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Instant Potato Gnocchi (Quick & Easy!)

These quick and easy Instant Potato Gnocchi save you time and take the guesswork out of making homemade gnocchi. Ready in only about 30 minutes, they always turn out soft, light and fluffy!

If you love these yummy Italian potato dumplings and have always wanted to make them at home but have been a little intimidated (or if you’ve tried to make them without much success), this is the recipe you need!

You see, when you make gnocchi by boiling or baking potatoes, there is always a variable depending on how much moisture is in the potatoes. If they’re too dry, you’ll need to add water. If they’re too wet, you’ll need to add more flour.

And you have to be really careful with that because adding too much flour can result in heavy, not-so-light-and-fluffy gnocchi. No one wants that.

Plus, there’s all the time and effort that it takes to cook, cool, peel, and grate or rice the potatoes (not to mention the extra dishes and equipment to wash) before you get to making the dough and shaping the gnocchi.

Enter instant mashed potato flakes and this recipe that’s adapted from one by America’s Test Kitchen. It’s a gnocchi game-changer!

Because the potatoes are dried and there’s no moisture variation, you get consistent results every time without having to make any adjustments to the ingredients.

That saves you both time and effort because all you have to do is measure, mix, shape, cook, and enjoy.

Once you try these gnocchi with instant mashed potatoes – which I think are just as good as the real deal – I bet you’ll be making your own homemade gnocchi from now on too!

the ingredients needed to make instant potato gnocchi with labels for each one

Ingredients You Need

  • Instant mashed potato flakes (plain/unflavored)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Egg

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

How to Make Instant Potato Gnocchi

1: Place the instant potato flakes, flour and salt in a large bowl; stir to combine.

2: Add the water and beaten egg.

3: Stir until well-combined (it will be loose at first but will firm up as you stir). Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the potato flakes and flour to absorb the liquid.

4: Gather the mixture into a ball with your hands, place it on a lightly floured work surface and knead it for a minute or two just until it becomes more smooth and workable.

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 1 is of instant potato flakes, flour and salt being mixed in a bowl, number 2 is of water and egg added to the mixture and being stirred, number 3 is of the mixture stirred together into a dough, and number 4 is of a hand kneading the dough on a floured surface

5: Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and cut into 6 equal pieces.

6: Lightly flour your work surface. Take one piece of dough and roll it into a rope that is ¾ inch wide.

7: Cut the rope of dough into ¾-inch pieces.

8: Shape the gnocchi. Place one piece of dough at a time on the tines of a fork. Press down with your thumb to make an indentation in the center and then roll it over on the fork until the two ends almost touch. This is the more traditional method; see the next section for additional shaping options.

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 5 is of the kneaded dough in a ball and cut into 6 equal pieces with a knife, number 6 is of one of the pieces of dough rolled into a rope, number 7 is of the rope cut into equally sized pieces, and number 8 shows one piece of the dough being shaped using a fork and how the final shaped gnocchi should look on both sides

9: As you finish shaping the gnocchi, place them on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with flour. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough.

10: Working in two batches, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water. They are done when they float to the surface of the water.

11: Remove the gnocchi from the water using a slotted spoon and place them in a single layer on plates or another large baking sheet.

12: Your gnocchi are now ready to toss with sauce or use in your favorite recipe using gnocchi!

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 9 is of the shaped gnocchi on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with flour, number 10 is of the gnocchi cooking in boiling water, number 11 is of some of the gnocchi being lifted out of the water with a slotted spoon, and number 12 is of the cooked gnocchi on a white plate

Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. For the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

You Have Options for Shaping the Gnocchi

In the steps above, I show you my favorite method for shaping gnocchi the more traditional way that gives you ridges on one side and an indentation on the other. Not only does it look nice, but they say that this helps the gnocchi hold sauce better.

A second and easier option is to just put an indentation with your thumb in the center of one side of each piece of dough.

The third and easiest option is to just leave the gnocchi as-is once you cut it, leaving it smooth all the way around. This would be great for sautéed gnocchi without a sauce (but honestly, I have used it this way lots of times with marinara, and the sauce stuck to it just fine).

Use whichever method you prefer!

3 differently shaped gnocchi, one cut and left smooth, one with an indentation in the center, and one rolled with ridges

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • To make sure your gnocchi come out soft, light and fluffy:
    • Don’t overwork the dough. Knead it gently just until it becomes workable…meaning that you will be able to roll it into a rope without it falling apart. You shouldn’t need to knead it for more than a minute or two.
    • Don’t add too much flour when kneading and rolling, because this can cause dense, heavy gnocchi. Keep in mind that this dough is going to be somewhat moist, but it shouldn’t stick to your hands or your work surface. So, as needed, lightly flour the surface and sprinkle the dough with flour if there is any sticking.
  • Also, be careful not to overcook the gnocchi, as they can become mushy and fall apart. Once they float to the surface of the water, they are done (this happens quickly – like in a minute and a half – so keep a close eye on them)!

Make-Ahead, Storing & Freezing

Homemade gnocchi are best when cooked and served immediately. If you cook them ahead, they tend to degrade a bit as they sit in the fridge. So, I don’t recommend making them in advance.

The exception is to freeze them shaped but uncooked. They freeze very well.

To freeze: once you shape the gnocchi and place them on the parchment-lined and floured baking sheet, put the sheet in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours just until the gnocchi are firm. Then transfer them to a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and freeze for up to 1 month.

When ready to cook, place the frozen gnocchi directly in boiling water and cook until they float (if cooking a whole recipe, do this in 2 batches).

gnocchi in marinara sauce and topped with parmesan and basil

How to Use Instant Potato Gnocchi

This Gnocchi can be served with a simple sauce, sautéed in butter or olive oil, or used in any recipe that calls for gnocchi. Serve it as a main dish, side dish or starter.

When adding to a recipe, always boil the gnocchi first to make sure it is properly cooked through. Do this even when adding to soup; add them at the very end and just warm them through for a minute or two so they don’t get overcooked.

My favorite way to enjoy gnocchi? Toss it with a simple tomato sauce (like my 15-Minute Marinara Sauce) and top it with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Incredible!

I hope you try this Instant Potato Gnocchi recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Recipes To Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

cooked instant potato gnocchi on a white plate

Instant Potato Gnocchi

These quick and easy Instant Potato Gnocchi save you time and take the guesswork out of making homemade gnocchi. Ready in only about 30 minutes, they always turn out soft, light and fluffy!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 4 (recipe makes about 7 dozen total)
Estimated Calories: 248

Ingredients

  • 2 cups instant mashed potato flakes, plain/unflavored
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for the cooking water (I use regular table salt in this recipe)
  • cups water, cool to lukewarm
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

  • Place the instant potato flakes, flour and salt in a large bow; stir to combine.
  • Add the water and beaten egg; stir until well-combined.
    The mixture will be loose at first, but as you mix, it will quickly thicken up.
  • Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
    During this time, the potato flakes and the flour will absorb the liquid and the mixture will become more firm like a dough.
  • Lightly flour your work surface. Gather the dough into a ball, place it on your work surface and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Knead the dough for a minute or two, just until it becomes more smooth and workable. Sprinkle the dough and/or work surface with flour, a little at a time, if you experience any sticking while kneading.
    Be careful not to overwork the dough, as this can make your gnocchi dense and tough. You just want to take it to the point where it won't fall apart when you roll out the ropes in the next steps. It shouldn't take any more than 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and cut it into 6 equal pieces.
  • Cover a large baking sheet or tray with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with flour and set aside; you will put your finished cut and shaped gnocchi here later.
  • Put 4 quarts of salted water on to boil in a large pot and move on to the next steps.
    I do about 2 teaspoons of table salt in the water; you can adjust this amount to suit your own tastes.
  • Lightly flour your work surface. Take one piece of dough and, with your hands, roll it into a rope that is ¾ inch thick (about 10½ inches long).
  • Cut the rope into ¾-inch pieces (I usually get 14 pieces out of each rope).
  • At this point, you decide how you want to shape the gnocchi. You can leave them as is, or you can simply make an indentation in the center of each one with your thumb. I prefer to shape them the more traditional way as follows:
    Place one piece of dough on the tines of a fork. Press down with your thumb to make an indentation in the center. Then gently roll the piece of dough over on the fork until the two ends almost touch. The end result should be one side with ridges from the fork and one side with a small indentation (see photo #8 in the post).
    You can also do this same process with a gnocchi board if you have one, but I think that a fork works just fine.
  • As you finish shaping the gnocchi, place them on the prepared baking sheet/tray in a single layer with space between them so they don't touch.
  • Repeat the rolling, cutting and shaping steps for each of the 5 remaining pieces of dough. Lightly sprinkle your work surface before rolling each one.
  • Carefully place half of the gnocchi into the boiling water and give them a quick, gentle stir to prevent them from sticking together.
    Be careful because the dough is very delicate! I like to use a flat spatula to transfer the gnocchi to the boiling water; it enables me to easily and quickly move several at a time.
  • Cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface of the water.
    This will happen quickly in about 1½ to 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, as you don't want to overcook them (they can become mushy and fall apart).
  • Carefully remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon and put them in a single layer on a large plate or tray.
    Alternately, if you have a sauce prepared, you can transfer them directly from the water to the sauce.
  • Repeat with the second half of the gnocchi (if needed, bring the water back up to a boil first).
  • At this point, your gnocchi are ready to toss with whatever sauce you are using or to use in any recipe that calls for gnocchi. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Please refer to the post for additional tips and information on making ahead, storing and freezing.
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