The Best Pasta Makers of 2023, Tested by Serious Eats
Straight to the Point
Our favorite manual pasta maker is the Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Machine. It was easy to use and produced beautiful pasta sheets as thinly as we wanted. It cut the dough seamlessly, too. If a stand mixer attachment’s what you’re after, we recommend the Antree Pasta Maker Attachment or KitchenAid 3-Piece Pasta Roller and Cutter.
Fresh, homemade pasta and dried noodles from a box are completely different beasts both texturally and flavor-wise. While store-bought pasta can be a fantastic blank slate for your sauce, fresh pasta’s potential is much deeper. When you make your own dough, it can be delicate and yolky or rustic and chewy depending on your whim and recipe selection. Homemade pasta dough can be speckled with herbs, vegetable-infused, or any color of the rainbow. It can be cut and scraped and twisted and folded into a myriad of traditional and original shapes. So, if you want to step up your pasta game, you should try making it yourself. And I’m here, a fresh pasta ambassador, to help you find the best tools to do just that.
Let’s start off by dispelling the myth that making fresh pasta at home has to be a messy, complicated project. It does not. Pasta can be as simple as flour and water or flour and a few eggs. You can (and we advocate should) mix your dough by hand (check out our homemade fresh pasta recipe here)—all you need is a clean surface and your fingertips, and/or a fork. Sure, once you’ve rested your dough, you could just whip out your rolling pin and tone up your biceps to roll it out by hand. But, this requires more know-how and muscle memory—things I can’t provide for you on the written page. What I can offer you is a detailed review on what pasta maker to use to get hassle-free, evenly thin sheets of pasta dough and sharp, crisp cuts of noodles every time.
To find the best pasta makers, I tested five manual, hand-crank models and two electric machines compatible with KitchenAid stand mixers, all under $200. I evaluated their performance and ease of use while rolling and cutting three different types of pasta dough.
The Winners, at a Glance
The Atlas was the easiest and smoothest manual machine to operate. It made clean cuts and had the ability to get dough incredibly thin.
This affordable and convenient attachment includes the roller and two cutters in one compact unit, which we found handy for storage purposes. While it didn’t get dough as thin as other machines, it still did exceptionally well in our tests.
The KitchenAid attachments made quick work of pasta dough (and have been a longtime Serious Eats test kitchen favorite). The cutters cut cleanly and the all-metal construction feels high-quality. The set above includes two cutters for fettuccine and spaghetti, but KitchenAid also sells a 5-piece set with two additional cutter shapes (capellini and lasagnette) for $100 more.
- Fettuccine Test: With each machine, we rolled dough (made from our homemade fresh pasta recipe) to one to two millimeters in thickness and cut it into fettuccine to evaluate each machine’s performance and ease of use. We timed how long it took to do this from start to finish.
- Angel Hair Pasta Test: With each machine, we rolled and cut angel hair pasta (sometimes called spaghetti, depending on the model) to see how each pasta maker performed with a thinner and narrower noodle strand. We timed how long it took to do this from start to finish.
- Thickness Tests: With each model, we used digital calipers to measure the dough thickness at each setting to see how thin each machine could take an intact pasta dough sheet.
- Gluten-Free Pasta Test (Winners-Only): With our favorite models, we made gluten-free pasta to see how they did with a delicate dough made from alternative flour.
- Durum Wheat and Water Pasta Test (Winners-Only): We wanted to see how our favorite pasta machines handled, rolled out, and cut an eggless dough.
- Cleanup Tests: After each test, we cleaned the pasta makers by hand per the manufacturers’ specifications, identify any challenges in doing so.
What We Learned
Some Pasta Makers Were Efficient, While Others…Weren’t
I timed how long it took to roll out a batch of pasta, taking it from a ball of dough to the desired thickness for fettuccine and angel hair pasta. The overall finding here is not surprising in the least: the electric pasta makers that fit into the hub of and were powered by the KitchenAid stand mixer shaved off a bunch of time. It took me exactly half as long to go through the process with one batch of dough on the quickest machines (the Antree and KitchenAid, tied at 6.5 minutes) as it did on the slowest machine (13 minutes for the OxGord). Though we know why the electrified attachments were so fast—thank you, running motor!—what factors held up the crank machines? The answer was threefold:
- The clamp: The hand-crank machines needed to be clamped onto the counter. And the manual models that rocked while rolling (the ones with less stable clamps) took significantly longer to get through a batch of dough. The winning machine, the Atlas, had a super stable, tight clamp.
- Thickness settings dial: Each machine has a dial to change the distance between the two metal rollers as you roll the dough progressively thinner. The winning machine’s dial was smooth to turn and easy to read. One particularly problematic machine had the numbers imprinted on the side of the dial instead of on top of it, so you couldn’t read the numbers without craning your neck up and over the machine. This significantly slowed down the rolling flow. Another subpar dial had the numbers placed so close together, it was hard to decipher which setting the machine was on at any given time.
- Transitions: Once rolled thin, you move the pasta dough from the rollers to the cutter portion of the machine. On the manual machines, you also have to move the hand crank from one insert to another. On some machines, this transition was smooth and effortless. On the losing models, the crank slipped out of the insert or got jammed, thus slowing things down. The slower models also had more friction when cranking, and some of them made pretty awful grinding sounds.
Which Pasta Makers Were Able to Produce Intact, Thin Sheets of Pasta Dough?
Speed aside, the quality of the output varied from machine to machine. Some machines ripped, wrinkled, or frayed the edges of the dough as they got down to the thinnest settings. The best machines delivered even, intact sheets of dough at their thinnest settings.
The number of settings available ranged from six (Imperia) to 10 (Atlas). The ultimate thinness of the dough (when taken to the final setting) ranged from 0.5 millimeters (Atlas) to 0.9 millimeters (Imperia and Antree). The winning manual machine was the one with the most thickness setting options (10) and the one that was able to take the dough to the thinnest spec (0.5 millimeters): the Atlas.
If you’re only looking to make pasta like fettuccine, you don’t need to worry about getting the pasta dough thinner than 1 millimeter. Technically, all of the machines I tested could get you there. However, if you’re interested in making filled pasta (like ravioli, cappellacci, etc.), you want dough so thin you can read a newspaper through it (at least that’s what my Italian chef instructor at culinary school used to say), and you should make sure to get a machine that can produce high quality 0.5 millimeter-thick sheets of dough.
Which Pasta Makers Cut Cleanly?
Rolling is only half the battle. Once the pasta dough is rolled out to your desired thickness, you get to cut it into whatever shape you like. For the sake of this testing, we stuck to angel hair or spaghetti and fettuccine. When the teeth were sharp and most effective, the pasta machines produced clean, completely separate strands of pasta. The lower-performing models turned out partially or fully fused strands of pasta that had to be peeled apart by hand.
Care and Cleaning Differences
When the pasta makers cut dough cleanly, all you need to do after making pasta is brush the extra flour off of the machine and wipe it down with a soft, dry cloth. (Some models, like the Antree, include cleaning brushes for this.) However, if and when the dough sticks in the roller or cutting teeth, cleaning becomes a bit more involved. Though all it takes is a bamboo skewer or toothpick to dislodge lingering dough, the best machines are the ones that avoid this step as much as possible. Our winning machine, the Atlas, didn’t have any stuck dough at all during testing.
Should You Get an Electric or Manual Pasta Machine?
Electric machines make pasta faster than manual crank machines, there’s no getting around that. They also have the benefit of freeing up both of your hands so you can guide the dough in with one and easily catch it with the other, while manual machines require a one-handed nimbleness. However, there are pros and cons to both types of pasta makers:
- Electric pasta machines: Unless you are going to invest in a stand-alone electric pasta roller (which is generally very heavy and expensive and more commonly outfitted for restaurants or other commercial production contexts, and, thus, not included in this review), a pasta maker attachment that fits into the power hub of a stand mixer is your best electric option. Obviously, in order to use the attachment, you have to first own a KitchenAid mixer (or another stand mixer with the same universal power hub built into the head), which is a significant investment. The attachments are generally more expensive than manual pasta makers, as well. But, if you already have the stand mixer, electric pasta maker attachments can cut your pasta production time in half (or more!). You can control the speed to fit your comfort level. The attachments are generally pretty compact and easier to store than manual machines.
- Manual pasta machines: Manual machines have their own charm. They are affordable, don’t need to be plugged in, and can be used in peace without the drone of a motor churning while you work. And, you don’t need to own another appliance (like a stand mixer) to operate them. You can assemble a manual pasta maker just about anywhere in your kitchen where you can clamp it down on a counter. The simplicity of the hand crank makes it accessible to even the novice pasta maker; since it will only go as fast as you crank it, home cooks rarely get flustered or intimidated by the process. However, since you need one hand to keep things moving, you only have one hand to manage the pasta dough (that is, unless you have a pasta-making buddy working with you).
Food for Thought: What Kind of Pasta Do You Want to Make?
I’ll leave you with one last thought: think about the cutters that come with your machine. Are you looking to make basic spaghetti and fettuccine? If so, you’re in luck because these cutters generally come with all pasta makers. However, if you’re wanting to branch out and try a bunch of different shapes, or if there is a specific strand style you love, you might want to invest in a machine that has a wide array of cutting attachments available to purchase a la carte. In this case, Atlas has the most options.
Are you going to be making mostly hand-formed shapes, like garganelli or farfalle? If so, you can disregard the cutter selection availability and hone in on the machine that fits in best with your budget and storage parameters. As I mentioned before, if you’re thinking about making super-delicate filled pasta shapes, you want to get a machine that performs exceptionally well at rolling dough super thin. Are you making pasta art with intricate designs and colors? You might want a manual machine so you can control each turn of the crank. If you’re into frequent, high-volume pasta production, consider an electric machine with high-speed potential. What I’m getting at is, the best machine for you ultimately depends on what you’re trying to make.
The Criteria: What to Look for in a Pasta Maker
While all the machines had a similar design—adjustable metal rollers and evenly spaced cutter teeth—testing showed that they weren’t all the same. The best machines were stable while cranking and had ergonomic handles (if manual). They also had setting dials that were effortless to change and were capable of making clean cuts without getting dough stuck under their teeth. They worked well with traditional fresh egg dough, as well as gluten-free and eggless pasta doughs. Conversely, the worst models rocked when rolling, required excessive force to operate, and roughed up (or even ripped!) pasta dough.
What we liked: The Atlas took dough down to the thinnest spec with ease. It was smooth and stable to crank, had an easy-to-read setting dial, and made clean cuts. It transitioned well from rolling to cutting and presented no cleaning challenges. Plus, there are many compatible cutter attachments available if you want to grow your collection.
What we didn’t like: This manual machine takes longer to produce finished pasta than its electric counterparts. You can only manage the dough with one hand because you need the other one to crank the machine. However, neither of these points are really negatives, just things to note.
Price at time of publish: $76.
- Materials: Nickel-plated steel, chrome-plated steel, plastic
- Number of rolling settings: 10
- Dough thickness at thinnest setting: 0.5 millimeters
- Included cutters: Spaghetti, fettuccine (others available to purchase separately)
- Care instructions: For regular cleaning, use a dry cloth and/or brush to wipe away excess flour after using
What we liked: This attachment helps you make pasta—fast! It is compact, easy to store, and ultra-convenient. Since the rollers and cutters are all housed in the same unit, you don’t have to stop the motor to switch out any parts as you transition from one step in the pasta-making process to the next. Since the stand mixer motor takes care of moving the machine along, you can use two hands to guide and catch the pasta as you work.
What we didn’t like: My only minor complaint about this pasta maker was that it didn’t get the dough as thin as other models. While the 0.9-millimeter thickness of the dough at the final setting was totally acceptable for the tests in this review, I could imagine wanting it thinner for other applications, like delicate, filled pasta shapes. And, remember, you need to have a stand mixer with a power hub to operate it. Plus, there isn’t the option to purchase additional cutter shapes.
Price at time of publish: $90.
- Materials: Stainless steel and plastic
- Number of rolling settings: 8
- Dough thickness at thinnest setting: 0.9 millimeters
- Included cutters: Spaghetti, fettuccine
- Care instructions: Open the lid and let attachment air dry for one hour, then remove any dried dough using the provided cleaning brush; wipe attachment with a soft, dry cloth
What we liked: The KitchenAid pasta attachment rolls dough nice and thin quickly and with ease. Its all-metal construction speaks to its quality. Both its roller and cutters were stable when working, and its thickness dial was easy to adjust.
What we didn’t like: You need to have a KitchenAid stand mixer to use this machine. That investment combined with the relatively pricey tag on this 3-piece set makes it an expensive option. With three individual pieces, there’s also more to store. Unlike the Antree, you have to switch out the roller and cutter, which could slow down the pasta-making process.
Price at time of publish: $200.
- Material: Stainless steel
- Number of rolling settings: 8
- Dough thickness at thinnest setting: 0.75 millimeters
- Included cutters: Spaghetti, fettuccine (others are available for purchase)
- Care instructions: KitchenAid recommends lubricating the gears annually (or after 50 uses) with a light mineral oil; for regular cleaning, let pasta roller and cutters air dry for one hour, then remove any dried dough using a cleaning brush or toothpick and wipe the attachments with a soft, dry cloth
- Imperia Pasta Maker Machine: Cranking was slow-going with this machine because of some mechanical friction and the counterintuitive design of the settings dial—the numbers are imprinted on the outward-facing side of the dial, rather than on the top edge, so you cannot read them without folding your body up and over the machine. The dial also jammed during testing.
- OxGord Pasta Maker: Pasta dough sheets started buckling and wrinkling by the time I got to the last few rolling settings and the cutter on the machine was clunky and produced subpar strands. The dial was hard to read and adjust as well.
- CucinaPro Pasta Maker Deluxe Set: This machine felt rickety when trying to change out the attachments and like it required excessive force to crank. The fettuccine cutter left some pasta strands fused together, and the numbers on the settings dial were placed too close together, impeding navigation while rolling.
- ISILER Pasta Machine: Due to a defective metal washer, I wasn’t able to use this product or run it through the tests.
How do you use a pasta machine?
The basic process is twofold: first, you roll the pasta dough thin by flattening it between two metal rollers. On a manual machine, you crank it by hand to move the dough through the rollers; on an electric machine, a motor moves the dough for you. With both types of machines, you take the same piece of dough through a series of rolls, very gradually decreasing the distance between the rollers by adjusting the machine’s setting’s dial, until you reach your desired pasta sheet thickness. Then, you feed the flattened dough through the machine’s cutter attachment to cut the strands of pasta.
How do you clean a hand-crank pasta machine?
The most important thing to remember when cleaning a pasta machine is not to submerge it in water, as this will cause rust to form. You can brush away any excess flour on the machine using a dry dishcloth or a dry brush (which is sometimes included with the pasta maker). If there is dried pasta dough in the roller or cutting teeth, let it dry out for about an hour, then use a bamboo skewer or toothpick to dislodge the dried dough. You can also invert the machine and gently tap it with your hand to remove dried debris. Do not use metal utensils to dislodge dried dough, as they could damage the machine. Some machines require occasional gear lubrication with light mineral oil, but be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations beforehand.
Can you make pasta without a machine?
You absolutely can make pasta without a machine. In fact, most southern Italian pasta shapes, like orecchiette and cavatelli, are strictly made by hand. Even if you want to make traditional egg dough pasta, you always have the option to roll it out with a rolling pin. However, it takes quite a bit of practice to get the dough evenly thin every time. And you must properly rest your dough to ensure the gluten is sufficiently relaxed to stretch out.