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There is something wonderfully satisfying about making your own pasta. Folding a mound of flour and eggs together, kneading the dough, twisting and turning it until it reaches a smooth and silky consistency — it’s a romantic image. Making your own pasta makes everyone feel like a television chef.
But not every pasta maker on the market has been created equally, so how do you decide which one to buy? Just ask us.
We take great pride in the unbiased nature of our work. At BestReviews, we never accept samples from manufacturers, and we thoroughly research every product we review. We also survey owners to gain real-life perspectives on the products and markets we cover. For this particular shopping guide, we interviewed our expert consultant Francois Carrara for his advice on how to find the best pasta maker for your needs.
If you’re ready to buy a pasta maker, please consult the matrix above to learn about our top five picks.
And if you need to know more about pasta makers before you start twirling, simply keep reading.
There are some wonderful electric appliances that spool out lovely angel hair, fettuccine, and spaghetti. But what we’ll be discussing in this shopping guide is more old school: elegant metal pasta makers that are cranked by hand.
Pasta makers not only roll out dough into flat sheets but also convert sheets of dough into noodles of various sizes and shapes.
As your mastery increases, flattened dough can be transformed into ravioli, tortellini, and many other sumptuous pasta shapes.
Born and raised in Paris, the land of unapologetic butter, Francois has spent the last 20 years shaping the American culinary world behind the scenes. He was a buyer at Williams-Sonoma, built the Food Network online store, managed product assortments for Rachael Ray's site, started two meal delivery businesses and runs a successful baking blog. When he's not baking a cake or eating his way through Europe, Francois enjoys sharing cooking skills with cooks of all levels. Rules he lives by: "Use real butter" and "Nothing beats a sharp knife."
Pasta makers have two functions: they flatten dough into a sheet with a set of flat rollers, and they slice the sheet with special cutters.
Francois advises that different pasta makers have different numbers of cutters. “Choose a pasta maker with the cutter attachments you’ll want to use,” he says. “Some might only cut one width, while others might offer a ton of options.”
So ask yourself how much variety you want before you start shopping, and choose wisely.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Atlas Electric w/Motor Set
The Atlas Electric Pasta Machine is a smartly engineered pasta maker with a chrome-plated steel body and nickel-plated internals. These materials render an extremely tough, long-lasting machine that's easy to clean. Since pasta makers aren't supposed to be washed (especially not in the dishwasher), we find this to be a particularly attractive feature. Unlike some other pasta makers on the market, the Italian-made Atlas Electric Pasta Machine operates with an electric motor. The motor enables a smooth drive, consistent noodle thickness, and hands-free operation. Many owners praise its effortless production, and a high number say they would recommend it to others.
Divide your dough into about four equal pieces. Set your pasta maker on the lowest setting. Place the dough into the flat rollers, and turn the hand crank to push the dough through. Repeat this process, increasing the setting on the dough roller until the pasta sheets are the consistency you desire. In general, after a setting of “6,” you are ready to cut the pasta.
An extra pair of hands could be helpful at this stage. Says Francois, “Rolling out dough into pasta sheets takes practice and can become a two-person job. The thinner you roll out your dough, the longer it gets. You could end up with pasta sheets that are six feet long!” Having an assistant available to feed the machine and take the dough out the other end can be a godsend.
Your hands will be literally full of dough when you use a pasta roller. Choosing a model that can easily switch thickness will make a big difference.
Most pasta makers allow you to adjust the cutters to make various widths, from fettuccine to angel hair.
Feed the sheets of pasta through the cutters, and catch the finished noodles in your hands as they make their way through.
For ravioli, tortellini, and other folded shapes, either cut the shapes by hand from the pasta sheets or use a ravioli form and press it into the dough.
Be careful not to make the ravioli too large, as they will be difficult to cook. Also, try to avoid overfilling the pasta pouches.
Culinary experts say the key to success is to not skimp on flour prior to feeding the pasta into the machine. Flour helps reduce the sticky mess that can result.
To ensure your noodles don’t stick to each other, place them on a baking sheet generously dusted with flour or cornmeal and lined with parchment paper.
Once you have processed all your dough, you can transfer the cut noodles to a drying rack.
There are specific racks made for this purpose, but you could also use a laundry rack, dish drainer, or any similar item already in your kitchen.
I prefer pasta makers made of stainless steel, but don't purchase a pasta maker simply because it looks good. If you want excellent pasta, function is just as important as form — if not more so.
Anyone can pick up a carton of pasta, empty its contents into a pot of boiling water, and cook it according to the time on the box. And after reading the deliberate steps it takes to make homemade pasta above, that may sound preferable to the longer process of making homemade noodles.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of making your own pasta.
You can make any color pasta you want. For example, add a little beet juice to your dough to make red pasta. Or add some basil and garlic to make a lovely green linguine.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Imperia Titania 190
Shiny, chrome-plated steel is the material of choice for the Imperia Titania 190 pasta maker, which weighs around 6.5 pounds and measures 9 x 6 x 6 inches. The wooden-handled Imperia Titania receives rave reviews for its build quality. However, not all owners appreciate the manufacturer's instruction not to wash it. (Instead of washing, it's recommended that you run a small amount of dough through to clean the machine, then throw that dough away.) To be fair, most pasta machine makers suggest a similar process. This is due, in large part, to the fact that chrome-plated steel can rust if the surface layer is damaged.
You have flour choices, too. In fact, Francois tells us that most pasta recipes specify the kind of flour you should use. You’ll find recipes that call for buckwheat, almond, or green pea flour. Some recipes call for the imported “00” flour that is used to make gourmet pizza. Try them all.
When it comes to cooking, homemade pasta is faster and easier to cook than dried pasta. You can go from boiling water to finished product in a few minutes, especially if you like your noodles al dente.
Use the right amount and type of flour so your dough feeds smoothly.
If you want to have a fun few hours with your kids — and teach them a cooking skill — making homemade pasta is hard to top.
Making homemade pasta can be a wonderfully creative experience. Once you have flattened your dough sheets, try cutting your noodles by hand, dreaming up imaginative shapes.
Even the leftovers from homemade pasta are better than the store-bought variety.
Several models come with a clamp. That might seem odd at first, but being able to work off the ledge of your countertop is actually the most efficient way to feed dough in and pull sheets out of the pasta roller.
Making your own pasta is a time-consuming procedure, and for newbies, it’s often met with failure. For example, the dough may be too thin or the noodles may stick to the rollers.
Pasta makers can be difficult to clean. These devices have many nooks and crannies.
There are costs involved in buying drying racks and other accessories, such as specialized extruders.
Making your own pasta is a long process. Patience is required.
There may be some residual oil from manufacturing, so before you use the machine for the first time, clean the rollers of your pasta maker with a dry cloth. Put some dough through the cutters to capture any residue and throw that dough away.
Never wash the machine with water or in the dishwasher. Clean the machine after every use with a brush (included with most pasta makers) or a small specialty wooden rod. The simplest way to clean is to let the residue on the machine dry. It will then brush off easily.
If the machine’s rollers or cutters get sticky, put several drops of Vaseline or mineral oil on the ends of the cutting rollers. Never insert knives or cloth into the rollers.
After each use, put the machine and its accessories back in the original box to make sure you have all the parts next time you get the pasta urge.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Imperia Titania 190
Like all Imperia pasta makers, the Imperia Titania is made in Italy – and made very well. Strong chrome steel gives it a lovely bright finish that makes the machine look both traditional and modern. A relatively light and compact frame means it's not difficult to store the Imperia Titania when not in use. A large menu of possible products – lasagna, ravioli, fettuccine, spaghetti, and more – allow owners to make the specific type of pasta they're craving.
Orecchiette, which means “small ear,” is a pasta shape that resembles an ear. Some of the more exotic pasta shapes include gemelli, cavatappi, tripolini, and fideo.
Pasta was invented in China and brought to Italy by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Thomas Jefferson, the foodie of his era, brought pasta to the U.S.
Black pasta can be made by adding squid ink to the flour. Squid ink is a rich additive that can be purchased at most gourmet grocery stores.
For a basic pasta dish of red sauce and spaghetti, romano cheese is the recommended accompaniment.
While pasta is low in fat, one cup of cooked pasta has 40 grams of carbohydrates, placing it high on the glycemic index.
The average Italian eats 51 pounds of pasta per year. Americans eat a bit more than 15 pounds per annum.
Q. If my dream is to be a professional pasta maker, are there schools that teach that skill?
A. You could fly to Florence and take a class. Or, you could simply go to YouTube where there are close to two million tutorials on the subject.
Q. How long should I cook homemade pasta?
A. After the water comes to a boil, cook homemade pasta for no more than three minutes. Once the pasta floats to top of the water, it is ready.
Q. Why does homemade pasta seem to taste so much better than store-bought pasta?
A. Homemade pasta is fresh food, whereas boxed pasta may have been sitting on a store shelf for weeks or months. When it comes to pasta, fresher simply tastes better.
Culinary experts also advise that homemade pasta absorbs the flavors of whatever sauce you’re using much more readily than boxed noodles.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.