Homemade Gnudi With Tomato Sauce

by Kristina
6 servings
1 hr

Gnudi, pronounced “nudie” are basically ravioli filling without the pasta wrapper, in other words, “nude”. They are delicate Italian dumplings made of ricotta and parmesan cheese shaped into little balls that melt in your mouth. They are truly a comforting classic that I always feel like making on a cold, rainy day. I love how rustic and homemade they look and how easily they come together. This recipe is a classic gnudi recipe made without any greens and topped with a tomato sauce. You do have to let these sit in the fridge for about 1 hour, so give yourself a little extra time.

I hope you love it as much as I do!

gnudi in a bowl with tomato sauce
Why you'll love this recipe

  • It only has 460 calories per serving and fits into my weight-loss and weight maintenance meal plans
  • It is easy to make and requires no special tools
  • It takes only a few common ingredients that you will find in your pantry
  • It’s freaking delicious!!


For the gnudi:

  • Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Eggs
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • “00” flour or all-purpose flour
  • Semolina flour
  • Sauce of your choice (see below for suggestions)

For the tomato sauce:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Yellow onion
  • Fresh rosemary or basil - I don’t recommend using dried herbs for this sauce, it just won’t be the same
  • 28 oz cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes, or the best quality tomatoes you can find. You could also use Passata for this, which is just crushed, strained tomatoes usually found in a glass jar at the grocery store
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Butter
  • Kosher salt

See recipe card for quantities.

Tools you'll need

  • Kitchen scale that measures in grams
  • Large bowl
  • 2 spoons or ice cream scoop
  • Baking sheet
  • Large pot
  • large saucepan
  • Slotted spoon


Make the gnudi:

gnudi ingredients mixed in a bowl

Start by mixing the ricotta cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs, nutmeg and all-purpose flour together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon.

Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour ½ cup of the semolina flour in an even layer over the sheet.

gnudi on a baking sheet

Using 2 spoons or an ice cream scoop, shape about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball and place it on top of the semolina flour. You can also use your hands to shape the balls if you prefer. Repeat that with the rest of the dough. Make sure that the dumplings do not touch each other, otherwis,e they will stick together.

Cover the gnudi with the remainder of the semolina flour. Cover with plastic wrap and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 8 hours, turning each gnudi over about half way through the chilling time. This step helps create gnudi that won’t fall apart when you go to cook them.

** You should have your sauce ready to go when you put the water on to boil because gnudi only takes a couple of minutes to cook.**

Once the gnudi are done chilling they are ready to cook. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a soft boil. These gnudi are quite delicate so you do not want a rolling boil, which might be a bit too rough and cause the gnudi to fall apart in the water. Make sure you give the gnudi lots of room to boil and don’t overcrowd the pot. You may have to do this in two batches if necessary. Boil until they float to the surface, about 1 to 3 minutes.

Top Tip

Test out cooking one gnudi before you add all of them to the pot. This way you will know whether or not the gnudi are going to hold together. If your test falls apart in the boiling water that means you will need to roll them in more semolina flour and let them rest for a bit longer in the fridge.

Do not drain the gnudi in a colander. Instead, use a slotted spoon to gently remove the gnudi from the boiling water and place them on a serving plate and top with your chosen sauce. Serve immediately with your sauce of choice.

I like my gnudi best with a classic, simple tomato sauce, so I’ve included that recipe below as well.

Make the tomato sauce:

Since gnudi are so delicate, I like to pair them with silky-smooth tomato sauce that has a slightly thinner consistency, so you can smoother the gnudi with it.

rosemary, garlic, onions and red pepper flakes sauteing in a saucepan

To start the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the whole garlic cloves and finely chopped onion and cook until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Do not rush this step, as this is where the flavor is developed. The garlic should look golden brown and the onions should be translucent. If they start turning a dark brown color, your heat is too high and you need to turn it down.

Add the fresh rosemary or basil and the red pepper flakes and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

tomato sauce simmering in a saucepan

Add the plum tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add the butter at the same time. Simmer for about 45 minutes. The sauce should not get too thick and the butter should emulsify into it as it cooks. The tomatoes and onions should break down into the sauce and leave you with a very smooth texture.

When the sauce is finished cooking, remove the whole garlic cloves with a slotted spoon.

Now you have a beautiful sauce to pair with your gnudi. Top it all off with a pinch of parm!

Substitutions and Additions

  • Add greens - you can choose to add spinach, kale or other similar greens to your gnudi, just like how you would with ravioli filling.
  • Ricotta cheese substitute- you should substitute the cow's milk ricotta for sheep’s milk ricotta if you can find it. That would give the gnudi a sharper flavor.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese substitute - can be replaced with Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano cheese, however note that the pecorino will provide a sharper flavor and the grana padano will provide a more mild flavor than the parmesan cheese.
  • Nutmeg - If you do not have fresh nutmeg you can use a pinch of ground nutmeg, or omit it from the recipe if you prefer.

What Sauces pair with Gnudi?

You can pair gnudi with any of your favorite sauces, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Pesto
  • Brown butter with sage
  • Beef ragu
  • Rabbit ragu


Uncooked gnudi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. It is not recommended to freeze uncooked gnudi, as the ricotta cheese has a lot of water content and will not thaw well when you go to cook the gnudi.

Cooked gnudi should be served and eaten immediately, especially when they have sauce on them.

Tomato sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months.


What is the difference between gnudi and malfatti?

Gnudi and malfatti are essentially the same thing, but the names come from different regions of Italy. They are both balls of ravioli filling without the pasta wrapper, in other words, they are "nude" ravioli. Malfatti, however, means "poorly made", so they can sometimes look slightly more rustic and roughly shaped compared to gnudi.

What is the difference between gnudi and ricotta gnocchi?

While they are both a type of Italian dumpling and have almost identical ingredients, the difference is in the amount of flour in each. Gnudi generally has less flour in it and tends to be more delicate and light, while gnocchi has more flour and therefore a denser, chewier texture.

Why is my gnudi falling apart?

Your gnudi is likely falling apart because it did not have enough time to rest in the semolina flour or all-purpose flour. Allowing the gnudi to rest in the flour helps form a crust around the outside of the gnudi that holds it all together and keeps the middle soft and melty.

Wine Pairing

This homemade gnudi packs some flavor, so don't be afraid to pair it with a bold medium-to-full-bodied red, especially if you have paired it with a tomato-based sauce. I would suggest a Sangiovese, Syrah or Cabernet Franc. Here are a few suggestions:

If you do choose to pair the gnudi with a lighter sauce, like the traditional brown butter and sage, you might want to try a medium-to-full-bodied white that is smooth and has some earthy notes, like a Chardonnay or a smooth Semillon-Sauvignon blend. Here are a few suggestions:


Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

ricotta gnocchi on counter

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi (Gnocchi di ricotta)

cavatelli in a bowl on a counter

Cavatelli cacio e pepe (no cream)

cavatelli in beef ragu in a pan

Gnocchi vs. Cavatelli vs. Gnudi: A Guide to Italian Dumplings

handmade cavatelli on a counter

Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli


These are my favorite dishes to serve with homemade gnudi:

beef ragu in a pot

Authentic Italian Beef Ragu

fennel, pear and celery salad in a bowl

Fennel, Pear and Celery Salad

tomato and basil salad in a bowl

Tomato and Basil Salad

salad in a bowl

Apple and Leek Salad with Candied Pecans

Homemade Gnudi With Tomato Sauce
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 45 Minutes Total time: 1 hr
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For the gnudi (serves 6)
  • 400 g whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese finely grated
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 85 g all-purpose or “00” flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
For the tomato sauce (makes 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves halved
  • 1/2 large yellow onion very finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 20 fresh basil leaves
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 28 oz cans San Marzano whole tomatoes or passata
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Kosher salt to taste
For the gnudi
Mix the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and nutmeg together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon. Add the flour and mix until combined.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and pour ½ cup of semolina flour to cover it.
Using 2 spoons, an ice cream scoop or your hands, shape the gnudi dough into balls and place them on the layer of semolina flour, ensuring they do not touch each other.
Pour the remaining ½ cup of semolina flour over the gnudi balls in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour, turning the gundi over once using a spatula about halfway through the chilling time.
To cook the gnudi, bring a large pot of salted water to a soft boil. Do not overcrowd the pot and ensure they have lots of room to move. You may have to do 2 batches if your pot is not big enough. Gently place the gnudi in the water and cook until it floats to the top, about 1-3 minutes. Test out one gnudi before you cook all of them to ensure that they won’t fall apart.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place directly on a plate to serve. Top with your favorite sauce and a pinch of parm!
Make the tomato sauce
About an hour before the gnudi are finished chilling, start making the tomato sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and onions and cook until the garlic is golden-brown and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the red pepper flakes and the fresh rosemary or basil. Cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
Crush the tomatoes with your hands, remove the stems and add them to the pan. Then add the butter.
Simmer for 45 minutes. The sauce should be smooth, but not pasty. If it is too thick you can add a tablespoon or two of water until you get the consistency you desire.
Remove the garlic cloves and the rosemary sprig from the sauce before you serve. Pour about ½ cup of sauce overtop of the gnudi.
Serve immediately and enjoy with a pinch of parm!
  • If you do not have fresh nutmeg you can use a pinch of ground nutmeg or omit it from the recipe if you prefer
  • One serving of tomato sauce is ½ cup
  • This recipe will make about 24-30 gnudi, depending on how big you make them
  • Disclaimer: The Calories are an estimate and may not be 100% accurate, depending on the ingredients you use and portion sizes.
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