What do many pies, tarts, tortillas, and flatbreads have in common? They’re all made with this simple kitchen tool.
Published June 5, 2023.
The best rolling pins easily and efficiently roll out all kinds of doughs without sticking or ripping. We named two winners: a straight rolling pin, the JK Adams Plain Rolling Dowel Pin, and a tapered rolling pin from the same manufacturer, the JK Adams French Rolling Pin. Both are made from North American hardwood and have a slightly rough texture that holds a fine dusting of flour well, making them virtually nonstick. They’re also wide enough to roll out even large doughs and heavy enough to assist us without feeling cumbersome. A straight dowel has the benefit of more heft and is often used for larger jobs such as batches of croissants. Tapered pins are a bit lighter and thinner and thus offer finer control.
Rolling pins are necessary when making most pie dough and tart dough, as well as many cookies; biscuits; tortillas; and yeasted doughs such as croissants, pretzels, and bagels—basically all of the best foods. We tested rolling pins in three styles: handled pins, dowels, and tapered pins (also called French rolling pins). The rolling pins in our lineup were made from marble, plastic, stainless steel, and wood.
Rolling pins with handles are likely familiar to most home bakers. You hold the handles and push down and away while the pin rotates. Dowels and tapered pins work similarly to each other. Rather than grip them, you place your palms on the surface of the pins. As you apply pressure and move your arms back and forth, the pins glide over the dough. We rolled out dozens of pie doughs, pizza doughs, and cookie doughs and found several options that rolled over their competition.
We didn’t like rolling pins with handles. It’s easier to assess a dough’s thickness and how hard to press when using a dowel or tapered pin. Between a dowel and a tapered pin, each has its benefits and the choice is a personal one. Some bakers find dowels easier to use because the weight is distributed evenly across the barrel. They require less technique than a tapered pin, and their heft and length make them especially suited for large jobs such as croissants or slab pies. Tapered pins are lighter, thinner, and offer finer control. However, there’s a slight learning curve to using tapered pins. Their smaller size also makes them easier to store. Regardless of which style works for you, there are some important things to look for and to avoid when shopping.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Carolyn is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She's a French-trained professional baker.