Roasted sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter is a delicious main course option. The flavour combination of roasted sweet potatoes and salted brown butter make this gnocchi recipe a total surprise. Easy to make at home with step-by-step photos.
Gnocchi are a traditional Italian recipe that falls in a way between pasta and dumplings. There are various gnocchi recipes that feature a number of different ingredients involved. A common element in the recipe method is that gnocchi dough gets rolled up into a sausage shape before getting cut into small lumps. These are then cooked in boiling water and served with a choice of sauce, most of the times serving as main course.
Wheat flour, egg and potato are common ingredients in gnocchi, but there are many variations even within Italy. In some regions gnocchi dough may not include potatoes, for example. Or no eggs. Some may feature the use of a cheese, like ricotta, in the dough. Or even other kinds of vegetables, like spinach or pumpkin, which deliver beautiful green or orange gnocchi respectively.
Sweet potato gnocchi are similar in colour and flavour to pumpkin gnocchi. Instead of adding boiled potatoes to the dough, in this recipe we are using sweet potatoes that had been previously roasted in the oven. The simplest way to serve gnocchi is with sage butter. So here we are tossing our roasted sweet potato gnocchi in a delicious salted brown butter sauce with fresh sage.
About this recipe
A little foreword for those of you who have been following this blog for a while. When I first made and wrote about sweet potato gnocchi I was following my mom’s potato gnocchi recipe and I was honestly not happy with the texture of my dough. Still, I wanted to feature this recipe in my blog and I was fine with it not being perfect.
The thing about sweet potato is that it is less starchy than regular potato. Also, if cooking it like normal potatoes in boiling water, sweet potato becomes much wetter. This was always giving me a rather sticky dough, very difficult to work with. Impossible to press onto a gnocchi board.
Years of experience have passed between the first time I had published this post and now. They have served me well to notably improve it. Now I have finally come up with a better solution that is still based on my mom’s gnocchi recipe but that features oven roasted sweet potatoes. Special thanks to Ele for being my assistant both times! It really feels like we have come a long way!
Roasted sweet potato gnocchi ingredients
To make roasted sweet potato gnocchi you only need 4 ingredients:
- Sweet potatoes – they need to be oven-roasted and peeled, so feel free to make this step ahead.
- Flour – all-purpose flour is great for gnocchi.
- Potato starch – since sweet potato is less starchy than regular potato, we need to add some.
- Egg – to bind the dough.
Here comes an overview of the recipe with step-by-step photos. For detailed quantities and the recipe method please refer to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make roasted sweet potato gnocchi
1. Roast the sweet potatoes
Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them whole in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (390°F) for 30-40 minutes. Oven time will vary depending on the size of the sweet potatoes, they’re done when soft to pierce with a fork. Let cool until cold enough so that you can handle them with your hands. To make one batch of gnocchi you will need 500 g of peeled roasted sweet potatoes. Make this step ahead or budget in one extra hour for this recipe.
2. Make the sweet potato gnocchi dough
Add the roasted sweet potatoes to a bowl and mash using a potato masher. Add the flour, potato starch and egg and work it with your hands until it comes together into a dough ball.
3. Form the gnocchi
Take about 1/4 of the dough and roll it into a sausage shape as thick as 2 fingers. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough sausage slightly on the diagonal every 1 cm. Repeat until you have cut up all of the dough. Keep the dough lumps on a floured surface making sure they don’t touch each other or they may stick together.
Lumps are the most simple gnocchi form you can make. If you’re short on time or do not wish to spend more time on them, you are ready to cook them. However, if you want to give your roasted sweet potato gnocchi a slightly more traditional shape, you can press them onto a gnocchi maker (gnocchi board), or the back of a fork.
First roll each lump up into a ball. Then gently press the dough ball against a textured surface with your thumb, impressing little ridges on the side of the gnocco (that is the singular form of gnocchi). Repeat until all your gnocchi have the same shape.
Cook the roasted sweet potato gnocchi
Set a pot of water on the stove and it bring to a boil. Add the salt and one part of the gnocchi to the boiling water. Cook for a couple of minutes, until they come to the surface. Simmer for one more minute then remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer. Add the next batch of gnocchi and repeat. It’s best to cook the gnocchi in batches in order not to overcrowd the pot. How many batches depends on the size of your pot.
As the gnocchi cook, in another saucepan you can make the brown butter sauce that will go with them.
Make brown butter and serve
Add the butter to a pan and set on medium heat. When the butter has completely melted, simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The evaporation of the water in the butter will cause the protein (white particles) to separate from the fat (yellow liquid). Keep simmering the butter until the white particles will turn light brown. If it’s frothy, move the froth with a rubber spatula in order to be able to see what’s happening in the pan. Remove from the heat as soon as the particles have browned and transfer into a bowl to stop the cooking. Cooking it longer or keeping the browned butter in the hot pan may lead to burning the proteins.
Pour the browned butter over the cooked gnocchi and toss to properly distribute the condiment all over. Add a handful of fresh sage leaves and bring it to the table. Your roasted sweet potato gnocchi are ready to be served!
To season my sweet potato gnocchi I chose to use salted butter, that I have browned. The salt contained in the butter falls to the bottom of the pan together with the browned milk protein particles, adding a very intense salty kick to the nutty tones of browned butter. If you don’t have salted butter, add a sprinkle of salt to unsalted butter as it’s browning.
Homemade gnocchi are generally consumed on the same day as they’re made. They’re not great make-ahead food, as their texture may get harder and chewier if stored uncooked. Leftovers can be re-heated and do taste nice, but you may notice, again, a change in texture. So if you have leftovers do save them, they will be good to take to work in your lunchbox. But if you plan on serving your guests sweet potato gnocchi, definitely make them on the same day and cook them just before it’s time to serve them.
You can save time by roasting the sweet potatoes ahead. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You don’t need to season sweet potato gnocchi only with brown butter and sage, although the salty browned butter is a wonderful complement to the sweetness of the gnocchi. If you don’t feel confident to brown the butter, a great alternative is olive oil butter. Alternatively, a sauce that goes very well with gnocchi is ragù alla bolognese.
In Italy gnocchi are generally a main course, but you can also choose to serve them as a side dish. I like to pair them with saucy meat dishes, like this pork loin in hazelnut sauce, Swedish meatballs in cream sauce or cream cheese chicken stew. If you want to pair them with a veggie try roasted flower sprouts with pine nuts.
Have you ever tried sweet potato gnocchi? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I always appreciate hearing from you, especially if you’ve made this recipe and you have some feedback for me.
If you’re planning to save this recipe for a special occasion, pin it for later!
This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been updated in May 2021 with new pictures, a recipe card and an improved recipe.
Roasted sweet potato gnocchi
- 2 sweet potatoes oven-roasted, about 500 g
- 220 g flour
- 60 g potato starch
- 1 egg
- 50 g salted butter
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
Make-ahead step: roasting the sweet potatoes
- Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them whole in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (390°F) for 30-40 minutes. Oven time varies depending on sweet potato size. They are done when tender enough to easily pierce with a fork. Let cool until cold enough so that you can handle them with your hands. This step takes about 1 hour, you can make it ahead and store the roasted sweet potatoes wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge up to 5 days.
Make the sweet potato gnocchi
- Peel and mash the roasted sweet potatoes. Add to a bowl together with the flour, starch and egg. Knead until a homogeneous dough comes together.
- Take 1/4 of the dough and roll it into a sausage shape as thick as 2 fingers. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough sausage slightly on the diagonal every 1 cm. Repeat until you have cut up all of the dough. Keep the dough lumps on a floured surface making sure they don't touch each other or they may stick together.
- To give dough lumps a traditional gnocchi shape roll each lump up into a ball. Gently press each and every dough ball against a textured surface (like a gnocchi board or the back of a fork) with your thumb, impressing little ridges on the side.
Cook the gnocchi
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gnocchi need to be cooked in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. Salt the water and add one part of the gnocchi to the boiling water. Cook for a couple of minutes, until they come to the surface. Simmer for one more minute then remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer. Add the next batch of gnocchi and repeat. How many batches will depend on the size of your pot.
Make the brown butter and serve
- Add the butter to a saucepan and set on medium heat. When the butter has completely melted, simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The evaporation of the water in the butter will cause the protein (white particles) to separate from the fat (yellow liquid). Keep simmering the butter until the white particles turn light brown. If it's frothy, move the froth with a rubber spatula in order to be able to see inside the pan. Remove from the heat as soon as the particles have browned and transfer into a bowl to stop the cooking process and prevent the proteins from burning.
- Pour the browned butter over the cooked gnocchi and toss to distribute the condiment all over. Add a handful of fresh sage leaves and bring it to the table. Your roasted sweet potato gnocchi are ready to be served!