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The SOFTEST Homemade Potato Gnocchi

If you’ve never made homemade potato gnocchi, you are in for a treat. Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite foods, and I love to order it when I eat out. It’s a light and soft pasta that needs just a simple tomato sauce or browned butter and sage sauce to make it sublime.

Closeup of a bowl of homemade gnocchi

Years ago, a guy I dated made a spinach gnocchi for me that gave me inspiration to make the dish at home. The potato and ricotta version he made is fantastic, but this potato recipe is simpler and even more kid friendly.

It takes some time to prepare homemade gnocchi, but the results are well worth the effort. It’s also a fun recipe to prepare together.

After I make the dough and let it rest, I scoop off a section and roll it out before I cut it. My daughter rolls it on the gnocchi board, and my son is in charge of adding the homemade pasta to the pot and removing them when done.

Bowl of homemade gnocchi with parmesan

What potato should I use?

You want to use a starchy potato like a russet for to make your homemade potato gnocchi. You can also use a yukon gold or another baking potato, but russet is best for this recipe.

The starchy potatoes are low in moisture, which is the enemy of light and fluffy pasta. Do not use a waxy potato like red potatoes or new potatoes of any kind. They have a higher moisture content and will give you a poor texture for your pasta.

Why bake the potatoes instead of boiling them?

The key to perfect gnocchi is as little moisture as possible. When you bake your potatoes (with the skin on), you add no moisture to them.

When you boil potatoes, they’re softer, and you cut them into pieces so they cook through as you boil. I tested boiled and baked potatoes, and baked potatoes win in texture every time.

Additionally, you can bake your potatoes in advance and let them cool even a day or two in advance. Just don’t peel them until you’re ready to make the dough.

What if I don’t have a potato ricer?

If you don’t have a potato ricer, you can mash them with a potato masher or a large fork. This doesn’t give you the same light texture, however.

If at all possible, invest in a potato ricer. It makes the best mashed potatoes, too.

If you don’t have one, however, make sure you peel the potatoes thoroughly to get just to the softer flesh. If you use a ricer, you just need to pull off the skin, as the soft flesh gets pushed through the ricer and anything tougher doesn’t make it through.

Why let the dough rest?

Anytime you make fresh pasta or anything with flour where you form gluten by working it improves after it rests. The same holds true for pancake batter and pizza dough.

When you let the dough rest, the gluten strands relax, which lets you work with the dough instead of fighting with it. It also creates a soft dough – again this is our goal.

Do I need a gnocchi board?

Just like the potato ricer, you don’t need a gnocchi board. That said, they’re fairly inexpensive and do help create better gnocchi.

Gnocchi needs ridges for the sauce to stick to it, and the gnocchi board creates the perfect vehicle for this. You simple gently roll the pasta down the board with your thumb, and it creates ridges on one side and a slight concavity on the other.

If you don’t have a wooden board, use a fork to gently press into the cut pasta to make a set of ridges. It will work, but it’s not quite as pretty or as effective to hold onto the sauce.

The pasta doesn’t stick to a gnocchi board if you do it right. First, it should be made of beechwood.

Second, your pasta should be dry enough to the touch that they aren’t sticky. If you find that your dough gets a little sticky after it rests, sprinkle the rolled out log with a little flour before you cut them.

What sauce should I serve with it?

I serve my homemade potato gnocchi with a light marinara sauce; it’s my favorite sauce and ready in 15 minutes. I use far less tomato sauce for gnocchi than I do for other pastas, as I want the flavor to shine.

Alternatively, you can toss them with a little pesto thinned with a bit of pasta water or a browned butter and sage sauce.

Even a light cream sauce can taste delicious. Find what you love, and enjoy it.

How do you ensure you get tender gnocchi?

There are a few keys to light and soft pasta . First, don’t work your dough too much. 

While you need to knead it enough to absorb the flour and other ingredients to the point that it is no longer sticky, you don’t want to knead it the way you do bread dough.

Second, you want as little moisture in the gnocchi dough as possible. This is why you should bake your potatoes instead of boiling them and use starchy russet potatoes.

Third, let your pasta rest as explained above. You want the gluten strands to relax instead of being tight, which makes a dense and tough dough.

Fourth, don’t make them too large, or they get gummy. Roll out your dough rope to about a half inch thick, and cut each piece of gnocchi to about 3/4 to 1 inch long. 

Don’t use bread flour or a high protein flour, as that will make your pasta more dense. All purpose works just fine here.

How many can you cook at one time?

This partly depends on your pot. When you cook them, they shouldn’t crowd each other and should be able to move freely in the salted boiling water.

If you add too many at once, they will reduce the temperature enough to stop boiling, and you end up with gummy gnocchi.

I usually add about 10-15 at a go, carefully dropping them in one at a time to ensure they stay separate and don’t splash me.

How do I know when they’re done?

Like most fresh pasta, gnocchi are finished cooking once they rise to the top of the boiling water.

This generally takes under two minutes. If you let them boil too long, they get gummy.

Can I make homemade potato gnocchi in advance?

Ideally, you boil them as soon as you finish making them. You can leave them covered by a towel for an hour or two, but don’t try to air dry them or leave fresh gnocchi longer than that.

You can also freeze gnocchi. Make sure to dust flour over them, then place on a single layer on a baking sheet.

Freeze for an hour, then remove them from the tray and put them in a zip top bag with as little air as possible. These will store frozen for up to a month.

To cook frozen gnocchi, don’t let them thaw, as they will get moisture on them and ruin the texture. Instead, carefully add them to boiling water, and let them cook. This will take a minute or two longer.

Overhead shot of a bowl of homemade gnocchi

How to Make Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Bake your potatoes as you would for any baked potato.

Wash and pierce them with a fork. Bake them in a 425 degree oven until they give when pressed – usually about 50 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.

Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them, then peel them by hand to remove the skin.

Run them through a potato ricer into a bowl, and set them aside for a moment.

On a clean work surface, add the flour in a circle. Place the riced potatoes on top, then sprinkle the salt over potatoes.

Gnocchi ingredients ready to be mixed

Make a divot in the potatoes, and crack the eggs into the divot so they don’t spill out.

With a single clean hand, mix together the ingredients. It will start off with a shaggy dough but come together as you continue to work it.

If your dough is sticky, you may need to add additional flour. This will depend based on the humidity in your house, the size and age of your eggs, the potatoes, etc. 

Knead gnocchi dough until smooth

Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rest for 20 minutes on the counter. After it rests, cut off a baseball size piece of dough, and roll it into a rope about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick.

Use a bench scraper to cut the rope into 3/4 to 1 inch long pieces. If your dough feels sticky, sprinkle it with additional flour before you cut it.

Cutting gnocchi rope into pieces

Roll each piece on your gnocchi board and set onto a lightly floured surface or baking sheet while you make more pasta.

Rolling gnocchi pieces on gnocchi board

Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil over medium high heat.

Carefully add 10-15 gnocchi pieces to the water, one piece at a time so they don’t stick. Let cook for about two minutes.

Dropping gnocchi into boiling water

As soon as they float to the surface, use a slotted spoon or spider to remove them. Shake off the excess water as best you can, then place into a bowl while you cook the rest.

Serve your fresh homemade potato gnocchi immediately with your favorite sauce, and maybe sprinkle a little fresh parmesan on top.

Bowl of homemade gnocchi with parmesan

How will you enjoy your homemade potato gnocchi?

Overhead shot of a bowl of homemade gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Rest Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Homemade gnocchi is absolutely delicious. It's not hard to make, but it does take some patience. It is SO worth it, whether you enjoy it with a little tomato sauce or a browned butter sage sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb russet potatoes, baked
  • 2 1/2 to 3 c flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t salt

Instructions

  1. Bake potatoes until softened, then cool until you can work with them. Peel potatoes, and run through a potato ricer.
  2. Add flour to a clean counter, and top with potatoes. Crack eggs into wells you make, and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Use clean hands to mix the ingredients together, pulling from the edges to the center. Knead just until the dough comes together.
  4. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes on the counter.
  5. Start to boil water after the rest period.
  6. Cut off a baseball size piece of dough, and roll it into a rope 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the rope into one inch segments. If sticky, sprinkle flour lightly over the rope.
  7. Use a gnocchi board to roll the gnocchi.
  8. Once water boils, add gnocchi in batches of 10-15 at a time. When gnocchi floats, use a spider to remove them. Shake off excess water, then place in a bowl. Repeat until gnocchi are all cooked.
  9. Serve immediately. These are best enjoyed the day you make them, but you can refrigerate room temperature gnocchi and reheat with sauce within two days.

Notes

  • To peel the potatoes, you just need to remove the majority of the skin, which you can do by hand, if you use a potato ricer. If you do not have a potato ricer, cut them in half and scoop out the insides, then use a fork to gently mash them in a bowl. They will not be as light and fluffy than they are if you use a potato ricer.
  • Start with 2 1/2 cups flour in the pile, and add if your dough is truly sticky. It should be tacky once all combined but not wet or sticky. The humidity in the environment will make a big difference, so depending on the season, I need more or less flour, and you will, too.
  • If you do not have a gnocchi board, you can use a fork to gently push into the gnocchi pieces to create lines. You want something to help catch your sauce, so ridges matter.
  • This makes enough to feed a hungry family of four. You can definitely halve the recipe if needed. My family eats almost all this in one sitting, however.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 433mgCarbohydrates: 72gFiber: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 11g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Potato Gnocchi bowl with parmesan cheese

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