Are you ready for some amazing homemade vegan black gnocchi? The whole process takes about 30 minutes and even though these are black there’s no squid ink involved in making these plant-based potato dumplings, we use ground charcoal instead. It’s the ultimate comfort food and has a gluten-free option too!
I was vegetarian the first time I had fresh gnocchi and it was one of the most amazing things I ever tasted. I hadn’t associated potatoes with Italian recipes before that and potatoes covered in pesto or tomato sauce are an amazing thing to behold.
This easy homemade vegan gnocchi recipe is plant-based, oil-free, and gluten-free. The entire process takes about thirty minutes and ingredients are easy to come by, so you can enjoy this dish on a weeknight.
Why color it black?
Squid ink gnocchi is a popular dish and is super spooky. So when the Idaho Potato Commission asked me to make a few Halloween recipes for them I knew I needed to find a way to veganize this classic dish.
Traditionally, black ink gives gnocchi or pasta a rich color and an umami flavor from the sea.
I recreated the same color of this dish but with no squid ink. In its place, I used food-grade charcoal powder which gave it an amazing color. I also used it in my Halloween potato chip seasoning blend for my no oil air fryer potato chips.
I made these black for 2 reasons. One main purpose is to make a vegan version that’s free of squid ink and the second is to make a Halloween recipe!
It’s always nice to have a spooky recipe in your back pocket for black Halloween pasta or a fun Gothic dinner party.
Can I make homemade potato gnocchi in different colors?
You sure can. You can add dry powdered veggies like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, greens, and more in place of the charcoal to change the color.
Another way to change the color is to use a purple or red potato that’s colored all the way through its flesh.
But you can add extra flour in place of the charcoal in this recipe and make it the traditional white color. For Halloween just use ghost and skull cookie cutters and serve over the same red tomato sauce.
Please note that you may need to cut one open to make sure as some purple or red potatoes are only colored in the peel and will not change the color of the dough.
What is gnocchi?
Gnocchi is a dumpling made from potatoes that can be served as an entree or in soup or stew. For this recipe, we skip the normal boiling and bake them in the sauce to make it easy.
It’s delicious and nutritious, and the main ingredients are potatoes and flour so they are cost-effective and easy.
Gnocchi is a delicious and healthy alternative to pasta. It’s easy to make, but in a pinch, it’s available in the shelf vacuum-sealed section of most grocery stores, refrigerated or frozen sections.
Why use squid ink in pasta or gnocchi?
The traditional use of squid ink in pasta or gnocchi is that it provides bold decoration. The point of using it is to provide an interesting look, taste, and texture.
To veganize the color we use food-grade charcoal and it doesn’t affect the flavor of the dish at all.
If you want to add some briny flavor to a dish that you’re veganizing you could add some olive juice and maybe a little ground seaweed for a bit of vegan sea flavor.
Is gnocchi vegan friendly?
While some gnocchi is accidentally vegan, traditionally gnocchi is made with eggs and sometimes has cheese as well.
So if you don’t want to make homemade gnocchi, you need to carefully read the labels and ask restaurants what’s in theirs.
Is all gnocchi gluten-free?
No, many gnocchi recipes use wheat flour of some kind, though you can find gluten-free gnocchi in stores. Be sure to read the labels carefully and look for gluten-free on the package.
But if you are making a different recipe you can sub a gluten-free flour blend for wheat flour.
What flour should I use to make vegan gnocchi?
Gnocchi is made mainly of potatoes and flour. You can use a variety of different types of flour to make these little dumplings, including all purpose flour, whole wheat, oat flour, rice flour, or your favorite gluten-free blend.
The thing to keep in mind is that you may have to vary the amount of flour depending on the type and fine grind. Just make sure that it’s moldable.
What’s in this gluten-free vegan gnocchi recipe?
Well, there’s no gluten, dairy, eggs, or even oil in this recipe so it’s healthier than most versions and we use simple ingredients.
Really all you need is cooked peeled potatoes, that you mash and mix with the gluten-free flour of your choice, and a little salt or salt substitute. I used a 1 to 1 gf baking blend, but oat flour works great too.
Then you’ll need some charcoal powder to turn them black, if you want – or leave them white.
How to make Gnocchi
How to make the gnocchi dough
Peel the potatoes and cut them into small chunks. Boil until tender, and drain well in a colander. This will keep the dough from being waterlogged with too much moisture.
Put the cooked russet potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher or you can use a potato ricer if you have one.
You’re looking for a texture like mashed potatoes. Then add flour, charcoal (if using), and salt.
Mix well and make a smooth ball, then cut in half.
Rolling and cutting
Sprinkle a little flour over a large cutting board to create a floured surface with enough flour so the piece of dough doesn’t stick. Then turn out half the dough on it. Pat flat, about ⅓˝ thick. Cut out festive and spooky shapes with small cookies cutters. You can use a dough scraper or thin spatula to move the cut gnocchi to the baking dish after you payer in the sauce.
Repeat until all dough is used.
Note that we aren’t rolling the dough out and making the little bites with stripes that you are used to seeing on gnocchi. I’m working on more homemade vegan gnocchi recipes to add to the blog as well.
Boiling or Not
In this recipe, we want to preserve the intricate shapes from the cookie cutters that we are using. Boiling the gnocchi really dulls the shapes and often makes them unrecognizable, so we bake them instead.
We won’t be using a gnocchi board or fork to put the stripes in.
We are making a vegan gnocchi bake as a time-saver, eliminating the boiling step. When you pull the baked gnocchi in tomato sauce out of your oven – you are ready to sit down and eat.
Prepare for baking
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and layer some red sauce in your casserole dish then the uncooked gnocchi. Place the uncovered casserole dish on a baking tray to make it easier to get out of the oven.
Tips for making this vegan gnocchi
- Make sure to drain your potatoes well or it will be hard to make the dough solid ant
- Don’t puree the potatoes are they will get gummy and make your dough heavy – mashing is the way to go
- Dip your cookies cutters in flour if you are making white gnocchi, but use ground charcoal powder if you are making the black version to keep them nice and uniformly colored.
What should I serve with black gnocchi?
My first choice would be a large green salad and if you want to stay in the Halloween spirit use a pumpkin or jack-o-lantern cookie cutter to cur out carrots or orange bell pepper. I also cut ghost and skull shapes out of white vegan cheese.
Steamed veggies are always a great side and you can toss them in a little nutritional yeast and balsamic vinegar to up the flavor.
Can you make the gnocchi in advance?
Yes, you can make the gnocchi in advance. Keep the dough in the fridge in a covered bowl or you can even form the gnocchi and keep it in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Can you freeze gnocchi?
Yes! You can make vegan potato gnocchi and place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper in a single layer.
Place in the freezer and put them into a resealable container/bag once frozen. This will help them keep their shapes and not get mashed up together.
How to serve vegan Halloween gnocchi
I baked this in a casserole dish by first layering vegan sauce on the bottom, then placing the gnocchi on top. Bring to the table so everyone can clearly see its cuteness, then you can grate vegan Parmesan cheese over the top.
Any sauce of your choice can be used including creamy sauces, vegan cheese sauce, pesto, a marinara – or just use your favorite pasta. It’s fun and delicious!
More vegan pasta recipes
My One Pot Veggie Vodka Sauce is quick and easy. Or you can make one of these vegan sauces for your gnocchi: Lentil Quinoa Vegan Bolognese Sauce or Slow Cooker Meatless Sausage Mushroom Ragu for a heartier base for your gnocchi.
Vegan Gnocchi Colored Black with Charcoal – No Squid Ink!
- rectangle casserole dish
- potato masher or potato ricer
- Halloween cookie cutters or other cookie cutters
- 2 large russet Idaho® potatoes or try purple Idaho® potatoes for a fun color!
- 1½ cups gluten-free baking blend wheat flour, or oat flour, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons food-grade charcoal optional
- Tomato pasta sauce jarred or homemade
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into small chunks. Boil until tender, and drain well in a colander.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mash well.
- Add in ½ cup of flour and salt. Mix well with your hands, adding the other 1 cup of flour a ½ cup at a time.
- Flour a large cutting board and turn out half the dough. Pat flat, about ⅓˝ thick.
- Cut out festive and spooky shapes with small cookies cutters. Repeat until all dough is used.
- Spread a thick layer of tomato pasta sauce in a large casserole dish, place gnocchi on top, then add a sprinkle of vegan cheese if you want.
- Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble.