This ricotta gnocchi is the lighter cousin of traditional potato gnocchi. They cook up as perfect, airy dumplings and when paired with the sage brown butter sauce and a few spirals of butternut squash they become the perfect date night meal!
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When you think of gnocchi, most people think of little potato dumplings but ricotta gnocchi is a traditional Florentine pasta, the lighter cousin of that traditional potato gnocchi. This gnocchi has a soft, mild flavor and makes a great base for just about any sauce.
I first heard about ricotta gnocchi when taking a class from a local cooking school in Chicago called The Chopping Block. I loved how easy they were to make and they are a bit less finicky than traditional potato gnocchi, making them easy to make a home. That said, they do still occasionally fall apart when they hit the boiling water so it's best to test one before cooking the entire batch to ensure you have the right consistency for the dough.
- This recipe is ideal for date night or any somewhat special occasion.
- You can freeze the gnocchi prior to cooking to cut down on the prep time later.
- This gnocchi is really easy to make. You simply open up some ricotta, add eggs, some flour, and a bit of parmesan and you're just about ready to go!
The full ingredients list & measurements are provided in the recipe card below.
- Part-skim ricotta: You'll need a tub of ricotta. Part-skim is best but you can substitite whole milk ricotta.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated is the best option for this recipe.
- Butternut squash: Since this is kind of a special occasion meal, I like to use squash spirals. I generally purchase pre-packaged butternut squash spirals, however, you can also make your own with a spiralizer.
- Butter: High quality, unsalted butter is the best option for this recipe.
- Sage: Fresh sage leaves are a must for this recipe as they get nice and crispy when you add them to the butter, giving the dish a bit of crunch and a pop of flavor.
- Spices: nutmeg, sea salt, ground pepper
- Pantry staples: All-purpose flour, eggs, olive oil, butter
How to make ricotta gnocchi
This recipe has a couple of steps, but if you tackle them one at a time it's relatively easy to put them all together for one fabulous dish!
Make the dough. Mix the ricotta, flour, egg and parmesan in a large mixing bowl until a thick dough forms.
Make the gnocchi. You'll divide the dough into two parts and roll each out on a floured surface.
Saute the squash. You'll sauté them for a few minutes with a little oil before you add them to the gnocchi.
Make the browned butter. See tips for making browned butter below to achieve the best results!
Cook the gnocchi. Once the water is boiling rapidly, you quickly and carefully drop the gnocchi in. They only need to cook for a few minutes, so keep a close eye on them. Wait to cook the gnocchi until just before you are ready to serve. I recommend only cooking what you think you will eat in one sitting, as this dish does not reheat particularly well.
Tips for making browned butter
Brown butter is amazing! The complex nutty flavor is a great addition to so many dishes. To make brown butter you simply cook unsalted butter for medium heat until the butter begins to foam and brown. Stir it frequently so it doesn't burn. You're looking for a deep, rich brown color. Cook for 4-5 minutes total then transfer to a bowl to stop the browning process. Be sure to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
You can freeze brown butter for use later. Be sure to let it cool first and then stir well to ensure everything is evenly distributed. If you want more tips on how to freeze brown butter check out my post about creative uses for ice cube trays. There are so many options for using brown butter - add it to mashed potatoes, throw it on some grilled or steamed veggies, or stir into some warm pasta. It's worth making a little extra when you are doing it!
You can make the gnocchi ahead of time and freeze it prior to cooking (see instructions below). You can also make the butternut squash spirals and the browned butter ahead of time.
After you've rolled out and cut the gnocchi, place them on a small baking sheet, cover and freeze for at least 24 hours. Once solid, you can remove them from the baking sheet and put them in a zip-top bag or another freezer-safe container. When you are ready to cook them, follow the cooking instructions in the recipe, adding a minute or so to the cooking time.
Tools you'll want for this recipe
Silicone pastry mat – This is a very useful kitchen tool. I like that it has multiple forms of measurement right on the mat...circles for round dough like pie crust and inch markings along the side of the mat for other types of dough. It also makes cleaning up much easier than if you were to roll the dough directly on the counter.
Handheld Juicer – I love these juicers – you’ll see me mention them often in blog posts. They come in three sizes – lime, lemon, and orange
This dish is quite nice all on its own, however, for a complete date night meal, I'd pair it with a simple green salad and this Espresso Pot de Crème for dessert.
More date night recipes
If you are looking for more great date night dishes check out these reader favorites:
- Creamy Lemon Pasta. While this recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal, the bright lemon flavor and parmesan breadcrumbs give it a touch of elegance.
- Shrimp Lingine with Lemon Artichoke Pesto. Shrimp and linguine noodles are tossed with a light artichoke pesto to give you an elegant yet easy weeknight dinner that works for date night too
Easy Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
For the gnocchi:
- ¾ cup part-skim ricotta
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1.5 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
For the browned butter:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sage leaves, cut into thin strips
For the butternut squash:
- 1 cup butternut squash spirals
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Make the dough. Add the ricotta, egg and egg yolk to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate. Fold the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper into the mixture until combined. Don't overmix. The dough should be thick.
- Make the gnocchi. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into four equal parts. Shape each part into a log shape and then using floured hands roll until the log is about 1 inch in diameter. Cut into bite-sized pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough until all the gnocchi have been formed.
- Chill the gnocchi. Refrigerate gnocchi for at least 15 minutes or up to twelve hours. If you will be using them the next day or later see notes for instructions on how to best freeze gnocchi.
- Make the brown butter. To make the brown butter heat the butter in a small, light-colored saucepan (it's easier to see the butter brown in a light colored pan). Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the butter turns a deep brown color. Stir frequently and be careful not to burn the butter. Once the butter is deep brown add the salt and sage and cook for an additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Transfer butter to a small bowl to keep it from burning.
- Cook the squash. Bring a large pot of water to a low boil over medium-high heat. While the water comes to a boil add the olive oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Cook the gnocchi. Once the water is boiling add the gnocchi to the pot and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the gnocchi is firm. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
- Assemble the dish. To assemble the dish, divide the gnocchi between two serving bowls. Add the butternut squash and spoon the brown butter over the dish. Garnish with additional sage if desired. Serve immediately.
This post was originally published in April 2018. It was updated in February 2022 with some new information. No changes were made to the original recipe.
homemade ricotta gnocchi is the best! This recipe looks so easy and perfect for a weeknight!
Eileen Kelly says
I love gnocchi and your ricotta gnocchi is beyond amazing. Topping the homemade ricotta gnocchi with the sage browned butter adds amazing flavor. I have got to make these for my family.
Ricotta, sage, gnocchi, brown butter... say no more. These are the flavors that dreams are made of. I am trying this on our next date night in!
This is divine Kathryn! I have never been brave enough to make my own ricotta gnocchi but thanks to this recipe I will definitely give it a go now, you make it sound so easy 😉
Thanks Michelle! You should definitely give it a try - it's really not hard to make at all!
Andrea @ The Petite Cook says
Being Italian, I've had ricotta gnocchi loads of time and they are absolutely delicious! Yours look great, need to make a batch ASAP!
Oh my goodness... I don't know what I am more excited to try. The super easy gnocchi or the butternut squash spirals! Pinning!!!
Jessica Robinson says
Looks delish and such an easy recipe! Can't wait to try.
I think I need to make a giant batch of this to keep in my freezer for when I don't feel like cooking, but want a delicious dinner. Also? I want to bathe in that brown butter!!
I know what you mean, isn't brown butter the best?!
I just spruced up the herb garden and noticed the sage is just starting to come in. As soon as it's ready to pick, I'm making this!
I think this dish looks wonderful! I love that you spiralized the squash..it looks great too. YUM!!
What a delicious combination of flavors! I know this will be a big hit with my family!
These ricotta gnocchi sound so light and fluffy! That's usually my qualm with regular gnocchi - so dough and heavy albeit delicious. The butter sage sauce is a perfect pairing.
Monica | Nourish & Fete says
I absolutely adore ricotta gnocchi but hadn't made them in far too long. They are extra amazing paired with browned butter and butternut squash - such a comforting and cozy meal!
I've never had ricotta gnocchi, but that's going to have to change. These look/sound amazing!
Jacque Hastert says
That sage brown butter sauce has me drooling. I am pinning this one for later.
Thanks Jacque - enjoy!