Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

6-8 Servings
1 hr 45 min

Learn how to make gluten-free gnocchi using sweet potatoes. Then, bring the whole dish together in a brown butter sage sauce that’s perfect for autumn!

The Gnocchi Chronicles

When I first went gluten-free, one of the dishes I missed most was gnocchi. That was my go-to order at every Italian restaurant I frequented. No longer being able to have it at restaurants put me on a mission to create it at home. Since 2021, I’ve been working on my gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi recipe. The first batch was too big, which completely changed the texture. The second batch was too dense. Third time was not the charm and turned out worse than all the rests. I could keep going, but I think you get the picture.

Well, after a year of working on this recipe, it’s ready! My final recipe test for this dish came out perfect. The gnocchi was fluffy but firm and obtained a light crisp on the outside from sautéing in the brown butter sage sauce. Now, I’m ready to share this recipe and put it out into the world.

I’m so excited to share that it’s finally here- and just in time for fall! The combination of sweet potato with the brown butter sage sauce is the epitome of autumn. Plus, it’s served over a bed of ricotta cheese and garnished with red pepper flakes to give it a little heat. All in all, I love this recipe and hope you will to!

Served over ricotta and garnished with red pepper flakes, this dish is simple yet delicious.

Step-by-Step Homemade Gnocchi

Have you ever wanted to make gnocchi at home but didn’t know where to start? I’ve been there to! So let’s break down what gnocchi is and how we make it.

First, gnocchi are varied family of dumplings in the Italian cuisine. While, gnocchi is often considered a pasta, because it’s made of potato it falls under the dumpling category. Like homemade pasta though, you only need a few ingredients to make the dough for the gnocchi. Traditional recipes use wheat flour, egg, salt, and potato. The only thing that changes from recipe to recipe is that egg is not mandatory and is often forgoed.

However, in this recipe we will be using sweet potatoes, gluten-free flour, cornstarch and salt. Because we’re using gluten-free all purpose flour, it helps to use cornstarch as well. Cornstarch is the starch derived from the corn grain; which, makes it naturally gluten-free. It is often used to thicken sauces or soups. In this case, it’s used as a thickening agent to hold the dough together. The combination of gluten-free flour and cornstarch keeps the gnocchi fluffy. As learned from experience, only using gluten-free makes the gnocchi too dense. This is because a good bit of flour ends up being used as the dough is quite sticky. A little bit of cornstarch goes a long ways here and makes it less sticky, so it can be molded to fit our needs.

These fluffy pieces of gnocchi have a nice crisp on the outside thanks to the homemade sauce!

The Process From Start to Finish

Now that we know what gnocchi is and what is used to make it, it’s time to get into how it’s made. Remember that because this recipe uses sweet potatoes and is gluten-free, that the process may differ compared to classic gnocchi recipes.

First thing is first: cooking the potatoes. Before we can get into making the dough, we first need to cook our starch. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil and peeling two large sweet potatoes. Then, cube the sweet potatoes- this will allow them to cook faster. Add the cubed sweet potatoes to the boiling water, then cover and reduce the heat to medium. The potatoes will need roughly thirty minutes to simmer before they are fully cooked. Once the allotted time has passed, drain the water and allow the sweet potatoes to cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, combine two and a half cups of gluten-free all purpose flour, four tablespoons of cornstarch and a teaspoon of salt. If you’ve read my blog before, it’s no secret that my go-to flour is from Bob’s Red Mill. This all purpose flour is great for baking savory recipes, like pizza or this gnocchi! Combine the dry ingredients on a work surface (wood cutting board or marble counter), then make a well in the middle. The well is essentially a hole in the dry ingredients where the sweet potatoes will go. But first, the sweet potatoes need to be riced.

Ricing the Potatoes

You may be wondering, what does it mean to “rice” the potatoes? A potato ricer is a kitchen tool used to process or mash potatoes by forcing it through a sheet of small holes. This ensures that there are no lumps and that the potatoes are perfectly mashed. What do you do if you don’t have a potato ricer? You can use a potato masher to first mash the potatoes to the desired consistency. Then, you can put the mashed sweet potatoes through a colander. This may take some time, but you need to be patient if you want the ideal texture.

These little pieces of gnocchi only take minutes to cook!

The Dough

The potatoes can be riced or mashed directly into the well. Once in the well, coat your hands with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers. Then, use your hands to begin working the sweet potatoes into the dry ingredients. You may need a bit of extra gluten-free flour if the dough is still sticky. Take your time kneading the dough to ensure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Remember, add a bit of flour at a time as needed. Once the flour is added and incorporated, you can’t take that back and you risk the gnocchi being too dense. You should not be using more than an extra cup of gluten-free flour.

Once combined, roll the dough into a ball before using a stainless steal scraper (or clean, sharp knife) to cut the dough into eight even pieces. By cutting the dough into eight pieces, you’re able to work each piece into a log. If you were to try and roll the whole ball into a log, the dough would crumble. This process cuts down the time and ensure the logs will be similar sizes. Roll each piece into a long that’s half an inch thick. Then, use the scraper or knife to cut the log into one inch thick pieces. Continue this process until you have all of the pieces of gnocchi from the dough.

Finally, to create those signature gnocchi grooves, you have two options. The “professional” way uses a gnocchi rolling board. This board allows you to roll each piece of gnocchi dough the board to create the classic grooves. If you don’t have or don’t want to buy this board, then you can just use a fork! Use the back of the fork to make the grooves by holding the fork with the back facing you. Take the piece of the sweet potato gnocchi and roll it up and down the fork. You may have to press harder than you think. Make sure you are holding the outside of the gnocchi to create clean grooves.

This brown butter sage gnocchi is paired with a creamy ricotta that keeps the dish light.

Cooking the Gnocchi

If you’ve made homemade pasta before, then you know how fast it cooks! Unlike boxed pasta, which usually takes 8-11 minutes, homemade pasta cooks in 3-5 minutes. This gluten-free gnocchi is no different! All it needs is about three minutes in boiling water. But there is a trick to cooking perfectly fluffy gnocchi.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (don’t forget to salt it!). The key to cooking gnocchi is by only boiling 10-15 pieces at a time. This is because when gnocchi is finished cooking, it floats to the top. If you overcrowd the pot, different pieces will be ready at different times. This will lead to some pieces being undercooked and some pieces being overcooked. Is it more tedious to work in this method? A bit, but who wants undercooked gnocchi when you just spent all that time making it?

Add the pieces of gnocchi to the boiling water and allow to simmer on medium-high heat for three minutes. Once the gnocchi is cooked, it will float to the top. Quickly remove the cooked gnocchi, and add in the next batch of uncooked gnocchi to the pot. Repeat this process until all the sweet potato gnocchi is cooked!

Time to finish the gnocchi!

The Brown Butter Sage Sauce

You’ve probably been wondering when this step was going to be incorporated into the recipe! Well, it’s finally time to make the brown butter sage sauce! The only ingredients you’ll need for this part is one stick of unsalted butter and about seven sage leaves. Take your butter and add it to a large pan. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the sage leaves and continue to cook the butter down for roughly five minutes. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, that’s when you know it’s done.

Take the cooked sweet potato gnocchi and add it to the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you will most likely have to do this in batches as not to overcrowd the pan. Add the gnocchi and cook in the brown butter sage sauce for about five minutes. Stir it occasionally to prevent the sweet potato gnocchi from sicking to the pan. The goal here is to infuse the flavors and get just a slight crisp on the gnocchi. After five minutes, remove the gnocchi and add repeat this process with the other batch, if needed.

The Final Steps

Don’t worry, I promise this recipe is at its end! Before you serve up the gnocchi, spread a layer of whole milk ricotta cheese over the plate or bowl. If you’d like, you can infuse the ricotta with a bit of honey before spreading it. Then, serve the sweet potato gnocchi over the ricotta cheese. Spoon the leftover brown butter sauce and crispy sage leaves from the pan over the sweet potato gnocchi. The butter will pool in the ricotta and make more a luscious bite! Finish the dish off with a bit of red pepper flakes.

While this recipe looks extensive, there’s just a lot of details and tricks! These tips will help you create the best recipe for your friends and family this fall.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Recipe details
  • 6-8  Servings
  • Prep time: 45 Minutes Cook time: 60 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 45 min
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For the Gnocchi
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (may need more to prevent sicking)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
For the Brown Butter Sage Sauce
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 7 sage leaves
To Finish the Dish
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • Red pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
Cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, then allow them to cool
Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt on a work surface
Make a well in the middle of the flour
Mash the potatoes through a colander or use a potato ricer
Once the potatoes are in the well, flour your hands and begin working the sweet potatoes into the dry ingredients (If the dough is still sticky, add extra gluten-free flour as needed)
Once combined, roll into a ball before cutting it into eight even pieces
Roll each piece into a log that’s half an inch thick
Cut the log into 1” pieces, then use the back of a fork to press grooves into each piece of gnocchi
Once you have all your pieces, add 10-15 at a time to a pot of boiling water
Cook for roughly three minutes, or until the gnocchi floats to the surface
Carefully remove the gnocchi, then repeat the process until all the pieces are cooked
To make the brown butter sage sauce, add the stick of butter to a large pan
Melt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally
Once melted, add the sage and continue to cook the butter for roughly five minutes
When the butter has brown and smells nutty, add the gnocchi (make sure not to crowd the pan, so cook in batches if the pan can’t accommodate all)
Cook in the brown butter sage sauce for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking
Serve the gnocchi over the ricotta and spoon the brown butter with sage leaves over the gnocchi. Then, garnish with red pepper flakes and enjoy!
  • Store in an air-tight container for up to five days.
Arianna Litrenta
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  • J J on Dec 20, 2022

    I love browned butter sage sauce. It is also good on pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli.