Easy Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi
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Colu Henry, the author of Back Pocket Pasta, has a new book out: Colu Cooks Easy Fancy Food. It’s a real beauty, and while I have made only one recipe, if it is any indication of the others in the book, I have lots of deliciousness to look forward to.
Let’s start from the stop: One Sunday last month, I spent the afternoon with Colu at her home in Hudson, where she made me a recipe from her book: ricotta and pecorino gnocchi. Having attempted ricotta gnudi in the past, a disastrous three-day experiment, and knowing what it takes to make potato gnocchi, a laborious process of roasting, ricing, and rolling, I was curious how Colu was going to pull this off: Was there really such a thing as easy gnocchi?
It turns out: yes!
I was astonished to see how quickly the gnocchi dough, a mix of ricotta, pre-grated pecorino, eggs, and flour came together. And the rolling and cutting step, which required no ridged paddle or fork tines, was similarly easy. While the shaped gnocchi hung out on a floured sheet pan, Colu made the sauce, a mix of sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and brown butter, and when the gnocchi finished boiling — a 30-second process — into the skillet they went along with a splash of the cooking water. She zested lemon and sprinkled fresh parsley over each bowl.
I would have been happy eating the just-boiled, unsauced gnocchi alone — truly, they melt in your mouth — but the whole ensemble — the nutty, earthy sauce in combination with the ricotta pillows — overwhelmed me. I found it nearly impossible to stop eating, but in addition to being so excited by its deliciousness, I was delighted by the process: it was truly easy! And fancy! Easy, fancy — who knew?
Colu offers three ways to serve the gnocchi: with a simple tomato sauce (pictured above), with the brown butter mushrooms (pictured below), and in a soup with shredded chicken and sautéed vegetables, a riff on chicken and dumplings. I have yet to make the chicken and dumplings, but I have made another simple variation inspired by an old favorite Sally Schneider recipe: brown butter + toasted pine nuts. Find the details below.
Friends, guess what? I contributed a recipe to the book’s dessert chapter, Please Bring Dessert, a compilation of recipes from friends — Colu, in her own words, is “not a dessert person.” The recipe I created is for an Orange, Olive Oil, and Almond Torte, a combination of everything I love about two longtime favorite recipes: this Chez Panisse almond torte and this orange and olive oil cake.
If you are looking for some inspiration in the kitchen or in need of a mother’s day gift for someone in your life, this book is just the ticket — I have my eye on skillet chicken with wilted radicchio, anchovy, and onion, a no-breadcrumb eggplant parm (for a crowd!), and blistered green beans and tomatoes with harissa butter. Yum. As always, I will keep you posted on any and all easy, fancy experiments 🎉
Colu’s brown butter mushroom gnocchi:
Brown butter + toasted pine nut gnocchi:
How to Make Ricotta Gnocchi, Step by Step
Gather your ingredients: eggs, ricotta, pre-grated pecorino, flour, salt and pepper.
The first step is to drain the ricotta — don’t skip this step… I tried! If you skip this step, the dough will be too wet, and you’ll have to compensate by using a lot more flour to get the dough to come together, and while the gnocchi will still be delicious, they won’t be quite as light.
To drain the ricotta: line a sheet pan with two layers of paper towels. Spread the ricotta over the top.
Top with two more layers of paper towels and press down to encourage moisture absorption.
Twenty minutes later, remove the top layer of paper towels.
Then scrape the ricotta from the bottom layers — it will release surprisingly easily.
Transfer the ricotta to a large bowl. Add the egg and egg yolk, pecorino, flour, and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir until you have a sticky dough ball.
Then transfer to a lightly floured work surface.
Use flour as needed to gently knead and shape the dough into a ball.
Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 portions.
Then, working with one portion at a time, roll it into a log about 12 to 15 inches long.
Cut the long into small pieces:
I’ve made the recipe three times now, and with each successive time, I rolled the log a little longer and cut it into more pieces. I love the smaller-sized gnocchi, but you may prefer a larger size. Once you make the recipe once, you’ll get the hang of it.
Transfer the gnocchi to a lightly floured sheet pan…
… better to use two small sheet pans.
Boil the gnocchi in salted water until they float to the top, about 30 seconds.
Transfer to a towel-lined sheet pan to drain.
For serving, Colu offers several ideas, including a simple tomato sauce:
I love this one with fresh basil, lots of pepper, and shaved parmesan over the top:
A second variation is with mushrooms, shallots, and brown butter:
She finishes it with parsley and lemon zest — it’s heavenly!
This third variation comes from a favorite Sally Schneider recipe: brown butter and pine nuts. It’s simple: brown butter and toast pine nuts on the stovetop…
… then combine the butter and nuts with the cooked gnocchi.
Serve with shaved parmesan and lots of pepper.Print
Easy Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Diet: Vegetarian
From Colu Henry’s Colu Cooks Easy Fancy Food
- The recipe calls for good-quality ricotta such as Calabro, which I used and loved. I’ve also used Maplebrook Farm’s “hand-dipped” ricotta, which I also loved. Most tubs are 16 ounces — just use the whole tub. Also, you’ll need to drain it, which takes 20 – 30 minutes. There are instructions in the recipe below.
For the gnocchi:
- 15 oz (430 g) whole milk ricotta, see notes above
- 4 oz (115 g), about 1 cup, finely grated pecorino, such as the pre-grated Locatelli brand
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
For serving, Option 1, Tomato Sauce:
- 1 to 2 cups homemade tomato sauce
- fresh basil, optional
- Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino, optional
For Serving, Option 2: Mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. mixed mushrooms
- 1 stick butter
- 1 small shallot, diced
- lemon zest
For Serving, Option 3: Brown Butter & Pine Nuts
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Black pepper, to taste
- Drain the ricotta: Line a sheet pan with two layers of paper towels. Spread the ricotta across the towels in a thin layer. Top with two more layers of paper towels and press down to encourage moisture absorption. Let stand 20-30 minutes; then remove the top layer.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Scrape the ricotta into a large bowl. Add the pecorino, egg and egg yolk, and the flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste and gently stir to combine.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, using flour as needed, gently form into a ball.
- With a bench scraper, cut the dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, roll each piece into a log about 12 to 15 inches long. Cut each log into 12 to 15 gnocchi. Transfer to a lightly floured sheet pan and gently toss with a bit more flour to prevent the gnocchi from sticking.
- Working with half the gnocchi at a time, transfer them to the boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface, roughly 30 seconds. Use a spider to remove the gnocchi and transfer to tea towel- or parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi. Save the gnocchi cooking water — you made need it to thin whatever sauce you are using to dress the gnocchi.
For the Tomato Sauce Gnocchi:
- Heat 1 to 2 cups (depending on how much of the gnocchi you are cooking) of the tomato sauce in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the gnocchi, and, using a large spoon, toss gently to coat. Once heated through, remove from the heat, add fresh basil, if using, and toss again to coat. Serve, shaving parmesan over the top and cracking pepper over the top to taste.
For the Mushroom Gnocchi:
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add 1 pound of mixed mushrooms, which have been torn into bite-sized pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until they begin browning and getting crisp at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Add in a stick (1/2 cup | 115 g) of butter and a finely chopped shallot. Cook until the butter melts and starts to become nutty. Ladle in some of the pasta cooking water and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the gnocchi and gently toss to coat in the sauce. Serve with finely chopped parsley and lemon zest.
For the Brown Butter & Pine Nut Gnocchi:
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to turn light brown and smell nutty. In a separate small skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until golden.
- When the butter has turned brown, add the gnocchi and toss gently to coat. Add the pine nuts and toss again.
- Serve, shaving parmesan over the top and cracking pepper over the top to taste.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian, American
Keywords: ricotta, gnocchi, pillowy, pecorino, easy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
55 Comments on “Easy Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi”
The first ingredient needs to be edited! It says mozzarella not ricotta!
Apologies!! Fixed… my brain 😩 Thank you!
I made this tonight as a side dish to grilled salmon and asparagus. It served 6 well as a side. We made a topping of butter, pepper, and small broccoli florets. Made a nice sauce by adding the pasta water and a hint of nutmeg. We all liked it SO much! Will be adding this to the rotation for sure. Thank you for the great recipes, always a hit at our table!
Great to hear this, Rose! Your broccoli sauce with nutmeg sounds SO good. Thanks so much for writing and sharing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Can’t wait to try this! Typo in recipe? “15 oz (430 g) whole milk mozzarella, see notes above”
Should be ricotta rather than mozzarella?
Thank you, Cindy! All fixed … so sorry!
in the directions mozzarella? You do mean ricotta but I will be trying/making this! Thank you.
I do! Ooops! All fixed … thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂
Have you tried making these gnocchi with your homemade ricotta?
I have not tried, and I think it would be delicious, though I’m not sure it’s the best use of the homemade ricotta — my feeling is that the homemade ricotta is so special just on its own or on its own with other ingredients, such as roasted grapes or blistered cherry tomatoes, etc… you know what I mean? That said, if you are up for the task, go for it!
Could we use your recipe for ricotta for ricotta?
Gail you could! I’ve copied and pasted my response to another commenter: I have not tried homemade ricotta here, and I think it would be delicious, though I’m not sure it’s the best use of the homemade ricotta — my feeling is that the homemade ricotta is so special just on its own or on its own with other ingredients, such as roasted grapes or blistered cherry tomatoes, etc… you know what I mean? That said, if you are up for the task, go for it!
Ali! I can’t wait to try gnocchi and your dessert! Yum!
Yay 🎉🎉🎉 Hope you love it 🙂 🙂 🙂
Like you, I too have never had good luck making homemade gnocchi! But you’ve twisted my arm with your words and pictures and the mushrooms! Befoe I get started……your thoughts on making homemade ricotta for this dish would be appreciated. Thanks and I will let you know if mine turns out easy and delightfully delicious!
Nancy, I think you will be pleasantly surprised! I keep meaning to make a visit to the farmers market to pick up some mushrooms, because I loved the mushroom variation. Regarding homemade ricotta, I’ve copied and pasted my response to another commenter: I have not tried homemade ricotta here, and I think it would be delicious, though I’m not sure it’s the best use of the homemade ricotta — my feeling is that the homemade ricotta is so special just on its own or on its own with other ingredients, such as roasted grapes or blistered cherry tomatoes, etc… you know what I mean? That said, if you are up for the task, go for it!
Ali, is it best to make half the recipe or can these be frozen for a two-person household? I’m accustomed to halving eggs by volume, so that’s not a problem. Eager to try this and the cake, too! Thanks!
Hi Leslie! I would make the full batch and freeze half of them — feels like a better use of time to make the full batch and get several meals out of them.
From the bit of research I’ve done, it looks as though you can freeze them unboiled — freeze them on a sheet pan until they harden; then transfer to a ziplock bag or container and return to the freezer. You can boil them straight from the freezer. They will take more than 30 seconds, but once they float, they are ready.
Yes, please, thoughts on freezing a half batch. Also, do you remember an Amanda Hesser recipe for spinach gnudi where she dusted a wine glass with flour then plopped in a tablespoon of the mixture and swirled it around vigorously? You get these robins egg shaped pillows that are adorable. Bet the same trick would work on these. Can’t wait to try.
PS We’ve moved and all my cookbooks are in deep storage but I went into the abyss of a storage unit and rummaged through canyons of furniture and abut forty boxes until I found your cookbook. It’s the only one I really missed. So, so glad I found it!
I don’t think I know that Amanda Hesser recipe! But I love the sound of that technique. I found good mushrooms at my market this morning, so I’ll be making these again very soon… will try!
I would make the full batch and freeze half of it … feels like a better use of time to make the effort once and get two meals out of it.
And regarding my cookbook, that means the world. Thank you so much. So glad you are reunited 💕💕💕💕💕💕
This recipe looks delicious. I have embarked on a low carb Keto diet and wondering if the flour could be substituted with coconut flour?
Hi Carol! I imagine some sort of keto flour would work well here as it’s such a small amount of flour required. Does coconut flour have a very strong flavor? Are there any other keto flours you’ve used with success?
While I did find these to be easy to make, the ratio of cheese to flour seemed a little off. They were tasty but I like my gnocchi a little firmer. Is it possible to do these with less pecorino cheese and more flour?
Hi Susan! If you like your gnocchi firmer, you can definitely use more flour and less pecorino.
I tried the recipe straight off, since not a single one of your recipes has ever failed me. Except this time – I would stress the importance of draining (which you did, so I followed the instructions). I did, but clearly not enough, because I ended up having to add 1.5 cups (!) of flour. I should have squeezed the paper towel and kept draining? Would a strainer work better? How to tell when the ricotta was dry enough?
Oh no! Ana, I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m wondering if the type of ricotta makes a difference? What kind did you use?
Regarding the draining, I have never drained for more than 30 minutes, and I have not squeezed the paper towels and drained further, but I suppose if your ricotta was on the wet side, maybe you needed more paper towels and more time? I feel terrible!
My only other thought would be the pecorino — did you use pre-grated pecorino? I’m asking because it’s so fine and dry, I feel like it almost acts like a flour in this recipe and a measurement difference there might could affect the texture of the dough as well.
These gnocchi were pillowy and delicious. The whole family enjoyed.
Great to hear, Ellie! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Wow! So easy and SO good! Delicate little pillows of deliciousness, exactly the way gnocchi should be. I tossed mine in a homemade pesto and it was delightful. Thanks for the recipe!
So great to hear this, Hally! Pesto gnocchi sounds heavenly 🙂 🙂 🙂
LOVED the sauce, Love the ricotta pillows. Oh mu word, these were divine.
I see quarts of the sauce in the freezer.More, please
So great to hear this, Winnie 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing!
Ali, I have a quick question. I love pan frying either shelf-stable regular gnocchi or the new frozen cauliflower gnocchi and then tossing with roasted veggies. Do you think these would hold up to pan frying or would you boil quickly first and then just add to the pan for flavor? I love the chewiness and flavor of a pan-browned gnocchi.
Hi Lindsay! I would definitely boil these first for the suggested time, which is only 30 seconds or so. Let them cool completely. They firm up as they cool. Then pan-fry. They’re definitely delicate, but you should be able to get some nice color in a hot skillet with oil or butter.
Wondering if you can make them and then hold in fridge for a day before boiling? I saw notations about freezing half batch… but wondering if anyone has made them and waited for a day… Thanks
I think they would be fine. I would dust a sheet pan with flour. Add the shaped gnocchi. Dust with more flour, and I would wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap. If you have a large lidded storage vessel, that would work, too.
These were absolutely delicious!! I tried the mushroom sauce. Mine fell apart a bit and/or got a little mushy once in the mushroom sauce. I’m wondering what I did wrong. I too needed to add a bit more flour. Maybe I didn’t drain the ricotta enough…I used my own homemade recipe and it was quite dry so not sure. Can’t wait to try them again!
Hi Renee! Great to hear the gnocchi were delicious! Yes, next time you can definitely add more flour. I also find that when I boil them and let them cool, they firm up a bit, so that’s another thing to try if time permits: boil the gnocchi a bit ahead of time, let them cool for an hour or so, then proceed.
Truly amazing – melt in your mouth delicious. I served mine with Rao’s sauce and freshly grated parm. I had to stop myself from eating the entire batch!
As noted in previous reviews, I did need extra flour but no worries. I will repeat whatever I did today.
Thanks for so many go to recipes!
So great to hear this, Michele! Love all of Rao’s sauces. And I hear you: I find it impossible to stop eating, even the cold leftovers in the fridge are irresistible to me.
Thank you for sharing your notes. I think I need to add a bolder note about adding flour as needed.
Thank so much for writing and thank you for your kind words 🙂
Many years ago i had the most delicate fluffy melt in your mouth gnocchi at an Italian mom n’ pop restaurant. I searched for years for a gnocchi similar. They would end up a bit too chewy or made from potato that robbed it of its tenderness. THIS recipe is THE ONE! I feel like i hit the lottery. Super easy to make and it took me back to that little Italian restaurant. Thank you!
Oh yay! So wonderful to hear this, Carolyn 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing and sharing this story.
I made the option 2 Mushrooms. Overall, the flavor was delicious… but the one stick of butter made this recipe way too rich. The gnocchi already have whole milk and one cup of cheese. If I would make this recipe again, I would definitely cut down on the butter – it was just too much (IMO).
Hi there. I made this tonight. The taste was great but my gnocchi mostly fell apart in the water. I’m wondering if the dough needed more flour? I did drain the ricotta per the recipe suggestion.
Hi Laura! Apologies for the delay here! Yes, I think you probably needed to add more water … a few other commenters have had the same issue. I think there’s a fine line here between adding enough flour to keep them together but not so much to make them heavy. NExt time, you could start with a bit more flour from the start, and you could do a tester gnocchi to see if they hold together.
Hi Alexandra. I’m very excited to try this recipe but I’m wondering if I can substitute Parmesan cheese for the pecorino in the gnocchi dough.
Yes, absolutely! Go for it 🙂
Thank you for another beautiful recipe I will be trying soon! Unfortunately, the two ricotta cheeses you recommended are not sold near me.
Can this be made using your homemade ricotta cheese recipe?
Thank you! :))
Hi Stacey! Yes, absolutely. A few thoughts: do be sure to drain the ricotta between the layers of paper towels. And I would definitely make a tester gnocchi before boiling all of them — you may need to add more flour to ensure they hold their shape when boiled.
Would you freeze before or after boiling?
I would do it after.
When I went to boil the gnocchi, they floated almost immediately.
What did I do wrong?
I boiled them longer, but I’m thinking maybe I needed more flour?
Hi! I’m not sure… more flour is definitely a possibility. You were smart to continue to boil them to ensure they cooked through. How did they turn out in the end? Did you use a scale to measure? I’m wondering mostly about the pecorino, which I think could vary dramatically in quantity if measured by volume.
I made this recipe and served with a basil chicken and creamy pesto sauce. I love this gnocchi. Such tender little cheesy bites. Wonderful!
Great to hear, Tess! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂