Homemade Pasta Without a Machine? Yes You Can!

Publish Date May 8, 2024 3 Minute Read

Fresh pasta is in a class of its own, with a tender texture that dried pasta can’t beat. Homemade pasta without a machine is not hard to make, all you need are your hands and maybe a rolling pin!

Pasta was invented long before the pasta machine, and cooks have created all kinds of handmade pasta and noodles for centuries. There is evidence that the first noodles were made in China, and the technique migrated over to the Mediterranean, where Italians made it their own. It was not Marco Polo who brought the noodles, as pasta was already established in Italy by the time he made his journey.

The earliest pastas would have to have been mixed and shaped by hand, and you can keep it authentic and do it, too.

Homemade Pasta Recipes

Start with the Right Flour for Great Homemade Pasta

There are a few choices, for classic fresh pasta. If you’re making a pasta with eggs, use All-Purpose Unbleached Flour. Don’t use bleached flour, as the bleaching process changes the proteins and it doesn’t work as well. If you’re making an eggless pasta, seek out semolina flour, which has the high protein content and proper grind. The dough won’t have eggs to hold it together, so you’re relying on the gluten to do the job.

Mix Fresh Pasta Dough

The classic way to mix an eggy pasta is with your hands. Measure the flour and salt in a pile on a clean counter and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well, then start stirring the eggs in a circular motion, gradually pulling in flour as you go. Knead the dough until a firm, supple dough is formed. It’s important to rest the dough for at least an hour, tightly wrapped, so the flour is completely hydrated. If desired, refrigerate the wrapped dough for up to 24 hours, or freeze it for up to a week.

Shape the Pasta by Hand

To make noodles, you’ll need a rolling pin. Dust the countertop with flour and cut an evenly shaped piece. Use your rolling pin to roll out the dough to desired thickness. Let the rolled dough dry for 15 minutes. Lightly fold like an accordion so you can slice across the folds to make even, long strips of dough. You can also make shapes like Cavatelli, Orecchiette or Trofie, without a rolling pin. Each of these shapes is formed by shaping a small piece of dough with your fingers. To form ravioli and other filled pastas, roll the dough thinly, fill and cut.

How to Cook Fresh Pasta

The first thing to know is that it cooks very quickly. Handmade spaghetti cooks in two minutes, depending on the thickness. Just make sure to loosen the noodles as they go into salted, boiling water, so they won’t stick together. If your pasta is frozen, do not thaw, cook the frozen pasta until tender.

How to Store Fresh Pasta

As you roll and shape your pasta, dust it with flour. Form loose nests of noodles and place on a floured sheet pan, not touching. If you’re making other shapes or filled pasta, place on the pan, not touching. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

How To Dry Fresh Pasta

Official pasta drying racks are made with dowels to drape the noodles over, so they have plenty of ventilation. You can rig your own drying system by hanging the pasta over the back of a chair, a broom handle, or making a mini-clothesline with a piece of string. You can also form nests and place them on a floured tray to dry. Let the pasta dry for up to 24 hours, until it is brittle when snapped. Store in an airtight container.

Try Using Fresh Pasta in Your Favorite Recipes

Fresh pasta and dried pasta can be swapped, just sub 1 1/2 pounds of fresh pasta for 1 pound of dry pasta. If you have a favorite spaghetti sauce or pesto, serve it over fresh pasta for a special treat. Try our Linguine and Shrimp Scampi, Homemade Ravioli or Thai Chicken Fettucine to show off your handmade bounty.