Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi In Butter Thyme Sauce


When I think of lemons, I automatically think of the Amalfi coast where lemon trees thrive, producing lemons as large as a fist. I remember our first trip to Amalfi many years ago, and it seemed that everywhere you looked you saw lemon trees. We have a short getaway to Positano planned for the end of July, and I am looking forward to it since we haven’t visited that region for over ten years.

In anticipation of our upcoming trip, I seem to be focused on lemon based recipes lately, like this ricotta gnocchi recipe. I had received the cookbook Pasta by Hand by Jenn Louis by mail before I left for Italy, and I enjoyed the recipes so much that I ordered a copy here in Italy as well.

The cookbook is packed full of regional handmade recipes, mostly gnocchi or variations on gnocchi, using many unique ingredients that I haven’t heard used in gnocchi before. I received my cookbook last week and was inspired to try the Dunderi, really ricotta gnocchi made with eggs from the Campania region.

I have repeatedly stated that I prefer making ricotta gnocchi rather than potato gnocchi. This is both for fact that they require fewer steps (you do not have to cook potatoes), and that ricotta gnocchi seem to turn out lighter than potato ones. I decided to use the Dunderi recipe from the cookbook, but it calls for six eggs, and I just couldn’t use that many, so I used four.

The dough is very delicate to work with, and although the author suggests using one cup of flour, I used almost a cup and a half by the time I finished rolling my gnocchi. My gnocchi turned out very tender although they cooked up beautifully. Because I wanted the lemon flavor to shine, I used both lemon zest in my dough as well as lemon juice and zest in my butter sauce.

To ensure that the sauce wouldn’t taste too heavy, I added an herbal note by adding some fresh lemon thyme leaves. To ensure that you use as little flour as possible, I suggest draining your ricotta cheese in a sieve first to remove excess liquid, before making the dough. It is also important to use the best ricotta cheese you can find.

I used fresh sheep’s milk ricotta from a local cheese store here in Umbria, but any good quality ricotta cheese, including homemade will work fine. If you are new to making gnocchi, you may find my tutorial How To Make Ricotta Gnocchi Step By Step Helpful. 



If you are interested in the cookbook Pasta by Hand, simply click on the link below!

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi In Butter Thyme Sauce

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi In Butter Thyme Sauce

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 Cups Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese, Drained (See Notes Above)
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour (See Notes Above)


  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Lemon Thyme

To Serve:

  • Additional Grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. In a bowl, place the ricotta, egg yolks, grated cheese, lemon zest, and salt.
  2. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix just until the dough comes together.
  3. Add only as much more flour as you need to create a workable dough, and be careful not to overwork.
  4. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. Divide the dough into fist size pieces, and roll into long logs as thick as your thumb on a lightly floured surface.
  6. Cut into 1 inch slices and gently place on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  7. Continue with the rest of the dough in this manner.
  8. If not using the gnocchi immediately, place in the refrigerator.
  9. Make the sauce by melting the butter over medium heat until it becomes light golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  10. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme leaves and a pinch of salt.
  11. Keep the sauce warm while you cook the gnocchi.
  12. To cook the gnocchi, drop into lightly salted water and remove as soon as they float to the top, after 1 or 2 minutes.
  13. Drain the gnocchi, then place them in a large serving bowl.
  14. Add the sauce, then gently toss the gnocchi to coat in the sauce.
  15. Serve the gnocchi, offering additional grated cheese at the table.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. My husband does not like parmesan cheese and I know that it is the secret to a tasty dish. Is there an Italian cheese that is milder and still give flavor? Thank you for this recipe.

  2. I made some ricotta yesterday and heated it too much while the curds were forming, so it’s fairly dry and firm. I was thinking of pressing it further to make something like a ricotta salata. But do you think it would work in this recipe?

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