These delicious homemade sweet potato gnocchi are made with just 3 simple ingredients and are vegan-friendly! Made with just sweet potatoes, flour and salt, they are easy to make and freeze well so you can have them on hand for a quick and easy dinner anytime. Serve them with your favorite sauce or enjoy them simply tossed in a brown butter and sage sauce for a delicious fall meal.
Traditional gnocchi are Italian dumplings that originated during Roman times and are usually made with cooked and riced starchy potatoes and flour, although there are different varieties found throughout the many regions of Italy. They are made by forming the dough into a long rope-like shape and cutting it into little pieces which are often pressed into a textured object like a fork or gnocchi board to create ridges which will hold onto the sauce they are served in. Gnocchi are usually eaten as a first course in place of pasta or soup.
Using mashed sweet potato in place of regular potatoes adds a sweet and earthy fall flavor profile to the gnocchi, similar to the flavors of pumpkin ravioli. Making your own gnocchi is pretty straightforward and easy and doesn’t require any special equipment. Since sweet potatoes are creamier and contain less starch than regular potatoes there is no need to use a potato ricer and they are simply mashed with a fork.
Sweet Potatoes – Roasted sweet potatoes are not traditional but add a rich and sweet flavor to the gnocchi dough that pairs wonderfully with fall flavors. You can also use roasted sweet winter squashes or pumpkins like buttercup squash in place of sweet potatoes in this recipe.
Flour – Use all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or a combination of the two. Whole wheat flour or spelt flour will add a heartier flavor and texture to the gnocchi. I haven’t tried this sweet potato gnocchi recipe with gluten free flour but in theory, rice flour should work as a substitute although the measurements may not be exactly the same as wheat flour.
Kosher Salt – A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the sweet potatoes and flours.
How to Make Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Step 1: Cook the Sweet Potatoes
First prick the whole sweet potatoes with a fork then roast them whole in a preheated oven until they are fork tender. Roast them on a sheet pan or over tin foil to catch any drips.
When they are done let them cool enough to be able to handle them and peel the discard the potato skins. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork in a large bowl.
Step 2: Make the gnocchi dough
Add the flour and salt to the mashed sweet potatoes and stir the mixture together with the fork until it starts to come together into a ball. Then switch to kneading by hand on a floured work surface until a pillowy soft dough forms, adding more flour as needed if the dough is sticky. Be careful not to over work the dough or the gnocchi will be tough and dense. Divide the dough ball into 6 equal portions and cover them with a kitchen towel so they don’t dry out.
Step 3: Shape the homemade gnocchi
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out into a long log or rope-like shape about 1/2-inch to 1-inch in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Cut the log into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces. You can stop here for smooth dumplings.
To create texture, press grooves into each piece of gnocchi with the back of a fork or a fancy gnocchi board with your thumb and roll it down and away from you. Repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces until all of the dough is used up.
At this point the fresh gnocchi can be cooked or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet them transfer the frozen gnocchi to freezer ands and freeze them for up to 6 months.
Step 4: How to cook sweet potato gnocchi
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt it. Cook the homemade pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente or cooked through with a bite, which will take about 5 minutes. If using frozen gnocchi, add them to the pot straight from the freezer. The gnocchi will float to top. Scoop the gnocchi out of the pot with a slotted spoon and toss them with your favorite homemade pasta sauce.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- The amount of moisture in sweet potatoes will vary so you may need less flour or a decent bit of extra flour to create the perfect dough. Work the flour in slowly and add more if needed.
- Make sure the pot of salted water comes to a rolling boil before you add the gnocchi.
- Save some of the pasta cooking water to help create or thin out your sauce.
- Frozen gnocchi might take a couple of minutes longer to cook than fresh gnocchi.
Store fresh sweet potato gnocchi in an airtight container in the fridge and cook them within 3-4 days. Freezing gnocchi is a great way to store them for longer periods. Freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet them transfer the frozen gnocchi to freezer ands and freeze them for up to 6 months. Store leftover cooked gnocchi in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat to serve and enjoy them within 3-4 days.
Best Sauces for Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Sage and Butter Sauce: A classic Italian sage and butter sauce goes perfectly with sweet potato gnocchi. To make it simply melt butter (or brown it) in a large skillet with whole sage leaves. Add the al dente gnocchi and a bit of the pasta water to help create a sauce. Optionally add grated pamesan or pecorino cheese and/or toasted hazelnuts, walnuts or pistachios to the sauce for even more flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use vegan butter and vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast to make a vegan version of this sauce.
Wild Mushroom Sauce: Earthy and umami-rich mushrooms go perfectly with the earthy sweetness of the gnocchi. To make it sauté a variety of sliced mushrooms in olive oil and butter with hearty fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage for flavor. Add the al dente gnocchi and a bit of the pasta water to help create a sauce. Stir in creme fraiche or heavy cream and grated parmesan or pecorino cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste to create a creamy sauce.
Pistachio Pesto: Nutty toasted pistachios create a delicious pesto that pairs wonderfully with these gnocchi. To make it, first toast raw pistachios in the oven or a dry skillet on the stovetop. Grind them into a paste with garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice, grated parmesan cheese, fresh leafy herbs like basil or parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil using a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Loosen the pesto up with saved pasta cooking water before tossing the al dente cooked gnocchi in it.
Get Creative: As shown in the photos, I tossed them in a quick sauté of sweet onion, green beans, cherry tomatoes, sage, baby spinach cooked in extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and black pepper and then deglazed with white wine to make a loose sauce. I topped the dish with my homemade soy labneh and edible flowers from the garden, including nasturtium, calendula petals and flowering fennel crowns. The possibilities are endless!
Simple sauces with fall flavors work best with sweet potato gnocchi. Use fresh hearty herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme and earthy ingredients like nuts, mushrooms, onions, garlic, etc. to create simple gnocchi sauces like the ones detailed in this post.
While some gnocchi recipes use eggs or cheese, there are traditional varieties made without eggs and this easy gnocchi recipe is 100% vegan – made only with sweet potatoes, flour and salt. Serve them with your favorite vegan sauce for a simple vegan dinner idea.
Sweet potato gnocchi made with wheat flour does have gluten. To make a gluten free sweet potato gnocchi try using rice flour as a substitute, but the amount needed may be different than what is listed in the recipe for wheat flour.
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3 Ingredient Sweet Potato Gnocchi – Vegan
- Roast whole sweet potatoes at 425˚F on a baking sheet or tinfoil (to catch juices) until fork tender, about 20 minutes for small ones and 30-40 minutes for larger sweet potatoes.
- Remove them from oven and let them cool enough to handle them, then peel and discard the sweet potato skins.
- Mash the roasted sweet potatoes with a fork in a bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir with a fork until a dough starts to hold together. Knead dough together using clean hands just until it comes together into a smooth soft ball. Be careful not to over work the dough. The dough should be soft and pillowy, not firm or dense.
- Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, while covering the remaining dough with a kitchen towel, roll it out with your hands into a long log about 1/2" in diameter.
- Cut the log into 1-1/2" length pieces. Lightly press each piece into the back of a fork or gnocchi board with your thumb and roll it down the tines or impressions to make indentations on one side and a slight concave dip on the other side. Repeat rolling cutting and shaping the remaining portions of dough.
- At this point the gnocchi can be cooked right away or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days before cooking them. To freeze the gnocchi for longer storage first freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. To cook frozen gnocchi add them directly to the boiling water, do not thaw them first.
- To cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of water (at least 4 quarts) to a boil and add a handful of sea salt to the water.
- Add fresh gnocchi to the boiling water, and cook at a rapid boil, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Test one to make sure they are cooked through, with no raw flour taste, and are soft with a slight chew, not mushy. If they are not done, cook for a couple more minutes and test again. If cooking frozen gnocchi they may need a few more minutes to cook through.
- Drain the gnocchi and coat or toss them in whatever sauce or sauté them in herbs and butter as you wish. Tip: save some of the pasta water to thin out the pasta sauce if needed.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use them within 3-4 days.
- Try swapping sweet potato for roasted winter squash or pumpkin puree.