Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter sauce

The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Resting Time: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs 50 mins
Servings: 4
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
633 Calories
29g Fat
81g Carbs
17g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 633
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 16g 79%
Cholesterol 117mg 39%
Sodium 596mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 81g 29%
Dietary Fiber 11g 39%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 44mg 220%
Calcium 286mg 22%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 965mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Gnocchi are essentially bite-sized dumplings with a signature grooved texture. They have been part of Italian cuisine since at least Roman times, offering affordable and filling food incorporating locally accessible ingredients that have changed and diversified over time. Early ingredients were likely semolina, breadcrumbs, and eggs, with potatoes coming later. 

Types of Gnocchi

Potato is perhaps the most popular and recognizable type of gnocchi. Perfectly cooked soft potatoes are mixed with egg, salt, and just enough flour to bind the ingredients together. Their unique light and airy texture showcases and celebrates the full potato flavor.

These days you will find squashes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and a delicious array of cheeses incorporated into this once humble staple food. Gnocchi are always served with one of a myriad of beautiful and satisfying sauces such as pesto, tomato sauce, or light cream-based sauces. The grooved edges of the gnocchi offer more surface area to bind with the sauce.

Why Make Homemade Gnocchi?

Making gnocchi is a true labor of love that requires patience, commitment, and appreciation for the skills to prepare food from scratch. While there is no shortage of artisan or mass-produced gnocchi products to buy, nothing can replicate the superior flavor and tender texture of truly fresh homemade gnocchi.  

Big Fall Flavor, Tiny Dumplings

This recipe forgoes the traditional potato and instead utilizes the much cherished autumnal butternut squash to impart a bright color and mildly sweet flavor to the resulting gnocchi. The squash is mixed with egg and ricotta for added creaminess and to help bind the dough. Complex and richly flavored Parmesan cheese and freshly grated nutmeg complete these gnocchi and bring them to life.  

The gnocchi are complemented beautifully by the deep flavors of sage leaves and slowly browned butter, hitting all the flavor notes for a satisfying meal. The dish can also be finished off with lightly toasted nuts to add that special crunch to the otherwise soft and tender dumplings.

"This was my first time making gnocchi from scratch, and I loved it! The dough is easy to work with, and making gnocchis one by one is fun and relaxing. This recipe tastes earthy and delicious, the ultimate fall comfort food." —Bahareh Niati

Butternut Squash Gnocchi/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Gnocchi

  • 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash (1 small squash)

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, divided, more as needed

  • 2/3 cup (145 grams) whole milk ricotta

  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) freshly grated parmesan, more for serving

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Brown Butter and Sage Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Squash

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 F.

    ingredients to make butternut squash gnocchi

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds using a spoon.

    butternut squash sliced in half on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Place the squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet with the cut sides facing up, brush with olive oil, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

    brushing butternut squash halves with cooking oil

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  4. Roast until the squash halves are fully cooked and tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before scooping out the flesh.

    roasted butternut squash halves on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  5. Puree the squash using a food processor or hand-held blender until completely smooth and creamy.

    pureed butternut squash in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  6. Place the squash puree in a saucepan over medium heat and stir frequently to remove some of the moisture. The squash should roughly resemble the consistency of a dense whipped cream.

    butternut squash in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  7. Place 1 cup of the squash puree in a large bowl, and let cool to room temperature. The remaining squash can be reserved for other uses, such as soups or lasagna.

    butternut squash puree in a glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Make the Gnocchi Dough

  1. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, ricotta, parmesan, egg, and nutmeg to the bowl with the pureed squash and mix well using a rubber spatula.

    ingredients to make butternut squash gnocchi in a glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing gently until the mixture begins to come together into a soft, pliable dough. If the dough is still sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to bring it together.

    butternut squash gnocchi dough in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean and lightly floured surface. Gently knead the dough just until it is smooth with no visible flour, 2 to 4 minutes. It is important to keep the kneading to a minimum to avoid developing gluten and toughening the gnocchi.

    butternut squash gnocchi dough

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  4. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a clean towel, and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or up to overnight to firm up.

    butternut squash gnocchi dough partially covered in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Shape the Gnocchi

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.

    butternut squash gnocchi dough cut into eight pieces

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope approximately 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.

    butternut squash gnocchi dough shaped into ropes

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Cut each rope into 1-inch segments. Lightly roll each gnocchi along the side of a lightly floured gnocchi board or against the floured tines of a fork to create a grooved texture.

    shaping dough into gnocchi

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  4. Spread the gnocchi on floured baking sheets, leaving enough space between them to prevent them sticking to each other.

    butternut squash gnocchi resting on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Cook the Gnocchi

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

    water coming to a boil in a pot

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. In three batches, transfer the gnocchi pieces to the pot and boil them until they become springy and soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Gnocchi are ready 1 to 2 minutes after they have floated to the top.

    butternut squash gnocchi cooking in boiling water

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the pot and place on a large plate. Continue until all the gnocchi have been cooked.

    lifting cooked butternut squash gnocchi out of hot water

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Prepare the Brown Butter and Sage Sauce and Finish the Gnocchi

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make sage brown butter sauce

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes while stirring frequently. The butter will begin to foam and then become golden and fragrant.

    melted butter in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the sage and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

    sage and garlic cooking in butter

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  4. Add the cooked gnocchi to the skillet, add salt and pepper, and continue to gently stir until they are completely heated through, about 5 minutes.

    butternut squash gnocchi in a skillet with sage brown butter

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  5. Transfer the gnocchi to a large serving bowl and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

    butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter topped with parmesan

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Recipe Tips

  • When a dish is composed of so few ingredients, the quality of the chosen ingredients becomes especially important. So be sure to check the expiration date on your all-purpose flour, use freshly grated nutmeg and Parmesan cheese, and select a ricotta that imparts sweet and creamy flavors.  
  • Squash can be mashed with a fork or potato masher if you don’t have a food processor or immersion blender.   
  • The gnocchi dough should be soft and pillowy, and the amount of flour added may vary depending on the moisture level present in the squash. It is important to add the flour gradually and mix it just until the dough comes together. Adding too much flour and/or overmixing will create a texture that is heavy and dense.

Make Ahead

  • Gnocchi dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days or in the freezer for up to one month.
  • To freeze, sprinkle the uncooked gnocchi with flour and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with parchment paper and lay more layers of gnocchi as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until firm. Once firm, transfer the gnocchi pieces to an airtight container and place back in the freezer. Frozen gnocchi can be added to a pot of boiling water straight from the freezer and cooked for one additional minute. 
  • Cooked gnocchi can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. After cooking, drain the gnocchi and rinse with cold water until completely cooled. Alternatively, they can be plunged into an ice bath. Drain any excess liquid and toss with a small amount of olive oil to keep the pieces from sticking to one another. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Gnocchi can be reheated in a skillet with your favorite sauce. 

Recipe Variations

  • Pumpkin can be substituted for butternut squash.
  • Gnocchi can be topped with a variety of easy to prepare sauces such as classic pesto, creamy tomato, four cheese, or walnut sauce.  
  • Lightly toasted walnut pieces, slivered almonds, or pine nuts can be sprinkled on top of the gnocchi to add a pleasant finishing crunch.
  • Roasted vegetables are a great companion for gnocchi.

How to Store

Cooked gnocchi in sauce may not be the best candidate for storage as it tends to absorb the sauce and become sticky and mushy. If need be, it can however be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the gnocchi in a skillet over medium heat with a small amount of water, cover, and cook until warm.