Making fresh homemade pasta from scratch is easy and fun! You don’t need any special or fancy equipment to get started. Whether you want to make egg pasta dough or eggless, this guide you give you the tips and tricks that nonna’s use all over Italy.
Why make pasta dough from scratch?
- You are in control of the quality of ingredients
- Fresh egg dough has a superior texture then store bought
- You can experiment with the recipe and ingredients
- Add color to the dough
- Create fun shapes
- It is easier than you think
- Make lasting memories with loved ones
Types of pasta dough you can make at home
There are over 600 pasta shapes in Italy! Most have similar base doughs with a slight variation. Some of the most common pasta doughs are:
Simple Egg – The most classic of all the doughs. It uses only eggs and tipo 00 flour. It is used for many cut pasta shapes such as tagliatelle, pappardelle etc.
Semolina and Egg – The dough contains a mixture of semolina and pasta four. The semolina adds strength and a bite to the pasta. This makes it perfect for filled pastas such as ravioli, tortellini as well cut pasta and lasagna sheets. Personally this is my go to dough because I like the flavor and texture the semolina adds.
Semolina and Water – As the name suggests, this dough is simply semolina and water! it is used for rolled shapes that are left to dry. For example, orecchiette, fusilli, cavatelli etc.
Spinach – This dough contains the additional of spinach and often has semolina as well. it is a staple in Emilia-Romagna and used for lasagna sheets, tortellini and more.
Extruded – Extruded pasta dough isn’t as common to make at home, but does have its place. The dough is similar to the Semolina and Water dough, but has less water.
How to Make Pasta Dough at home
Making homemade pasta should be a fun experience! We have a few tips and tricks to help you nail the dough every time.
Hydration levels of the dough
You can get started making homemade pasta without a machine, pasta roller or any experience! The only equipment that is really needed for new starters is a kitchen scale. The percent of hydration is critical when making pasta dough. With anything, if you make pasta dough enough you can use your senses and know how much four, eggs or water to add based on the feel of the dough.
The exact hydration may vary slightly depending on the humidity and climate, but the below is a rough guide.
|Dough Type||Ideal Hydration|
|Semolina and Water||50%|
Now that we know hydration is critical to getting consistent dough, the next important note is eggs. Not all eggs are created equal. Even if comparing two large or extra large eggs, the size may vary. This is especially true when comparing Italian vs American eggs. Eggs in Italy tend to be larger and closer to 63g while in the States they are 57g. Often my large eggs only weigh 54g. This means I need to add water to the dough to get to at least 60%. (Instead of water you can also add other liquids such as wine, puree etc)
Pasta equipment needed
When it comes to what equipment is really needed to make homemade pasta dough, only a scale, rolling pin and knife are needed. With just these 3, you could make ravioli, tagliatelle, lasagna sheets and more!
However, having other tools and equipment will make life much easier!
- Pasta Machine – to help rolling out the dough.
- Ravioli Mold – Quickly make perfect ravioli every time.
- Ravioli Stamps – They come in all sizes and shapes, even heart!
- Pasta Cutter – I recommend bronze, but steel also works.
- Bicicletta – Help to cut even squares. This is great for tortellini, farfalle etc.
- Gnocchi board – Creates texture to gnocchi as well as cavatelli.
- Pasta Tree – For hang drying fresh pasta
Storing and Drying Fresh Pasta
When it comes to how to dry and store fresh pasta, there are a few considerations. Mainly the type of pasta dough and when you plan on eating it.
Egg Dough Cut Pasta – You can cook pasta made from egg dough just after a few minutes of cutting it. If you are going to have it later in the day, it can sit at room temperature to dry using on a pasta tree or wrapped into a nest with extra semolina flour to prevent sticking. I find keeping egg dough in the refrigerator more than a day gives it an off flavor. For this reason I do not recommend it. This leave us with 2 options. We can either freeze the pasta in the nests and it will last for a few months. Simply add to boiling water without thawing. The second option is to fully dry the pasta on the pasta tree overnight or until completely dry. Once dried it will be shelf stable and will last for many months in an airtight container.
Egg Filled Pasta – If not using within 30 minutes I like put it in the freezer. Leaving the filled pasta out any longer can cause foodborne illness, and we don’t want to get ourselves or our guest sick! They will last frozen for a few months. Simply add to boiling water without thawing.
Semolina and Water Pasta – Before eating the pasta needs to dry for at least 30 minutes. If not, it will risk losing its shape and could fall apart when boiled. This dough is much easier to dry and store. There is nothing to spoil it. You can either let sit out in the sun or a counter until fully dry and store in an airtight container. If you prefer the fresh texture you can freeze an hour after shaped or extruded.
FAQs and Troubleshooting Homemade Pasta Dough
Do I need to use pasta flour?
It is recommended to use Tipo 00 pasta flour. It is double milled flour specifically for pasta. However, you could substitute all purpose flour. It has a lower gluten content than bread flour and is the closest to pasta flour.
How do I know how long to knead the dough?
The dough will go from a shaggy dough to elastic and smooth. Depending on the amount of flour and how hard you knead, it will take 5-10 minutes.
Can I use a food processor to make pasta dough?
The short answer is yes. However, you will still need to knead for a minute or two. Simply add the ingredients to the food processor and blend for 30-60 seconds. Transfer to a work area and knead for 2 minutes.
Why is my egg pasta dough tough and chewy?
There are 2 reasons why your dough may be chewy or tough. Either you used a higher gluten flour or kneaded to much. Eggs are a protein and add to the texture of pasta. However, when mixing with a high gluten flour like bread flour, it will results in a tough or chewy pasta. The second reason is you kneaded too long or vigorously. Again, this builds up the gluten. You don’t need to pull and stretch pasta dough like bread dough. Use your palms to press down and turn.
My dough is too dry or too wet.
This comes down to hydration. See our guidelines here.
If the dough starts to feel dry wet your hands and continue kneading. This is easier than adding more water to the dough. However, if it is really dry you can poke a hole in the center, making sure not to go the whole way through, and add a few teaspoons of water.
If the dough starts to get too wet, dust with more flour.
Why is my pasta bland?
Pasta dough doesn’t have salt in it. You need to salt the water you cook it in agressively. It should be as salty as the sea. As the pasta cooks it will absorb the salt.
Why is my pasta machine not cutting?
The short answer is, it is the quality of the machine. Lower end machines aren’t as precise and I find the cutting attachments don’t work well. If you are serious about making pasta, I recommend investing in a high quality pasta machine. Either the Marcato Atlas, Imperia or Kitchenaid.
Another option is cutting the dough with a knife by hand.
Why is my pasta sticking together?
As you roll the pasta it is important to dust with semolina. Before cutting as well you want to heavily dust with semolina to prevent sticking.
If there is high humidity when pasta is drying in a nest it will stick as well. To prevent this dust heavily with semolina or transfer to the freezer until ready to use.