Gnocco Fritto: Italian Fried Dough Appetizer

Gnocco Fritto is an Italian appetizer very popular in central Italy. A deep fried dough so crispy on the outside and puffy in the inside which is served with various cured meats and cheese.

Gnocco fritto served with various cold cuts (prosciutto, salami, etc.)

The airy puff pieces of fried dough are served just straight from the frying pan, so when served it will warm the cured meat just enough to bring out the flavors.

A plate with gnocco fritto topped with prosciutto crudo.

A glass of a good red wine and you’re ready to rock an amazing Italian antipasto.

What is gnocco fritto?

Gnocco Fritto is a traditional recipe from Modena, Bologna and Reggio Emilia. It is know with various names that depends in which region of Italy is served. The most common is Crescentina which comes from crescere (grow) referring how the dough puffs and rise when frying. But it can be find also with other names like torta fritta, chisolino or pinzino.

The inside puffy texture of gnocco fritto.
  • The recipe is basically a fried dough made with flour, lard, water and salt. After kneaded, the dough is left to proof until doubled in size, then cut into rectangles, rhombus or circles.
  • The pieces are deep fried in lard or oil and served as an antipasto with various Italian cold cuts such as prosciutto, salame, mortadella, etc.
  • Nowadays, gnocco fritto has become a street food served frequently in public festivals and gatherings, as well as an special appetizer for Sunday lunch.
Gnocco fritto from Modena served on a strainer with various salumi.

A personal note

When I make gnocco fritto at home and have people coming over, I like to ask them to bring some of their favourite salumi. So, sometimes there are like 8-10 types of them at the table.

Then, while someone is setting up the table, someone else will open a bottle of wine and the rest of us will be in the kitchen cutting, frying and serving gnocco fritto alongside with other antipasti such as bruschetta al pomodoro, or pizza dough balls.

Crescentina (Reggio Emilia name).

Food brings people together and making this appetizer is one of the things I love to do at home, everyone enjoys being involved and I love watching how happy they are by helping me.

About the ingredients

Those on the picture below are the ingredients needed for gnocco fritto dough. I just want to add a quick note about the flour:

The recipe calls for bread flour, this means you’ll need a flour with a good protein content, no less than 10-11%. Some brands of all purpose flours are sometimes strong enough to even make bread with it, so, look on the label of your flour package to know how much protein has.

Gnocco Fritto ingredients labeled and displayed on a marble countertop.

Gnocco Fritto Recipe – Step by Step

Pour 1/4 cup of the water in a bowl. Add yeast, honey and mix until yeast dissolve. Add 4 tablespoons of flour and mix until you’ll obtain a runny dough (poolish). cover with cling film and leave it to rest for 15 minutes in a warm environment.

A bowl with runny dough (poolish).

You can leave the poolish in the kitchen countertop or place it inside the oven with the lights on to create a warm environment. After 15 minutes, the dough should be bubbly and raised like the photo below.

Poolish dough bubbly and raised.

Place flour in a medium bowl. Mix salt with the remaining water on a cup until dissolved and add it to the bowl with flour. Add also the yeast mixture, and lard.

Pouring water into the bowl with the other ingredients.

Mix with your hands until all ingredients are combined. You can also use a stand mixer.

Gnocco dough combined into a bowl.

Transfer the dough to a working surface and start kneading. You’ll find the dough is a bit dry at the beginning, but just keep working. You can also use one or two tablespoons of water if needed.

Kneading the dough with hands.

After 20 minutes of kneading by hand (or 8-10 in an electric stand mixer), you’ll end with a smooth, non-sticky, and elastic dough. So, shape it into a ball.

A dough ball.

Oil a large bowl and place the dough inside. Leave it to proof in a warm place until doubled its size.

The dough inside a bowl before proofing.

Depending on the room temperature, it will take from 1.5 to 2hrs for the dough to raise. The photo below shows my dough after almost 2 hours.

The dough doubled in size after 2 hours.

Dust with flour a working surface. Transfer the dough and cut it in two pieces of about same weight. Cover one of the pieces with cling film while working on the other.

The dough divided into two equal pieces on a marble surface.

Roll the dough into a flat long and thick sheet.

The dough rolled into a rectangle.

Cut the dough into rhombus (or rectangles) about 8cm (3″) size. Roll and cut also the remaining piece of dough.

Cutting the dough into rhombus.

In a frying pan heat a good amount of frying oil or lard. Working in batches fry the dough pieces until they puff, flipping them two or three times and taking them off the oil when they will be crispy and start o brown.

Frying gnocco on a pan.

As the gnocco is coming out the oil, place them in a paper lined plate and serve while they’re still warm alongside with sliced cured meats and cheese.

Gnocco fritto served with various cold cuts and cheese on a cutting board.

More Italian Appetizers

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Subscribe to our Newsletter and follow along on PinterestFacebookYouTube, and Instagram for all updates.

Gnocco fritto | Fried dough appetizer

Gnocco Fritto is an Italian appetizer very popular. A deep fried dough crispy on the outside and puffy in the inside which is served with various cured meats and cheese.
PREP 30 minutes
COOK 15 minutes
resting time 2 hours 15 minutes
TOTAL 3 hours
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups bread flour (read notes)
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast
  • ¼ cup pork lard or shortening (softened)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for frying (or pork lard)

Instructions

Make the poolish

  • Pour ¼ cup of the water in a bowl. Add yeast, honey and mix until yeast dissolve.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of flour and mix until you’ll obtain a runny dough (poolish).
  • Cover with cling film and leave it to rest for 15 minutes in a warm environment.

Make the dough & proof

  • Place the remaining flour in a medium bowl.
  • Mix salt with the remaining water on a cup until dissolved and add it to the bowl with flour. Add also the yeast mixture, and lard.
  • Mix with your hands (or on a stand mixer) until all ingredients are combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a working surface and start kneading. You’ll find the dough is a bit dry at the beginning, but just keep working. You can also use one or two tablespoons of water if needed.
  • After 20 minutes of kneading by hand (or 8-10 in a stand mixer), you’ll end with a smooth, non-sticky, and elastic dough.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl previously greased with oil.
  • Cover with cling flim and allow to proof for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
    The dough after 2 hours.

Make gnocco

  • Dust with flour a working surface. Transfer the dough and cut it in two pieces of about same weight. Cover one of the pieces with cling film while working on the other.
  • Roll the dough into a flat long and thick sheet.
  • Cut the dough into rhombus (or rectangles) about 8cm (3″) size. Roll and cut also the remaining piece of dough.

Fry

  • In a frying pan heat a good amount of frying oil or lard.
  • Working in batches fry the dough pieces until they puff, flipping them two or three times and tremoving them from the oil when they will be crispy and start to brown.
  • Place gnocco fritto in a paper lined plate and serve while they’re still warm alongside with sliced cured meats and cheese.

NOTES

The recipe calls for bread flour, this means you’ll need a flour with a good protein content, no less than 10-11%. Some brands of all purpose flours are sometimes strong enough to even make bread with it, so, look on the label of your flour package to know how much protein has.
*Nutrition info doesn’t include oil for frying gnocco.
Nutrition
Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 781mg | Potassium: 127mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
Don’t miss any recipe.Subscribe for free to our Newsletter!

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating