Bread & Pizza Italian Regional Recipes Starters

Gnocco Fritto – Bread Fritters from Emilia Romagna

Don’t be fooled by its name, because this gnocco is not made with potatoes and does not go well with tomato sauce! Gnocco fritto is a deep-fried small square of bread dough, served usually as a starter with a cold meat and cheese platter.

Gnocco fritto is a recipe typical of Modena and Reggio Emilia, cities located in Emilia-Romagna. This Central Northern region has Bologna as its chief town, and that explains why gnocco fritto and mortadella is a match made in heaven. It’s not the lightest meal, as the dough is often enriched with lard, but it’s easy to prepare at home and perfect for an aperitif with friends.

Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 10 mins, + 2 h to rise | Cooking time: 10 mins

  • Italian 00 flour: 400 g
  • Water: 250 ml
  • Lard: 50 g
  • Brewer’s Yeast: 1 packet
  • Caster sugar: 2 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Peanut oil (for deep-frying)


Pour the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and lard into a bowl. The lard must be at room temperature, so that it’s in its solid state; if you don’t have lard at hand, you can also use butter. Make sure that the water is lukewarm, so it will activate the yeast, and pour it in a little at a time. Mix thoroughly.

Knead the dough on a floured table top for at least 10 minutes, or until you get a smooth texture.

Prepare the inside of the bowl with flour and leave the dough to rest, covering the bowl with a damp kitchen cloth. Wait until the dough has risen to double its volume.

With the help of a rolling-pin, roll out the dough to a rectangular shape. Cut the dough into squares of at least 7 cm in lenght.

Heat up the peanut oil in a large frying-pan. Fry the dough squares until they swell up and turn golden, making sure to cook both sides. Use a skimmer to remove from the oil, place on a plate over some kitchen paper and leave to cool.

Serve hot on a meat and cheese platter.

Tip: Because they are empty inside, the gnocchi can be opened and stuffed with salami, mortadella or raw ham, as if they were mini sandwiches.

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