Be a Better Cook

This Pillowy Sweet Potato Gnocchi is the Perfect Cozy-Night-In Meal

Make a bowlful of light and delicious sweet potato dumplings and strut around your kitchen like a pasta-making pro.

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Ever made your own gnocchi? How about Sweet Potato Gnocchi? Conquering the art of gnocchi is like winning your very own cooking competition. Almost every cuisine has a version of the potato dumpling. But perhaps the most famous preparation hails from Italy – the pretty, petite and pasta-like gnocchi.

Gnocchi (pronounced “NYO-kee”) derives from the Italian word nocchio, meaning knot or lump. But these tender bits of cooked dough are more akin to soft pillows. They’re made from a basic mixture of baked potato, flour and egg (although in traditional gnocchi recipes, egg is not always used). And in this case, we’re turning up the dial on nutrition and using sweet potatoes for a vibrant, beta carotene and vitamin C rich Sweet Potato Gnocchi. 

It can be a little tricky to get the feel for the right ratio, texture and timing, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you more than one try to triumph at making gnocchi – the pros are Italian grandmas who have been making this dish all of their lives. And even they have a few tricks up their sleeves to ensure that gnocchi are soft in the center, with a surface that’s gently resistant. First, use a potato ricer, which is a hand-held mill that grates the cooked potato flesh into a light, fine-textured pile. Second, use potatoes that are hot and dry to get the most volume. Last and most important, use just the right amount of flour and kneading to achieve a dough that is neither too tender nor too dense.

Russet potatoes are the most popular choice for making gnocchi because they have a high starch content and dry flesh, but the real fun is getting creative with flavors, like we’re showing you here with our famous Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Experiment with different types or combinations of potatoes, such as nutrient-dense sweet potatoes used in the step-by-step how-to guide below. Or, try adding chopped herbs or spices to the dough before kneading (basil and nutmeg are popular). Whatever you try, be sure to bring patience and a clean-eating, can-do attitude – we gnocchi you can do it!

What You’ll Need to Make Sweet Potato Gnocchi:
Large, shallow bowl
Potato ricer
Rubber spatula
Dough scrapers
Large pot
Slotted spoon

Step 1

Prick 1 lb potato with a fork and bake directly on oven rack at 400˚F for 1 to 1½ hours, until fork-tender. Halve potato and scoop out flesh with a spoon; discard skins.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 2

With a potato ricer, squeeze potato flesh into a large, shallow bowl. Next, transfer onto a double layer of paper towels. Let sit for 15 minutes to absorb excess liquid; if needed, replace damp paper towel with a new double layer.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 3

In bowl, sprinkle ¼ cup white whole-wheat flour. Return potato to bowl and drizzle 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, overtop. Sprinkle with additional ¼ cup flour. If desired, stir in your favorite herbs or spices for extra flavor.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 4

With a rubber spatula, gently fold and press mixture until flour is incorporated and a dough forms, gradually adding up to an additional ½ cup flour, as needed.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 5

Lightly dust a flat work surface with flour. Turn dough out onto surface and knead until no longer sticky but not overly stiff, incorporating as little flour as needed. With a dough scraper or paring knife, divide dough into 6 equal pieces.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 6

Beginning in the center and working outward, roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about the thickness of your thumb. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces to form gnocchi.

sweet potato gnocchi

Optional Step:
Gently press and roll each gnocchi against the back of a fork to make small ridges in one side of the dough and a slight indentation in the other. This traditional technique is believed to help the pasta sauce cling to the gnocchi, but if you’re in a pinch for time you can skip this step.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 7

In a large pot of lightly salted water, boil gnocchi, working 10 to 15 pieces at a time. When cooked, gnocchi will float to the surface. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.

sweet potato gnocchi

Step 8

If desired, add sweet potato gnocchi to pasta sauce just before serving, or simply serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, fresh ground black pepper and fresh herbs.

sweet potato gnocchi

Now that your sweet potato gnocchi is ready, it’s time to dress it up! Try any of the following ingredient combinations or create your own.

Sauce  Vegetables Oil/fat Cheese/nuts Herbs/seasoning
No sauce Onion, celery, garlic, cremini mushrooms Olive oil, butter or half of each Parmesan and chopped toasted pecans Sage, salt and pepper
Red sauce Zucchini  Olive oil Mozzarella Basil, S+P
Prepared pesto Fresh or frozen peas, green beans or both Olive oil Fresh-grated grana padano  S+P

If you enjoy no-recipe cooking and learning how to improvise to be a better cook, try our Be a Better Cook: Enchilada Casserole.

Looking for more gnocchi inspo? Start here:

Pumpkin gnocchi with creamy pumpkin sauce

Gnocchi bolognese