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A masterclass for making the lightest homemade ricotta gnocchi that are soft and airy. My easy gnocchi dough recipe comes together in minutes (with this method, there’s no need to drain the ricotta cheese). You can freeze the gnocchi, cooked or uncooked. Boil and toss with your favorite sauce when you’re ready to enjoy!
We LOVE to make a batch of homemade potato gnocchi, but baking the potatoes for an hour takes advance planning. Instead, the dough for this ricotta gnocchi recipe comes together in mere minutes.
Ricotta gnocchi turn into gorgeous light clouds that puff up in boiling water. They’re melt-in-your-mouth delicious with just about any type of pasta sauce, or even just plain butter and cheese. Are you tempted yet?!
The fluffy dumplings make one of our favorite pasta dinner recipes — we enjoy them in chicken gnocchi soup, to make gnocchi with blue cheese and mushroom sauce, and simply tossed with homemade marinara sauce or my rustic Italian meat sauce.
Whether you’re a beginner gnocchi-maker or studied by your grandma’s side, this recipe will show you how to make a surprisingly simple batch of gnocchi without a lot of fussing around.
Ingredients for ricotta gnocchi
- Ricotta cheese: I absolutely recommend using a high-quality fresh, whole milk ricotta cheese (not skim or part skim) to make gnocchi dough. The higher fat content is important — the thicker, creamier texture helps to bind the ingredients and lighten the texture of the gnocchi. Also, high-fat ricotta does not need to be drained before you start mixing the dough, which saves you time.
- Flour: All-purpose flour works perfectly for this recipe. I’ve also tested it using Italian OO flour, a fine, soft wheat flour that has a slightly lower protein level than AP. It makes super-light gnocchi.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated Parmesan has the best nutty, savory flavor, which you’ll definitely taste in the finished gnocchi. If you have access to Parmigiano Reggiano, even better!
- Eggs: You’ll need two whole large eggs.
Step-by-step process photos
Storage and freezing directions
- Make the dough and refrigerate up to 24 hours before shaping them.
- The uncooked shaped gnocchi can be refrigerated up to one day ahead.
- To freeze ricotta gnocchi, arrange them in one layer on a sheet pan and place in the freezer until they’re solid. Transfer to a storage container or freezer bag. Freeze 1-2 months. Frozen gnocchi can be boiled just like fresh ones.
4-Ingredient Ricotta Gnocchi
- 1 pound (450 g) whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups (185 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
Make the dough
- Pour off and discard any excess liquid from the container of ricotta. Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Break the eggs into the bowl, then add the Parmesan cheese and salt. Beat well with a wooden spoon or whisk until it's smooth.
- Add the flour to the ricotta mixture, gently folding it in with a spoon until a cohesive dough forms. It will feel slightly sticky, and look shaggy. If it feels too soft to handle, you can stir in a tiny bit more flour. Tip: For the lightest gnocchi, it's best not to over-mix the dough or add too much flour. At this point you can continue to the next step to form the gnocchi, or place the dough in a covered bowl and refrigerate one hour or up to 24 hours in advance. Chilling the dough will also make it easier to handle.
Form the gnocchi
- Line one or two rimmed sheet pans with a piece of parchment paper and lightly dust them with flour. Sprinkle some flour on a work surface (such as a clean countertop or large cutting board). Dump the dough onto the surface and gently pat it into a smooth mound.
- Divide the dough into four or five sections about the size of the palm of your hand, using a bench knife or large knife. Place all but one of them off to the side. Flour your hands lightly, and sprinkle a little more flour on the piece of dough in front of you. Using your hands, gently roll into a rope about ¾ to 1-inch diameter.
- Slice the rope into 1-inch gnocchi using a knife or bench scraper. Transfer the formed gnocchi to the prepared sheet pan. If you'd like to form traditional ridged gnocchi, lightly flour a wooden gnocchi board or dinner fork. Place each gnocchi at the top of the board or fork, then use your thumb to press and roll the gnocchi off and away from the board/fork, forming an indented dumpling with lines.
- Repeat the rolling and slicing with the remaining dough, transferring them to the sheet pan as you go. To boil the gnocchi at later time, cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to one day ahead.
Boil the gnocchi
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per quart of water. The easiest way to transfer the gnocchi into the boiling water is to grab two sides of the parchment paper, invert it over the pot and allow the gnocchi to slide off the paper into the water.
- Boil just until the gnocchi begin to float, which should take about 3 minutes. Drain and immediately toss with your desired sauce and additional Parmesan cheese. See notes below for some sauce suggestions.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- To correctly measure the flour if you don’t have a scale, first fluff up the flour with a spoon to loosen it. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup until it’s heaping. Use the side of a knife or a skewer to level off the flour until it’s even with the side of the cup.
- Some brands of ricotta come in 15-ounce containers instead of a full pound — it’s totally fine to use that size instead, no adjustments to the recipe are needed.
- To freeze ricotta gnocchi, arrange them in one layer on a sheet pan and place in the freezer until they’re solid. Transfer to a storage container or freezer bag. Freeze 1-2 months. Frozen gnocchi can be boiled as directed, just like fresh ones.
- Sauce ideas: Toss gnocchi with creamy Alfredo sauce, creamy vodka sauce, fresh marinara sauce, or Italian meat sauce.
- To make a quick sage butter sauce, melt 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss in a handful of fresh sage leaves until they crisp and sizzle, about 30 seconds. Pour over the gnocchi and serve.