In addition to a fettuccine/spaghetti cutter, you also get angel hair and ravioli attachments. Unfortunately, the roller created slightly lopsided sheets and the cutters didn't fully perforate shapes.
If you're looking to amp up your home-cooking game, making homemade pasta is a great way to take your culinary skills to the next level.
You don't need a pasta machine to get started—you could roll out pasta dough with a rolling pin and painstakingly cut it with a knife—but we'd suggest saving yourself the frustration. A kitchen appliance like the ones we found makes the process faster and easier while also creating perfectly uniform noodles. Electric pasta makers, which can make pasta in about 15 minutes, are often expensive, so we wanted to find out if the budget-friendly hand-crank models—like our winning pick, the stainless steel Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine(available at Amazon for $69.11)—would work just as well. Here's what we found.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Marcato Atlas 150
While it's significantly less expensive than electric pasta machines, the Marcato Atlas was the most expensive manual appliance we found. In this case, the adage "You get what you pay for" is certainly true. The Italian-made Marcato 150 is mindfully constructed, and that attention to detail is evident as the machine aces in the kitchen. As pasta dough is fed into the rollers, one can effortlessly hold the sheet in one hand while cranking the handle with the other. It's the only pasta machine we found that has a "0" setting, which is so wide that you'll barely have to flatten dough to fit it through the rollers. In between rolls, the easy-to-operate knob can be adjusted with one hand, so you won't have to put the dough down (a serious time saver!). To cut the sheet, all you have to do is clip on the included fettuccine and spaghetti attachment, which created restaurant-quality pasta every time. It's as easy as that!
This machine is really just a joy to use. It's wide enough to clamp down on a thick block table, and it won't budge at all as you cranked away. When pitted against the KitchenAid KPRA attachment in a gluten-free pasta roll-off, you can barely tell the difference between the two noodles. The KitchenAid is definitely faster, but it's also more than twice the price. If you're looking for a hand-crank machine that's easy and effortless to use, this is definitely the one to get.
The Imperia Pasta Maker has one major flaw that keeps it from becoming the winner: The roller knob requires two hands to move. Unlike the other models which use a pull-and-turn mechanism, you have to push down a button before turning the knob on the Imperia. That means you have to put down the pasta sheet before continuing, slowing down the process. This doesn't cause major problems with regular pasta, but it is a deal-breaker for the delicate gluten-free dough.
Other than that, we love the Imperia. It makes thin, even sheets and fully perforates fettuccine spaghetti shapes. The clamp is large enough to accommodate a thicker-than-normal block table, and the machine won't move around during use. It does have a slight squeak as you turn the handle, but that's a small price to pay for perfect homemade pasta.
The OxGord Pasta Maker Machine is pretty comparable to the VonShelf Pasta Maker Machine, but it beat out the latter because of its attractively low price. At the time this article was written, the OxGord was available for less than $20! It's a simple, no-frills model, but this budget-priced machine gets the job done. It doesn't wow us like our top two picks but, all-in-all, it's easy to use and makes presentation-worthy pasta.
The VonShef Pasta Maker Machine comes with a few extra cutting attachments—spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, fettuccine, and ravioli—making it quite the value-priced bundle. Our major complaint with this model was that the handle squeaks loudly as you turn it and the cutting attachments were difficult to place onto the unit. Other than that, we're pretty happy with the results of this pasta machine.
You're certainly getting some bang for your buck with the CucinaPro Pasta Maker Deluxe Set. In addition to the standard fettuccine/spaghetti cutter, you also get angel hair and ravioli cutting attachments. Unfortunately, the roller creates slightly lopsided sheets and the cutters won't fully perforate the shapes. The knob settings aren't as standard as the other machines, either, and you may have to roll out sheets a few extra settings to get it to be as thin as the other machines.
Compared to the models, the Gourmia GPM9980 Pasta Maker just can't compare. It's significantly lighter than other machines, which gives it a cheap feel, and the handle feels flimsy and falls during use. The numbers on the roller knob are super close together, so it's hard to tell which setting you're on. While the pasta sheets look nice enough, the fettuccine and spaghetti shapes stick together after cutting, forcing us to hand pull them apart. All in all, we'd rather use another pasta machine.
Electric pasta machines are generally free-standing, but manual pasta machines work by clamping onto the side of your countertop. To use one, you simply anchor it to the counter, insert the handle into the rollers, and crank away! You always start at the widest roller setting—usually 0 or 1—and gradually roll the sheet on thinner settings until it's perfect. Personally, I like the second-to-last setting for most pasta, but you may prefer it thinner or thicker. Then, you can use the sheet as-is for a lasagna, fill it to make ravioli or agnolotti, or cut it into the desired pasta shape using the cutter attachments.
Another cool thing about pasta machines? They're not just for homemade pasta! You can roll crackers or flatbread in them, and most of them have thin enough settings to roll homemade wonton wrappers. I've even heard of people using them to roll fondant for cake decorating!
Manual vs. Automatic Pasta Makers
I mentioned earlier that I love my pasta attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, so you might be wondering why you'd want a manual, hand-crank pasta machine. Really, it all comes down to personal preference and budget. First, automatic pasta machines (like the KitchenAid attachment) can run you upwards of $200. The higher-priced models feature extruder attachments instead of a roller-and-cutter design, and some of them will even mix and knead the pasta dough for you! You might pay more for these machines, but they're quick and efficient. The main benefit of the automatic machines is that you have both hands freed up, so one hand can feed the dough through the roller while the other catches it as it comes out.
Why might a manual machine be a better purchase? If pasta-making is a new hobby, you might want to make sure you even like it before you invest a few hundred dollars in a machine. Hand-crank pasta makers also feature a lower profile than most automatic machines, allowing you to easily store them in a kitchen cabinet while they're not in use. But the best advantage of a manual pasta maker? The fun! Sure, it takes some practice to feed the dough in with one hand while cranking with the other (and, also, figuring out how you'll catch the noodles as it comes out). Once you get the hang of it, you'll find this time-tested tradition super rewarding and a fun way to make pasta with the whole family. Plus, these traditional machines have no electronic parts to break, so they'll practically last forever.
How to Make Pasta
The key to using a pasta maker is getting your pasta recipe down. If the pasta dough doesn't have enough flour, it will stick to the machine and create holes or gaps. Alternatively, if it has too much flour, it won't have enough moisture to hold together and it will tear apart as it moves into the thinner settings.
This is really one of those trial-and-error types of deals, but my go-to pasta recipe is 300 grams of AP flour, 3 eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon water, and a pinch of salt. Mix it in a stand mixer (our favorite is the KitchenAid) with a dough hook until a ball forms around the hook. If it doesn't form within a few minutes, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it does. If it sticks too much to the sides, add a tablespoon of flour! Knead it in the mixer for about 5 minutes, until the dough is super smooth. Then, wrap the ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before moving on to the next step. You can make the dough ahead and store it in the refrigerator, but I've found it's easiest to work with at room temperature, so pull it out an hour before using it.
Once you've gotten the hang of the dough, the best advice I can give you is to laminate it. Start by cutting the pasta dough ball into four or six manageable pieces. Keep the pieces you're not using under plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Flatten the first piece and run it through the widest setting two or three times. Then, fold it in half and run it through twice. Finally, fold it into thirds (like you're folding a letter), flatten it, and run it through two more times. Finish by turning the dial to the next setting, running it through twice before changing the setting again. Continue turning and rolling until the sheet has reached the desired thickness. You may have to cut it in half at some point if it becomes too long to be manageable!
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