Paleo Gnocchi, Round Three.

I usually have a good sense of whether or not something is going to turn out.  I thought for sure that I could make a Paleo gnocchi happen without a sweat. I couldn’t be more wrong.  I have tried three times now to make something that comes close to those chewy, fluffy clouds of russets, flour and egg.  Not sure that I’m there yet, but I know I’m getting close.

The biggest hurdle has been with flours–arrowroot and tapioca have been my choices for this experiment.  Both of these have a gooey, gelatin quality about them, which is certainly translating into the gnocchi.  By the time I get these buggers in the boiling water, they are disintegrating into something I barely want to look at let alone eat.

Last night after another failed round of the elusive gnocchi a thought occurred to me. There’s too much moisture… I need to dry these out a bit… I need to bake them.

I’m going to keep tweaking this, but for now I’m happy with where they stand. Since Paleo “pasta” tends to be made most commonly from blanched julienned zucchini, I’m fairly pleased to have something that more closely resembles the real thing. So without further ado, here is my baked gnocchi.

The ingredients are straight forward.  You’ll need 2 medium sweet potatoes (not yams!), 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1 egg yolk and a teaspoon of kosher salt.  If you are using a finer grain salt, only toss in about a half teaspoon.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks, boil.  When fork tender, drain the water and rice the hot potatoes into a separate mixing bowl. Mix in the salt and tapioca flour. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, mix in the egg yolk.  If you don’t have a potato ricer, go ahead and use a regular masher.  Be extra thorough with your mashin’! No lumps allowed!

Transfer the dough to a large ziplock bag and pop in the fridge. I left my dough to sit overnight. I’m not sure what the minimum amount of time would be, but I’m guessing it should chill out for at least two hours.

When it comes time to cook and serve the gnocchi, heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Snip off the end of the ziplock bag to the width that you want your gnocchi–no more than a half inch.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or other silicone baking sheet (Parchment paper would work here too). Pipe the dough about an inch or so in length.  Use the back of a fork to press the classic ridges into each little pillow.  Pop in the oven.

I bake these for about 30 minutes, which means you’ll want to check on yours at 25 minutes. My oven is quirky.

At this point the gnocchi are done cooking, but need to get sauced before they’re ready to eat. Baked then sauced? These gnocchi have some serious bad habits…

I’m featuring these gnocchi prepared as simply as possible. I think all of us have a bunch of sauces or recipes that are in desperate need of a faux-starch host.  From Spinach Pesto to Garlicky Bay Scallops, I know I have a few of my own.

The picture shows a handful of gnocchi sautéed in roasted garlic compound butter from earlier this week. Add the butter and gnocchi to a warm sauté pan, heat through and deglaze with about a quarter cup of chicken stock.  Let the stock reduce for a minute, keep it moving.  Pull the pan off the heat as soon as the stock looks more like a glaze, less like liquid. It’ll make sense once you see it.  Plate it up and enjoy! These would go great with some quick cooked sausage and peppers (like we’re having tonight) or even as a side with an Easy Crock Pot Chicken.  Sometimes for my sanity’s sake I like to pair more involved dishes like this one with others that spend most of their time roasting or braising.

**Another rendition of gnocchi exists on my page! I took some of the feedback I received from this recipe and came up with Grain-Free Gnocchi, if you are interested.*

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A few tools make preparing this gnocchi a little easier. The first is a potato ricer — a tool that presses hot potato through a large sieve to create rice-sized bits. This lends to a lighter texture in the gnocchi–traditional or Paleo. The other tool is a silicone baking sheet. Since these gnocchi have no fat, it’s guaranteed they will stick. A silicone baking sheet prevents that from happening. Here are some examples of what these essential kitchen gadgets look like:

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    • says

      Hey Anika, There are many gnocchi recipes that use almond flour out there, so I was hoping to do one that used a more cost effective option instead. I haven’t made it with almond flour to try it out as a result, so I can’t tell you either way. Sorry about that :-/

  1. says

    Thank you for this recipe, the gnocchis turned out perfect! Ive just bought some more sweet potatoes to make some more :) I get mad cravings for gnocchi and am always a little frustrated every time I walk by them in the supermarket. I topped these with truffle oil, chopped garlic, herbs and toasted pecans. Yum.

  2. Kat says

    Made this recipe tonight for dinner, and I had to change a couple things due to what I had on hand, I used the orange sweet potatoes, arrowroot flour instead of tapioca, and added a tablespoon of coconut flour. But it turned out great! It had a similar texture to regular gnocchi, and I made a parm less carbonara with it. I was very impressed with myself afterwards haha
    Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Mrs G says

    Just made them for dinner.
    I used orange sweet potatoes and I steamed them instead of boiling. I used homemade tomato sauce and it was a delicious meal.

  4. Sgtcyclist says

    I like what I see here enough to try… the traditional way to make regular gnocchi with white potatoes is to boil them, not bake them. I have been eating my wife’s mother and aunt’s gnocchi for 13 years. I like this idea to make them paleo though…

    • colleen says

      Colleen There is no need to bake paleo gnochiI made these tonight You need to know how to make normal gnochi and transfer your experience
      for example BAKE the sweet poatoes WHOLE
      Remove the skin when done and rice WHILE STLL HOT Add I egg yolk and enough tapioca flour to make a very firm mix turn out onto a tapioca floured board and GENTLY form into a long roll.Cut into desired length peices and cook in boiling salted water until they rise to the surface and about 15 seconds longer.

  5. says

    Wow. I’m excited to try these! They look wonderful. So, you made mention of gelatin and wanting that texture….I wonder, could you use gelatin in place of the flours? Just a thought…..

  6. says

    I’m excited to try this recipe out! What are your thoughts on freezing the gnocchi after they are baked? I’d love to have these on hand to quickly reheat in a sauce for a weeknight meal!

  7. says

    I ran out of tapioca starch..can I sub with arrowroot flour??? Btw I’ve tried the recipe..turned out great, crispy outside and chewy inside..great taste when they just came out straight from oven!

  8. says

    Does the batter will be runny or more like dough? I wonder if I could just shape them with spoon or hands instead using ziplock bag to pipe them out? Thanks!

    • Nadine says

      The first time I tried the Gnocchis, the dough was pretty good and I shaped it with a fork (dough was really fresh, I halved the sweet potatoes and after baking them I scraped the puree out of the peel, mixed everything else in and let it sit in the fridge for 1 hour). I did not use a ziplock bag to shape the gnocchi, just my hands and a fork 😉

      The second time it was more sticky and could not be shaped with a fork: I peeled the sweet potatoes, cut in pieces, baked them, mixed everything else in and let it sit overnight. I guess the potatoes soaked water in my fridge when they were too long inside?! I also had to add some coconut flour.

      First time: crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, second time: crunchy only on the lower side, the rest was soft.

      • Nadine says

        We like it spicy and in my opinion they came out as tasty as before. My boyfriend does not like the coconut flavour, and he did not even realize that I added some to the gnocchi … 😉 (it was sth. around 3-4 tsp., it depends on the amount of wetness I guess). I added one tbs and let the dough sit for 5 minutes, when it was still too wet I added another tbs and so on…

  9. says

    We tried your recipe this week and my boyfriend loved it! (for him it is the best paleo recipe we ever tried since doing paleo 😉 ) I added some chives and coloured pepper (spice) -it was really tasty. I baked the sweet potatoes in the oven and put the dough in the fridge for one hour. We ate them without any sauce -we shortly roasted them in the pan with some butter and sprinkled them with some garlic-olive oil.

    • says

      Thank you, Nadine!! I’m glad you both liked it! This is still in a work in progress for me, so I appreciate feedback like yours in order to improve it the next time around! I like how you prepped them — I think simple works best with this.

  10. Nick says

    Why not use potatoes and make real gnocchi?

    Potatoes, and other tubers, are undoubtedly primal. Modern hunter-gatherers still eat tubers.

    • says

      You hit on something that I am looking into more — what’s the real deal with tubers? If you have a resource to direct me to, I’d appreciate it!

      But to your point about real gnocchi – the issue has more to do with which flour to substitute and less about which tuber to base it from. No matter where we land on the potato debate, I still won’t toss in some white refined flour…

    • says

      I am going to make this recipe again this week to help answer a few questions and try out some awesome suggestions I’ve received since I originally posted my Round 3. I think this is getting closer! It really takes a village to craft the perfect Paleo Gnocchi! :-)

    • says

      No, it’s an important one! I can find sweet potatoes in my regular grocery store right next to the yams. Of course, this is where the confusion comes from. We casually call yams “sweet potatoes” and then get confused when reference actual sweet potatoes by the same name. Sweet potatoes have light colored skin (lighter than russets, more like a jicama) and are white inside.

      • Cat Chamberlain says

        Actually, sweet potatoes can be orange fleshed or pale fleshed, these are just two different varieties of sweet potatoes. True yams are an odd tuber and completely unrelated to sweet potatoes — but unfortunately, someone started calling orange fleshed sweet potatoes yams (garnet yams, for instance) and made everyone crazy and misinformed. So, the sweet potatoes you chose for this recipe are not very sweet, pale fleshed and more akin to a regular potato. If one uses orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, they will have a very sweet dish which I’m sure is plenty tasty, but will be less versatile and less like traditional gnocchi. Now I have to make these!

        • popularpaleo says

          Right… It’s kinda hard to explain all that yam-potato-trickery in a clear way. Someone needs to create an infographic and help us all out!! haha!

  11. Jo says

    Oh another sweet potato recipe….yeh!
    i’m definately going to try this. Can you tell me what other flours you used with no success? Looking forward to round 4 and hearing how other people’s recipes trialed. Thanks for sharing from Jo in Australia

    • says

      I also tried arrowroot flour. I didn’t want to use almond or coconut because of unwanted added texture and flavor. However, I think I should experiment a little more… This is fun to play with! And it’s such a treat to have something that looks and feels like real pasta!

  12. S.J says

    HOLY COW!! This is probably one of the best Paleo things I’ve cooked so far. I was starting to loose interest with all the failed coconut recipes I’ve tried but this was UNBELIEVABLE! and my husband raved too! Thanks for the great recipe, it’s a keeper!!

    • says

      I love waking up to this!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and that you now have something you can go to that satisfies the pasta craving while keeping you on track! All the best to you and your family! ~Ciarra

  13. says

    Do these taste very sweet potato-y. That is probably the hardest time I’m having with Paleo is that I don’t like sweet potatoes. But I love gnocchi and am tempted to try this recipe anyway. I have a great sausage, peppers, and fennel gnocchi recipe of rachel ray’s I’d love to make again since we have been going towards a paleo diet.

    • says

      Hmmm… I feel like they are mild, definitely not as strong as a yam would be. They do have more flavor than a russet-based gnocchi would, but not overwhelmingly so. I think they would be fantastic with that sausage, pepper, fennel recipe you want to try out! That’s how we ate these when I made them last :-)

  14. says

    Yes! I thought the same thing about it tasting like cheese :-) And they really do need a sauce. What are you planning to make? The sauce will soften out the crisp bottoms.

    I didn’t use a full cup of flour, just the half, but if it seemed to work and tastes fine, then I say no harm done!

    • Lauren says

      Ok great! i also had a thought i cheated with the mashing and actually used a blender which changed the consistency of what it would be like that probably contributed to it being sticky! I am thinking a nice tomato sauce with some beef mince – traditional Italian style :)

      • says

        Maybe ricing takes some of the moisture away? Not sure. Did you use a blender to mix in the flour? That may have affected things? Who knows… Guess we gotta keep experimenting. :-)

        Hope you enjoy your dinner! That sauce sounds yummy!

  15. Lauren says

    Ok all cooked i put them in for 30 and didn’t check the outside is a little crispy but center is chewy. They taste ok on their own almost remind me of cheese of all things! Will make a sauce for them next. Did i need the extra 1/2 cup of flour?

  16. says

    Gnocchi with crab, cheese, spinach, and cream was my favorite comfort-food before going paleo. I’m definitely trying your version. Thank you!

    • says

      Same here! I loved mine with butter, gorgonzola and walnuts. I need to try baking my sweet potatoes as suggested above and see if that helps with the textural issues… I have a suspicion though that arrowroot and tapioca flours don’t take well to boiling no matter which way you spin it. We’ll see! I sure hope these turn out well for you!

  17. Pasquareillo Rebecca says

    I would try baking the sweet potato first instead of boiling. That is how traditional gnocchi is prepared. It may allow you to not bake them after they are formed and help to create the light fluffy texture you are missing.

    • says

      Good thinking! Thank you! I’ve always gone with the Mario Batali way, which is to boil. My man steered me wrong! I will definitely give baking a try. Round Four, here I come!

      • Lauren says

        i am trying this out for the first time but am not convinced at how successful i will be given the progress so far :( i Used 2 Med Sweet potatoes which worked out to be approx 500g. I baked them instead of boiled but found i needed to add an extra 1/2 cup of flour to the mix as it was quite runny. I left it over night & just put them into the oven but the mixture is still quite sticky so the fork just stuck didn’t imprint on it. What would i have done wrong/need to change?

        • says

          Sticky is OK! That was my issue too! Just checking that you used an egg yolk and not the whole egg? The mixture usually gets gummy versus runny (hence why boiling isn’t a good option). Paleo-approved flours just don’t absorb the way we need for this and yet the potato alone isn’t enough.

          The amount of potatoes you have sounds about right. Let’s see how they turn out after they bake. You should get a golden crust on the bottom and a chewy center.


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