Ricotta Dumplings with Pesto

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…


clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Ricotta Dumplings with Kale Pesto

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


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
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the ricotta dumplings

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

To serve

  • 1/2 cup kale pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 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 1/2 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 3/4 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

Keywords: Ricotta dumplings, ricotta gnocchi

Subscribe for free weekly recipes & more!

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    February 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

    This is such a neat recipe! Great idea!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I made my first homemade gnocchi a couple of weeks ago, and man alive, were they good. I love the idea of ricotta in place of potato. These sound fantastic!

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Yes — we love gnocchi too! It’s a bit easier to make with ricotta :)

  • Reply
    February 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    So does this mean no surprise Valentine’s Day recipe? We may give these a try since your paella was such a hit last year.

    Hope you guys have a blast in Vegas.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Haha! Yes, so sorry to not have a surprise meal this year! But thanks for the reminder — we may have to make one just for you!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    These sound like the perfect romantic dinner, especially since all parties will have the same level of garlic breath afterward. :) I forgot about kale pesto! Must make some.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Haha! Yes, the garlic breath level certainly is the test for a good meal :)

  • Reply
    jenn in GA
    February 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    hi! i am checking out the rest of your recipes after being delighted by the raw brownies you concocted in Sept. amazing!
    just wondering if you think these gnudi could be made using almond flour instead of wheat flour.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Good question! We have not worked much with almond flour, but I would think it would work as a substitute! Let us know if you try it out!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2013 at 5:15 am

    I love ricotta gnocchi, it’s one of my go-to meals especially when I’m short of time because it doesn’t take much more than 10 minutes to get it from raw ingredients to the plate! Such a lovely combination with the kale pesto too.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’d be delighted if you did another surprise meal. Even more so if I knew I was your inspiration :-)

  • Reply
    Meghan {For the Love of Dessert}
    February 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I’m not sure which sounds better.. the pesto or the ricotta dumplings!? Wow.

  • Reply
    February 12, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I’m going to try these with goat cheese instead of ricotta. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how much I might use. I’ll report back with my results!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2013 at 9:09 am

      Sounds like a great idea! I guess I’d start with the same amount of cheese as the ricotta, and see where that takes you (and then add enough flour to make them just come together into a dough). Excited to see how they turn out!

  • Reply
    Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen
    February 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Cool! I’d love to try these and I’m a little jealous of the warm weather, although it’s been warming up a little here in WI, so I can’t complain too much!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      February 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm

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

  • Reply
    March 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      March 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    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

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.