Homemade pasta is absolutely incredible and infinitely better than storebought dried pasta. Learn how to make pasta from scratch and craft exceptional homemade meals for your family.
I’d been staring at that antique pasta maker at the top of the pantry since I was 5 years old. At that point, it’d been up there collecting dust for some time already. My grandmother passed it on to my mother when she moved from a sprawling household into a small retirement community.
They say a passion for scratch cooking skips a generation, and that pasta maker sat at the top of my mother’s pantry for nearly two decades.
When my husband and I bought our first house, my mother asked me if I wanted anything for our kitchen, and I answered without hesitation.
“That old thing?” She said, “I don’t know if it even works, I’ve never opened it…”
She shipped it across the country later that week, and it arrived in that same dust-covered box I’d stared at since my youth. My mother’s name still scrawled across the top, as my grandmother had wanted her to have it.
Now I use it to make pasta with my own daughter, and she has a real passion for cooking. It may have skipped my mother’s generation, but I have faith that this pasta maker will see heavy use in my daughter’s kitchen once it’s left mine.
Only time will tell…
Homemade Pasta Recipes
I’ve been making homemade pasta on this antique pasta maker for the past decade, and I’ve learned that homemade pasta recipes are less about the ingredients and more about the process.
All in all, most recipes are quite simple, and most contain 3-4 simple ingredients. The proportions in different recipes vary slightly and many start with vague measurements like “put enough flour on the counter, then add eggs.”
The recipe included in my Atlas Pasta Machine from the 1960s is pretty simple, and only includes eggs and flour, plus a little optional olive oil:
“Here is the way to prepare a good homemade pasta: pour the necessary quantity of flour on a plane (we propose 400 grams for 4 people) and make a hole in the middle. Put an egg for every 100 grams of flour in the hole. Start kneading the flour with the eggs. To soften the dough, some olive oil can be added.
Go on kneading, until after about ten minutes, you get a homogenous paste. At that point, if you are not in a hurry, you should form a ball and wrap it in a napkin, and let it rest for a few minutes.
Divide the dough into fist-sized parts and put each portion between the kneading rolls of the machine in position ‘1’ (widest gap). Fold the pasta sheet and repeat several times, reducing the thickness by changing the gap position until it reaches the desired thickness.”
Regardless of the recipe, the process is the same. Knead the wet ingredients (eggs, water, oil, etc) into the flour and then begin stretching the dough. It’s easier if you use a pasta maker, but you can also just roll the pasta dough out on the counter, fold it over on itself and then repeat.
Eventually, the repeated rolling will yield a smooth pasta dough that can be left in sheets for lasagna or ravioli, or sliced into noodles.
Ingredients for Homemade Pasta
The ingredients for homemade pasta are pretty basic, and you likely have everything you need already in your kitchen. That said, if you plan on making pasta regularly, investing in flour designed for pasta will yield better results.
- Flour: While you can easily make pasta from scratch using all-purpose flour, the final texture will be much better if use specialized flour.
- Italian Double Zero Flour (“00 Flour”) ~ Italian’s grade their flour with numbers, “2” being coarse whole wheat, and as the numbers drop the flour becomes progressively finer, with more of the bran/germ removed. Double zero flour is the finest grind, with the least possible bran/germ included. This makes homemade pasta extra silky smooth.
- Semolina Flour ~ Often used to give homemade pasta more “bite,” semolina has a coarser texture and higher gluten. It helps the pasta hold onto sauce, and strengthens the dough.
- All-Purpose Flour ~ Though similar in protein content to double zero flour, all-purpose is not nearly as fine. It makes tasty pasta, but the result is not as silky smooth as with “00” flour.
- Eggs: Traditionally used as a binder in homemade pasta. Extra rich pasta recipes use mostly yolks, with just 1 or 2 whole eggs. A good example is this 7 egg yolk pasta dough, which we make extra decadent using our home raised duck eggs. Most recipes just use whole eggs though.
- Olive Oil: An optional ingredient, olive oil adds moisture to the dough and also helps keep it from getting tough. Oil prevents gluten formation, resulting in tender pasta. Adding extra egg yolks has a similar effect.
- Salt: Flavors the dough, but also has a side effect of strengthening gluten formation. For that reason, try to use less salt in the dough and instead cook the pasta in salted water. Salted water doesn’t just flavor the pasta, it boils at a higher temperature. A higher temperature cooking will change the starches in the pasta as it cooks, resulting in a creamier, richer texture.
How to Make Homemade Pasta from Scratch
Regardless of the recipe you choose, making homemade pasta is more about the process than it is about any particular set of ingredients. All-purpose flour or “00” flour, the process is the same and both will result in delicious homemade pasta.
I start with about 300 grams of “00” flour (2 1/4 cups), three eggs and a bit of salt (1/2 to 1 tsp). If you’d like, you can also add in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Mix the flour/salt in a pile on the counter, and then create a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well, and add olive oil too (if using).
(Or, if you prefer, just toss everything into a stand mixer with a dough hook, or into a food processor. Both of which are much less labor-intensive.)
Start by beating the eggs/oil together in the well with a fork. It’s honestly a bit tricky to keep them in the well, and you can just beat them in a bowl first for simplicity, before pouring them into the well.
Gradually incorporate the flour, at first with the fork, and then by hand kneading.
Once all the flour is incorporated, begin kneading the pasta dough. It’s a stiff dough, and solid work for the forearms. A kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook is a big help, and adding olive oil at the beginning helps make the process a bit easier.
After a few minutes of kneading, you should have an unimpressive yellow lump sitting on your counter. Don’t worry, the magic happens during the rolling/stretching phase.
Cover and allow the dough to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before proceeding, this helps the gluten relax before stretching and will make the next steps much easier.
(Or make it a day ahead, and leave it wrapped in the fridge overnight before proceeding.)
Homemade Pasta with Pasta Maker
At this point, if you have a pasta maker, it’s time to start processing the dough through the wheels of the pasta maker. This stretches and aligns the gluten.
I know, you’re looking at this lumpy mass of dough and you’re really skeptical. The first couple of passes through the pasta maker (at the widest setting) will be pretty messy.
The dough’s not going to hold together well, and you may be tempted to give up. This early stage is completely normal…
Fold the dough over on itself and put it through the pasta maker again. And again.
A few passes later, and the dough will look dramatically different.
Homemade Pasta Without Machine
The process for making pasta without a machine is pretty much the same, but uses a rolling pin instead. Roll the dough out, then fold it in half and roll it out again.
Repeat until you have a smooth pasta dough. The transformation is pretty quick, you’ll only need about 4-6 roll-outs before you have pasta.
Once the dough is smooth, it’s time to roll it out to your desired thickness. With a machine, it’s easy to get a uniform thickness by setting the rollers. With a rolling pin, that’s a bit trickier…and you’ll likely end up with a more “rustic” looking pasta.
Cutting Homemade Pasta
Pasta machine or not, I think cutting the finished pasta is actually easier with a knife. The pasta machine does have a linguini cutting plate that will slice the pasta to a uniform width, but it’s tricky to catch the sliced pasta coming out the other side.
Once the pasta is smooth and rolled thin, I dust both sides with semolina flour. This helps keep the pasta from sticking to itself but doesn’t make the surface gummy like adding all-purpose or “00” flour would.
After that, roll up the pasta sheet like a rug and cut it into pinwheels. Each pinwheel will open up into long strands of homemade pasta…
Shaping Homemade Pasta
Generally, I cut my finished pasta into simple noodles, but there’s no reason you can’t shape your homemade pasta into whatever your heart desires. Bowties are a simple choice that’s great for beginners, and beyond that, you’ll just need to find instructions for shaping the pasta however you’d like.
There’s a great video resource for this called pasta grannies. It’s a youtube video series that documents the pasta making recipes and techniques of nonnas in Italy so that they’re not lost to time.
For your first time though, try just slicing up some easy homemade noodles.
Drying Homemade Pasta
Fresh pasta is a real treat, and you can just simply take the fresh pasta and cook it. Since it’s not dried, it’ll only take about 2-3 minutes in boiling salted water.
That said, homemade pasta is a great way to preserve eggs, and drying the finished pasta means you can keep it on hand for later. Trust me, even dried it’ll still be better than storebought.
They make specialized pasta drying racks that look more or less like long-armed mug trees. They’re handy if you’re going to be making pasta every week, but for most people, they’re just another “thing” cluttering up the kitchen. If you’re considering one, this one is the best I’ve seen, and it stores easily since it’s collapsable.
Lacking a drying rack, I’ve seen people hang the pasta along oven handles, which works well if your kitchen is very clean. You can also just hang it to dry over a wooden spoon handle, suspended between a couple of pots.
Pasta will also dry if left laid out on baking trays, provided you stir it every few hours to make sure all sides are exposed to air.
Generally, it takes about 12-24 hours to dry pasta, but this will vary based on temperature and humidity. Be sure that the pasta is thoroughly dry before packing it away, as any residual moisture will cause it to mold.
Homemade pasta is tender and flavorful, and well worth the effort for a special date night!
- 2 1/4 cups flour (preferably "00", but all-purpose works too)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp salt (see note)
- Semolina Flour for Rolling Out
- Mix the flour and salt on a clean counter (or in a large bowl), and make a well in the center.
- Add the eggs and oil into the well, and beat with a fork. Slowly incorporating the flour.
- As the dough becomes thicker, switch to kneading by hand.
- Knead the dough for 4-6 minutes, until all the flour is incorporated.
- Cover the pasta dough and allow it to rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Pasta Maker: Set the machine to the widest setting and pass the dough through the rollers. Fold it in half and repeat until the dough is smooth, around 4-6 passes. Then reduce the thickness and roll the dough to your desired thickness using the dial settings on the pasta maker.
- Rolling Pin Method: Without a pasta maker, roll the dough out on a clean counter. Fold it in half and roll it out repeatedly until the dough is smooth.
- Shape into the desired shape.
- For noodles, dust both sides of the dough with semolina flour (or a small amount of regular flour) and roll the dough up like a rug. Cut pinwheels with a sharp knife and then unroll.
- For Immediate Use: Prepare a pot of boiling water with a tablespoon of salt. Add fresh pasta to the water and cook 2-3 minutes, until the pasta floats. Drain and serve immediately.
- Drying: Hang the pasta to dry in an area with good airflow. It should take 12-24 hours, depending on temperature and humidity. Be sure the pasta is completely dry before storing it in an airtight container.
Variations on Homemade Pasta
Once you’ve mastered the process for making pasta from scratch, feel free to try out variations. Vegan pasta without eggs, or gluten-free pasta for friends with allergies. We made wild foraged pasta with acorn flour for a special treat (recipe coming soon), and you can even make paleo pasta with almond flour.
Even using regular flour and eggs, try adding unique flavors like pumpkin or spinach powder for beautiful colors, as well as added flavor and nutrition.
- Pumpkin Pasta
- Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pasta
- Easy 3 Ingredient Vegan Pasta (Egg-Free)
- Dandelion Egg Noodles
More From Scratch Cooking
Looking for more delicious food made from scratch? Read on…
- Amish White Bread
- Old Fashioned Grape Jam
- Homemade Boiled Cider (Apple Cider Syrup)
- How to Render Lard
- How to Make Pickled Eggs
- Homemade Hard Cider