Ricotta Gnocchi (Gnocchi di Ricotta) is an Italian favourite – they are so simple to prepare, incredibly comforting and delicious. These quick, light little dumplings are the easiest gnocchi to make and are ideal for experienced cooks and beginners alike. We have a few simple tips to help along the way to make the best Ricotta Gnocchi.
You will love this recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi because:
- The gnocchi are quicker and easier to make than potato gnocchi and are reliably tender.
- They are versatile; you can serve them with so many things. They are ideal with a quickly made Tomato Sauce, our Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, browned butter and sage or simply melted butter and parmesan cheese.
- It is an economical meal, made from just four main ingredients which are readily available.
- You can enjoy homemade gnocchi with minimal effort.
- No special equipment – we roll the gnocchi by hand and cut!
- This is a dish that the whole family will enjoy, always a bonus!
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Ricotta – as ricotta is the star of the show, for the best result, choose good quality, fresh, full-fat ricotta, cut from a block from a good deli or the deli section of the supermarket. (As shown in the photo above.) Not all ricotta is equal – there is a huge variation between the varieties that you will find.
Parmesan cheese – for the best result, we recommend a good quality, freshly grated Parmesan. Pre-grated Parmesan will not integrate with the dough as well as freshly grated, and often contains additives that make it grainy. I like to use Grana Padano; it has great flavour and is less expensive than Parmigiana Reggiano.
Eggs – I use large, free-range eggs.
Salt – use coarse, kitchen salt.
All-purpose/plain flour – the flour helps bind the Ricotta Gnocchi together.
How to Make Ricotta Gnocchi:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
1 – Start preparing the Gnocchi di Ricotta mixture:
Firstly, drain the ricotta to remove any excess moisture. Add the ricotta to a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Add the Parmesan, lightly beaten eggs and salt to the ricotta and mix well to combine.
2 – Add in the flour:
Mix in 115 g (¾ cup) flour and combine well. If necessary, to form a soft, sticky dough, add extra flour gradually.
3 – Knead the dough:
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to bring it together to form a ball.
4 – Roll the dough:
Take a small piece of dough, and on your lightly floured workbench, using both hands, roll it into a rope, about 1.25 cm (½ inch) in diameter. Use a sharp knife and cut into lengths of about 2.5 cm (1 inch).
5 – The prepared Gnocchi di Ricotta:
Add the gnocchi to the prepared baking tray leaving a small space so they are not touching.
Continue to roll the dough, adding flour as necessary.
Loosely cover the tray of gnocchi with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
6 – Cook your Ricotta Gnocchi:
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. If your saucepan is not large, you may need to cook the gnocchi in 2 batches.
Add the gnocchi, stir very gently just once to disperse them, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. When they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and add directly to your favourite sauce.
History of Gnocchi:
Gnocchi is one of Italy’s most famous and most popular dishes, which is generally eaten as a first course, or primo piatto.
It is thought that the word “gnocchi” most likely comes from “nocchio”, which means knot, or from “nocca”, which means knuckle.
We often associate the north of Italy with gnocchi, but in fact, they are made throughout Italy. When thinking of gnocchi, we generally think of potato, but although they are the most well-known, there are many other varieties and many different forms.
Gnocchi have ancient origins. Wikipedia advises that a form of gnocchi was enjoyed in Roman times. They were made from semolina flour and water or milk; the precursor to Gnocchi alla Romana. After potatoes were introduced to Europe in the 16th century, they were eventually used to make gnocchi.
In Tuscany, you may see ricotta gnocchi as “gnudi”, which means naked, referring to their similarity to ravioli filling, without the pasta.
No matter which version, gnocchi is pure comfort food.
Tips for success and FAQs:
Perhaps the three most important tips for making light, fluffy Ricotta Gnocchi are:
- Make sure that the ricotta is well-drained;
- Add as little flour as possible to hold them together;
- And don’t overwork the dough.
Not all ricotta is equal – there is a huge variation between the varieties that you will find in a supermarket. I like to buy ricotta from the deli section of the supermarket or a good deli. It is sold loose, cut from a block, and has already been partially strained. Watery ricotta, sometimes found in tubs in supermarkets, is not recommended for the gnocchi. It will mean that you need to use more flour, and this will make heavier gnocchi. The secret to making light, fluffy gnocchi is to use the right ricotta and to ensure it is well-drained before using. Fresh ricotta should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It has a short shelf life.
You will need to judge the amount of flour to use for the gnocchi. The amount will vary depending on the type of flour, how thoroughly the ricotta has been drained and even the humidity. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky, but it should hold its shape when you roll it. It is important to not add too much flour as it will mean dense, heavy gnocchi.
To be completely certain, you can test if the gnocchi will hold together. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, take a small amount of the dough and shape one gnoccho. Add it to the boiling water and if it rises to the surface and holds together, you are ready to roll out the dough. If not, slowly add extra flour until the dough holds its shape.
As fresh ricotta has a short shelf life, you can only make the gnocchi up to one day in advance. Make as advised in the recipe, cover the baking tray well with cling wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
Yes, you can. If you decide to freeze some, place them on a flat, lightly floured tray, cover with cling wrap and put it into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a zip lock bag or airtight container and store for up to 6 weeks. Cook them from frozen but don’t add them all at once – instead, cook them in batches. The frozen gnocchi will lower the temperature of the water and may cause them to disintegrate.
Gnocchi di Ricotta (Ricotta Gnocchi) is so versatile and you can serve it with many different sauces. I have shared my family’s simple sauce recipe below, but you could also serve the gnocchi with:
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Butter and Sage
For a side dish, I recommend:
Gnocchi di Ricotta is simple to prepare, comforting and utterly delicious. You will find my Ricotta Gnocchi are delicate and will melt in your mouth.
They are easy to make, and you can be certain they will be a popular addition to your meals. Do let me know in the comments below when you have given this recipe a try!
More delicious recipes for you to try:
Gnocchi di Ricotta (Ricotta Gnocchi)
For accuracy, when weights are provided, we recommend weighing your ingredients. This will produce the best results.
For the Ricotta Gnocchi:
- 500 g (1.1 lb) ricotta cheese – full fat/whole milk and well-drained See Note 1
- 60 g (¾ cup or 2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese See Note 2
- 2 large eggs – lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt See Note 3
- 115-150 g (¾ – 1 cup) plain/all-purpose flour – plus additional for dusting and rolling See Note 4
Tomato Sauce (Optional):
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small brown onion – finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic – minced
- 700 ml (23 oz) tomato passata
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
- ½ teaspoon each – dried basil, oregano and sugar
- sea salt and black pepper – to taste
- Prepare a baking tray by lightly dusting it with plain/all-purpose flour and set it aside.
- After ensuring your ricotta is well-drained, add it to a medium-size bowl and thoroughly mash with a fork until smooth.
- Add the Parmesan, lightly beaten eggs and salt to the ricotta and mix well to combine.
- Mix in 115 g (¾ cup) flour and combine well. If necessary, add extra flour gradually. You are looking for a soft dough that holds together but is still slightly sticky – See Note 4.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to bring it together to form a ball. Do not over knead.If you are uncertain, you can test if the gnocchi will hold together. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, take a small amount of the dough and shape one gnoccho. Add it to the boiling water and if it rises to the surface and holds together, you are ready to roll out the dough. If not, slowly add extra flour until it holds its shape.
- Take a small piece of dough, about ¼ cup, and on your lightly floured workbench, using both hands, roll it into a rope, about 1.25 cm (½ inch) in diameter. Use a sharp knife and cut into lengths of about 2.5 cm (1 Inch). You should use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your bench and dip your knife in the flour as necessary.
- Add the gnocchi to the prepared baking tray, with a small space so they are not touching.Continue to roll the dough, adding flour as necessary.Loosely cover the tray of gnocchi with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. As ricotta has a short shelf life, I do not recommend making it more than 24 hours in advance.
- Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. If your saucepan is not really large, you may need to cook the gnocchi in 2 batches.Add the gnocchi, stir very gently just once, and cook for 1– 2 minutes. When they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and add directly to your favourite sauce. Be sure to save some of your cooking water in case you want to thin your sauce.Serve with additional grated Parmesan.
- If you have leftover, cooked gnocchi, they can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Plain, unsauced gnocchi are delicious tossed in a frying pan with melted butter until heated through and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.If you have some uncooked gnocchi leftover and would like to freeze them, see Note 5.
For the Tomato Sauce (optional):
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the onion for five minutes. Add in the garlic, and cook for a further two minutes.
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, and simmer for fifteen minutes.
- Ricotta: for the best result, buy a piece of fresh ricotta from good delis or the deli section of the supermarket. This ricotta tends to have less moisture as it has already been strained and you may only need to pat it dry with paper towel. If it is moist, drain the ricotta in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl for a half-hour to drain off excess liquid and then pat dry with paper towel. Some ricotta sold in tubs is very damp and not ideal for general cooking. However, if this is all that you can buy you can strain it yourself. Put it in a fine-mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth, over a bowl in the fridge overnight. You would need about 600g to yield somewhere near 500g after straining. After straining, sit it on paper towel and pat it to remove further moisture. The ricotta must be well-drained to avoid the need to add a lot of flour, which would make the gnocchi heavy. See the Ingredients Shot for the type of ricotta we use.
- Parmesan: use good quality, freshly grated Parmesan. My preference is Grana Padano; it has excellent flavour. Pre-grated Parmesan often contains an anti-caking agent which may affect its ability to melt into the gnocchi. Volume measurements can vary enormously depending on the size the cheese is grated. Weight is more accurate.
- Salt: use coarse sea salt, not table salt which is much finer and too strong for this recipe.
- Flour: only add extra flour if necessary. The amount will vary depending on the flour, the moisture in the ricotta and even the humidity. It is important to not add too much flour as it will mean dense, heavy gnocchi.
- Freezing: the uncooked gnocchi can be frozen. Place them on a flat tray, cover with cling wrap and put into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a zip lock bag or airtight container and store for up to 6 weeks. You can cook them from frozen.
- Nutritional Information: does not include the sauce the gnocchi is served with.
The nutritional information is an estimate only, and is derived from online calculators. For accurate results, we recommend calculating the nutritional information based on the ingredients and brands you use.