Ah, gnocchi. How I love to eat you, but oh how I loathe to make you. You see, making gnocchi is not for the culinary faint of heart. You need to be in it to win it. Have your eyes on the prize. Be ready to go big and not go home.
I want to make sure I set expectations: This is not a recipe to attempt on a busy weeknight while your ravenous self balances a glass of Pinot Grigio in one hand and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos in the other. So if you’re looking to throw together a super-quick and incredibly tasty meal, head on over to my 30-Minute Mongolian Beef. And for all those who are inspired to join the legions of gnocchi warriors, read on …
So you’re in it to win it. Your eyes are on the prize. You’re going big and not going home. Congratulations! You’re in for a deliciously satisfying journey. Here are a few tips to help facilitate your impending gnocchi domination:
- Harness Your Flour Power: The more flour you use in the gnocchi dough, the more dense it will be. If you’re aiming for light, pillowy, like-the-kind-I-had-at-that-restaurant gnocchi, you’ll want to review my tips in the recipe below to gauge how much flour to use.
- Embrace the Indentations: While there’s no law that requires you to complete the final step of rolling each gnocchi on the back of a fork to create the characteristic indentations, I would highly encourage you to do so. Those little ridges help soak up all the sauce. And when the sauce is balsamic brown butter, I guarantee you won’t want to miss a drop.
- Know Your Gnocchi Limits: Making homemade gnocchi requires persistence, determination and an if-she-can-do-it-I-can-do-it attitude. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with flour, potatoes and cheese. Worst case scenario, you turn it all into cheesy mashed potato pancakes.
Not a fan of sweet potatoes but still dig these fluffy dumplings? Check out my recipe for traditional homemade gnocchi with kale pesto.
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For the gnocchi:
- 1 pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (approx. 2 potatoes)
- 1 (12-oz.) container fresh ricotta, strained in a sieve for 2 hours
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 cups (or more) all-purpose flour
For the brown butter:
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup loosely packed sage leaves
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
Make the gnocchi:
- Scrub and dry the sweet potatoes, then prick them all over with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a plate and microwave them on "high" until they're fork-tender, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the sweet potatoes from the microwave, cut them in half, and then scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Using a fork, thoroughly mash the sweet potatoes, or alternately, pass the sweet potato flesh through a ricer.
- Transfer 3 cups of the mashed sweet potatoes to a large bowl. Add the strained ricotta, stirring until thoroughly combined. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and salt, and then start adding the flour, ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. (See Kelly's Notes.) Shape the dough into a large ball.
- Lightly flour a baking sheet and set it aside. Lightly flour your work surface and divide the dough into six equal portions. Take one portion and roll it on your work surface or between your hands until it's about 20 inches in length. Cut the dough into 20 pieces to form each gnocchi then transfer them to the floured baking sheet. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining five pieces of dough.
- Using the back of a fork, press each gnocchi into the tines to form indentations.
- Prior to cooking the gnocchi, make the brown butter sauce (recipe follows).
- When you're ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add a portion of the gnocchi to the boiling water, stir, and then let the gnocchi cook until they float back up to the top, about 1 minute.
- Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining gnocchi.
- Toss the warm gnocchi with the prepared brown butter sauce. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Make the brown butter:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook the butter until the foam subsides and it begins to turn a golden brown color, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the sage leaves, allowing them to cook for 1 minute.
- Remove the brown butter from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve immediately with the sweet potato gnocchi.
- Sweet potatoes will vary in how much moisture they contain, but it's important to not add too much flour or your gnocchi will be dense. The goal is to add the least amount of flour while still making a cohesive, pliable dough. You should end up using roughly 2 cups of flour to reach this point.
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Can you use powdered sage if you don’t have the leaves
Absolutely, Patty! Sage is more pungent in its ground form, so it’s important to adjust down. For 1 tablespoon of fresh sage, use 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage.
I made these for my husband and I, and they turned out perfectly! Great texture and super delicious.
These will keep if you can vacuum pack them
Hi wondering if anyone has made the gnocchi a few days a head of time than boiled them the day of serving? Have they worked?
Hi Julie! I’ve never made gnocchi ahead of time, but I have made fresh pasta and frozen it then cooked it a few days later. I’m not sure what the texture would be of these gnocchi but let me know if you give it a shot.
I made the gnocchi and they fell apart in the boiling water! So disappointed!! They looked great. I used a little less flour than it called for, do you think that could have caused them to fall apart? I was so excited to try these :(
Hi Susan – Yes, the gnocchi will hold their shape as long as you use the amount of flour as directed in the recipe.
Looking forward to trying this recipe! Do these freeze well?
Hi Kelly! I’ve never tried freezing this recipe so I can’t say with certainty how it’d turn out.
Made it again tonight – last time I used tub ricotta – this time it was fresh! And wow! How good was it! Also, we didn’t have Parmesan so substituted tasty cheese and still really goid! I am off to brag about my dinner and share the recipe again!!
Kelly, I love gnocchi so much!! and I’m so glad you made your own. Yeah. love it! I haven’t made sweet potato gnocchi yet so can’t wait to try this one!!! woot woot!! love and pinned!
Thanks so much, Alice!
I don’t normally post after trying a recipe but this was much easier than I thought and tasted amazing! We cooked a little chicken thigh with sage to go with it. Perfect! Thank you so much for sharing!
Yum! Great addition, Katie!
Thanks for getting back to me – I think I’ll try freezing them!
Hi Kelly, this looks so delicious! Do you think the gnocchi could be made ahead of time (the night before) and kept in the fridge? I’m hoping to make this for a Friday night dinner party and won’t have much time when I get in from work. Any idea if it’d turn out ok? Thanks.
Hi Kirsty! Thanks so much! I can’t say for certain how the gnocchi would be on day 2, however I do know many people freeze uncooked gnocchi (rather than refrigerate them), and then have great success with boiling them and serving them as needed. Hope that helps!
These look fantastic but I would like to make ahead of time. Do they freeze well?
Do you think I could replace the regular flour with whole wheat flour and it would come out the same? This looks fabulous!
Hi Darya! I’ve never made this recipe with whole wheat flour, so I can’t say for certainty if the recipe would still work out with that substitution. If you do try this, I recommend starting with a small amount of whole wheat flour by replacing 25% of the AP flour with the WW, then leaving the remaining AP flour, as substituting the full amount is likely to make the gnocchi too dense. Hope this helps!
Just wondering the I could omit the ricotta and still get the same delicious gnocchi? We are dairy free. Would veganise be an option?
I can use vegan butter for the brown butter part! Yay!
Hi Brandy – It’s very difficult to make sweet potato gnocchi without an additional bider (i.e. ricotta) because sweet potatoes contain much more liquid than regular potatoes, so they require additional binders to keep their shape in gnocchi form. I’ve never tried making this recipe without the ricotta, so I can’t say for certain if that would work.
Just wanted to come back and tell you that we enjoyed this soooo much! My dad grows sweet potatoes, so I’m always looking for something different to do with the 25 pounds I have sitting in my kitchen. I had baked 6 potatoes this past weekend and decided to try this recipe with the leftovers. I had about 2.5 cups of potato and used a 15 oz container of ricotta. Instead of the sage butter, I made a blue cheese mushroom sauce with shallots and spinach, then topped it all with sliced grilled chicken breast. Holy cow it was good! I only rolled out enough gnocchi for us to eat, but I’ll be making the rest of it asap! BTW, I rolled and cut the gnocchi Sunday night, then laid them flat on a baking sheet and froze. I let them thaw for 10-15 minutes and they cooked up beautifully. Thanks for a great recipe!
Wow! That sounds like an awesome dish, Jeanie! So glad you’re enjoying the sweet potato gnocchi :)
YUM!!! And I have to admit and advise that I did a lot of personalizing and they still had rave reviews!! :) I am – amongst many things – Gluten Free – so I replaced conventional flour with 2/3 GF mix and 1/3 Almond flour – I also stay as far away from fresh dairy as possible so since I knew I would be walking the thin line with the parmesan and butter later… I replaced the ricotta with firm tofu – I also added a few other flavours with roast garlic and organic onion powder… and voila! a generous splash or two of fresh lemon with the balsamic when everything was frothing in the butter and wow…….. thank you :) I even have enough yet uncooked to put in the freezer for another whole meal
Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Eka, and loved your updates!
Do you mean two 1-pound sweet potatoes or two sweet potatoes totaling 1 pound?
Hi Katherine – It’s two 1-pound sweet potatoes, so a total of two pounds. Hope that helps!
If i was looking at replacing the plain flour with wholemeal flour, would it be the same quantity?
Hi Ivy! I’ve never tried substituting another type of flour for the all-purpose, so unfortunately I can’t say with certainty if that would work (or how much).
Or just go to Trader Joe’s and get their sweet potato gnocchi and make the balsamic brown butter….works pretty well too!
this sounds like SUCH a wonderful dinner! will have to make it when i have plenty of time to just relax and be patient :)
These really look incredible!
These look like little pillows of perfection! I love gnocchi, but have been afraid to tackle it. I need to though because this recipe sounds so delicious!
I agree that gnocchi takes patience, but it’s all worth it! Especially with this balsamic brown butter sauce… yummm!
I’m one of those weirdos that actually enjoys the process of making gnocchi, I need to try this version out. Looks so so delicious and the pictures are just so incredibly beautiful.
Not weird at all, Nicole! I do consider it semi-therapeutic to roll each gnocchi on the fork :) And of course the end goal is totally worth it!
I was sitting here with my two year old on my lap browsing through recipes and was giving this one some serious thought. She chimed in with “yummy, yummy” while pointing at your pictures. I think that means we will be giving this one a try! Looks delicious!
What a wonderful story, Jennifer! Enjoy the gnocchi :)
We have a dozen sweet potatoes that I need to get rid of, and this definitely seems perfect! I especially adore that you used some balsamic vinegar for the brown butter!
balsamic brown butter? giiiiiirl, this looks heavenly!
This is stunning, Kelly! I love the brown butter and balsamic combo!
Ah, I love gnocchi so much. The flavours in this sound totally incredible too.
These look like little pillows of deliciousness! I’ve always wanted to try making my own gnocchi, but I’m slightly terrified. Yours look so delicious though, I think it’s something that should be attempted soon. Pinned!
Best quote ever: “This is not a recipe to attempt on a busy weeknight while your ravenous self balances a glass of Pinot Grigio in one hand and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos in the other.”
Haha! I swear I’m not familiar with that situation :)
I love gnocchi, these sound wonderful with the balsamic brown butter!
Oh, and…pinned! :)
These look awesome! I don’t know why it would not have occurred to me to use sweet potatoes. My husband and I just made regular russet potato gnocchi last weekend and they were a hit!
not only is this AMAZING look, but I am seriously impressed with your skill sista, rock on! Also feel free to invite me over for leftovers, I’m pretty sure we’re downtown, west-side, NYC neighbors ;)
Gnocchi has been on my “to make” list for so long! Seeing your beautiful photos is inspiring! These look delicious and I love how easy you’ve made this! Pinning now “to make SOON”! ;)
Kelly, I’ve been dying to make my own gnocchi at home this fall and sweet potato is the kind I’ve been researching to try out at home! I’m done researching and will just use your recipe. My fiancé and I love gnocchi and can’t wait to try it one weekend!!
It is SO pretty, Kelly! I agree, gnocchi is not a quick weeknight meal, but I do think it is worth the effort if done right. Yours looks incredible and I love the balsamic browned butter!