{recipe} Golden Potato Gnocchi with Herbed Brown Butter and Parmesan

I have been experimenting with making homemade gnocchi, because it is one of my absolute favorite dishes. But it can be hard to find a truly excellent plate of gnocchi, as they can often be gloppy, gluey, sticky, flavorless, and/or pretty boring. I think I have cracked the code here! These are pretty much perfect.

I just got back from Peru, where I had some fantastic gnocchi. The best gnocchi I had in Lima–and perhaps anywhere, including in Italy–was from La73. The gnocchi was made with yellow Peruvian potatoes and had an incredibly rich potato flavor while remaining perfectly light and fluffy. In that spirit, I think making gnocchi with Yukon Gold potatoes gives them a deeper, earthier, and more significant potato flavor. (Normally, gnocchi is made with russet potatoes.)

For me, the gnocchi is the star of the dish, so I like to make a very simple sauce of browned butter with a little bit of fresh herbs and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. The cheese, butter, and herbs should be of excellent quality because they will be heavily featured. (I would also try to use good quality eggs in the recipe, for the same reason.) I prefer to use a grass-fed butter like Kerrygold, imported Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and fresh thyme leaves that have been crushed a little bit between my fingers.

I also like to boil the gnocchi lightly and then saute them just a bit over very high heat to give them a little brown crust. I think this extra step puts them over the top.

You can make these, form them, and then pop them into the freezer on a tray. Once frozen individually, you can stick them in a Ziploc and cook them up to order. If you’re going to the trouble to make them, it may be worth it to make some for the future.

Recipe: Golden Potato Gnocchi with Herbed Brown Butter and Parmesan


for the gnocchi:

  • 4 to 5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 2 Tblsp melted butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • olive oil and kosher salt to taste

to cook and serve:

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) plus 2 Tblsp high quality butter
  • 1 tsp fresh herbs (I prefer thyme leaves)
  • about 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • salt to taste


for the gnocchi:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Prepare a sheet pan with foil or parchment.
  • Leaving the skin on, scrub the potatoes and prick them with a fork (about 3 pricks per potato will work.) Rub each potato liberally with olive oil and kosher salt. Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. Set aside to cool so they are not too hot to handle.
  • Scoop the flesh from the potato skins and process through a food mill or ricer. Add eggs, yolks, parmigiano, olive oil, melted butter, and 1 tsp salt. Add about 1 cup of flour. Using your hands, gently work the mixture into a smooth ball without over mixing. If it is too moist, keep adding more flour. The dough should feel slightly tacky but not sticky. It should not be so dry that it is shaggy.
  • Flour a work surface. Pull off a portion of dough and use the palms of your hands to roll it into a log that is about 3/4 inch diameter (it doesn’t matter how long it is because you’re going to cut it.) Repeat until you have rolled all of the dough into logs.
  • Cut 1 inch pieces from the logs. Press each piece gently with the tines of a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet. Leave gnocchi at room temperature, out on the counter and uncovered, for about an hour before cooking. This gives them a little bit of a crust so they are less likely to stick together.
  • At this point you can also freeze them, either just for a few hours to prevent sticking, or for longer to save them for later cooking. Freeze them individually on a tray so they don’t stick together. If saving for later, once they are frozen, remove them to a sealed Ziploc bag.

to cook and serve:

  • Using the 1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, make brown butter. (Click the link for an excellent step-by-step tutorial.) Stir in the fresh herbs and set aside in a warm place.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi in very small batches. Stir gently once or twice so that they don’t stick together. Don’t overcrowd the pot; it’s better to do them in batches.
  • Meanwhile, melt 2 Tblsp butter in a large nonstick saute pan. Turn off heat and leave the pan nearby.
  • Wait until the gnocchi rise to the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the ones that rise, as they rise, with a slotted spoon. (Don’t use a colander – the gnocchi are delicate.) Put them directly into the pan with the melted butter.
  • When the pan is full with a single layer, turn the heat to high and cook the gnocchi, flipping once gently, until they are lightly browned on both sides. (You may need to cook in batches for this to be done properly and in a single layer only.)
  • Remove to flat bowls or serving bowls. Pour brown butter over and sprinkle with salt to taste and parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.

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6 Responses

  1. Sean says:

    I am giving this a shot tonight! Never mad gnocchi before… We will see how this goes. Serving mine with some home made tomato sauce.

  2. ricci says:

    I need to try this! My favorite “sauce” with gnocchi is equal parts plain yogurt and pesto, but definitely I want to try it with something more simple (herbs and butter) to really get a chance to taste yukon gnocchi…

  3. Bobby says:

    Try the ricotta gnocchi recipe from Lidia’s Italian Kitchen cookbook. It’s amazing.

  4. laura says:

    I am totally making this but i’m thinking of topping them with a spicy huancaina sauce!