Move over potato gnocchi, there’s a new Italian dumpling in town and it’s made with ricotta cheese! These ricotta gnudi (or “nudi”) are pillowy soft, rich and SO easy to make from scratch. Just 4 simple ingredients, plus a couple pantry staples, like flour and eggs, and 30 minutes are all you need for these delicious homemade ricotta gnocchi!
Update: This recipe for ricotta gnocchi was originally published in October 2014. I made updates to the post below to include more information about making delicious Italian dumplings at home!
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About these ricotta gnocchi
Hi friends! Looking for an easy Italian dumpling recipe? I have the perfect one!
Gnudi are fluffy, airy, light as a feather, yet creamy, rich, and oh sooo delicious.
I am not over exaggerating when I say eating these little pillows of ricotta cheese will make you feel like you are floating on a cloud in heaven – figuratively, of course.
This ricotta gnocchi recipe is simple and requires only a few ingredients. This version of gnocchi is kind of dangerous, though. Using ricotta cheese and a reduced amount of flour makes the Italian dumplings light in texture. So light that you could easily devour a few bowls… without even blinking or thinking.
Trust me- it happens!
Why this ricotta gnocchi recipe works
These Italian nudi are so light and yet creamy. They taste extra good when you serve them tossed in butter or a scoop of homemade marinara sauce.
This recipe is:
- Easy to prepare. All it takes is a little mixing and kneading of the dough!
- Quick to cook. These Italian dumplings only take a few minutes to cook once they are formed.
- Great for beginners. If you have never made gnocchi (or any type of pasta) before, this is a great recipe to start with.
- Inexpensive. All you need are some pantry staples and a few budget-friendly ingredients to make this recipe.
- Perfect for a big family dinner. You can easily double or triple the recipe if you are feeding a crowd.
- Freezer-friendly. This ricotta gnocchi recipe can be made ahead of time and frozen for later!
What are ricotta gnudi?
If you are new to the world of Italian cuisine, you may be wondering, what exactly is gnudi?
Gnudi or nudie (pronounced “noo-dee”) are simply Italian dumplings that are made without any type of filling (like a ravioli would have). They’re actually known as ‘naked ravioli,’ which basically makes them the delicious filling of the ravioli on its own – no wrapper necessary.
Ricotta nudi are usually made with flour, eggs, and potatoes and then boiled in water until they float to the surface.
Today’s recipe, ricotta gnocchi, is a type of Italian nudi made with ricotta cheese instead of potatoes. Gnudi tend to have a lighter, fluffier texture compared to traditional gnocchi.
Ricotta is a type of Italian cheese that is made from whey, which is the liquid left over from making cheese. It is a very creamy cheese with a slightly sweet flavor. It works perfectly in this recipe!
Ingredients for ricotta gnocchi recipe
You’ll only need a few ingredients to make these Italian dumplings. You probably have a lot of them in your pantry and fridge already!
Here’s what you will need:
- Ricotta Cheese: I prefer to use whole milk ricotta cheese for this recipe.
- Substitution: I recommend subbing in cream cheese or cottage cheese to have the most similar texture to the gnudi.
- Parmesan Cheese: For the best flavor, buy a fresh block of parmesan cheese and grate it fresh.
- Substitution: If you are in a pinch, you can use the pre-grated, store-bought kind.
- Garlic: I like to use fresh garlic for this recipe. Mince it very finely or use a garlic press to mash it into a garlic paste.
- Eggs: You will need 2 large eggs to make these ricotta gnocchi!
- Ground Nutmeg: This is a key ingredient that adds a layer of warm and nutty flavor.
- Substitution: If you don’t have any on hand, you can leave it out or sub in some ground allspice.
- Salt and Pepper: Use kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste.
- Flour: The best type of flour to make Italian dumplings is all-purpose flour. I always have it in my pantry!
- Substitution: Substitute all-purpose flour for Italian Double Zero 00 flour. For gluten-free gnocchi, use gluten-free 1:1 flour instead.
Serving ideas for Italian dumplings
- Brown butter and sage. This is a classic Italian combo that works so well with nudi pasta. The sage adds a beautiful earthy flavor, and the salty butter makes it all come together.
- Marinara sauce. This is a classic pasta sauce– and for a good reason! Made with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil, it is the perfect accompaniment to these ricotta gnocchi.
- Aglio e olio. This garlic and oil sauce is a staple in Italian cuisine. It is so simple to make and only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Totally in line with the theme of this recipe!
- Cream sauce: Your favorite white cream sauce, such as Alfredo or garlic cream, will transform these dumplings into the ultimate cozy dinner!
- Pesto sauce. This is my personal favorite way to enjoy these ricotta gnocchi! You can make your own pesto or your favorite store-bought pesto.
FAQ: ricotta gnocchi
Should I use a food processor or mixing bowl to make the Italian dumpling dough?
Some find that it is easier to use a food processor to make the dough for these ricotta dumplings. It comes together quickly and easily this way. Plus, it gives the ricotta gnocchi a more silky smooth interior. Just make sure to not “over process” the dough, or it will turn out gummy.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mixing bowl instead. Be sure to mix everything together until it forms a sticky dough ball.
Can I make this gnocchi recipe ahead of time?
Yes! You can make the ricotta gnudi up to a day in advance. Just store them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
How do I freeze Italian dumplings?
These Italian dumplings freeze really well! Just make sure they have a good coating of flour before you freeze them, so they don’t stick together.
Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are frozen solid, then transfer them to a freezer bag.
They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Why is my nudie pasta so mushy?
If your gnudi are too mushy, it means you have added too much flour. When you are mixing the dough, make sure to add the flour slowly and only add enough so that the dough is no longer sticky.
It’s also possible you left the ricotta dumplings too long in the simmering water. I would recommend using a timer or staying by the stove so you can scoop them out in time!
If they are still a bit too mushy for you, do not fear. There is something you can still do! Add a bit of butter to a sauté pan, add the gnocchi to the pan, and pan sear until they have a nice crispy exterior.
They will still be delicious- I PROMISE!
Storing Italian dumplings
These cooked gnocchi will last in the fridge for up to four days. Make sure to keep them in an airtight container to maintain their freshness.
To reheat, add them to a sauté pan with a bit of butter or olive oil. Cook over medium heat until they are warmed through.
This recipe for homemade Italian nudie pasta is perfect for making in the fall and winter seasons! Not only is it easy to make, but it’s ideal for meal prep and serving for dinner.
Your friends and family are going to LOVE this ricotta gnocchi recipe!
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More Italian dinner recipes!
- Homemade Tomato Soup
- Classic Italian Chopped Salad
- Cheese Tortellini with Pesto Sauce
- Crab Linguine
- Short Ribs Bolognese
How to make Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe👇
Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe
- Strainer - for straining ricotta
- Large Mixing Bowl - for Gnudi "dough"
- Baking Sheet with Parchment Paper - for holding the dumplings
- Large Pot - for simmering the dumplings
- (optional) skillet - for crispy Gnudi dumplings
- 1 (15-ounce) Container Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese (about 2 cups)
- 1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese – plus more for serving (4.5 ounces)
- 2 Cloves Garlic – grated or minced & smashed into a paste
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/16 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper – to taste
- ¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour – spooned & leveled, plus more for dusting work surface (106 grams) (substitution: 00 or Gluten-Free Flour)
- Optional Garnish Chopped Fresh Basil, Fresh Lemon Zest, Red Pepper Flakes 1/3 cup, Fresh Lemon Zest (1 tsp+), Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)
- Optional Serving Marinara Sauce
- Strain ricotta: Place a fine mesh strainer inside a mixing bowl, arranging the strainer so that it’s suspended over the bowl. Add the ricotta to the strainer and set aside for 15 minutes to drain. Once 15 minutes has passed, remove the ricotta from the strainer and place it on a double paper towel-lined work surface. Pat and press completely dry with more paper towels.
- Make ricotta dumpling “dough”: To a large mixing bowl, add the dry ricotta, parmesan, garlic, eggs, nutmeg, ¾ teaspoon salt, and heaping ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir until just combined.
- Add flour: Add ¾ cup of flour and stir until the ingredients are just combined and the mixture forms a sticky dough. Add more flour, if necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time until a sticky dough forms. (Tip: Don’t over-stir or add too much flour to the dumpling dough or it will become gummy!)
- Chill (optional but recommended): Cover the bowl and place the gnudi mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight. (Tip: Refrigerating the “dough” makes it less sticky and easier to work with. I’ve found that around 1 hour or more is best.)
- Scoop, flour and form Italian dumplings: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour the parchment paper and set aside. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop (or a large spoon), scoop a mound of dough and gently place onto your floured work surface. Roll the dumpling around to coat in flour. Pick it up and roll the dumpling around in your hands to shake off excess flour while shaping your dumpling. You can shape them however you like, into rounds, ovals, etc. Transfer dumpling to parchment paper. Continue scooping, rolling, and forming until all the dough is used.
- Chill: Cover the tray of dumplings and place them in the refrigerator while you move on to the next step (simmering water).OR freeze for later: Alternatively, you can stop at this point and freeze the dumplings to use later! To freeze, instead of placing the tray in the refrigerator, place it in the freezer and store until dumplings are frozen solid, about 1 hour. Transfer the frozen dumplings to a large freezer-safe storage bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use, cook the frozen dumplings according to the recipe, adding 3-5 minutes to the cook time.
- Prepare water: While the gnudi dumplings are chilling, bring a large pot of water to simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, season the water with 2-3 teaspoons of kosher salt.
- Cook ricotta gnocchi: Working in two separate batches, add half the gnudi to the water. Gently simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked dumplings to a colander to drain. Repeat with remaining dumplings Continue to next step for crispy dumplings or skip directly to serving. (Tip: DO NOT boil the water or attempt to cook the gnudi in rapidly simmering water – they will fall apart!)(Note: The dumplings will float to the top quickly – this isn’t an indication of doneness.)
- Optional – for crispy exterior - sear the gnudi: Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, add half the gnudi and cook, turning gently for even cooking, until golden brown and crisp all over, about 3-4 minutes total. Remove to a plate. Add more butter to the pan and repeat process with remaining gnudi.
- Serve: Toss or serve with warm marinara sauce, more parmesan and fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!
- Food Processor vs. Mixing Bowl: You can use a food processor to make this recipe, which will give your Gnudi (ricotta gnocchi) a more silky-smooth interior. However, I find using a bowl is easier. If using a food processor, be careful not to over-process your dumpling “dough” or it will turn gummy.
- Yield: approximately 20 dumplings
- Serves: recipe serves 4-6 people
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