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These cheesy Italian ricotta dumplings are tender and chewy, and covered in emerald green pesto they’re everything that a cozy dinner should be.

Ricotta Dumplings with Pesto

Ready for a recipe you never knew you needed? These ricotta dumplings are just that: pillowy clouds of cheese that are covered in a bright green pesto sauce. They’re basically homemade pasta (not the noodle-y kind but the dumpling kind) and 100% romantic. They’re the perfect kitchen activity to spend time with a loved one (or two or three). Keep reading for the recipe!

How to make ricotta dumplings

These dumplings are similar to gnocchi, but are made with ricotta cheese instead of potatoes: they’re actually called gnudi. Gnudi result in a lighter, more pillowy dish than most typical gnocchi. (Unless you make ricotta gnocchi, like we do!)

How to make ricotta dumplings? Here are the main steps:

  1. Stir together the ricotta dumpling dough: egg, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and flour.
  2. Form the dough into dumplings with two spoons, and place them on a baking sheet.
  3. Boil the dumplings for about 5 to 6 minutes, until tender.
  4. Drain and serve with sauce.

The ricotta dumplings come out light and airy, and combined with flavorful pesto, they’re a novel treat for a special meal. As we mention in the instructions below, they’re best made with two people: and that makes for a fun kitchen date! It’s helpful to have two people shaping the dumpling dough and then boiling them together. Of course you can do it on your own, but what’s more fun than making homemade pasta together?

Pesto for ricotta dumplings

How to serve ricotta dumplings

There are lots of ways to serve ricotta dumplings: here we’ve chosen a bright green kale pesto. However, there are lots of great sauces that would go well with these dumplings, for example:

Looking for more Italian vegetarian recipes?

Outside of these ricotta dumplings, here are a few more Italian vegetarian recipes we love:

This ricotta dumpling recipe is…


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Ricotta Dumplings with Kale Pesto

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
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These cheesy Italian ricotta dumplings are tender and chewy, and covered in emerald green pesto they’re everything that a cozy dinner should be.



For the kale pesto (or substitute basil pesto)

  • 2 cups kale leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil

For the ricotta dumplings

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

To serve

  • ½ cup kale pesto
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt


  1. Make the kale pesto: Wash and roughly chop the kale. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, kale, and walnuts. Pulse 5 to 6 times until the ingredients are chopped finely but are not mushy. Add the grated Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar to the food processor, then turn it on and add the olive oil in a steady stream. Makes 1 cup: use ½ cup for the recipe and reserve the remainder.
  2. For the ricotta dumpling: In a large bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolk. Add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and kosher salt and mix until well combined. Add the flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball; add more flour as necessary if the dough is too wet (we added ¾ cup flour total).
  3. To make the dumplings, using two people is helpful. Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Use 2 large soup spoons to shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes, and then place them on the baking sheet. Then roll the dumplings with more flour so that they are fully coated (results in around 30 dumplings).
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the dumplings, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5 to 6 minutes. (Note: The dumpling will quickly float to surface, but continue cooking for the entire 5 to 6 minutes until they are fully cooked).
  5. Drain the dumplings, then return them to the pan. Add the kale pesto, a few drizzles olive oil, fresh grated nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and a bit of kosher salt. Gently toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.


Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. jen says:

    After trying your tomato soup with ricotta dumplings tonight, I definitely need to try these next.

    Jennifer A. Gardner, MD, FAAP, Founder, Healthy Kids Company

  2. Celine says:

    I made these tonight and they were so delicious! They were the type of thing I would expect at a good Italian restaurant, and I’m so glad I was able to make them at home!

    1. Sonja says:

      I’m so glad these worked for you — we’re huge dumpling fans too :) So glad they were an easy way to have restaurant quality cooking in your own home!

  3. Emily says:

    I made these tonight. Super yummy! As I was putting it together I realized that in the directions for the pesto you forgot to mention adding the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar! It was not a problem since ultimately it’s all mixed together, but I figured you would like to know.

    1. Sonja says:

      Thank you, Emily! I appreciate you letting us know – I’ve updated the recipe! And I’m so glad you enjoyed them! :)

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