These Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi are gnocchi made with canned pumpkin, nutmeg, brown sugar, and flour and shaped into little pumpkins. They are served in a brown butter sage sauce, and are great for a fun dinner or a fall party appetizer.
These little pumpkin gnocchi are easy to shape and a super fun little treat. They are made with mostly pumpkin and only a little bit of flour, which means that the pumpkin flavor shines. A little bit of brown sugar and nutmeg makes this dish really stand out with all the fall flavors.
What are Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi?
Traditional gnocchi are an Italian dish made with potatoes, such as russet potatoes, flour, salt, and sometimes egg. This take on the Italian dish replaces potatoes with canned pumpkin puree and adds in a tiny bit of brown sugar and nutmeg. To make them extra festive, small indentations are made around the outside of the gnocchi so that they look like little orange pumpkins! How-to photos and directions are below.
Pumpkin Puree: Squeezing Out the Water
To make this dish, it is important to remove the extra water content from the pumpkin puree. Less water content means you need to incorporate less flour, enhancing the pumpkin flavor. It also reduces the overall amount of flour required to create a soft gnocchi that still holds its shape.
To remove the excess water, place the pumpkin on a cheese cloth or several layers of paper towels and squeeze out the water over a bowl. You should end up with 1 cup of pumpkin and about ⅔ of a cup of excess liquid.
Potato Shaped Gnocchi and Limiting Gluten Development
When making gnocchi, the goal is to limit the amount of gluten developed. Too much gluten would result in a gummy, rubbery gnocchi. Removing extra water content means less flour added, and therefore less gluten developed, and a more concentrated pumpkin flavor. It’s also important to not overwork the dough, which can speed up gluten development. Add as little flour as possible, and stop mixing once incorporated.
Pumpkin Shaping Technique
I tried multiple ways to shape the gnocchi into little round gnocchi pumpkins:
- Kitchen Twine: One approach is to use kitchen twine. Place a length of twine under the round gnocchi, wrap it around and tighten it slightly for an up and down indentation on two opposing sides. Rotate the gnocchi and repeat until you have the shape you want. In practice, this is way more cumbersome than you would expect, and I do not recommend it.
- Criss Cross Shape with a Knife: Alternatively, take a gnocchi and using a knife create X indentations across the top of the gnocchi, like a pizza, but only pressing lightly. This works great and is a good option, but it doesn’t give you the rounded and indented sides that is so specific to pumpkins.
- RECOMMENDED: Pumpkin Ridges with a Knife: With this method you hold the round gnocchi with your thumb and pointer finger in the middle pressing gently to flatten slightly. Then with the other hand, use the back of a butter knife to create vertical line indentations around the outside edge of the gnocchi, rotating the gnocchi with the first hand. See pictures below.
To do so, make sure the gnocchi and your fingertips have been dusted with a small amount of flour so that the gnocchi do not stick as you turn them. I found this to be the simplest and easiest way to create the pumpkin ridge indentations.
Cooking the Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi
There are two ways to cook these Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi. Both methods are simple and super quick. I recommend sautéing for crispy gnocchi, but either is great.
- Boil: Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon or strainer and toss in your favorite sauce. Anything pumpkin and pasta related, I always go for a brown butter sage sauce.
- RECOMMENDED: Sauté for Crispy Gnocchi: Bring a sauté pan to medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of butter or oil (or 1 of each!). Once warmed through add the gnocchi and cook for 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned. These gnocchi will be slightly crispy with a deeper orange color. I prefer crispy gnocchi, so I typically choose this method for all types of gnocchi.
This recipe makes 24 pumpkin shaped gnocchi. This amount is great for a small appetizer, or a small side dish. If you plan to have this for lunch or dinner, consider doubling or even tripling the recipe.
Making 48 or 72 pumpkin shaped gnocchi would be quite a bit of work, so you may want to make a few pumpkin shaped gnocchi, and a few just “dumpling” shaped gnocchi. They taste great regardless of the shape, and would be great for a fun family dinner. Kids can get involved in making the dumpling shapes too!
About the Ingredients
- Pumpkin: Choose pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Egg Yolk: For added richness and flavor. Skip the egg white to limit the added water content.
- Nutmeg: For that fall spice flavor that pairs perfectly with pumpkin.
- Brown Sugar: To add to the fall spice flavor.
- All-purpose flour: If you happen to have 00 flour you can use that instead.
- Salt: To enhance the other flavors.
Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Brown Butter Sage Sauce is super simple and quick to make and goes well with gnocchi, particularly pumpkin gnocchi. I also love it for ravioli and pumpkin filled ravioli.
To make the sauce (detailed recipe futher below), melt the butter in a sauté pan at medium heat. Add in whole sage leaves. You can mince the leaves or keep them whole. Keeping them whole is easier, it will flavor the sauce, and you’ll get these fun crispy leaves. Continue to stir, watching carefully to make sure that the butter browns, rather than burns. This takes about 5-7 minutes depending on how hot your burner runs.
If you haven’t browned butter before, err on the side of a lower temperature. It takes a little longer, but it gives you more wiggle room as to when the butter goes from brown to burned.
If you're looking for other gnocchi recipes, you may love these:
Gnocchi and Baby Broccoli in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce: One of my favorites, super easy, super quick, great for date night in at home - all about the crispy gnocchi.
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Peas and Carrots: Mini gnocchi tossed in an easy basil pesto cream sauce with peas and diced carrots.
Italian Gnocchi Stir Fry with White Wine Butter Sauce: Crispy gnocchi, lots of vegetables, white wine butter sauce.
If you make these Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi, I'd love to hear from you and learn how it went. Leave a rating and a comment down below and let me know how it turns out. Your feedback means a lot!
Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi
Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi
- 1 15oz can pumpkin puree *see notes about doubling this recipe above
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- pinch nutmeg
Brown Butter Sage Sauce
- 4 tbsp salted butter + 2 tbsp for sautéing
- 12 small-medium sage leaves
Making the Pumpkin Shaped Gnocchi
- Place the pumpkin on either a cheesecloth or 5 paper towels layered on top of each other. Wrap the cheesecloth/paper towels around the pumpkin and squeeze out any extra liquid. There will be quite a lot. You should end up with 1 cup worth of pumpkin. The liquid, which can be discarded, will be about ⅔ of a cup.
- Add the pumpkin to a mixing bowl and combine with the egg yolk.
- In a separate small bowl, add the brown sugar, flour, salt and nutmeg and stir to combine.
- Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin, stirring gently with a spoon to combine. Do not over mix.
- Dust a clean work surface or counter with additional flour. Shape the dough into logs 1-inch in diameter, dusting with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to the counter or your hands. *See pictures above.
- Cut the logs into roughly 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Dust your fingers in flour and press the center slightly to flatten. Then with the back side of a butter knife press lines up and down along the edges of the round gnocchi to make a pumpkin shape. *See pictures above.
Pan Fry or Boil the Gnocchi, recipe as follows. I prefer and recommend pan frying:
- To Pan Fry: Add 2 tbsp butter to a pan at medium heat. Add the gnocchi and cook for 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned.
- To Boil: Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
Make the Brown Butter Sage Sauce
- Add 4 tbsp butter to a sauté pan. Bring to medium heat. Add the sage leaves. Stir occasionally while watching closely so the butter does not burn. Remove from heat once the butter has browned, about 5 – 7 minutes depending on how hot the burner is.
- Toss the cooked gnocchi in the sauce and serve warm.