Making fresh pasta isn’t as easy as cooking a box of fettuccini or tagliatelle from your pantry, but there’s a reason many home cooks go for the homemade pasta merit badge: those freshly rolled strands are rich and tender, springy and, frankly, impressive.
You can, of course, go the old-school, hands-on way and make fresh pasta with just a rolling pin and a knife; you don’t actually need the best pasta maker from our tests if you want to make pasta tonight. But using a manual pasta maker allows you to achieve consistently perfect pasta sheets for lasagna, ravioli, and noodles of all kinds.
Unfortunately, searching for the best manual pasta makers online will lead you down a rabbit hole of sketchy Amazon listings and into a world of poorly manufactured copycats. No matter what you need, here’s more about the history of Pasta Makers.
What is a Pasta Maker?
A pasta maker or pasta machine is a medium-sized kitchen tool designed to simplify the process of rolling and cutting egg noodles, or other kinds of dough to make fresh pasta such as ravioli, lasagne, fettuccine, and tagliatelle.
The machine is used to roll pasta dough into a progressively thinner sheet with each pass through the machine. When the desired thickness is reached, the sheet can be used as it is to make ravioli. Some machines (like the one shown) have inbuilt cutters where the sheet can be passed through a cutter and separated into strips of the appropriate width.
Unlike an extrusion type pasta maker, the manual type has a crank attached or in most cases, slots for a crank on the side. The crank turns a series of rollers, some interlocking to cut, and others just to flatten.
An adjuster wheel on one side controls the distance between the flat roller wheels. There are typically two sets of cutting wheels, each with its own slot for the crank. One set is very finely spaced for cutting spaghetti, the other is spaced at about ¼” (5 mm) for fettuccine.
Brief History & The Pasta Maker Inventor
According to Wikipedia, the main ingredients for home pasta making include: flour, egg, salt, and water. (Although omitting the egg works just as well). A fork is used to combine the ingredients. Sheets of pasta dough are then fed though pasta making machines by hand by turning a crank.
The pasta comes out in flat sheets that are then run through the machine again and cut into pasta noodles. Early pasta machines were found in Naples in the 17th century.
One pasta legend tells us that the first pasta machine was made by Spadaccinni in 1833, and commissioned by King Ferdinand. The King reportedly asked Spadaccinni to invent a pasta machine after witnessing peasants kneading pasta with their feet!
The Heinz History Center reports that in 1906 Angelo Vitantonio, an Italian immigrant, patented the hand crank pasta machine in Cleveland, OH. This kitchen tool spread quickly allowing for faster pasta making!
The Best Pasta Makers for Every Type of Pasta Lover
Here’s the thing about manual pasta makers: they are all extremely similar. Pretty much all the machines operate via the same hand crank, clamped countertop design. The differences between the machines ultimately came down to small yet important details.
If you’re an eager home noodle maker who wants a high-quality, heavy-duty machine for making your own pasta, and you’re interested in having access to a versatile range of pasta attachments for making different types of pasta, the Marcato Atlas 150 is the best option for you.
You may also like our recipe video on how to make fettuccini with a pasta maker.