Making gnocchi is really easy with these simple techniques and tips. And this homemade potato gnocchi recipe, inspired by Grandma Nina, makes a light and fluffy gnocchi using baked potatoes that is so good with tomato sauce with butter and onion or your favorite pasta sauce.

bowl of homemade gnocchi with red sauce on a brown background

Maybe your family has an iconic recipe. One that everyone knows about. My grandma Nina was a legend when it came to making homemade gnocchi. She could make magic out of a handful of leftover mashed potatoes and when word got out she was “making gnocc”, her doorbell rang nonstop.

I only wish that she was still here so she could taste her homemade gnocchi with Alfredo sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

This homemade potato gnocchi recipe is mostly based on Nina’s recipe with one exception. It uses baked potatoes instead of mashed potatoes.

First, let’s clear one thing up…

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How do you pronounce “gnocchi”?

If you ask my family, it’s pronounced “nyuh-ock”. In Italy, the pronunciation for gnocchi is “nee-YO-key”. Say it fast!

What goes into gnocchi (ingredients)

ingredients for homemade gnocchi.

Gnocchi, like many Italian dishes including homemade pasta dough, were born out of simple ingredients. It was a way to use up leftover mashed or baked potatoes or as a way to use potatoes that were ready for the compost bin.

Plus, potatoes are reasonably priced so an Italian cook could make a big batch of homemade gnocchi out of a couple of potatoes. Gnocchi is a really economical dish to feed a big family…except it does take a little time.

Here’s all that is needed to make gnocchi:

  • Flour
  • Potatoes
  • Whole egg
  • Kosher or sea salt

The best homemade potato gnocchi recipe starts here

Potatoes

If you’re in the US, russet or Idaho potatoes are best for gnocchi because they’re dry. If you are fortunate enough to be in Italy, you can find potatoes labeled “best for gnocchi”. So lucky!

Just don’t use a wax or new potatoes! They’re too starchy and have too much moisture.

Flour

What kind of flour?

All-purpose (AP) flour. My grandma Nina definitely used all-purpose flour because that was what was available in her small town and what they could afford.

“00” flour. I use “00” flour which is a very finely ground flour. Some might call it pizza or pasta flour like Bob’s Red Mill 00 Pizza Flour does.


Nina’s Pro Gnocchi Tip

Resist the urge to add too much flour! Too much flour makes for a heavy gnocchi…you want them light!


Equipment needed

black bowl with a potato-filled ricer.
1
  • Potato ricer. Essential to making fluffy mashed potatoes (learn even more in this incredible mascarpone mashed potatoes recipe), a potato ricer helps make gnocchi especially light.
  • Gnocchi paddle or board. While my gram might have turned her nose up, there’s no denying that a gnocchi paddle is quintessentially cool and helpful in making pro-type ridges that hug your favorite pasta sauce.

Step by Step Instructions

How to make light gnocchi dough

grating potatoes on a grater over a bowl.
grate or rice baked potatoes for smooth fluffy gnocchi
hands mixing flour and potatoes in a bowl.
mix the potatoes and flour together
hands mixing gnocchi dough.
Keep mixing until a smooth ball forms
  • Prick holes all over potatoes using a fork so the potatoes don’t explode in the oven.
  • Bake the potatoes at 400˚ until soft about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Once cool, carefully peel the potatoes and place all the flesh in a ricer or grate potatoes (left).

TIP

Resist the urge to underbake the potatoes…but don’t overbake them so they’re too soft. You want them be fluffy and light!

-Josie + Nina

  • Add in 1 cup of flour to the potatoes and along with a beaten egg. Using your hands, bring the dough together and start working it a bit until it comes together (center).
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (you can use any kind of flour and work until a smooth ball forms. Add the extra flour as needed (right).

Rolling gnocchi like an Italian grandma

ball of gnocchi dough cut in half.
cut off a piece of dough
hands rolling gnocchi dough into a rope.
Roll into a rope
gnocchi dough rope cut into pieces
cut the rope into equal pieces
hands rolling gnocchi on a fork
use the tines of a fork to form ridges on the gnocchi
  • Cut off a small piece of dough and using your hands, roll it into a long rope (like a snake), about an 1″ thick.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut the whole rope into equal pieces about 3/4- 1″ in length.

There is no best way to roll gnocchi but here are three options:

By hand

Without pressing too hard, place two fingers on top of one piece of gnocchi and pull it towards you until it turns over on itself.

NIna used to hold her index and middle fingers tight together to roll out gnocchi. Sometimes she’d add her ring finger to the mix if we had cut the dough too big.

With a fork

You can use the tines of a fork (shown above) to make the ridges in gnocchi. Press lightly using the back of a fork on the uncooked gnocchi pieces and roll it towards you making the ridges.

Remove the cut and ridged gnocchi to a floured baking sheet in single layer and lightly sprinkle with more flour.

With a gnocchi paddle or board

rolled gnocchi on a gnocchi board.

Ever seen a wooden small board that has very fine ridged lines carved in it? That’s a gnocchi board.

p.s. Gram would have thought that fancy and unnecessary but it sure looks cool.

Repeat the cutting and rolling process with the remaining dough until you have used all the dough.


Memories of Nina

Nina used to line her kitchen table with a white tablecloth sprinkled with flour and would make enough gnocchi for a big crowd!


Cook gnocchi

cut uncooked gnocchi on a baking sheet with flour.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and gently drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. It will immediately sink to the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the gnocchi so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

When the gnocchi float to the top, that’s your clue they’re about ready. Taste for doneness. They will taste firm but not mushy. Fluffy and not hard.

Use a slotted spoon or Chinese strainer to gently remove the gnocchi to a wide, large bowl, if you’re planning on eating immediately.

The right sauce for gnocchi

white bowl with gnocchi and red sauce with a fork in it.

The best sauce for gnocchi is probably whatever is your favorite sauce. Gnocchi pairs well with a light tomato sauce like this tomato sauce with butter and onion because the sauce doesn’t overpower the gnocchi flavor.

Pesto is amazing with gnocchi as is this butter and cream sauce (more on that soon!)

Storage + Reheating

Make ahead for eating the same day. Not eating the gnocchi right away? You can leave it at room temperature for a couple of hours. Otherwise, refrigerate on the sheet pan in a single layer covered with plastic wrap for cooking the same day.

Freezer options. Cover gnocchi on a sheet pan in a single layer and place in the freezer. Once frozen, remove to a freezer safe bag or airtight container for up to 3 months.

How to cook frozen gnocchi

Cook frozen gnocchi for about 3-5 minutes in a large pot of salted water. When they float, test for doneness.


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


bowl of homemade gnocchi with red sauce on a brown background
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Potato Gnocchi Recipe

Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:5 minutes
Baking potatoes:1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 4
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Ingredients
 

Instructions

How to make fluffy gnocchi dough

  • Prick holes all over potatoes using a fork so the potatoes don’t explode in the oven.
    1 lb Idaho or russet potatoes
  • Bake the potatoes at 400˚ until soft about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Once cool, carefully peel the potatoes and place all the flesh in a ricer.
  • Rice the potatoes in batches over a medium bowl.
  • Turn out the potatoes on a lightly floured surface (you can use any kind of flour)
  • Add in 1 cup of flour and make a well in which you’ll add a beaten egg.
    1-2 cups "00" flour, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Using your hands, bring the dough together and start working it a bit until it comes together. Keep rolling until you get a smooth ball Add additional flour as needed. You want it slightly sticky but not too soft.
  • Cut off a small piece of dough and using your hands, roll it into a long rope (like a snake), about an 1″ thick.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut the whole rope into equal pieces about 3/4- 1″ in length.

THREE WAYS TO GET GNOCCHI RIDGES

    By hand

    • Without pressing too hard, place two fingers on top of one piece of gnocchi and pull it towards you until it turns over on itself.
    • NIna used to hold her index and middle fingers tight together to roll out gnocchi. Sometimes she’d add her ring finger to the mix if we had cut the dough too big.

    With a gnocchi paddle or board

    • Ever seen a wooden small board that has very fine ridged lines carved in it? That’s a gnocchi board.

    With a fork

    • You can use the tines of a fork to make the ridges in gnocchi. Press lightly using the back of a fork on the uncooked gnocchi pieces and roll it towards you making the ridges.
    • Remove the cut and ridged gnocchi to a floured baking sheet in a single layer and lightly sprinkle with more flour.
    • Repeat the cutting and rolling process with the remaining dough until you have used all the dough.

    Cook gnocchi

    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and gently drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. It will immediately sink to the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the gnocchi so it doesn’t stick to the bottom
    • When the gnocchi float to the top, that’s your clue they’re about ready. Taste for doneness. They will taste firm but not mushy. Fluffy and not hard.
    • Transfer cooked gnocchi to a heated serving bowl and lightly sauce. Serve immediately with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and love!

    Notes

    Flour notes:
    Start with 1 cup and add as much as needed up to  2 cups to make a soft light dough that isn’t too sticky or stiff.
    Make ahead for eating the same day. Not eating the gnocchi right away? You can leave it at room temperature for a couple of hours. Otherwise, refrigerate on the sheet pan in a single layer covered with plastic wrap for cooking the same day.
    Freezer options. Cover gnocchi on a sheet pan in a single layer and place in the freezer. Once frozen, remove to a freezer safe bag or airtight container for up to 3 months.

    How to cook frozen gnocchi

    Cook frozen gnocchi for about 3-5 minutes in a large pot of salted water. When they float, test for doneness.
    Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Pasta, pasta side dish
    Cuisine: Italian
    Author: Lori Murphy
    Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!
    5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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