To make vegan gnocchi we follow the authentic recipe for Italian potato gnocchi. They are easy to make at home, and you'll need just three ingredients and a fork.
Once cooked, gnocchi can be paired with your favorite pasta sauce - from rich vegan bolognese to a creamy mushroom sauce.
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What to expect
Gnocchi, pronounced "NYOKEE", is a popular Italian first course, most often made from potatoes and flour, and sometimes with eggs in it. It's often served with a meat-based sauce, or with a butter sage sauce.
Vegan gnocchi is actually an authentic Italian recipe, as a lot of people in Italy make gnocchi without eggs in it.
Homemade Italian gnocchi might be different from the gnocchi we are used to eating outside of Italy. They should be very soft, silky, and delicate, and when you put them in your mouth they should almost melt.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Potatoes: in the United States the best potato variety to make gnocchi is medium-sized Russet potatoes. If you don't live in the US or can't find Russet potatoes, then red potatoes are also great.
In general, old potatoes are best to make gnocchi because they contain more starch and less moisture.
Avoid new potatoes, as they contain too much moisture and will absorb too much flour.
If you don't find russet, red, or really old potatoes, then it will be hard to make Italian gnocchi. You can, however, make a more "international" type of vegan gnocchi. To do that, double the amount of flour that I use. Also, double the kneading time. This way you'll get a type of gnocchi that is easier to shape, and that has more bite (but it's not Italian).
- Flour: regular all-purpose flour.
- Salt: best would be sea salt or kosher salt, but any other salt is also ok. To make gnocchi gluten-free you can use all-purpose gluten-free flour or rice flour.
All you need is a clean surface, and a fork to both mash the potatoes, and to shape the gnocchi.
If you prefer you can also use a ricer to mash the potatoes, and a gnocchi board to shape them.
Add the potatoes, whole and with the skin on, to a large pot full of cold water.
Bring to boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. I check by inserting the blade of a small knife into one potato. If it slides in easily, they are done.
Depending on the size of the potatoes they can take between 20 and 50 minutes to cook.
It would be best to use potatoes that are similar in size so that they'll require the same cooking time.
Once cooked tender, drain the potatoes and peel them. Since they are hot, I hold them with a cloth with my left hand and remove the peel with a small paring knife with my right.
In a large bowl, add the peeled potatoes and mash them with a fork until they are completely mashed. You can also use a potato ricer or masher to do this.
TIP: if you use a potato ricer to mash the potatoes, you won't need to peel them.
Just cut them in half instead, put them in the ricer with the cut facing down, and squeeze. The peel should stay in the ricer.
Now add the flour and the salt, and knead until the potatoes absorb all the flour and you get a compact but soft gnocchi dough.
Knead just the time to incorporate the flour with the potatoes. For more info, see the "tips" chapter below. You should not over-knead.
NOTE: depending on the type of potato, you might need to add more or less flour.
Sprinkle your worktop with flour. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll each piece into long ropes, 2 cm thick (about ¾ inch), then cut the ropes into 1.5 cm (½ inch) bites.
Use a knife or a dough scraper to cut the gnocchi.
Now, you have three options to shape the gnocchi. You can either leave them as they are, smooth and looking like small cute pillows.
This is a popular version in Italy, as most people don't have time (or patience) to shape them further.
You can also roll them on the tines of a fork applying gentle pressure with your thumb, creating small ridges that will make the gnocchi look very pretty. The ridges will also grab more sauce.
Or you can use a gnocchi board that you can find online for a few dollars. It's definitely faster to do gnocchi with a gnocchi board than with a fork. Once shaped, put your gnocchi on a baking sheet.
Homemade gnocchi cooks very quickly, in a large pot of salted water. Add them to the pot one by one. Like when boiling pasta, the water should be well salted.
They are quite delicate, so you should only cook one to two portions at a time, without overcrowding the pot.
When they float to the top, they are done. It should take about 1 minute. Since gnocchi is very soft, they might lose their shape if you drain them in a strainer.
It's best to scoop them out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add them directly to the pan with the sauce.
Once your gnocchi is ready, it's quite an easy dinner since you just need to choose a sauce and toss them in.
For a side of veggies add one or more of these sides:
- Cucumber and tomato salad
- Brussels sprout salad
- Roasted broccoli
- Roasted Brussels sprout
- Oven-baked veggie tray
PSST! Gnocchi are also delicious served with a simple vegan butter and sage sauce.
- Sweet potato gnocchi: you can easily replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes.
The recipe stays exactly the same, however, sweet potatoes are wetter than regular potatoes, so you might want to dry them in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C (360F) after you boiled them and before mashing them.
- Ricotta gnocchi: to make gnocchi with ricotta you can first follow our recipe for making dairy-free ricotta at home from soy milk.
Then replace the potatoes with ricotta, and follow the recipe. Depending on how wet your ricotta is, you might want to add two to three tablespoons of additional flour.
- Gluten-free gnocchi: you can make these with gluten-free flour such as rice flour or a gluten-free flour mix.
When you make gluten-free gnocchi you don't have to worry about over-kneading as there's no gluten.
PSST! If you're also a big fan of vegan Italian recipes, we hear you! If we missed one of your favorite Italian recipes on our site, let us know in the comments below.
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- Use the right potatoes: the best potatoes for making homemade gnocchi are floury potatoes, rich in starch and low in water content.
They will make for a dry, fluffy, dough. The best variety are Russet potatoes, red potatoes, and most types of very old potatoes.
If your potatoes are really watery, then you can first boil them, then cut them in half and bake them in the oven at 180C (360F) for 20 minutes.
- Cook potatoes with peel on: this is done to prevent water from entering the potato. Do not cut the potatoes before cooking them.
- Peel and mash the potatoes while hot: be careful and do not burn yourself. To prevent myself from burning, I take a cloth on my left hand, put the potato in it, and peel it with my right hand. Alternatively, I stick a fork in it to hold the potato.
Potatoes should be mashed while hot because as they cool down, the starches will go through a process called retrogradation, where they will make the potatoes sticky and hard to work with.
- Don't over-knead: over-kneading will activate the gluten network in the flour, making the gnocchi gummy and chewy.
- Cook immediately (or freeze): gnocchi should be cooked straight after you make them, because when they sit around, they loose their texture and shape. If you want to make them in advance, it's best to freeze them.
The russet potato is great for gnocchi because it contains a good amount of starch and less water than regular potatoes.
However, if you can't find Russet potatoes, you can use red potatoes or old potatoes. In any case, try to avoid new potatoes.
Probably because there is too much water in the gnocchi dough.
This happens either because you cooked the potatoes without their peel, or chopped. It can also happen if you picked the wrong type of potato.
Do not add flour directly to the dough. Transfer the gnocchi to a clean worktop, dust the worktop with flour, and gently work the dough there.
Do more of a rolling, compacting movement, than kneading.
Gnocchi is basically an Italian dumpling and is different from other types of pasta. Traditional pasta is made from wheat flour mixed with water (and sometimes eggs), and since gnocchi consists primarily of potatoes, it can be categorized as a dumpling.
Can gnocchi be made ahead of time?
Yes, they can, as long as you follow some simple tips for storing them. The best way to store homemade gnocchi is to freeze them straight after you shaped them in freezer bags.
How to freeze homemade potato gnocchi?
To freeze homemade gnocchi, put them as a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper.
Freeze them on the tray, then after an hour or so, when they are hard, you can transfer them to a freezer bag to save space. Keep for up to three months.
How to cook them from frozen?
To cook vegan gnocchi from frozen, just add them to plenty of salted boiling water and cook till they float on top.
Cooked gnocchi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a day. To reheat them, jump them on a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Or bake them in the oven with some extra dairy-free cheese on top.
Potato Gnocchi Recipe
- To mash the potatoes you'll need a fork, or a potato ricer, or a rotary vegetable mill.
For the gnocchi
- 2.2 pounds potatoes Russet or red potatoes.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour this can vary greatly based on the type of potato so be ready to add more.
- 2 teaspoons salt + 1½ tablespoons for the water to cook the gnocchi.
Make the gnocchi dough
- Boil potatoes with skin on in boiling water till soft. It should take 40 to 50 minutes. Pierce one potato with the tip of a knife to check doneness. Drain potatoes and peel them while still hot. Cloth on left hand, knife on right hand, so that you don't burn yourself. Do not let potatoes cool too much or they'll get hard to mash.TIP: usually while I wait for the potatoes to cook, I make the sauce. Link in the notes below.
- Add the potatoes to a bowl and mash them with a fork, potato ricer, rotary vegetable mill or potato masher. I do it with a fork.
- Add the flour and the salt, and knead until the potatoes absorb all the flour and you get a compact but soft potato dough.
- Knead just the time to incorporate the flour with the potatoes. For more info, see the "tips" chapter below. You should not over-knead.NOTE: depending on the type of potato, you might need to add more or less flour.
Shape the gnocchi
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll each piece into long ropes, 2 cm thick (about ¾ inch), then cut the ropes into 1.5 cm (½ inch) bites.You can use a knife or a dough scraper to cut the gnocchi.
- You have three options to shape the gnocchi. You can either leave them as they are, smooth and looking like small cute pillows.
- You can also roll them on the backside of a fork applying gentle pressure with your thumb, creating small ridges that will make the gnocchi look very pretty. The ridges will also grab more sauce.
- Or you can use a gnocchi board that you can find online for a few dollars. It's definitely faster to do gnocchi with a gnocchi board.
Cook the gnocchi
- Add the gnocchi, one by one, to a pot with plenty of salted boiling water. When they float to the surface, they are cooked. It should take about 1 minute.
- Scoop them out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add them directly to the pan with your favourite sauce.