These Pesto Gnocchi are a wonderful comfort food that is simply bursting with flavor. It combines homemade gnocchi with tasty pesto to create a dish everyone will love!
If you've never made gnocchi from scratch this is the recipe you need. And with a quick sauce these Pesto Gnocchi will tantalise your tastebuds!!
Table of Contents
Why you will love this recipe
Pesto Gnocchi made with your very own homemade potatoes gnocchi are so rewarding and taste like heaven! Making gnocchi at home isn’t that complicated. And paired with a basil pesto, this is the perfect comfort meal for all the family.
Learning how to make gnocchi is satisfying and much easier than you think. This step by step recipe will teach you to make gnocchi as good as any Italian. Here you will find my family's recipe with all the secrets for success. Whether you use nut free pesto or my Authentic Bolognese sauce, homemade gnocchi will be a family favorite!
Basil Pesto Gnocchi is a sure fire way to enjoy your first batch of homemade gnocchi. My nut free pesto with a classic variation can be made in advance so once the gnocchi are cooked all you need to do is stir through the pesto. Of course, if you are short on time, use good quality store bought basil pesto for quick pesto gnocchi.
Tomorrow you can try out my tasty tortellini alla panna that I sometimes like to serve as a first course.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
- Potatoes - Choose a floury, starchy potato, not one that is waxy or a "salad" potato. Look for varieties that are good for mashing, baking or roasting so basically an all rounder will be good.
- All purpose plain flour - my family always used all purpose flour and still does. If you have Italian Tipo 00, that would be very good but not essential.
- Egg - I always prefer free-range eggs but use whatever you have.
- Salt - just regular cooking salt is fine or whatever you have.
- Basil pesto - to complete the recipe, use homemade basil pesto made with fresh basil leaves, good olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Alternatively, use a good quality store bought pesto.
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - don’t purchase package, pregrated cheese. Buy a block of cheese and grate it as you need it. I always prefer Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from Italy but if you can only get local Parmesan cheese, use that.
- Boil the potatoes with skins on until tender then peel and put through a potato ricer while hot.
- Allow to cool a little then add flour, egg and a pinch of salt then knead lightly to form a dough.
- Roll into a long rope then cut into 1 inch/2.5cm lengths.
- Press each gnocchi against a gnocchi board or tines of a fork with your fingers making an indentation on one side and ridges on the other side.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi. When they rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.
- Gently combine with basil pesto and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano).
Serve pesto gnocchi while still warm with extra Parmesan cheese.
- Gnocchi - for a super quick easy pesto gnocchi dinner, cook store bought gnocchi according the package instructions then combine with basil pesto and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Basil Pesto - use a different variety of pesto - try sun dried tomato pesto or make pesto with arugula.
- Parmesan cheese - or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can be substituted with Pecorino Romano or even Asiago if you prefer.
- Creamy pesto gnocchi - while the gnocchi are boiling, heat 1 cup of heavy cream with the basil pesto over medium heat. When the gnocchi are cooked, combine gently with with the creamy pesto sauce.
- Chicken pesto gnocchi - stir 1 ½ cups of skinless, shredded rotisserie chicken into the creamy pesto sauce above. Warm through before combining with gnocchi.
- Cheesy baked gnocchi - prepare pesto gnocchi as directed in the recipe card then stir in ½ cup of reserved cooking water plus 1 cup grated provolone or mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC.
To make gnocchi, the potatoes must have no lumps. For best results, use a potato ricer or a vegetable mouli. Alternatively, you can use a potato masher or a fork for mash the potatoes. Never use a food processor or the potatoes will be gluey.
Traditionally gnocchi are shaped using a fork or a ribbed gnocchi board.
Generally I will make gnocchi and cook them straightaway. However, I have prepared gnocchi to the point of cooking then refrigerated gnocchi overnight. In this case be sure to place gnocchi in a single layer, on baking paper lined and floured trays.
While I have never frozen gnocchi, I have read that gnocchi can be frozen directly on the trays in a single layer. Once frozen, the gnocchi can be placed in clip sealed bags and kept frozen for a few weeks. Cook from frozen.
If you have leftover basil pesto gnocchi, store in a sealed container in the fridge for a day or two and reheat in the microwave oven. Leftover pesto gnocchi don’t freeze well.
Tips for success and FAQs
I learnt to make pesto gnocchi by my father's side. He made the lightest and most delicious gnocchi. When you are first learning to make gnocchi, adding an egg will help you succeed and hold your dough together. Once you feel you have mastered this recipe you can gradually add less egg if you want to make eggless gnocchi.
Moisture is the enemy to gnocchi. The most important tip when making gnocchi is to keep the potatoes as dry as possible. This may seem difficult when the first step is to boil the potatoes. So, the trick here is to boil unpeeled potatoes. Be sure that the potatoes are completely tender but not overcooked and water logged. Tender potatoes ensure smooth pesto gnocchi.
Incorporating the flour and egg into the potatoes requires a light hand. This is not bread or pasta which needs to be kneaded. Gnocchi dough is gently pressed together. The dough should be airy inside. Potatoes will become gummy and gluggy if worked too much.
Potato gnocchi are traditionally shaped by pressing onto a fork or gnocchi board to create ridges on one side and an indentation on the other. It's to catch all the sauce so that you have extra good pesto gnocchi! Gather the family around, give them each a fork and learn how to shape gnocchi using my video. That's how we Italian children learnt. Gnocchi making was and still is a family affair.
A word like "gnocchi" can be tricky but it's actually quite simple. Often you'll hear gnocchi pronounce "nokki" which is incorrect. Instead think of it like this. The "gn" (while impossible to compare to anything in English) is pronounced "ny" with your tongue beginning flat to the roof of your mouth. The "o" part is a short sound like "oh" as in chocolate. Finally the "cchi" is just like the work "key". So pronounce "gnocchi" - "ny-oh-key".
Gnocchi goes well with so many different sauces and are very versatile. Try a traditional Bolognese sauce or a San Marzano tomato sauce. My Gnocchi Carbonara are a good example of how unlimited the possibilities are for pairing with potato gnocchi.
To begin with, use the right potatoes. Choose potatoes that are floury rather than waxy. Waxy potatoes have too much moisture. Next mix the potatoes, flour and egg lightly but until completely combined. Including an egg with the potatoes and flour provides extra security to ensure the gnocchi don’t fall apart. Finally, don’t over boil gnocchi. Remove from the boiling water as soon as they rise to the top for homemade gnocchi or according to package instructions.
Traditionally pesto gnocchi aren’t served as a cold dish. However, there’s no reason why you can serve gnocchi as a cold dish similar to a pasta salad.
Pesto Gnocchi can be served as a first course or a main meal. Serve with garlic ciabatta bread and chicken cutlets for a delicious Italian dinner. Followed with a strawberry crostata or baked peaches, this Pesto Gnocchi recipe will be popular with everyone!
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Pesto Gnocchi Recipe
- 2.2 pounds (2 pounds 3 ounces/1 kilogram) potatoes (See note 1)
- 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose plain flour or Tipo 00 flour (See note 2)
- 1 egg beaten
- ¾ cup basil pesto homemade or store bought
- salt to taste
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) as desired
How to make gnocchi dough.
- Place unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and add a large spoonful of salt. Bring to the boil.
- Boil for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes can be easily piece with a knife.
- Once potatoes are tender, drain and allow to cool a little until you can manage to handle them. They need to be quite warm.
- Peel the potatoes and while still hot pass them through a potato ricer or vegetable mouli onto the work surface.
- Spread out so that the steam evaporates. Potato needs to cool a little so that the egg doesn't cook and the flour and potato don't become gummy. Sprinkle over most of the flour, a pinch of salt and add the egg. With your fingers or a fork stir lightly to combine
- Gently and gradually press the mixture together. It is important to not over knead but thoroughly combine. The dough should be light, not gooey or gummy which is a sign of over kneading and will result in heavy gnocchi.
- Form the dough into a ball.
To shape the gnocchi
- Cut small portion of dough and roll into a long rope about the thickness of your thumb.
- Cut into 1 inch/2.5cm lengths.
- Take each nugget of dough and using your index and middle finger, press the dough onto the tines of the fork ( or a gnocchi board which can be purchased in specialty shops) and roll. Making a concave indentation on one side and ridges on the other side.
- Place gnocchi on a baking tray that has been dusted with flour.
- An optional idea is to line the tray with baking paper and flour the paper as well. This way when you are ready to cook, you just pick up the ends of the paper and slip all the gnocchi into the boiling water.
- Continue making gnocchi until all the dough is used up.
To cook and dress the gnocchi
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
- Add gnocchi in batches and gnocchi are ready when they rise to the surface which will be about 3-5 minutes. The water may not return to the boil but if the gnocchi float, they are cooked.
- Use a large slotted spoon to lift the gnocchi out. Drain well and place onto a large flat serving plate.
- Add spoonfuls of pesto (try my nut free pesto recipe which also has the classic version) and a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano). Gently stir with a silicone spatula. Continue cooking, draining and dressing the gnocchi until they are all done and all the pesto has been used.
- Sprinkle with extra grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) and place the platter of gnocchi in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.
- Choose a floury, starchy potato not a waxy or a "salad" potato. Look for potato varieties that are good for mashing, baking or roasting.
- A little more flour (¼ cup) may be added if the dough seems too soft.
- Keep potatoes as dry as possible by boiling unpeeled potatoes and then draining well.
- Have potatoes warm but not hot when adding flour and egg
- Use a light hand to incorporate the flour and egg into the potatoes but be sure to combine well.
Nutritional Estimate Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove