Equipment

How to Roll and Cut Fresh Pasta with or without a Machine

Rolling out and cutting fresh pasta by hand is doable and gratifying. A pasta maker greatly speeds up the work. The choice is yours.
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Published Jan. 5, 2023.

Making homemade pasta is a deeply satisfying experience. This tactile (and fun!) kitchen exercise forces you to slow down and literally feel what you’re doing. 

When it comes to rolling it out and cutting it, you can go minimalist and use just a rolling pin and elbow grease, or you can use a pasta machine, which speeds up the work of turning any ball of pasta dough into long, delicate sheets and cutting them into strands.

So, choose your own adventure. The following tips walk you through the process by hand and with a machine, and they’ll work for any fresh pasta dough.

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How to Roll Dough into Sheets by Hand

When rolling by hand, you will likely use a bit more flour than if using a machine. You need to dust the dough with enough flour so that it’s not too sticky to work with, but a little cling is okay. If you use too much flour, it won’t get incorporated into the dough and will end up turning the surface of your cooked pasta gummy.
slicing through pasta dough

1. Divide the dough into 6 pieces (for strand pasta and filled pasta shapes) or 10 pieces (for lasagna sheets); cover with plastic wrap.

roll out dough with rolling pin

2. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, dust both sides with four, then press the cut side down into a 3-inch square. With a rolling pin, roll it into a 6-inch square, then dust both sides again with four.

roll out dough thinly with rolling pin

3. Roll the dough to 12 by 6 inches, rolling from the center of the dough 1 way at a time, then dust with four. Continue rolling the dough to 20 by 6 inches, lifting it frequently to release it from the work surface.

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How to Roll Out Fresh Pasta Dough with a Machine

Letting the sheets of pasta air-dry for about 15 minutes after rolling them slightly “cures” them, making them less likely to tear when you start cutting them.
Hands gently pulling pasta dough through a pasta rolling machine.

1. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Flatten 1 piece of dough into a 1⁄2-inch-thick disk. Using a pasta machine with the rollers set to the widest position, feed the dough through the rollers twice.

Folded pasta dough being passed back through a pasta rolling machine.

2. Bring the tapered ends of the dough toward the middle and press to seal. Feed the dough seam side first through the rollers again. Repeat feeding the dough, tapered end first, through the rollers set at the widest position, without folding, until the dough is smooth. (If the dough sticks to your fingers or the rollers, lightly dust it with flour and roll again.)

Hands pulling a long, now rolled out sheet of pasta dough from a pasta rolling machine.

3. Narrow the rollers to the next setting and feed the dough through the rollers twice. Continue to progressively narrow the rollers, feeding the dough through each setting twice, until sheets are thin but sturdy, typically setting 5 or 6 on a standard pasta machine. (If the dough becomes too long to manage, halve it crosswise.) Transfer the dough sheets to clean dish towel(s) and let air-dry for about 15 minutes. Repeat rolling with the remaining dough pieces.

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How to Cut Strand Pasta by Hand

Before cutting strands, we recommend letting the sheets of pasta air-dry for about 15 minutes after rolling them. A light “cure” makes them less likely to tear when you start cutting them.
roll pasta sheet with both hands

1. Cut 1 air-dried pasta sheet in half crosswise. Starting with the short end, gently fold each half-sheet at 2-inch intervals to create fat, rectangular roll.

slice the pasta rolls crosswise with a sharp knife

2. Using a sharp knife, slice the pasta rolls crosswise to the desired width. Use your fingers to unfurl the pasta, then liberally dust the strands with four and transfer them to a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets.

How to Cut Strand Pasta with a Machine

Manual pasta makers often come with a couple of different cutters, and you can also purchase a wide array of additional cutters to create the desired size of strands.
Hands using a knife to cut rolled out pasta dough in half crosswise.

1. Cut the rolled-out and air-dried pasta sheets in half crosswise to make 10-inch lengths.

Pasta coming out of a rolling machine cut into strands with hands catching the noodles.

2. Slide the appropriate cutting attachment onto the machine for the width of the pasta you want to cut. Feed a sheet through the machine, turning the handle with one hand and catching the pasta with the other hand as it is coming out of the machine. This will prevent the noodles from falling into one big pile.

Hands tossing the fresh pasta strands with flour and placing them on a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet.

3. Liberally toss the strands with flour and transfer them to a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets.

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