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Jan 5, 2010 12:02 PM

Homemade Pasta WITHOUT a rolling machine?? Is it possible?

I'd love to start making homemade pasta and ravioli - but I don't have a pasta machine.... is my only option to roll, roll, roll using a rolling pin? Or, am I crazy for wanting to do this without some sort of rolling/pasta machine.

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  1. Yes, you absolutely can.

    I make chinese hand-pulled noodles as well as American/Italian pasta at home all the time.

    For Italian style rustic homemade pasta, the key is to roll out the dough as thin as possible. Form your dough. Roll it out into a rectangle. If it begins to pull back, let it rest for about 10 minutes, and then roll it out again. Whatever you do, don't chill your dough!

    Once you have your pasta sheet formed and ready, roll into a jellyroll, then just slice it into small rounds. Unroll the rounds and, voila, you have pasta noodles (without having to worry about cutting long straight lines).

    Hope that helps.


    16 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      On Lidia's Italy, they showed a neat trick for cutting fettucine. You make a double jelly roll - that is, roll from one side to the middle, then from the other side to the middle, like rolling dough for elephant ear/palmier cookies. Slice 1/4" thick, then slide a yardstick under the middle. lengthwise. When you lift the yardstick, the fettucine will unroll on their own, and you can prop the yardstick over open cabinet doors to dry the noodles.

      1. re: greygarious

        What a great trick! This is why I love Chowhound. I don't have to worry about missing Lidia's Italy because someone's watching for me!


        1. re: ipsedixit

          Chinese hand-pulled noodles at home! Wow! I've watched them do it in Flushing and Manhattan and at the Maker Faire. It looks like a ton of fun! Can you tell us your dough recipe?

          1. re: heidipie

            Pastry (or cake flour)
            Kansui liquid (or baking soda)

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I've always been fascinated by the pulled noodles. Now I'm more fascinated, because I just assumed egg would be involved.

              All I can imagine is that it takes a whole lot of work to develop the gluten in those noodles. Can ipsedixit enlighten us about technique, perhaps?

              1. re: shaogo

                No egg involved.

                If you really want to learn about it, my mom is the true artist in this regard. I only learned the very basics from her. (She still mocks me, in only the most loving way that a mother can, whenever I start making hand pulled noodles in front of her.)

                One of the keys is to let the dough rest (after forming it) for about 1-2 hours (depending on ambient temps, humidity, etc.).

                Then heavily (and I mean heavily) flour your work area, roll the dough out into a long strand. Try not to stretch it, just roll into a long rope. Flour some more.

                Now the tricky part. Fold the rope, let it hang and twist into a single strand again, stretching it back to its original shape, dust with flour, and repeating the process (i.e., fold, hang, twist, stretch, dust with flour). Do this at least 25 times.

                To make the noodles, you essentially do the same above, but without the twisting -- i.s., fold the dough, bring the two ends together, stretch, dust with flour, and repeat).

                I was much better at making dumpling skins, but even with that my mother was always quick to point out that my skins were too thick and lacked the necessary pliability, or chewiness, indicative of good Northern chinese dumpling skins. Sigh. :-)

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Ipsedixit, thanks for the reply. You clarified something for me that I didn't understand in the videos. Last fall I found Luke Rymarz's blog spot on making noodles. He has comprehensive instructions and aslo some YouTube videos illustrating the process. YouTube has a lot of other clips on the subject as well. See
                  Now that my shoulder is back in shape, I hope to try it soon. I just need time to get to Chinatown to get the Kansui liquid. I already have the flour he indicates.
                  Question, however: Would olive oil work in place of the sesame oil? (It has almost exactly the same index of saponification, so I presume it would behave chemically in much the same way.) Or can I dispense with the oil? I note that your ingredient list does not include oil.
                  Thanks for the help.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Thanks. I'm not fond of the flavor of sesame oil in noodles.

                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                        If you're doing this for the first time, I would suggest you try it in a garage (if you have one). Inside of your nice, neat kitchen probably isn't the best place to make hand-pulled noodles ... unless you really enjoy cleaning up flour on the counter, on the floor, on your kitchen equipment, cookware, ceiling ...


                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          In an unheated garaged in DC in sub freezing weather? Now you frighten me. However, we have a big island in our kitchen that I make bread on. Maybe that will do. Thanks for the tip.

                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                            Apologies, did not realize you were under that sub-arctic cold front.

                            Stay warm and pull with much joy and vigor!

                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                              At least the noodles would be firm as they freeze in your hands! Every time I see a video of a noodle artist, I am totally amazed at the skill required.

                              1. re: smtucker

                                We've lucked out. There is a restaurant on H street where sometimes a guy is in the window pulling noodles. I have to get down there this weekend. And then Sunday will be flour in the hair day.

            2. Absolutely! My grandmother made the most delicious homemade noodles for her chicken noodle soup by hand. They weren't the prettiest, but, golly they were craveworthy.


              1. My husband's grandmother used the kitchen table to roll and cut her pasta: his mother shocked everyone when she eventually bought one of those Atlas machines, but they still mostly made it on the table. So they would think you were crazy to want to use a machine. (But they did have to start really early in the morning.....)

                1. Marcella Hazan has a long description of how to do it, along with disparaging remarks about the texture obtained by machine. So yes, definitely possible. It's probably the kind of thing that's painful the first time you do it and gets simple with practice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: NomadHomebody

                    Marcella Hazan's description is really good. As I recall, Madeleine Kamen also tells how to make pasta by hand. My dad grew up making egg noodles at home that way. And if you really want to present yourself with a fun challenge, try making pulled noodles the Chinese way. There are web site with good recipes and video clips. I was set to try it last fall when I had to have shoulder surgery and then physical therapy for an encapsulated shoulder. So it wasn't possible. But I should be ready to attempt it soon. Maybe Ipsedixit could give us some pointers.

                  2. My Aunt Madeline made macaroni every Sunday on the kitchen table using a technique much like Mario's Vesuvious technique. (There was a dedicated very clean white sheet on the table then a wooden board on which she worked.) Make a mound of flour, create a hole in the center , crack the eggs into the hole, slowly incorporate the flour from the sides with a fork or simply with your fingers, so eventually all the flour and eggs make a dough. Add more flour a little bit at a time and knead as you go. You want a cohesive mass... not too sticky. The dough should be elastic. Continue to knead for another few minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temp then roll it out at the desired shape....adding flour to the mass and rolling pin as you go. Most times it was a simple linguine shape but you can do anything you want to after it has rested.