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Rolling Pins

Tapered or straight, with handles or without, made from silicone, metal, or wood—what works best when you’re ready to roll?

Published Aug. 1, 2012

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What You Need To Know

Choosing a rolling pin used to be simple: Almost all were made from wood, and the only question was whether to go with handles or without. Nowadays, the choices for materials and designs could take hours to consider. To see if innovation could trump the tried and true, we rounded up nine pins—including our former favorite—in wood, metal, and silicone, tapered and straight, with handles and without, priced from $9.99 to $45. We wanted an all-purpose pin, so we set to work rolling out pie crust, yeasted rolls, cookies, and pizza. 

Since rolling out pie crust is job No. 1, we started there. A good rolling pin should spread this finicky, delicate dough easily and smoothly, without sticking or tearing. A handled pin of nonstick-coated steel looked promising, but it was so heavy it smashed dough, generating cracks and sticking. This metal pin lifted whole swaths of dough onto its surface. And because of their smooth finishes, pins in metal and silicone couldn’t hold a dusting of flour (an old trick to keep pie dough from sticking). Was wood the only way to go? Maybe, but some of the wood pins were also too smooth, resisting a flour dusting. The dusting clung best to slightly rough-textured wood, which gripped dough just enough to roll it out.

In the test kitchen, we’ve long preferred handle-free French rolling pins for flattening pie dough, since they give us a direct sense of the dough’s thickness and of how hard we are pressing down. Most of our tapered French models weighed less than the handled pins but had just enough heft for this task. One of our handled pins also worked well—at just under 2 pounds, it was slightly less maneuverable but didn’t leave us with cracked, crushed dough.

Should a pin be straight or tapered? One tapered model left pie dough thick at the edges; others rolled evenly. We got out our measuring tape and discovered that the problematic pin started tapering from closer to its middle. So fat-bellied that it resembled a lozenge, it provided only 4 inches of straight, flat rolling surface. Considering that the bottom of a standard pie plate measures 7 inches across, pins that stay straight for at least 6 inches function best.

The dramatically tapered pin was truly cumbersome when we rolled out stiff gingerbread cookie dough, leaving hills and valleys in its path. For this task, the heaviest rolling pins with the longest untapered expanse worked best. Featherweight pins did almost none of the work for us, and we found ourselves going back over the same areas to get a 1/8-inch thickness for cutting out cookies. Plus, using these lighter pins took so long that the dough had ample time to warm up, making it...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.

Highly Recommended


Recommended with reservations

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*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

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