Homemade Gnocchi with Herby Brown Butter Sauce

Gnocchi with Herby Brown Butter Sauce is a go-to special occasion recipe in my book. It’s comforting, buttery, pillowy and light, and just insanely delicious. Paired with a great bottle of wine? Yes, please. Gnocchi is a classic Italian dumpling made from a few basic ingredients. Here, I serve it with an herby browned butter sauce and lots of parm. Browned butter is a sauce that’s made by melting butter and keeping it over low heat until it turns a golden color as the flecks of milk solids brown. Browning the butter imparts a delicious savory, nutty flavor, and it’s the easiest sauce on the planet. I add fresh herbs at the last minute and it’s next level.

Gnocchi is just as versatile as pasta and it’s really fun to make from scratch! When I worked at a cooking school we taught a weekly homemade gnocchi class. Our students went from beginner to confident in a matter of one class – all it takes is learning the proper method. I won't sugarcoat it - this is a project recipe, definitely not a quick weeknight recipe. It's the ideal weekend dinner when you have time to put some music on, drink some wine, and get cooking. Serve this recipe with my bright Winter Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette for a fresh counterpoint. If you’re into wine, pair this with a good bottle of Rioja, or something red but not too heavy. Be sure to check out the sections beneath the recipe with tips to riff on this recipe to make it work for you.

Homemade Gnocchi with Herby Brown Butter Sauce

Homemade gnocchi is a perfect special occasion recipe. Save this for your next date night, girls night, or to treat yourself! Serves 2 as a main dish with leftovers, serves 4 as a side dish.

Prep:
min
cook:
min
total:
min
Ingredients

Gnocchi:

  • 1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about two medium-sized russet potatoes)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour plus more as needed
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoons Kosher salt

Herby Brown Butter Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (aka: 8 tablespoons or 1 standard stick butter) cut into about 8 small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage or thyme leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare gnocchi dough:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Pierce whole russet potatoes with a fork (this allows steam to escape and prevents them from bursting). Arrange on baking sheet and roast whole potatoes for 1 hr - 1 hr 15 mins, or until completely cooked through and fork tender.
  3. When cooked potatoes have slightly cooled, peel skin off or slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out potato in large bowl. Discard skins.
  4. In large bowl, mash potatoes with a potato ricer, food mill, handheld masher, or a fork, making sure there are no large clumps. You want it to be tender and light.
  5. Add 75% of the flour, and the entire lightly beaten egg, the salt, and gently mix by hand to combine.
  6. If the dough is still very wet, add the remaining flour and combine with hands, scraping down excess flour from sides of bowl as needed to incorporate. The dough should easily form a ball and be slightly sticky, but won’t stick to clean, dry hands. Add more flour if needed, one tablespoon at a time.
  7. Transfer dough to a lightly floured, flat work surface, like your kitchen counter or table.
  8. Cut the dough into four equal pieces.
  9. Using the palms of your hands, gently roll each piece into a thin rope shape, about 1/2" in diameter, or about 20 inches long. Cut each rope of dough into 1" pieces, and transfer gnocchi to a floured surface, like a baking sheet with lightly floured parchment paper.
  10. Once you've portioned out the gnocchi pieces, you'll make the browned butter, then cook the gnocchi, and transfer cooked gnocchi into the same skillet as the browned butter sauce to heat and toss right before serving.

Make herby brown butter sauce:

  1. To make the browned butter sauce, cut the butter into about 8 small pieces. Place butter in a medium to large skillet or saucepan over medium heat to gently melt the butter, swirling the pan around a bit occasionally to ensure the butter melts evenly.
  2. After a few minutes, the melted butter will begin to foam a bit and develop a brown bits. It'll smell nutty. Turn off heat entirely, add chopped herbs, and stir to combine - the melted butter will have enough residual heat to continue browning and gently cook the herbs.

Cook gnocchi:

  1. To cook to gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Working in batches, add gnocchi to boiling water and stir gently. After about a minute, the gnocchi will float to the top. Let them float for about one more minute, and use a slotted spoon or kitchen spider to transfer cooked gnocchi to the skillet with sauce.

Toss cooked gnocchi in sauce and serve:

  1. Once all gnocchi are cooked and in the skillet, turn the heat to medium, toss to coat, and serve in bowls with freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino, flakey salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Let's riff
  • The Gnocchi: This is a homemade gnocchi recipe, but if you want to make this in a pinch, use storebought gnocchi. Prepare the herby brown butter sauce, and cook gnocchi according to the package instructions, and toss cooked gnocchi in sauce as the recipe mentions.
  • The Sauce: Don’t want to make a sauce? Use your favorite store-bought red sauce or pesto. Gently heat in a medium skillet and toss cooked gnocchi in the sauce right before serving. You could also simply toss cooked gnocchi in melted butter or extra virgin olive oil, lots of grated parm, and top with cracked black pepper and call it a day. Kind of like a Cacio e Pepe Gnocchi situation – yum.
  • The Herbs: Fresh sage is most classic in a brown butter sauce – fresh thyme and rosemary are great options as well. Softer herbs like fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley, or chives are delicious. If using softer herbs, I'd brown the butter and top the plated dishes with chopped fresh herbs instead of the skillet, as the tender herbs will burn in a skillet with the butter.
  • The Cheese: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano both work to finish the dish.

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Hilario Druitt
April 17, 2024
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Gini
March 20, 2024
Loved the soup. Croutons too much trouble. Fast in a cup!
Ray Beall
March 16, 2024
Richard
February 22, 2024
send me fruits to add with another fruit to cure disease
Deneen Medland
April 17, 2023
Kelle Trouton
April 17, 2023
Caroline
January 23, 2023
I made this same amazing salad with the following additions: I used a bed of chopped romaine hearts, and squeezed the juice of all the trimmed cara cara oranges, plus 1/2 lemon, added a drizzled of Tupelo honey on top. The herbs: chopped fennel fronds and mint. Everyone went crazy for it!
Marcus
YUM! Definitely going to pair this with a nice and funky natty white next time!
Caroline
January 23, 2023
I made this same amazing salad with the following additions: I used a bed of chopped romaine hearts, and squeezed the juice of all the trimmed cara cara oranges, plus 1/2 lemon, added a drizzled of Tupelo honey on top. The herbs: chopped fennel fronds and mint. Everyone went crazy for it!