A Guide to Buying a Pasta Machine
Pasta, in all of its varieties, has been a popular side dish for centuries. But if you want to add some variety to the dry, store-bought pasta, a pasta machine can expand your options considerably. And the results can be more healthy and better tasting!
We’ll see that with a pasta machine, you can try various combinations of different types of flour. You can also try your hand at making egg noodles. You can also try adding vegetable juice or herbs, as well as try gluten-free options. It’s also really convenient: Fresh-made pasta can stay refrigerated for a few days, or you can freeze the pasta for a later date. When you’re ready to serve it, you drop the frozen pasta into boiling water, without thawing out first.
We’ll go through some of the pasta-making machines in the Best Reviews Guide list. Whether you select a manually-operated machine or a motorized version, you’ll be able to prepare spaghetti, lasagna, fettuccine, penne, and much more!
Types of Pasta Machines
Looking at the Best Reviews Guide list of the best pasta machines, we see that there are two main categories:
Manual pasta machines: After forming the dough, you run it through the rollers of the manual pasta machine. There is a hand crank that you turn to work the rollers. The dough comes out in the form of a flat sheet. These machines typically allow you to dial in the thickness of the pasta that you desire. You then run the sheet through a pasta cutter, which will allow you to prepare a variety of noodles: spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, lasagnette (like lasagna sheets, but with ridges and grooves), and more. An example is the CucinaPro Pasta Maker Deluxe.
CucinaPro Pasta Maker Deluxe
Electric pasta machines: There are also electric pasta machines, which prepare the dough and extrude the dough in the form that you want, according to the pasta shape plate that you select. An example is the Philips Compact Pasta and Noodle Maker. A big advantage of an electric machine is that all you have to do is add flour and water in the correct proportions (or eggs, if you want to prepare egg noodles), and the machine does the rest. It has attachments to prepare spaghetti, fettuccine, and penne types of pasta.
Philips Compact Pasta and Noodle Maker
As an alternative, KitchenAid makes pasta-making attachments for their KitchenAid Stand Mixer. The attachments include a 1) pasta roller, 2) a fettuccine cutter, and 3) a spaghetti cutter. They also make a 5-piece set, which includes, in addition, a lasagnette cutter and a capellini (=angel hair pasta) cutter.
KitchenAid Pasta Making Attachment to prepare fettuccine
Manual pasta machine with an electric motor attachment: There are also pasta machines that give you the choice of running them manually, or by means of a motorized attachment. An example is the Marcato Altas 180 Pasta Machine. The machine comes with attachments to make lasagna, fettuccine, and tagglione, but there are a total of 12 different pasta-cutting accessories. The motor will free up your hands to give an assist to the sheets of pasta so that they remain perfectly flat.
The Marcato Altas 180 Pasta Machine, both with the hand crank (top) and with the motor attachment (below)
What reviewers say
Here are some impressions of customers regarding the pasta machine that they chose:
Reasons to prefer a manual machine: A customer who bought the Marcato Pasta Machine said that she preferred a manual machine because she had better control over the thickness of the pasta. When using an electric pasta maker, the dough has to be thicker, so that it won’t fall apart. But, usually, she found that it would be too thick for ravioli.
Make small sheets: If you make too long a sheet of pasta dough, the spaghetti strands will also be longer and harder to manage. A customer said that a ball of dough the size of a tangerine is usually the correct amount to put in the rollers at any one time.
Pasta drying rack: You may also want to use a pasta drying rack. It makes it easier to dry out your pasta so that it won’t become moldy during storage. A drying rack is not a necessity, but it allows air to get to all the parts of the pasta so that it dries properly.
Gluten-free pasta: You can also use flour from legumes and grains that are without gluten. Besides accommodating people with an allergy to gluten, the pasta will come out in with an extraordinary taste and color. There are recipes for making pasta from chickpea flour, buckwheat flour, rice flour, quinoa flour, and much more!
Here are some features of the pasta machines that we reviewed that are worth noting:
Ability to vary the thickness of the sheet of pasta: Hand-crank pasta machines will allow you to vary the thickness of the sheet of pasta that your roll. But note that some can produce more thicknesses than others. The Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Machine can produce sheets of pasta dough in 10 different thicknesses, ranging in thickness from 0.6 to 4.8 mm.
Washing the attachments: Take note if the attachments of your pasta machine are dishwasher safe. The OxGord Pasta Maker has stainless steel rollers and blade attachments that are dishwasher safe. On the other hand, the pasta-making attachments to the KitchenAid Stand Mixer are explicitly not dishwasher safe. The manufacturer provides a stylus or brush to clean the parts. After making pasta, you dismantle the attachments and let the pasta harden. You can then use the stylus to pick out the hardened pieces of dough. You shouldn’t use a knife or other sharp object to remove the leftover dough, and the parts shouldn’t be washed or immersed in water.
Speed of a motorized machine: A fully-automated pasta machine will get the job done fast. The Philips Pasta and Noodle Maker will produce a ½-pound of pasta in as little as 10 minutes!
Material: You’ll notice that the pasta rollers and cutting implements will usually be made from chrome- or nickel-plated steel, or aluminum. Aluminum parts are less prone to corrosion, but steel parts are more durable.
We discussed some of the pasta machines in the Best Reviews Guide list. An electric pasta maker will be quicker and produce more pasta with less effort. But a manual pasta maker will allow you more control over how you want you pasta. With a little trial-and-error, you’re sure to get near-professional results!