8 best pasta makers
From spaghetti to ravioli, here are the machines that will help you create a traditional Italian dish
If you’ve ever tried to roll out pasta dough with a rolling pin, you’ll know that it’s just not worth the sweat and the struggle of trying to get it thin enough. Up your game and save your sanity with a pasta maker. When choosing your machine, look for one that has five or more thickness settings so that you can get the dough thin enough, different attachments for varying types of pasta and, ideally, a clamp to fix it to your work surface or table.
We’ve tested both manual makers, which involve making dough by hand and then feeding it through rollers with a handle and a bit of muscle power, and electric versions, which are, understandably, more expensive but make the process far less labour intensive by kneading and shaping the pasta for you. Most will require a small amount of setting up, but we found all of those included very simple to assemble.
If you’re using a manual machine, make the dough to your recipe, then roll it flat enough to pass through your machine, flour it and feed it through on the widest setting, folding the dough into thirds between each roll, until it is smooth and silky. Depending on the machine and your method, this can take anything between three and eight turns. Once you have reached this stage, reduce the thickness on the maker and pass it through again.
Repeat this, reducing the thickness each time, until you have worked your way through all the settings on the machine and have a thin, stretchy pasta. Leave to sit for five to 10 minutes to dry out slightly, then, if wished, pass through your desired cutter.
Note that pasta makers should never be washed with water, as it is difficult to dry all the moving parts well enough and it may rust. A good model shouldn’t clog with flour or dough but a few crumbs are perfectly normal; use a stiff dry brush to clear it.
Imperia pasta maker: £74.95, Sous Chef
The Imperia is a hugely popular option, and for good reason. From an Italian brand, it offers six thicknesses, feels solid and well-built, has the usual fettuccine and spaghetti cutters, a clamp to fix it to the worktop and, most importantly, we found it produced perfect pasta on the first use, while the other machines we tried took us a while to get used to.
Marcato Atlas 150 pasta machine: £45.50, Amazon
The Marcato Atlas 150 (from the Italian top-standard cookware brand) has the easiest cranking action we found and a comfortable plastic grip. It’s a great choice if you are concerned about comfort of use on cheaper models. It also has “patented anodised aluminium” rollers – we’re not exactly sure what that means, but we did find they required the least flour to prevent the pasta sticking of any machine we tried. With 10 thickness settings and the standard two cutters, it is heavy and feels like it’s built to last a lifetime. Available in four colours, while extra attachments, such as for vermicelli and ravioli, are sold separately.
KitchenCraft deluxe double-cutter pasta machine: £28.99, Lakeland
Being more deluxe in name than in price tag, this, from the British cookware brand, is a great choice if you want an inexpensive way to give pasta making a go. It has a clamp to fix it to your work surface, nine thickness settings, and fettuccine and spaghetti cutters. You can feel the difference in quality to more expensive models and we’re not sure it would withstand regular use, but for occasional experimentation or for an entry-price option to dip your toe in the sauce, it produces perfectly good pasta.
KitchenAid 3-piece pasta attachment set for stand mixers: £155, John Lewis & Partners
Not a cheap option, but if you already own a KitchenAid mixer, this set of three rollers is a brilliant addition. It uses the motor of the mixer to feed the dough through the roller attachment, leaving you with both hands free to handle the delicate pasta produced, making the whole thing less fiddly. It is stainless steel, has eight thickness settings and comes with two cutters in addition to the roller for making spaghetti and fettuccine.
John Lewis & Partners pasta machine: £35, John Lewis & Partners
This is another great budget option for giving pasta making a go. Although we found that the clamp didn’t quite hold the machine steady while working on thicker settings (there are nine in total). We also had to adjust our recipe a little to get the pasta to feed through without slipping on the thinner settings, though once we’d got used to its quirks it made great pasta at half the price of the Imperia. As with the others, it comes with cutters for spaghetti and fettuccine.
Philips viva pasta and noodle maker: £125, Phillips
Electronic pasta makers are the bread makers of the pasta world. All you have to do is add the ingredients (recipe booklet and measuring cups included) and let it do the rest for you, making enough fresh dough to feed three to four from scratch in less than 15 minutes. It has four disc attachments that shape the dough as it extrudes it – sort of like a playdough machine: fettucine, spaghetti, penne and a wider one so that you can roll it out and make lasagne. It’s also pretty trim, at 28.7cm x 13.5cm x 35cm, so doesn’t take anywhere near as much storage space as you might imagine.
Smart pasta maker: £179, Harrods
This lovely-looking machine is marginally larger than Philips’ offering but it’s about 1kg lighter and we’re quite happy displaying it on our worktop. It boasts a six minute making time, which we just about achieved once we’d had a couple of trial runs. There are six shaping discs for making everything from fine noodles and spaghetti to pappardelle and penne, and it cleverly extrudes vertically so that gravity helps it pass smoothly. It also has an integrated fan to dry the pasta.
VonShef manual pasta machine: £28.99, VonShef
This is an incredibly good value pasta maker and the quality produced belies its price. It has a small clamp to fix it to your work surface and nine thickness settings. The attachments are cutters for spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle and fettucine, rollers for lasagne, and a clever roller-cutter hybrid for ravioli. Our only complaint is that we found the handle quite squeaky.
The verdict: Pasta makers
With their simplicity and quality, you really can’t go wrong with either of the Italian offerings. But for your first foray into pasta making, our choice is the Imperia for the ease with which it produced perfect pasta on our first try. Purists might turn their noses up at electronic makers, but if it’s ease and speed you’re after, the Smart maker is hard to beat.
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