Homemade pumpkin gnocchi is made from mashed potato, pureed pumpkin, and a hint of warming spices that make this pasta dish feel like fall! The gnocchi is paired with a simple brown butter sauce with toasted pine nuts and crispy sage, making a truly restaurant-worthy dish you can make at home.
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When the weather’s finally getting cooler, do you jump on the pumpkin everything bandwagon? For me, there’s only so much pumpkin spice I can take before I have a sugar overload, but I still want to feel autumnal and celebrate the season!
This homemade pumpkin gnocchi fits the bill — a seasonal take on traditional gnocchi, we swap half the usual potato with drained pumpkin puree. Then we add just enough warming spices to complement the flavor without feeling like we’re having pumpkin pie for dinner.
After boiling the gnocchi, it’s pan-fried in a brown butter sauce with toasty pine nuts, crispy sage leaves, and Parmesan cheese, making a dish as beautiful as it is delicious.
What is gnocchi?
Gnocchi are small dumplings made from potatoes, flour, and egg. They are often considered a pasta due to the way they are prepared and served, but they’re technically in their own category.
When dumplings are made with ricotta cheese instead of potato, they are known as gnudi, but are often referred to as ricotta gnocchi.
For the pumpkin gnocchi
For the Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Recommended Tools for Making Gnocchi
While you don’t need any of these tools to make delicious gnocchi, these will help your final product be smooth-textured, beautiful, and perfectly-cooked!
A potato ricer will help get your potato light and fluffy with absolutely no lumps, perfect for making a smooth and airy gnocchi dough. Think of it like a giant garlic press for potatoes.
What to use instead:
You can also use a traditional potato masher or a fork, but you may end up with small potato lumps in your gnocchi. I used a fork but I’d definitely get a ricer if I planned to make gnocchi on a more regular basis.
Gnocchi cooks quickly and should be removed from the water as soon it floats. The large bowl of a spider strainer is perfect for collecting finished gnocchi and transferring directly into the sauce.
What to use instead:
A slotted spoon will do just fine, but won’t be able to gather as many gnocchi at once and won’t drain the water quite as efficiently.
A gnocchi board helps you make perfect ridges on the outside of your dumplings and a beautiful curl on the inside for capturing pine nuts.
What to use instead:
Once again, the mighty fork comes to the rescue. Roll the gnocchi with your thumb on the inside of the tines. You’ll still get the shell-like shape with a few ridges on the outside.
How to Make Pumpkin Gnocchi from Scratch
The preparation of the potato and the pumpkin is designed to remove as much moisture as possible. Excessive moisture is the enemy of good gnocchi dough, since you have to add more flour to compensate for more liquid. And more flour means tougher gnocchi! We want our gnocchi to be soft and pillowy — not dense, tough, and chewy.
The pumpkin gnocchi dumplings take less time to make than you’d think, especially if you “bake” your potato in the microwave. And after making the gnocchi pieces, they cook super quickly!
Step 1: Bake and mash your potato. Baking (vs. boiling) is the preferred method for cooking a potato for gnocchi because it lets moisture escape.
In the oven: To bake your potato, wash it, pierce it all over with a fork, and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
In the microwave: For a shortcut, you can microwave it for 3-4 minutes, flip it over, and microwave an additional 3-4 minutes.
Mashing: Let the potato cool enough to handle and peel off the skin. Pass it through a potato ricer (preferred) or mash it with a fork or potato masher until there are no lumps. If using leftover mashed potatoes, heat them up until they are a little warmer than room temperature.
Testing note: I tested this pumpkin gnocchi recipe using both a potato-pumpkin combo and a ricotta-pumpkin combo. Although I squeezed out excess moisture from the ricotta, I had to add a lot more flour and parmesan to compensate.
Flavor-wise, the results were about the same, but the ricotta version (technically gnudi, not gnocchi) was a bit squishier in texture and I preferred the more substantial texture of the potato version.
Step 2: Squeeze excess moisture from your pumpkin. Empty your pumpkin puree onto a clean kitchen towel and squeeze as much moisture out as you can. This will take several minutes and may involve opening up the towel, rearranging the pumpkin, and squeezing again. I got my 15-oz can of pumpkin puree (almost 2 cups!) to just under one cup after squeezing out the juice! You may use paper towels too but you’ll have to use a lot to remove the same amount of liquid.
Step 3: Make the dough. Mix the pumpkin, potato, egg yolks, parmesan, and spices in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Then add the flour a bit at a time until you can easily knead it with your hands.
Turn the mixture onto a clean, floured surface and knead until you have a smooth dough. You can add a little flour if the dough is too sticky, about a tablespoon at a time, but try to avoid adding more than necessary.
Step 4: Cut and shape the gnocchi. Roll the dough into a ball and use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into eight wedges.
Roll each section of dough into a long snake about the width of your thumb and use the bench scraper to cut into dumplings about 3/4 inch long.
Use a gnocchi board or the inside of a fork to create ridges on each dumpling. Place the dumpling on the gnocchi board or fork and gently roll it with your thumb along the ridges. It should make each piece form sort of a shell shape with ridges on the outside, perfect for capturing sauce on the outside and pine nuts on the inside.
Step 5: Cook the gnocchi. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, make the brown butter sauce (below).
After the sauce is ready, begin adding the gnocchi to the boiling water a few at a time to keep them from sticking to each other. I place a few in my spider strainer and lower them into the water gently so they don’t splash.
The first gnocchi will likely be finished before you have added all the gnocchi to the water. They’re cooked when they float to the top!
Skim any floating dumplings off the top with a spider strainer or a slotted spoon, drain, and add directly to the brown butter sage sauce. Continue adding uncooked dumplings to the water and removing cooked ones until all gnocchi are cooked and in the sauce.
How to Make Brown Butter Sauce with Crispy Sage Leaves
Step 1: Melt the butter. Use a large sauté pan since you’ll be adding all the gnocchi into the same pan at the end. Heat the pan and the butter over medium heat and add a smashed garlic clove. The garlic will infuse flavor into the sauce and soften as it cooks.
Step 2: Add the extras. When the butter is browned, add pine nuts and sage leaves. The pine nuts will get toasty and delicious, and the sage leaves will fry in the butter and get crispy. You can remove the sage when it’s cooked through to preserve more of the green color, or leave it in (it will continue to darken).
Step 3: Brown the butter. Continue cooking everything over medium heat, stirring frequently, until you see the butter get a bit foamy and the milk solids start to develop a golden color on the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat if the butter is browning too quickly. This is the time to start adding gnocchi to your boiling water to cook.
Step 4: Add the gnocchi. As your gnocchi start floating to the top of the water, skim them off with a spider strainer or slotted spoon.
Let the water drain off and then add the gnocchi directly to the pan with the butter sauce. A little of the starchy water dripping into the sauce actually helps it stick to the gnocchi pasta better!
After all the gnocchi is added to the sauce, you can crank up the burner to medium-high heat for a couple minutes to get a crispy golden brown exterior on your gnocchi.
Season with kosher salt to taste, divide between plates, and top with some extra cracked black pepper and freshly grated or shaved parmesan.
You can store freshly made uncooked gnocchi at room temperature or in the fridge for a few hours, but any longer than that and they will begin to discolor and turn grayish from the oxidation of the potatoes. Already-shaped gnocchi will stick together if you let them sit, as well, so you may be better off refrigerating the dough and shaping them immediately before cooking.
If you don’t plan to cook your pumpkin gnocchi immediately after shaping it, your best bet is to freeze it. Lay out the gnocchi in a single layer (not touching) on parchment paper on a sheet pan and freeze it. When frozen, you can transfer the gnocchi to a zip-top freezer bag to cook later. Store frozen for up to 4 months for best quality.
To cook from frozen, add the still-frozen gnocchi to boiling water, and remove them in a minute or two when they float to the top. Easy peasy!
Leftover cooked gnocchi will last for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
What to serve with pumpkin gnocchi
This gnocchi recipe makes enough for a main course for 2-3 people. As a main dish, serve pumpkin gnocchi with a simple green salad, grilled romaine hearts, or crusty rosemary thyme no-knead Dutch oven bread.
Gnocchi can also be a great side dish for baked chicken or duck confit!
More fall recipes you’ll love
Pumpkin Gnocchi Recipe with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage
For the gnocchi
- 1 Russet potato medium to large
- 15 oz puréed pumpkin excess water squeezed (See note)
- 1 cup flour 00 or all-purpose
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
For the sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter salted
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- fresh sage leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan for topping/garnish
For the gnocchi
- Pierce potato all over with a fork and bake until a fork goes in easily. You can bake either in the oven (400 degrees for 45 minutes) or in the microwave (on high for 3-4 minutes, flip, and another 3-4 minutes).1 Russet potato
- Let the potato cool enough to handle and peel off the skin. Pass the potato through a potato ricer (recommended) or mash thoroughly with a fork or potato masher until there are no lumps. (If using leftover mashed potatoes, heat until slightly warm throughout) You should have about a cup of mashed potato, but if there's a little more or less don't worry – you can adjust the flour accordingly.
- Empty canned pumpkin puree onto a clean kitchen towel (recommended) or a few layered paper towels. Bring up the four corners to make a little pouch around the pumpkin and squeeze over your sink or a bowl until the volume of the pumpkin is reduced by half, to about 1 cup. You may need to open the towel and rearrange the pumpkin once or twice, or replace the paper towels a couple times.15 oz puréed pumpkin
- Mix mashed potato, pumpkin, egg yolks, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice together in a large bowl until smooth. Add flour a little at a time until you have a dough that's not too sticky to work with. You may add a little extra flour if necessary, a tablespoon at a time, trying not to add more than necessary.1 Russet potato, 15 oz puréed pumpkin, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1 cup flour
- Turn gnocchi dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Use a bench scraper/pastry cutter or kitchen knife to cut the dough into 8 segments. Roll each section into a long snake about 1/2 inch thick, or the diameter of your thumb or index finger. Add additional flour to your work surface as necessary. Cut with the pastry cutter into little nuggets about 3/4 inch long.
- Roll each dumpling gently with your thumb along a gnocchi board (recommended) or the inside of a fork. This will form ridges on the outside of the pasta and a shell shape on the inside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, make the brown butter sauce.
For the brown butter sauce/assembly
- Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add smashed garlic cloves.4 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves garlic
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter foams and milk solids start becoming golden brown. Add pine nuts and fresh sage leaves. If butter is browning too quickly, reduce the heat. Remove sage leaves onto a paper towel once they cook through to preserve the color.2 tablespoons pine nuts, fresh sage leaves
- Begin cooking the gnocchi in your boiling water. Add a few at a time using a spider strainer or slotted spoon so they don't stick together. Cook 2-3 minutes until they begin to float.
- The first gnocchi will likely be cooked (floating) before you've finished adding all the gnocchi to the water. Remove floating gnocchi with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, drain water, and add directly to the brown butter sauce. Continue removing cooked gnocchi and adding uncooked gnocchi to the boiling water until all your gnocchi is cooked and in the pan with the brown butter sauce.
- Sauté cooked gnocchi in the butter sauce for a few minutes until there is some golden brown on the outside of the dumplings. You can turn the heat up to medium high if necessary. Add additional kosher salt to taste.salt and pepper
- Divide gnocchi between plates and add back in the sage leaves. Top with additional freshly ground pepper and freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese. Enjoy!salt and pepper, Parmesan