Gnocco fritto

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Stroll down the back streets of any city in Emilia Romagna and you'll see every salumeria serving these golden pillows next to mounds of thinly sliced mortadella, culatello and other cured delights. Valeria Necchio's gnocco fritto recipe means you can make these joyous pastries at home with just a handful of ingredients – and a lot of lard!

First published in 2018

Few things shout Emilia Romagna as much as a starter – or lunch, or snack – of gnocco fritto, tigelle, piadine and a spread of cured meats. Gnocco fritto, in particular, is a much-loved affair in the region. It basically consists of square pieces of leavened, lard-enriched dough fried in, well, more lard. As it fries, the dough puffs up, producing crisp yet pillowy delights that are perfect with a few slices of prosciutto or mortadella. Wash it all down with a glass of local dry Lambrusco for good measure.




  • 160ml of water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 350g of plain flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 550g of lard, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt


  • Rolling pin
  • Thermometer


In a small pan, heat the water until just lukewarm. Whisk in the yeast and leave for 10 minutes until foamy
  • 160ml of water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the water (and yeast), 50g of the lard and the salt into the well. Mix well until you have a soft dough. Carry on kneading the dough for about 5 minutes, or until very smooth and springy. Shape it into a ball, place into a bowl and cover with a towel. Leave to rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size
  • 350g of plain flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 550g of lard, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt
Next, dust a work surface with flour. Roll out the dough to about 3mm thick. Cut it into 5–6 cm squares with a pasta wheel or a sharp knife
In a deep pan, heat the remaining 500g of lard to to 180°C. Fry the gnocchi in batches for a few minutes until puffed and deep golden in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels
Serve fresh out of the fryer while still warm, alongside sliced cured meats and creamy local cheese such as Crescenza

Discover more about this region's cuisine:

Valeria Necchio is an Italian food writer and photographer with roots in the Venetian countryside.

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