The How-To Kitchen: Homemade Pasta

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on October 2, 2009

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy your Crayola-colored KitchenAid stand mixer and pasta roller attachments, don’t wait another second—grab your flour and eggs and get ready to gorge on homemade pasta.

I use the basic recipe of one egg and 3 oz. of flour (or approximately 1/2 cup if you don’t have a kitchen scale) per person, based on the excellent ratio from Michael Ruhlman’s book. To that, I add a healthy glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt.

If you have a kitchen scale, place a large bowl on the scale, turn on/zero it out, and spoon your flour into the bowl until you have the right number of ounces. If you don’t have one, read The City Cook’s assessment on why the kitchen scale is an essential tool and get back to me. If that doesn’t convince you, at least measure your flour by spooning flour out of the bag/bin into your measuring cup and leveling with a knife, rather than dipping the measuring cup directly into the flour. (Because of how widely a cup of flour can very in weight, this is how you should always measure it.)

Make a well in the middle of the flour, crack your eggs into the center, add the olive oil and salt, and start stirring the pool of eggs with your fingers. The eggs will mix and slowly incorporate the flour. I’m sure you’ve seen Anne Burrell do this right on her board on Iron Chef America, but trust me—it’s much easier in the bowl because you’re not worried about the egg breaking the flour “wall” and oozing all over the counter.

stirring the eggs into the flour

stirring the eggs into the flour

Once the dough has begun to assemble itself into a shaggy, raggedy ball, dump it all into your stand mixer bowl (mixer fitted with the dough hook) or out onto a kneading surface. I know this sounds odd given all the praise I’ve laid on my stand mixer, but like Sarah T., I do enjoy the methodical process of hand-kneading my dough. It only takes five minutes and is quite soothing! If you’ve never kneaded by hand, just push out with the heel of your hand, fold over, and do it again, like in this video:

the shaggy dough

the shaggy dough

Once the dough is satiny smooth, elastic, and still slightly tacky, use the bowl you mixed it in, overturned, to cover it and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

satiny smooth dough

satiny smooth dough


Now you’re ready to use your amazing pasta rollers! Attach the flat roller to your mixer, make sure it’s set to 1 (the thickest setting), and have your bin of flour and lots of cutting boards or plain cotton—not terrycloth—towels ready on your countertop.

Separate your disc of dough into equal rectangles, turn the mixer on to “stir” and start feeding the dough through the rollers. After the first pass, take the stretched dough, fold it into thirds, and feed through again in the opposite direction. See the video below for directional help:

Feed through one more time after that, then you can start turning the rollers to settings 2, 3, 4, etc. to roll the dough increasingly thinner. If the end goal is skinny pasta like spaghetti, I won’t take it past 4, but if I’m doing a thicker cut like pappardelle, I’ll take it further.

Once the dough is as thin as you’d like, you can cut it to your desired width. You can leave it in wide sheets for homemade lasagna noodles, use your additional pasta attachments to cut it to spaghetti or fettuccine, or hand-cut to any width you prefer—big ol’ pappardelle, tagliatelle, or use two sheets to make filled pasta like ravioli or agnolotti.

hand-cutting dough

hand-cutting dough

When cutting by hand, make sure the dough is well-floured, then fold the long piece over on itself multiple times as if you were folding up a towel. When it’s a manageable size, you can slice through it like a piece of bread into whatever width you desire. Unfold each little cut roll into long strands, separate loosely and allow to dry on the counter for a few hours. You can toss with some cornmeal or extra flour to make sure the strands don’t stick to each other.

If you’re not going to serve it right away, the pasta freezes wonderfully, so it definitely behooves you to make extra as long as you have the counter space. Roll the pasta into loose “nests” and layer between waxed paper into freezer bags. Whether off the counter or taken directly from the freezer, the pasta only takes a minute to cook in salted boiling water. Start to finish, the entire process takes about an hour (plus drying time for the finished strands), and you’ll wonder what took you so long to try it out. Report back with your successes!

finished pasta

finished pasta

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