked potatoes through a potato ricer for a smooth consistency. (Try this $26 Amazon top-seller.) Spread out the mash to let more moisture evaporate.
  • The amount of flour you use depends on how much water your potato absorbs during cooking: Boiling absorbs the most and baking or microwaving absorbs the least. The dough should be dry to the touch but still hold together.
  • Avoid overworking the dough.
  • Cut the dough into quarters and roll each quarter into "snakes" with the palms of your hands rather than your fingertips.
  • Cut the snakes into ¾-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the back of a fork to impress the signature ridges.
  • Boil homemade gnocchi until they rise and float. Remove with a slotted spoon, let drain, and serve.

What is the Best Sauce for Gnocchi?

There are countless recipes for gnocchi, so determining which one is best is a tough call. Because of their shape — small squat shells with ripples — gnocchi are especially good for thick sauces but they're also delicious just drizzled generously with brown butter and a little sage, or with a creamy gorgonzola sauce.

Gnocchi primavera are made with potato gnocchi and crisp spring vegetables, such as asparagus, peas or snow peas, but you can also add zucchini, broccoli, and other vegetables.

Gnocchi sorrentina are gnocchi baked in thick tomato sauce and topped with lots of cheese, typically mozzarella.

Gnocchi Bolognese are, as the name indicates, gnocchi in a rich meaty Bolognese sauce.

What are Roman Gnocchi?

Unlike potato gnocchi, Roman gnocchi (Gnocchi alla romana), are made with semolina instead of potatoes and flour, that's why they are also called Semolina gnocchi.

Roman gnocchi are shaped differently than potato gnocchi. Similar to polenta, the cooked dough, once it's cooled and firmed up, is sliced into rounds or cut out with a round cookie cutter, then layered in a baking dish and baked with butter, egg yolks and Parmesan.

What is Skillet Gnocchi?

Skillet Gnocchi is simply a convenient way to turn store-bought gnocchi into a quick dinner. Frozen or shelf-stable gnocchi are cooked in a skillet and mixed with vegetables such as asparagus, spinach or Swiss chard, and seafood such as shrimp, then finished under the broiler in the oven.

What is Chicken Gnocchi Soup?

The most comforting of all soups, chicken soup, made with gnocchi, which are also referred to as Italian dumplings. As regularly-size gnocchi are a bit large for soup, Chicken Gnocchi Soup is usually made with mini gnocchi.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Chicken Gnocchi Soup | Photo by Wlmcneil

What is Spinach Gnocchi?

Spinach gnocchi, often combined with ricotta, is one of the many variations of the classic potato gnocchi. Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi originate in Tuscany, and they look more like irregularly shaped dumplings, which earned them their Italian name Malfatti, which literally means "badly made."

What is Cauliflower Gnocchi?

This gluten-free, low-carb variation of gnocchi is made with fresh riced cauliflower and gluten-free flours such as cassava flour and potato starch. It is also suitable for the Keto diet. Cauliflower gnocchi are available ready-made but can also be made at home.

Some Favorite Gnocchi Recipes

"This technique turns out beautifully light, tender gnocchi every time and are just as good, if not better, than the classic potato-based gnocchi," says Chef John. "And much easier. Plus you can make them ahead of time and brown them in butter before serving."

"There is nothing like homemade gnocchi," says Buckwheat Queen. "They taste like potatoes with a bouncy texture, even without gluten. This gluten-free version uses a trick from the past when Italian cooks would toss potatoes into a fire or oven that was being cooled down so as not to waste the heat. Surplus baked potatoes became gnocchi because they have very little moisture (the secret to firm gnocchi) and they have a roasted potato flavor, taking your dish one step farther."

Homemade Gluten-Free Gnocchi
Photo by Buckwheat Queen

"A new and yummy twist on gnocchi," says ELA33INE. "Pair this up with butter or your favorite alfredo sauce. This recipe can be made with butternut squash instead of the sweet potatoes."

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Photo by Chef V
| Credit: Chef V

"A delicious dish for fall! Pillowy gnocchi made with a combination of butternut squash and potato tossed in a garlic- sage butter and served over a bed of wilted fresh spinach. Top it all off with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and you have yourself an elegant meal!" —Kim's Cooking Now

plate of butternut squash gnocchi over spinach
Credit: Kim's Cooking Now

"When I found one lone russet potato at the bottom of the bin, I decided to make a small batch of gnocchi — the perfect thing to do with one potato," says Chef John. "I like a very potato-y gnocchi, so I go with just enough flour to form the dough. Other people prefer a denser, more pasta-like dumpling, and use much more flour. I know many of you hate it when I say this, but you'll just have to figure it out as you go."

Chef John's Potato Gnocchi
Photo by a.palhegyi

"A light-tasting dish with mild flavors that is quick to prepare as long as you prep the gnocchi in advance," says Dave Niezabitowski Sr.

Chicken Sausage Gnocchi Skillet
Photo by Kim's Cooking Now

"Known as 'gnocchi alla sorrentina,' this classic Italian pasta dish that uses simple ingredients and tastes delicious," says saretta. "Use homemade or store-bought gnocchi."

Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella
Photo by saretta

"Nice Olive Garden® knockoff," says John. "Soup will thicken after sitting."

Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Photo by Linda T

Check out our collection of Gnocchi Recipes.