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Tool vs. Tool: Pasta Machines

Fine Cooking Issue 82
Photos: Sloan Howard
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If you want to make fresh pasta, you’ll need a pasta machine. But, what kind? The classic choice would be a hand-cranked machine, but these days, you have another option: a pasta roller set that attaches to a KitchenAid stand mixer. To find out which alternative is best, I tried out the KitchenAid attachments and four of the most common handcranked machines on the market (Marcato Atlas, VillaWare Imperia, VillaWare Al Dente, and Belpasta Trattorina), and here’s what I discovered.

Hand-cranked pasta machines

Most of the hand-cranked machines I tried work just fine. Although turning the crank isn’t hard, it is a bit awkward. You have to use one hand to power the machine while you feed the dough into the rollers and catch it on the other side with your other hand. This becomes even trickier as the pasta sheet grows longer and thinner because you have to stop turning the crank and stretch out the pasta as it comes out of the rollers. To address this challenge, some manufacturers offer an optional motor you can attach in place of the handle. Though they did free up my hands, the motors I tried were complicated to install and caused the machines to wobble, so I wasn’t crazy about them.

Of the hand-cranked machines I tried, my favorite is the Marcato Atlas 150. ($49.99 at Fantes.com. The optional motor is $99.95 at Cutlery And More.) It’s a solid machine that rolls out smooth, very thin pasta and has an easy-to-use dial to change roller settings. 

KitchenAid pasta roller set

The best thing about using these attachments is that the stand mixer does most of the work. There’s no handle to crank, so both your hands are free—you feed the dough sheets into the rollers with one hand and catch them with the other. You can decide how fast you want to roll the dough by simply changing the motor speed.

The set ($119.99 at CooksWares.com) includes a pasta roller attachment for rolling the dough into exceptionally thin, silky pasta sheets and two cutter attachments: one for making fettuccine, the other for linguine. All the attachments are sturdy and a breeze to set up.

Bottom line: If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, don’t think twice; get the pasta roller set. It’s so easy to use, even a novice pasta maker will feel like a pro.

What about ravioli attachments?

Most brands, including KitchenAid, sell ravioli attachments, but I found them clumsy to use, and the results were disappointing. Sure, the ravioli came out all the same size, but they were tiny and skimpy on the filling, and sometimes the filling wasn’t evenly distributed. I prefer hand-made ravioli, with all their charming irregularities.


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