Pasta is so easy to make at home, it doesn’t need any specialist equipment or cooking techniques – just a little elbow grease and time!
For a more information, see our in-depth fresh pasta recipe.
How to make pasta – a basic recipe
- 1 large egg
- 100g ‘00’ pasta flour per person
You can make big batches of pasta dough, just follow this easy ratio and scale up.
With a food processor
1) Put the flour into the bowl and crack in the egg. Pulse in short blasts until the mixture combines and forms a ball of dough.
2) Remove from the food processor and knead briefly (2-3 mins) on a lightly floured work surface until you get a smooth dough.
3) Wrap well and leave at room temperature for 30 mins to let the dough rest.
Without a food processor
1) Put the flour in a bowl, and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg into the centre and whisk with a fork, bringing in the flour gradually from the outside until all the flour is incorporated into a clumpy dough.
2) Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4-6 mins until you get a smooth, silky ball of dough.
3) Wrap and rest for 30 mins.
Try not to add too much extra flour when kneading, but the dough should be stiff, like firm playdough, rather than soft and springy like bread dough. Too sticky and the dough will be hard to roll out thinly.
Can I make pasta without eggs?
Some traditional shaped pasta is made without eggs, like orecchiette or orzo. You don’t need to make pasta with eggs, you can use the ratio of 50ml warm water: 100g ‘00’ flour and form it in the same ways as above. You can add 1 tsp olive oil to the dough for a little extra flavour if you like, although not strictly necessary.
How to use a pasta machine
If you have a pasta machine, cut off tennis ball sized pieces from the dough (keep the remaining wrapped) and dust both sides in flour. Working from the widest setting, roll the dough through the machine. Feed the dough through each setting at least twice, to get even sheets. Add a light dusting of flour to both sides of the sheet of pasta after every couple of rolls, if it starts to stick to itself. For tagliatelle or lasagne, the thinnest setting can actually be *too* thin, so boil some water, and experiment with a few small batches to see what thickness you like to your pasta.
You can now use the pasta as sheets, or use the tagliatelle attachment to cut your pasta sheets into strips. Dust a baking tray with more flour, and store the pasta in little bundles on it, tossing in a little of the flour (or traditionally, semolina flour), to prevent it sticking to itself, while you roll out the remaining pasta.
Can I still make pasta without a machine?
Yes! All you need is a rolling pin and an empty worksurface or table. Cut off golf ball sized pieces of the dough (keep the rest covered) and roll out on your largest worksurface dusted with flour. Dust your rolling pin lightly with flour and keep spinning and turning the pasta while you roll to create an even layer of thin pasta. You may need to ask for another set of hands to help and take turns if you have lots of batches to roll out, as it can take a little elbow grease to get the pasta very thin, but it’s worth it when it’s cooked.
My dough is too dry…
If your dough is crumbly, add 1 tsp water at a time, and bring your dough back together in a bowl until it forms a ball.
My dough is too wet…
Add a sprinkling of flour under the ball of dough while you’re kneading it on the worksurface, adding a little at a time until the dough stops sticking.
Why do I need to rest the dough?
It’s better to work with if you do – by resting the dough, you relax the gluten, meaning it’s easier to roll out and less likely to spring back as much.
What about extra egg yolks?
Lots of recipes call for extra egg yolks instead of whole eggs. This creates a ‘richer’ flavoured pasta, and a more golden colour to the pasta when it’s cooked. Using a combination of whole egg and egg yolks is fine too, depending on what you have or need to use up.
How about semolina flour?
Semolina flour is traditionally used to dust the ‘cut’ pasta to stop is sticking to itself before or after cooking. You can use more of the flour you’ve used in the pasta if you don’t have semolina. Just dust generously as it absorbs more moisture than semolina.
How to make lasagne or ravioli
Once you have sheets of pasta, you can cut them into lasagne sheets as big as you like, or as big as your dish! For ravioli, it’s best to add spoons of the filling onto a sheet of pasta, brush in between with egg wash or water, then top with another sheet of pasta. Seal both sides with your fingertips around the sides of the filling, then stamp out or cut around the pasta. Store in a single layer, on a floured tray, in the fridge until ready to cook.
How to make pappardelle or tagliatelle
To make ribbons of pasta, hold one of the shorter ends of the sheet of pasta up, so the opposite side just dangles onto the worksurface, then lower and stack the sheet of pasta in a concertina-style fold on top of itself on the floured worksurface, so you’re left with a long thin section of overlapping pasta, use a sharp knife to cut the sheet into strips as wide as you like, trying to keep them consistent so they take the same time to cook. Remember, if your pasta is very long, it will but trickier to eat, so you can always cut the sheet of pasta in half before stacking.
How do I store my fresh pasta? How long does fresh pasta keep?
Pasta dough keeps in the fridge well wrapped for up to a week.
Shaped or rolled pasta will keep well dusted in flour in an airtight container for two days chilled.
You can also freeze fresh pasta in an airtight container for up to a month.
Can I dry the pasta?
Once you’ve rolled the pasta and cut into shapes, you can dry it to keep it for longer. Dry in a single layer on a drying rack or on hangers until completely dry and firm – usually 24 hrs. Keep in an airtight container for up to a month. Add 2-3 mins on the cooking time if using from dried.
Can I use other types of flour?
‘00’ flour is traditionally used as it’s high in gluten, stopping the pasta from snapping when rolling out or in strands. Strong bread flour or plain flour would work as a substitute but don’t use self-raising flour.
How to cook fresh pasta
Bring a large pot of well salted water the boil, and drop in the pasta. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the pasta floats to the top, and is al dente. Drain, before tossing into sauces, or topping with cheese or butter.
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Do you prefer fresh pasta or dry pasta? Leave a comment below…
HOW TO MAKE PASTA
Use ’00’ flour or flour that says it is suitable for making pasta. Other flours will not produce a dough that can hold its shape in the water.
HOW TO MAKE PASTA
Don’t add salt to the flour because it will lead to white spots forming on the dough and finished pasta.
HOW TO MAKE PASTA
Keep any lumps of pasta dough that you’re not using, or sheets of pasta that you still need to work with, covered tightly, because it can dry out quickly and become hard and unusable.