I came across this video about frying gnocchi, and am now quite curious what causes the reaction shown, especially since gnocchi is made from potatoes, and we have all had a fried potato in some manner or another.

  • I've actually had similar behavior from chestnuts, because I got tired of cutting a little 'x' in the bottom of each one before roasting them. And they hurt when they explode. (and I'm glad I wear glasses)
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


I think it's because there is water inside the gnocchi paste, which turns into vapor and builds up pressure. A little bit like why you shouldn't throw an ice cube in hot oil.

You can pan fry them, but not deep-fry them.

  • Really? Most gnocchi I've cooked was very dry, since the store bought is similar to its pasta counterpart in that it's dehydrated for packaging. Possibly the video is using homemade gnocchi and thus there is more moisture?
    – JWiley
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:14
  • 1
    @JWiley Sure, it was partially dehydrated (not anywhere near as thoroughly as pasta) but then it's been cooked in boiling water before frying, right?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:17
  • @Jefromi Ah, yes, yes it was. For some reason I thought he was deep frying the gnocchi without precooking, not sure why. That explains it then, thanks!
    – JWiley
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:19
  • For store bought gnocchi, frozen is a possibility also. Frozen would not be dehydrated.
    – Cindy
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:33
  • 5
    @JWiley popcorn seems utterly dry and yet has enough moisture to explode. I would expect gnocchi to have more moisture than dry popcorn.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 20:54

“It's the water content in the gnocchi reacting to the hot oil. When water hits hot oil, the water boils very quickly and turns into gas, creating a very fast expansion. Because the gnocchi are relatively soft and light weight, the force of that expansion inside of the gnocchi is stronger than the tension of the gnocchi structure and the gravity holding the gnocchi inside of the pan, and therefore they explode and "jump" out of the oil.” — TheStupidistRedditor

This explanation came from the reddit responder, TheStupidistRedditor. https://www.reddit.com/r/AskCulinary/comments/44r2wy/please_explain_what_is_happening_to_the_gnocchi/

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