Nonna’s 4-Ingredient Potato Gnocchi Recipe: Bring Italy Home by Ann Marie Patitucci

Nonna’s 4-Ingredient Potato Gnocchi Recipe: Bring Italy Home

I grew up in a big Italian American family, surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, my cousins’ family members from Italy, parties, babies, hugging, kissing, everyone talking at the same time ... and then there was the food. There was always so much food. My siblings and cousins all have our favorite meals and secretly have our favorite cooks, too (my Aunt Bobbi made the best lasagna!).

Growing up, I felt like I’d eaten every Italian food that existed. My mom and her three sisters seemed to know how to make every dish, and desserts, too. But in all those years, across all the holidays, big family meals and parties and celebrations, I never ate gnocchi. I had never even heard of it as a kid. And I didn’t try it until I was an adult.

When I was teaching at St. Lawrence University in northern New York, one of my Communication students, Sara, was working on her senior project which involved Italian culture. This included time spent cooking traditional dishes with her Italian grandfather. As part of her project presentation, she invited her senior project committee to a dinner. She and her grandfather served potato gnocchi, which they cooked themselves. The gnocchi was outstanding and the evening one of the most special and memorable of my teaching career.

My husband happens to love gnocchi and often orders it when we eat out at one of our favorite local Italian restaurants, where we know it’s homemade. But could we make it ourselves? It always seemed intimidating. But the answer is yes, we can! And so can you! I was surprised to find out that there are only four ingredients. Between that and the short cooking time, you’ll have soft, delicate gnocchi with a silky smooth texture in no time. Gnocchi is delicious served with brown butter sage sauce, marinara sauce, pestobasil sauce or rose sauce (aka pink sauce).

Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6


  • 2 pounds potatoes (Yukon Gold are best)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • salt

Here’s how to make it:

  1. The most common way to prepare gnocchi is to combine boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes with flour to form soft, bite-size little pieces of dough, like miniature Italian dumplings. To do so, boil the potatoes with the skins on. Don’t over-boil; cook them just until tender. Allow potatoes to cool for 30 minutes. Then peel the skin off with your hands and mash the potatoes with a potato masher or potato ricer.
  2. Add potato, flour, salt and eggs to a large bowl and stir well. You should end up with a round ball of dough. Next, boil salted water in a saucepan.
  3. While the water heats to a boil, cut the round “ball” into four parts on a floured surface. Using the palm of your hands more than your fingers, roll the four parts into four “snakes,” about 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Cut pieces about 3/4 inches wide. Next, add the “ridges,” used for both aesthetic appeal and also to hold the sauce (functional and decorative, too!). You can do this by rolling each piece of gnocchi down the tines of a fork or by pressing your thumb into each piece (as some nonnas tend to do!) to create a ridge. If you want to get fancy, use a gnocchi board!
  4. Place gnocchi on a floured cloth then cook in the boiling water until they “float,” a sign that the gnocchi is cooked. This should take about 2 to 4 minutes. (Note that gnocchi also tend to sink when they are overcooked, so be sure to remove them from the boiling water while they’re floating.) Drain with a slotted spoon and cover with sauce of your choice.

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Gnocchi Boards $7 & Up
Pasta Pots $10 & Up
Flour $2 & Up

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Elisa Schmitz
I had no idea making gnocchi was so simple. I'm going to try this with gluten-free flour. Excited, thank you!
Ann Marie Patitucci
Right?! I also assumed it would be more complicated! I hope more people will give it a try!
This is such great Italian comfort food.

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