Best Pasta Makers of 2018
A pasta maker lets you select the freshest ingredients to put in your pasta. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best pasta maker for your next spaghetti night.
Make Fresh Pasta at Home with the Best Pasta Makers
Maybe you've never considered making your own pasta, figuring that it's just as good—and undeniably easier—to purchase dry, boxed noodles at the supermarket. But once you've tasted fresh pasta, you'll probably change your mind. Not only is homemade pasta delicious, making it yourself with a pasta maker gives you complete control over the ingredients.
Choosing the right pasta maker, however, can be a little more complicated than deciding which sauce to use on top of your fresh spaghetti. With so many pasta makers on the market, how do you find the best one for your kitchen? That's where we step in.
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Manual vs. Automatic: Which Type of Pasta Maker Is Best?
Manual Pasta Makers
Manual pasta makers are the most common type for home use. These pasta makers generally clamp to your countertop and have a crank that you turn to feed the dough through the rollers. Note that you will need to mix the dough prior to putting it in a manual pasta maker.
A manual pasta maker will either produce a long, flat sheet of pasta, which can be cut into various shapes, or the rollers will do the work for you, producing spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, and other pasta types. Typically, manual pasta makers have a knob or lever that adjusts the distance between the rollers and thus the thickness of the pasta produced.
The best manual pasta makers are stainless steel and metal—no plastic. While you will get an arm workout turning the crank on a manual pasta maker, it shouldn't be exhausting or too difficult to turn.
Automatic Pasta Makers
Automatic pasta makers simplify the process quite a bit but are significantly more expensive. With the fanciest automatic pasta makers, you don't even need to mix and knead the dough yourself. Just add the ingredients to the pasta maker, and it will take care of the entire process for you, from mixing to kneading to rolling out uniform noodles in a variety of shapes.
Less expensive automatic pasta makers require you to mix and knead the dough, but the machine uses electricity to turn the rollers and produce the noodles. While you can certainly create all the usual long, thin noodles with an electric pasta maker, many also include rollers or dies for lasagna, ravioli, penne, manicotti, and other popular pasta shapes.
While automatic pasta makers are pricey, if you plan on making pasta frequently and want to simplify the process, you are likely to be happiest with this type of machine.
Attachment Pasta Makers
A third option, for those who already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, is a handy attachment that turns your mixer into an automatic pasta maker. There are a variety of plates to choose from, so you'll probably find your favorite noodle shape. Just drop balls of dough into the attachment, and let your mixer's motor take care of the rest.
Before You Buy: What to Look for in a Pasta Maker
If buying a manual pasta maker, look for one with a sturdy clamp that is strong enough to firmly hold the device in place while you turn the crank. The clamp should open far enough to attach to your kitchen table or countertop. If you prefer a permanent attachment, many manual pasta makers have holes for screwing the device to your countertop.
A pasta maker, whether manual or automatic, uses considerable pressure to push the dough through the plates. Plated or stainless-steel construction is durable and sturdy enough to stand up to frequent use without cracking or breaking apart.
Easy to Clean
Pasta dough is generally dry, but you'll still have some clean-up to do after dinner is done. It should be easy to disassemble your pasta maker for cleaning.
Multiple Rollers or Plates
Ideally, your pasta maker should come with a selection of rollers or plates, each producing a different type of noodle. Automatic pasta makers tend to have more variety than manual pasta makers. With some pasta makers, you can purchase more options separately.
If you're going to be cranking your pasta maker's handle, you'll appreciate one that's easy to turn and comfortable to hold. The handle and its arm should be sturdy and not wiggle or catch during operation.
Along with a variety of plates for different types of pasta, many pasta makers include other accessories, such as measuring cups, a cleaning brush, recipe books, a pasta cutting tool, and a pasta drying rack.
How Much Do Quality Pasta Makers Cost?
Manual Pasta Makers
- Inexpensive: You can purchase a manual pasta maker for as little as $20, but these are very simple handheld devices.
- Mid-Range: In the $30 to $50 range, you'll find the largest selection of quality manual pasta makers that offer excellent performance and many features.
- Expensive: Above $50, you'll get a top-of-the-line manual pasta maker that includes the best features and accessories.
Automatic Pasta Makers
- Inexpensive: For under $100, you'll get an automatic pasta maker with fair performance and little in the way of accessories or features.
- Mid-Range: In the $100 to $200 range, you'll find the widest assortment of automatic pasta makers with reliable performance, desirable features, and useful accessories.
- Expensive: For $200 and up, expect to get an automatic pasta maker with superior performance and the most features.
Tips for Making Fresh Pasta in a Pasta Maker
- Start with fresh ingredients. While it only takes a few ingredients to make pasta—flour, eggs, and water—you'll get the tastiest results with fresh eggs and flour that hasn't been open or sitting in the cupboard for too long.
- Create a well in the flour to hold the eggs and water, then slowly mix the wet ingredients into the flour until you have a ball of dough.
- Don't skimp on kneading, unless you want grainy pasta. It can take 10 minutes or more before the dough kneads into a smooth ball.
- After kneading, dough needs to rest, and your arms will probably want a break as well. Let your pasta dough sit for at least an hour before feeding it into your pasta maker.
- When feeding dough into a pasta maker, take small balls of dough, flatten them slightly so they will fit between the pasta maker's rollers, and start to crank the dough through the rollers.
- If you want very thin noodles, you may need to pass the dough through the pasta maker more than once, each time lowering the thickness setting.
- Use a dish towel or plastic wrap to cover the dough you aren't working with. This helps keep the dough from drying out.
- Place the noodles on a pasta rack or cornmeal-dusted pan. This keeps them from sticking together.
- Cook your fresh pasta to your preference. Remember that fresh pasta cooks much faster than dry noodles. Generally, fresh pasta will reach al dente texture within just a few minutes.
Q. Why does my pasta dough stick to the pasta maker's rollers?
A. This common problem is typically caused by too much water in the dough. Either cut back slightly on the water in your mixture, or add a bit more flour.
Q. Can I vary the thickness of noodles with a pasta maker?
A. Yes, most pasta makers have a range of thickness settings—it's good to have at least five—that let you determine the thickness of your pasta, from the thinnest angel hair to thick and sturdy fettuccine.
Q. How long does it take to make pasta with a pasta maker?
A. While your own muscle power determines how quickly a manual pasta maker cranks out noodles, automatic pasta makers rely on motor power to get the job done. Some automatic pasta makers are much faster than others, so if time is an issue, check the device's claims for speed.