Sautéed Gnocchi in Simple Garlic Butter Sauce

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Sauteed gnocchi in simple garlic butter sauce

In the past I’ve not really been convinced by gnocchi. They always seemed kind of dense and tasteless, and I’ve always thought I’d just prefer to have pasta instead.

Turns out, everyone who’d ever cooked them for me had just been rubbish. Not trying to claim I cook better than a restaurant (except in this case I totally am), but when I finally got around to making them myself, I discovered that gnocchi are the best thing ever.

It’s true that if you just prepare your gnocchi and boil them, like is often done, they’re kind of meh. Dense and stodgy, and there’s not really much to them. However, if you sauté them after boiling, they transform into little crispy, buttery nuggets that are just incredible. Somehow they become light and fluffy, totally different to the dense dumplings they were five minutes earlier.

Look at the difference! Just boiled:

Sauteed gnocchi in simple garlic butter sauce

Nothing special. But after a few minutes in a pan:

Sauteed gnocchi in simple garlic butter sauce

Sooo much better!

I’ll admit, making gnocchi is a little labour intensive, so I kept the sauce simple – in fact it’s barely a sauce at all, just some garlic butter, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Perfect Italian flavours for your little Italian gnocchi.

Sauteed gnocchi in simple garlic butter sauce

I’ll definitely be making gnocchi again next time I have a quiet Sunday ahead of me, and I feel like getting stuck into something in the kitchen. A word of caution: it’s best if you have a potato ricer – well, either that, or twenty minutes to spend mashing your potatoes and arms of steel. I got a bit lazy and a couple of my gnocchi ended up with little lumps of potato in, which kind of ruins the illusion of these fluffy dumplings.

Sautéed Gnocchi in Simple Garlic Butter Sauce

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5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Author: Becca Heyes


For the gnocchi:

  • 750 g potatoes (2 large potatoes)
  • 200 g plain flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
  • Salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the sauce:

  • 50 g butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Handful rocket leaves
  • 30 g vegetarian parmesan­-style cheese
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • To begin the gnocchi, you need to cook the potatoes. I baked mine at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 2 hours (prick the skins a few times first), until cooked through. Yours might take a little less or more time, depending on the size of your potatoes. Alternatively you can boil them, but this method will make the potato wetter, so you might need to add more flour later.
  • When the potatoes are fully cooked, scoop out the flesh ­ the skins can be discarded or saved for an alternative use. Mash the potato flesh thoroughly ­ use a ricer if you have one, or pass the flesh through a sieve. Combine the potato flesh with the flour, a good amount of salt, and the egg (I did this straight onto a floured worktop but you can use a bowl if you prefer). Mix with your hands until it all comes together into a dough ­ you might need to add a little more flour if your potatoes were particularly wet.
  • Roll the mixture out until it’s around 1.5cm thick, and cut into 1.5cm strips. Roll each strip into a sausage (again you might need another sprinkling of flour to stop it sticking to the worktop), and cut into chunks ­ mine were around 3cm long. If you want to get the traditional lines printed into the side of the gnocchi, press each piece gently with the back of a fork and roll a little.
  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and drop the gnocchi in ­- you don’t want to overcrowd the pan, so you might need to do a few batches. When the gnocchi start to float (they won’t take long!), give them another twenty seconds or so, and then remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • The gnocchi are now edible, but I think they’re much nicer if you sauté them.
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan, and add the gnocchi in a single layer (again, you’ll probably need to do a couple of batches ­ if so, only use half of each ingredient to begin with). Cook over a medium-­high heat for several minutes, until the underside of each dumpling is golden brown. Turn each piece over (I found this was most easily done using tongs as they can be a bit slippery), and repeat on the other side.
  • After the second side has been cooking for a minute or so, add the garlic and turn the heat down to medium­-low. Add the basil, lemon juice, pine nuts and plenty of seasoning, and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Serve the gnocchi topped with some fresh rocket and some shavings of parmesan, drizzled with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.

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Sauteed gnocchi in simple garlic butter sauce

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  1. Hi Becca,

    This sounds delicious and, now that I’m hooked on frying the gnocchi, I will be trying this recipe.
    Do you have plans to make it available to print please? I find your recipes very easy to follow and like to have them in the kitchen with me whilst I cook.

    1. Hi Jody, I’ve just stuck the recipe into a printable card for you! Sorry, updating all my older recipes is an ongoing process…!

      To be honest though the recipe is nearly a decade old, so I haven’t tested it in a verrrry long time, and I am currently seriously side-eyeing the fact that I baked the potatoes for 2 hours 😅 That sounds wayyy too long to me. So just keep an eye on them! I think I’d actually be tempted to use shop-bought gnocchi and then just use this recipe for the sauce, but then I am lazier than I was back in 2014 ha. Enjoy!

  2. Becca, do you think this would work with Sweet Potatoes? I’m trying to find a recipe for them that my kids would eat …

  3. I made this tonight for dinner, I added more basil and I didn’t have pine nuts so I omitted them, I also added mushrooms and pancetta to add a bit more to it and it was amazing!! It had a lovely pesto-like taste to it (understandably). I worried that it would be too garlicky but it was perfect. Both me and my OH loved it, we’re always looking for new ways to serve gnocchi as it’s now our favourite pasta. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. thanks becca. I got through the process of making gnocchi and honestly had no energy for completing the dish. Your sautee idea is brilliant.