Kitchen Basics: Making Your Own Pasta From Scratch
Homemade pasta makes you feel special. It’s got a chew, al dente in Italian, that makes it far more comforting than any boxed pasta and can arguably give a warm winter stew a run for the money.
Homemade pasta also comes with a reputation for being too time consuming or finicky. Let me tell you, there’s a reason it tastes so good. It’s because homemade pasta is a labor of love. It requires the cook to get their hands dirty and touch their food. You have to roll the dough with your hands, feel the glutens form, and dust the counters with flour like it’s a dance. It becomes second nature, and like all things that are passed down through the years and require intuition, it requires practice. Making pasta from scratch IS NOT hard, but it will take practice for it to feel easy.
The greatest thing about learning to make homemade pasta? The options! You can add different herbs, make different colors using vegetables juices, try different shapes/thicknesses. PS: no restaurant will compare once you’ve made your own pasta
Are you interested in making homemade sourdough pasta? You can learn how to make various types of sourdough pasta along with some gourmet sauce recipes with my friends over at Sourdough School House. Their online courses are a wonderful way to improve your sourdough skills. Click here for a course list.
Pasta Making Supplies
Personally, the supplies that we would buy if we were first time pasta makers are: a pasta machine & a pastry cutter. Our specific pasta machine is no longer available online, but I have added a few similar ones to my Amazon list under “In the Kitchen.“
Do I NEED special equipment to make homemade pasta? The answer is no, but based on our experience, you’ll probably enjoy making and eating homemade pasta A LOT more if you do use a machine. When we first attempted to make pasta, we used a rolling pin to roll out the dough and a knife to cut our noodles. Unless you feel like you can create paper thin dough with perfect thickness throughout, you will end up with odd textures and sometimes weirdly thick pasta. If you like rustic nature of hand cut pasta, go for it!
Once we bought our pasta machine,we could easily create pasta with the perfect thickness without feeling frustrated. It’s really fun! PS: our type of pasta machine clips to our counter like a vise grip.
Full recipe makes approximately 1 lb. of pasta.*
2 cups all-purpose flour**
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp Salt
*if we only want to make a small batch just for the two of us, we cut the recipe in thirds!
**once you get comfortable, you can play around with different types of flour. We have made pasta using whole wheat, 50/50 whole wheat and all-purpose, and also semolina flour.
How to Add Fresh Herbs to Your Homemade Pasta
You can easily add fresh chopped herbs to your homemade pasta. You can actually add vegetables juices too to turn your pastas different colors….but that will be a post for a later day. When you go to add fresh herbs, the time to add them is once you have cracked your eggs into your flour “well” and are about to start mixing. Try to chop finely so the herbs don’t interfere with the cutting of the pasta at a later step.
The basic rule is to add 1/4 cup chopped herbs to the base recipe. You can also chop your chosen herbs with the olive oil from the recipe in a food processor before adding to your pasta…when we do this the pasta seems to turn out more colored. Really interesting!
*pictured: all the pictures in this article are of my homemade fresh pasta using chopped basil as my herb. You might have seen this pasta on my Instagram page. We really like the classic flavor of basil on its own. Try it!
We make our pasta right on our counter top. You can use any flat, sturdy food-safe surface to mix and knead your pasta.
Measure out your flour.
Make a well in the center of the flour by using the bottom of a measuring cup (pictured above).
Crack your eggs into the “well” and add the rest of your ingredients at this time.
Using a fork, gradually start pulling some flour from the inside of the well and mixing it into the eggs in the center. Do your best to not break the walls of the well because this helps to contain your liquids and not make a mess.
Once the liquids have been fully incorporated to the point where they won’t drip and flow all over your surface, we now can start distributing the ingredients more evenly through the mixture.
A great tool to use for starting this process is a pastry scraper. We use this one. Warning: the pastry scraper can also be used as a cutter, so it will be sharp on the blade side. Do not cut yourself while trying to mix the pasta. Alternatively, you can just mix with your hands.
Take your scraper and break up the mixture into crumbs by spreading the mixture out while using an “up and down” chopping motion. Scrape the pieces back together and repeat. See photo. ⇓
Once everything is evenly distributed, it is time to use your hands to knead the dough.
Gather up your dough into a ball and start kneading to activate the formation of gluten. It usually takes about 10 minutes to knead the dough thoroughly.
Tip: keep a cup of water nearby. If your dough is starting to feel too dry, add just a little water.
You will be able to tell that your dough is good when you poke the dough with a finger and it bounces back. The reason is bounces back is because of the gluten formation that allows your dough to be rolled thin without breaking.
Once your dough is ready, it needs to rest for about 20 minutes. It is very important to not let your dough dry out while it is resting. Therefore, take your dough ball and gently coat it with a drizzle of olive oil.
Rub the olive oil over the ball and wrap in plastic wrap (or dish towel).
After your pasta dough has rested, unwrap it and use your pastry cutter to cut the dough into fourths.
Set one fourth aside, and re-wrap the other three pieces so they don’t dry out.
Use your hand, or a rolling pin, to flatten your pasta dough into an oval shape. It needs to be flat enough to squeeze through the largest setting on your pasta machine (approximately 1/4″) yet not wide enough that it won’t fit the width of the pasta machine.
Roll out your pasta sheets
NOTE: if you are using a rolling pin to rollout your dough, you would simply need to roll it out to your desired thickness at this point. Flour your surface, and lightly flour your dough as you roll it out. Pasta dough will usually be so thin you can see the shadow of your hands behind it with you pick it up.
Set your pasta machine on the largest setting (ours is 7). PS: the next steps can be difficult to do with just two hands….so you might want to enlist a helper until you feel more comfortable.
Roll your dough through the machine. You need to use one hand to hold the dough and guide it into the machine, and the other to crank the wheel! Haha see what I mean about coordination!
Move the setting on the dial/knob to the next level (ours would be 6), and repeat.
Continue to roll your dough through each level until you reach the level BEFORE the last one you want (for example, that would be level 3 for us because we often stop at level 2). At this point, we like to take a little flour and dust our pasta sheet on each side.
Move the setting on the dial to level 2 and roll the dough through. NOTE: our usual thickness is level 2 because we like the chewiness…but it all depends on the kind of pasta you want to make. This is also ideal for fettuccine. Feel free to roll the dough down to whatever thickness you prefer.
Cut Your Pasta!
*If you are making hand cut pasta: fold your pasta sheet over itself a few times and cut your desired noodles with a knife.
Once you are ready to cut your pasta dough sheets into noodles, cut your sheet in half. We do this with our pastry scraper as pictured below.
Choose the kind of noodle you would like to make, and cut your noodles using the cutting setting of your choice. If you aren’t using any special equipment, you will need to fold your pasta sheet over itself and cut strips to make noodles.
After your noodles are cut, sprinkle a dusting a flour on them and toss to distribute (see photo of finished pasta below!
Cook Your Homemade Pasta
Homemade pasta is cooked just like any pasta out of a box, except the cooking time is much MUCH faster!
Add your homemade pasta to a pot of boiling, salted water and cook anywhere from 3-6 minutes depending on the thickness of your pasta.
Voila! You just made homemade pasta. Serve with the sauce of your choice. Obviously I’m a fan of my creamy cherry tomato pasta sauce but other options include a alfredo , marinara, bolognese, browned butter & sage, or simply tossed with some butter, salt and pepper and parmesan.
Freezing Homemade Pasta
If you would like to make large batches and store your homemade pasta for future use, I highly recommend freezing. Why? Freezing your pasta keeps the texture intact without the risk of mold that you might have when drying pasta and trying to store it in the pantry. I also love freezing homemade pasta because you can add it directly to your boiling water for cooking. Simply add a couple more minutes to your cooking time!
To freeze your pasta: simply lay your cut pasta out after cutting and flouring while you process the rest of the dough. It will dry slightly. Next, form “nests” of pasta the size of a single serving on a cookie sheet. Pre-freeze your nests for about 1 hour so they don’t stick together during storage. Transfer your frozen nests to a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze. Remember, frozen pasta can be added directly to your boiling water—just add a few more minutes to the cook time.
So while you are enjoying all the delicious aspects of italian food, feel free to check out these other articles that might help take your meals to the next level:
These grilled artichokes are the best topping to add to your pasta
⇓I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to making homemade pasta. Once you get the hang of it there are endless options and variations. Do you have a favorite homemade pasta flavor? I look forward to reading your feedback below⇓
PS: join me on Instagram using #FreckledCA