Roman gnocchi recipe: how to make Gnocchi Alla Romana

by marta
Roman Style Gnocchi Tray

Roman gnocchi, Gnocchi alla romana: perfect recipe for Roman style gnocchi, meat-free comfort food from the Eternal City.

Roman gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana, lit. Roman style gnocchi) are one of the easiest Rome specialties to replicate at home and of the few meet-free dishes from the capital.

Unlike ‘gnocchi’ as understood in other parts of Italy, Roman style gnocchi are made with semolina, a durum wheat flour, and they are made on the hob and then the oven, to then be served on a large tray, a little more like polenta than a pasta dish (they are very much not pasta!)

They have a delicate yet very pleasant taste that usually the whole family loves and they are made with only a few key ingredients: semolina, milk, butter, eggs, salt and parmesan.

This is the traditional Gnocchi Alla Romana recipe and the easy steps to follow to make them at home.

What is gnocchi alla romana?

Gnocchi alla Romana is a baked dish typical of Rome which has semolina flour as its main ingredient. It is usually served in a tray and it is a warming, winter dish perfect as a comfort food and the colder months especially.

Tray of Roman Gnocchi, browned in the oven

The name gnocchi may be deceiving if what you have in mind are gnocchi as small dumplings served in the guide of pasta, as Gnocchi alla Romana look nothing like them and this is why, for this dish, you always find the accompanying words ‘Alla Romana’ (Roman style gnocchi) or ‘di semolina’ (semolina gnocchi) to define them.

Fun fact: because of the use of butter and parmesan, two ingredients more typical of the north of Italy than Rome, there has been a debate about the Roman origins of this dish. However, Pellegrino Atrusi and Ada Boni, considered among the most important figures in the history of Italian cuisine, already considered them as a Rome specialty and listed them as a traditional meal for celebrations and Romand do consider them their own.

Roman gnocchi: ingredients for Gnocchi alla Romana

To make Roman Style Gnocchi you need the following ingredient (this is for 8 people).

  • 1cup / 250gr semolina (sold as semolina, semola or semolina mixture)
  • 1L milk
  • 0.4 cups /100gr butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup / 200gr Grated Parmesan cheese
  • A little extra butter and parmesan for sprinkling on top

Need to know: In Rome, we use grams but I have converted the quantities into cups to make it easier if you use them as reference.

This recipe doesn’t call for super precise quantities however, it is important that you get the right ratio milk/semolina. Butter, salt and parmesan can be easily adjusted to taste when on the hob.

What you need for this semolina gnocchi recipe: kitchen gear

  • A large pot
  • A manual whisk (if you don’t have it, you can use a wooden spoon)
  • A sieve (optional but useful)
  • A wooden spoon
  • 2 large sheets of greaseproof paper
  • A Large knife
  • An oven dish

How to make Gnocchi Alla Romana

Pour the milk in a large pot, then add ¾ of the butter, salt, nutmeg if using and place on a hob. Bring it gently to boil.

As soon as the milk starts simmering, add the semolina, using a sieve to prevent it from clomping into big lumps. Use your whisk to mix energetically and allow the mixture to come togther: very quickly, you will have a thick mixture.

Need to know: they key to this simple recipe is preventing the semolina to form lumps when added to the milk. I find the easiest way to do this is to use a sieve to add it gently and use the whisk energetically to help the mixture come together. If you don’t have a sieve, you can also just do this paying a lot of attention to adding only a little semolina at the time.

Move the pot off the heat and add the parmesan and the egg yolks: mix again with the help of of a wooden spoon until everything is smoothly together. Taste the mix and adjust for salt if needed.

Lay your baking paper sheets on a working surface and pour half of the mixture on each. Use the sheet to roll up the mixture in the form of a cylinder and let it rest for a while.

Once the semolina is colder and you can easily manipulate with your bare hands, take a large knife, wet its blade and slice each cylingers in disks about 1 – 1.5 cm thick.

Butter a baking dish and lay your disks in one layer, so that the bottom of one disk is covered bny the top of the other: the tray will look as it if has scales!

If you don’t have baking paper, you can also lay the mixture on a very clean worktop and cut out disks with the help of a cookie cutter or a glass. This method however leaves a fee scraps and tend to be quite wasteful which is why I recommend the rolling system as you go-to one.

Once you have used all the disks, put small flakes of butter on the surface and put in the oven for about 55 mins or until golden. Serve hot.

Good to know: if you want to make them in advance, you can freeze Roman Gnocchi. The way to do it is to lay them in the tray, cover them with cling film and put them in the freezer before baking them. When ready to serve, remove the cling film, sprinkle a little extra butter and parmesan on top and cook in the over as per recipe.

How to serve gnocchi alla romana

I love to serve Roman Gnocchi directly on their tray as a main course with salad on the side.

If you want to make a full Roman meal, you can easily serve them with or followed by saltimbocca Alla Romana and puntarelle or arugula salad.

Red Oven dish with Roman Style Gnocchi

I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Roman Gnocchi and it inspired you to try this Roman specialty at home!

Roman Gnocchi Recipe: Gnocchi alla Romana

Roman Gnocchi Recipe: Gnocchi alla Romana

Yield: tray for 6 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This is a traditional, vegetarian Roman recipe, easy to make and perfect for the whole family. It uses semolina, eggs, butter and milk and makes a lovely warming dish that you can serve to adults and kids as a main or as a first course in a generous Rome style dinner.

The recipe requres no special cooking skills and you can make it with the help of the kids too.


  • 1cup / 250gr semolina (sold as semolina, semola or semolina mixture)
  • 1L milk
  • 0.4 cups /100gr butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup / 200gr Grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large pot, heat the milk and the butter
  2. When the milk starts to genly boil, add the semolina and use a whisk to mix everything together: quickly, you will obtain a smooth mixture resembling polenta. Make sure you have no lumps as this is the one thing that can go wrong with this dish!
  3. Move the pot off the heat and add salt, parmesan and the egg yolks. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together and adjust for salt.
  4. Take two baking sheets and pur half of the mixture on each. Roll them up in a cylinder and leave them to cool
  5. Once cold, take a large knife, wet the blade and slice the semolina roll into disks: I like them 1 - 1.5 cm thick.
  6. Butter an oven tray and lay the disks to so that they partially overlap. Take some extra butter and make it into small flakes, the sprinkle them on top. Add an extra sprinkle of parmesan and put in a hot over for about 50 mins. Your Roman Gnocchi are ready when golden on the surface.
  7. Serve hot.

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Photos of preparation steps and final dish of Roman Style gnocchi with text: perfect Roman Gnocchi step by step recipe from Rome, Italy

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