A simple guide to how to fry gnocchi, to make light and fluffy dumplings with crispy edges. They're so much better than boiled!
If you've only ever had boiled gnocchi, you must learn how to fry gnocchi. It ends up like an entirely different food! No more dense, stodgy dumplings - fried gnocchi is crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy in the middle. Plus it's really easy to do!
What is gnocchi?
Just in case you're wondering what I'm on about, I'll quickly explain what gnocchi is!
Gnocchi are little dumplings made from mashed potato, with a bit of flour added to hold it together. As you might expect, gnocchi don't have a huge amount of flavour on their own, so just like pasta, they're perfect for serving in a tasty sauce.
Boiled vs fried gnocchi
I always used to find gnocchi a bit disappointing - I never order it at a restaurant because I find it's usually been boiled, which I don't particularly enjoy. But then I discovered that it's so much better when it's fried / sautéed!
Perhaps I'm just a gnocchi snob, but the difference between boiled gnocchi and sautéed gnocchi is pretty amazing. Boiled gnocchi can be a bit stodgy, a bit slimy, a bit heavy... fried gnocchi is perfectly crispy and fluffy and light and toasty and all sorts of other lovely adjectives.
What type of gnocchi can you fry?
This is the type of gnocchi I use - just your bog standard packet of potato gnocchi (gnocchi di patate).
The photos show the brand I happened to have in the cupboard, but you can use any brand you like - it doesn't need to be anything fancy (honestly I usually just buy the cheapest one I can find).
Usually this type of gnocchi comes either vacuum-packed, or just loose in a plastic packet like this one. I almost always keep a pack of gnocchi in the cupboard, as it's usually got a pretty long date on it (this one had about 9 months from the time I bought it!), and it makes a nice change from pasta.
How to fry gnocchi
There's not much that needs to be said really - just cook the gnocchi in a frying pan with a bit of oil and / or butter (I like to use a bit of both!).
That's all there is to it. Easy peasy.
Just cook it in the pan, stirring occasionally, until the gnocchi ends up nice and golden brown all over. It will be beautifully crispy - the noise it makes when you stir it around the pan is pretty amazing.
Do you need to pre-boil the gnocchi?
The cooking instructions on the packet actually say you should boil the gnocchi, but I always ignore this like the rebel I am, and just skip straight to sautéing the gnocchi in a frying pan.
It does take a little longer (15ish minutes to fry, compared to just a couple of minutes to boil), but believe me, the extra time is well worth it.
Can you fry homemade gnocchi?
If you don't have any shop-bought gnocchi in your kitchen, it's really easy to make your own!
Homemade gnocchi only needs a few staple ingredients, so you can probably make it with what you already have at home. If you make it from scratch, it's not particularly quick to make, but I always make my gnocchi using frozen mashed potato, which cuts down the prep time dramatically (don't ever say I'm not there for you with a top tip to help you be more lazy).
If you prefer a potato-free version, ricotta gnocchi is even easier to make, and can be on the table in no time!
Homemade gnocchi can absolutely be fried, just like you can with the shop-bought stuff. I've always boiled my homemade gnocchi first, then sautéed it afterwards - it's a bit more delicate than shop-bought, and boiling helps to firm up the dumplings a bit. You could definitely try skipping this step though, if you're short on time (let me know how you get on!).
Sauces for gnocchi
Even though it's less stodgy when it's fried, gnocchi is still a hearty, filling dish, so you don't want to add any sauce that's too thick or heavy.
Quite a thin sauce is perfect - just something to nicely coat the dumplings without being too much. A few of my favourites:
- cream cheese (just melt it over the gnocchi in the pan, with a dash of water to thin it out)
- pesto (especially homemade!)
- a light tomato sauce (or even just some chopped fresh tomatoes)
- a creamy tomato and mascarpone sauce
- garlic mushrooms cooked in butter
Don't forget to add some veggies too, to lighten things up further (this time I used frozen veg because #quarantinelife) - gnocchi primavera is one of my favourites. And definitely don't forget how to fry gnocchi - you'll never want it boiled again!
📖 Printable Recipe
How to fry gnocchi
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- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 500 g ~ 1 lb potato gnocchi
- Gently heat the oil and butter in a frying pan until the butter has melted. Add the gnocchi. Don't overcrowd the pan - you want the gnocchi to be spread out in a single layer across the bottom of the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until crisped up to your liking (around 10-15 minutes).
- Serve the sautéed gnocchi with a light sauce (see the blog post for some ideas).
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.