Most kitchen hacks fall into the don’t knock it ’till you try it camp: You’re going to get eye rolls until people experience the genius for themselves. And to be honest, a big ol’ eye roll was exactly what we did when we first read that a box of instant mashed potatoes is the key to the fluffiest gnocchi ever. It seems insane — barbaric, even — that a shortcut could actually produce better-tasting pasta. But get this: The internet is flipping out about it … in a really good way.
When you break it down, the hack doesn’t seem as crazy. Basic gnocchi recipes require that you boil potatoes for close to an hour, let them cool, then peel them and rice them. You’re essentially making really dry mashed potatoes, without all that extra cream, milk, and butter we normally add. So potato flakes (the kind from the instant boxes) mixed with just one cup of milk or water will yield a crumbly tater to fold into dough, similar to what you’d get from real potatoes.
There’s also some science to it: The amount of starch and water in each potato can vary, so batches of gnocchi made with real potatoes never turn out identically. A box of potato flakes, on the other hand, isn’t so circumstantial.
That’s the good news. The bad? We still haven’t found a time-saving way to create those adorable yet unnecessary ridges in each dumpling. You win some, you lose some.