Baked Ricotta Gnudi with Vodka Sauce

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Ricotta gnudi with creamy, garlicky vodka sauce with a nice layer of melted mozzarella. These dumpling-like gnocchi are made with ricotta instead of potatoes. They're super easy and fast! If this dish doesn't bring the family running to the table, not sure what will! Danielle Oron

Serves: 6
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 30 min


For the vodka sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the baked gnudi

  • 2 cups smooth ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fine salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Vodka sauce (see recipe above)
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball
  • 1 pinch fresh black pepper
In This Recipe


For the vodka sauce

  1. In a sauce pot with lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, but be careful not to burn it.
  2. Add the tomato paste. Caramelize a bit by cooking it for about 45 seconds.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper flakes, bay leaf and 2 tablespoons of water.
  4. Once the sauce begins to simmer, turn the heat to low and cover with lid only half-way. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.
  5. After the sauce has simmered and thickened, heat a separate large pan over medium-high heat and add the vodka. Be careful not to flame it!
  6. Reduce the vodka by half, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato sauce into the pan. (Watch out for splatter!) Simmer for 2 minutes
  8. Add the cream and simmer for another minute. Turn the heat off.

For the baked gnudi

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the flour in 2 additions mixing in between. Don't over mix! The dough will be sticky.
  4. With floured hands, form the gnudi into 1 1/2 tablespoon dumplings. Softly roll the dough into a ball and then flatten. Rest the gnudi on a floured surface. Repeat until all dumplings are formed. It will make about 34 to 36 gnudi.
  5. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  6. Using a spoon, create a whirlpool in the boiling water and add in the gnudi. Mix the water for a minute or so. This will help the gnudi not to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Boil the gnudi for about 6 minutes. They will float! Keep them in for an additional 2 minutes after they've floated.
  8. Drain the gnudi and return them to the hot pot.
  9. In a baking dish, place a tiny bit of the vodka sauce on the bottom. Place some of the gnudi along the bottom in one layer. Top with some sauce. Place another layer of gnudi, then sauce. Continue until you've used up all the gnudi and then top with the remainder of the sauce.
  10. Lay the sliced fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese over top.
  11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is all melty! If you want to char the cheese a bit more, broil on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve warm.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!
  • This recipe is a Community Pick!

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Pasta|Italian|Mozzarella|Oregano|Ricotta|Tomato|Vodka|Milk/Cream|Make Ahead|Serves a Crowd|Spring|Summer

Reviews (11) Questions (0)

11 Reviews

Darian March 1, 2019
My family loved this! The sauce was heavy on the garlic, but I'll never complain about that. Next time I might cut the garlic and add some chopped onion. I used fresh oregano and basil instead of dried, and added some fresh chopped basil to the top. I loved the texture of the gnudi and was pleasantly surprised at how well they stayed together. Other recipes that I've tried resulted in gnudi that fell apart very easily. Delicious and easy for a weeknight!
Laura January 26, 2019
This was excellent! I followed the recipe, except I doubled the amount of red pepper flakes because I like a little bit of heat. Some of the reviewers said that the dish was too salty, but I did not experience that. I grated the Parmesan cheese myself and used Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Perhaps using pre-grated cheese and other salt (e.g., table salt) would yield a dish that's too salty. I would certainly cook this dish again, maybe trying with a bread crumb topping as a finishing touch.
msmely November 22, 2018
Reduced the salt, 1tsp for the gnudi. My crushed tomatoes already had salt in them.

Some of the magic of vodka sauce is esterification, where the acids from the tomatoes combine with the alcohols to produce esters, which are entirely new aroma compounds. More alcohol molecules and a longer contact time with heat favors this reaction, so it made no sense to me to evaporate the vodka in its own saucepan (??) before adding the sauce. Be careful not to start a fire/spatter myself with hot liquid? Doesn't seem like the best idea. Instead I added it at the simmering stage and let the sauce simmer its 25 minutes in the pot. Got lots of wonderful aromas and the extra time in the oven reducing the sauce further will concentrate them more.
jencordes November 21, 2017
Hate to be the naysayer here but I didn’t like this and I’m no stranger to gnocchi and gnudi. The gnudi themselves, were easy enough to make and stayed together well while boiling but we’re just meh. What I really disliked was the sauce. Too much oregano and tomato paste despite their low measurements. The sauce ruined it for me. Wont make this one again.
Carole S. November 19, 2017
What is "smooth" Ricotta? Do you blend Ricotta to get it smooth?
Amy M. October 23, 2017
I'd like to make this for a dinner party. Do you think the sauce and gnudi could be made several hours in advance, stored separately, and then the dish assembled and baked to coincide with dinner? Obviously it may take 5-10 minutes longer since the components will be chilled.
Betty November 1, 2017
I would like to add to the previous comment and go one step further and ask if it can be made and frozen for a later date?
Amy M. December 6, 2017
First: this recipe--both the sauce and the gnudi--is super salty as written. I am a salt fiend (I actually salt my pizza whenever possible) and it was almost inedible. So start with 1/4 the recommended amount and salt to taste as you go. Second, I though the sauce was quite bitter. Maybe it was my garlic. Or my tomatoes. Anyway, I added a little sugar and a little more cream until it was to my liking. Finally, I divided this into 3 batches: I cooked 2 servings right away as written, 2 servings were kept separate overnight in the fridge and cooked the following night, and 2 servings were assembled in a small casserole and frozen. The gnudi in the dish cooked immediately were rather mushy. The texture was much better after a night in the fridge and of course the sauce continued to improve! As for the dish in the freezer, I'll let you know when I get around to baking it. It's got the too-salty sauce on it so I'm just not in a hurry to try it. Oh, and one last PSA, I wouldn't spend my money on fresh mozzarella here; fresh didn't add anything to the dish for me.
Licia B. February 15, 2017
This dish was amazing. Much less work than gnocchi with a lighter bite to boot. I used a cookie scoop to help shape the dough though I only used half of the salt called for. Reserved 1/4 cup of the Parmesan for sprinkling. My New Yorker husband loved it. Thank you, community!
kate C. June 5, 2016
How much parm should be reserved?
Eugenia C. May 13, 2016
Made this last night and it was delicious! The centerpiece of this dish is really the vodka sauce, it is incredibly flavorful and really makes the dish pop. I made two changes to the recipe: cutting back on the garlic and adding a little chopped onion, but that was just a personal preference, sure it would be delicious otherwise!