Cooking gnocchi might sound like a complicated and fancy dish, but it's actually one of the quickest and easiest pasta to cook! Because it’s not really pasta, it’s a dumpling!
What is Gnocchi?
In order to know how long to cook gnocchi, we have to understand what it is. Gnocchi is a dumpling made from potatoes that is often found in Italian cooking. A traditional fresh gnocchi recipe requires potatoes, eggs, flour, and possibly cheese. You can make homemade gnocchi from scratch, get store-bought gnocchi in the pasta aisle, or get it frozen. There are many variations you can buy now, including cauliflower and sweet potato gnocchi!
So if it's so similar to pasta, how is cooking it any different? Well, let me tell you!
How Long to Cook Gnocchi and Different Methods
There are four main ways to cook gnocchi. All are great options, it just depends on the type of dish you are making and the type of gnocchi you are using. We'll go over each method below.
How long to boil gnocchi in water
This is the most common way to cook gnocchi. This method can be used no matter what dish you are making because it doesn't add any flavor to the gnocchi. However, this method should not be used for cauliflower or kale gnocchi as it tends to disintegrate when boiled.
To boil gnocchi:
- Bring pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat.
- Add gnocchi to the pot.
- Let them cook for 3-5 minutes until the gnocchi float to the top (regardless if frozen or not).
- Then, strain or remove with a slotted spoon and enjoy!
How long to boil gnocchi in sauce
Boiling your gnocchi in sauce is similar to boiling it in water except it eliminates a step! This method only works for super saucy gnocchi dishes, however, because you need at least enough liquid to mostly cover the gnocchi while it softens. Because gnocchi is potato base, it won't release much moisture while cooking in sauce, so you don't have to worry about the sauce thinning out.
To boil gnocchi in a sauce:
- Make your sauce as directed, reserving any finishing cream or cheese for the end.
- Add gnocchi to the pan with sauce and bring to a low boil or simmer.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes covered, until the gnocchi is softened.
- Add any remaining cream or cheese and enjoy!
How long to pan fry gnocchi
Pan-frying gnocchi is a method that can be used with any type of gnocchi but is best used to make cauliflower or kale gnocchi. This is because these versions of gnocchi do not contain flour as a binding agent so frying them does not disrupt their natural state like boiling would.
To pan-fry gnocchi:
- Heat oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. Add gnocchi to hot pan. It's super important to have enough oil to keep them from sticking because the low-carb version of gnocchi has a habit of sticking.
- Fry for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and soft. Then use as desired!
How long to bake gnocchi
Baking gnocchi can be done in two ways: in a sauce or on a baking sheet. Most gnocchi can be made in the oven in a sauce, but not cauliflower and kale gnocchi! Any kind of gnocchi, however, can be oven baked on a baking sheet. This method is actually ideal for cooking cauliflower or kale gnocchi as it results in a crisp exterior but they are soft inside.
To bake gnocchi in a sauce:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Add all ingredients to a deep baking dish (like the viral TikTok for feta pasta), such as a cake or casserole pan.
- Add gnocchi and press them down to ensure they are all mostly covered in liquid.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until soft. Then mix everything together and top with more cheese if desired!
How long to cook gnocchi on pan in the oven:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Spread gnocchi over a sheet pan in a single layer and spray or drizzle with oil
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and soft. Then use as desired!
Types of Gnocchi and How Long to Cook Them
As discussed, there are some variations to gnocchi. While all require pretty similar cooking times, I like to use this list as a quick reference.
Frozen Low-Carb Gnocchi: This would be like cauliflower or kale gnocchi. They are always sold frozen and do not have flour in them.
- Boil in water: Don’t do it!
- Boil in sauce: Don’t do it!
- Baked: 12-15 minutes
- Pan Fried: 8-10 minutes
Frozen Veggie and Flour Gnocchi: This includes sweet potato, traditional potato, partial cauliflower, or other partial veggie gnocchi.
- Boil in water: 3-5 minutes
- Boil in sauce: 12-15 minutes
- Baked: 15-20 minutes
- Pan Fried: 10-12 minutes
Dried Gnocchi: This would be any gnocchi found in the pasta aisle, stored at room temperature. These times will also work for regular gnocchi that is refrigerated.
- Boil in water: 2-3 minutes
- Boil in sauce: 10-12 minutes
- Baked: 13-15 minutes
- Pan Fried: 10-12 minutes
Tips For Cooking Gnocchi
It's all about texture! If you aren’t sure if the gnocchi is done, take it out and prick it with a fork. It should be fork tender, then you'll know it’s done.
It's always a good idea to check the packaging to see what method of cooking it recommends. Sometimes low carb gnocchi can be tricky because, for example, some cauliflower gnocchi is 100% cauliflower while others are only 40% and they are best cooked using different methods. So, just be sure you know which kind you have!
- 1 pound gnocchi
- Bring water and salt to a boil in a large pot.
- Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the gnocchi floats to the top of the water.
- Remove from heat and strain out the gnocchi.
- Enjoy with your favorite sauce!