If you want to make pasta at home every now and then for a small family, you don’t necessarily have to pay big bucks on an electric appliance to do the job. You can instead get a manual device that is powered by your own physical efforts as you use a hand crank to work the moving parts. Our reviews for the best hand crank pasta extruder or roller will help you find one that is easy to use and gives you the best fresh pasta possible.
Types of Manual Pasta Machines
There are two types of pasta machines available. The more popular one is a roller and cutter pasta maker that rolls pasta dough into sheets that are then cut into ribbons or strands of any thickness during the final pass through. You can use uncut sheets for making lasagna or ravioli. While you can make a decent amount of pasta this way, you may find that it takes some practice cranking the handle and handling the dough at the same time. Another pair of hands will definitely help or you can get an electric pasta roller/cutter.
The second type is a pasta extruder that makes tube-shaped pasta like fusilli and rigatoni from the dough that is pushed through die-cast plates. However, this is not a very common pasta maker used at home, particularly manual extruders. This is because the effort needed to extrude a good quantity of pasta is quite a lot. If you want to make a lot of shaped pasta at a time or if you do it frequently, I recommend that you get an electric pasta extruder.
Pasta Extruder Vs Roller
- With an extruder you are limited by the number of die casts you have. For example, if you want a really thin noodle, but you don’t have a mold with really small holes, then you’re out of luck. With a pasta roller machine, you can go quite thin, make even lasagna sheets, and even have different widths of pasta ribbons or strands.
- Rolled pasta tends to be lighter and more porous because you pass the dough sheet through the rollers several times. Therefore, rolled pasta cooks very quickly, tends to hold the sauce better, and has a delicate flavor. Extruded pasta is forced through the die just once by using pressure, so it is denser and takes a longer time to cook. The surface doesn’t hold the sauce as well, so the thicker noodles may not seem as tasty.
- A pasta roller is trickier to use because you need to feed in the pasta dough as you crank the rollers. However, this is not strenuous to do, as the dough pushes through smoothly without you needing to put too much effort into the cranking. An extruder needs more arm strength to crank the handle but you only insert the dough in the beginning and it is fed through by a press, so it’s easier to coordinate.
- You can add quite a few ingredients to the pasta dough before rolling. Spinach, cracked spices, crushed herbs, grated cheese, and more easily combines with the dough as it goes through the rollers. However, you risk gumming up the die holes or jamming the press in an extruder if you add anything more than powdered herbs or spices to the dough.
Top Picks for Best Hand Crank Pasta Extruder or Roller
Top rated manual pasta roller
Marcato Atlas Wellness 150 Pasta Machine
Budget pasta roller
Gourmex Manual Pasta Maker Machine
Best manual pasta extruder
Marcato Atlas Regina Extruder Pasta Maker
Manual Pasta Roller and Cutter
Manual pasta roller machines are great for making excellent pasta sheets that can be cut into strands of any thickness and width. They’re inexpensive too. However, if you’re not a practiced user of these machines, they can take a bit of practice to use, as one hand has to crank and the other hand has to guide or hold the pasta sheet and cut strands as they roll out. To make things easier, consider one of these electric pasta roller/cutter machines made for home use.
Marcato Atlas Wellness 150 Pasta Maker
This is the pasta maker by which all of the others are judged, and if you want the best hand crank pasta machine, the Marcato Atlas Wellness 150, that’s made in Italy, can’t be beat.
This is one of the most versatile pasta rollers made, and you’ll be able to make virtually any pasta sheet or noodle with the included Fettuccini, Tagliolini, or Lasagna cutters or the optional ones, that are available at an extra cost. The 10 thickness settings adjustment knob lets you cut up to 15 pasta shapes in virtually any width size desired, just dial in the size you want and turn the handle. You’ll get consistent results everytime so you know exactly what texture and taste you’ll get for the same cooking times each time. It’s just that easy. The clamp lets you attach the machine to virtually any flat surface, and it holds tight for true one-handed operation.
The chrome steel body is incredibly easy to clean, just damp wipe the body and you are done. The rollers and cutters are made of anodized aluminum, which means no unsafe heavy metals, like chromium or nickel, touch the pasta dough as it runs through the machine. Cleaning the rollers and blades is a snap, just use a dry brush to whisk away any pasta bits and pieces. Never use water in this cleaning process or the dough will become sticky and incredibly hard to remove.
You’ll pay a bit extra for this unit, but that’s because this is the best pasta machine for home use at any price and you get a 10 year warranty. And you can make more than just pasta. You can even make pita bread, asian noodles, dumpling wrappers, and empanada pastry.
If you want to add a dash of color to your kitchen decor, this Atlas 150 pasta making tool comes in a variety of colors too!
Imperia Pasta Maker Machine
Another pasta machine that is built like a tank is the Imperia Pasta Maker Machine.
This hand crank pasta maker is also made of chrome plated steel, so it is easy to clean with a damp cloth. The blades are made of steel, unlike the aluminum types on other machines, but they must also be dry brushed clean or you’ll end up with a sticky mess if you use water in the cleaning process. The clamp holds the unit firmly in place, and the wooden handle makes it comfortable to turn with every pasta batch.
This machine has a 6 cutting adjustment size knob that works flawlessly. Dial in the size you need and start cutting pasta. You can make virtually any sized pasta noodles, including up to 6 inch wide sheets, and there are many optional cutting blades to make it an extremely versatile unit. The double cutter Fettuccini and Spaghetti attachments are included with this model.
When it is first used straight out of the box, prepare a throw out batch to run through the rollers and blades at the no. 6 setting, as they need to be cleaned first, unless you want metal dust in your pasta!
If there is a problem here it’s a small plastic piece on the roller that a few users say broke off after many uses. The small tray that is attached to catch the falling pasta comes off easily, but it is not a necessary attachment, as you can just catch the pasta on a plate underneath as it comes out or let it fall on the counter. Not a big deal here at all.
This is one of the best manual pasta machine units available, and truly, you could pick or choose between the Marcato Atlas or this Imperia, and not go wrong.
CucinaPro Pasta Maker Deluxe Set
The CucinaPro Pasta Maker Deluxe Set is for the home cook that likes to make all kinds of pasta and even dazzle friends with her skills at a party. You get a real bang for your buck, even if it’s not the ideal pasta roller and cutter to use frequently.
This hand crank pasta roller and cutter set includes attachments to make Spaghetti, Fettucini, Angel Hair, Ravioli, and Lasagnette, and if that’s not enough, there are other attachments for other types of pasta sold separately.
The durable body is made of chrome-plated steel that can be wiped clean, but you have to be careful not to get any liquid on the cutters. Just let any leftover pasta bits dry and then brush them off to clean the cutters.
The handle is removable so that you save storage space, but some users have said that it doesn’t stay in very long when in use and that you have to keep pushing it in. You may also find that the clamp that holds it down is not ideal, as it is a bit small and only secures one end properly.
CHEFLY Pasta & Ravioli Maker Set
The CHEFLY Pasta & Ravioli Maker Set is very easy set up and easy to use. It gives you 9 thickness ranges with the dough roller and two pasta widths for spaghetti and fettuccini with the dual-bladed pasta cutter. There is also a 3 cm ravioli cutter but you may find that this is too small if you want to use more than just a half teaspoon of filling!
This quality food-grade stainless steel machine has a clearly marked knob for settings adjustment and the clamp keeps the unit firmly on the countertop. With detachable parts, you’ll find that cleaning it is easy using just a damp cloth for the body and a dry brush for the teeth.
Although a ravioli attachment is included, it is way too small to make actual ravioli. The handle does not lock into place so you may find it coming out every now and then.
GOURMEX Stainless Steel Manual Pasta Maker Machine
The GOURMEX Stainless Steel Manual Pasta Maker Machine is another fine unit, and it is priced a bit less than the other two roller cutter units on this list. If you are new to pasta making, only want to try a few basic pastas, but don’t want to break the bank, this is certainly a good hand crank pasta maker to consider.
Although it may be a bit less expensive and doesn’t have a ravioli attachment, it is still a high quality and elegant looking chrome-plated steel unit with dual-headed cutter to choose your width. It also comes with an instruction manual and recipe booklet.
There are 7 thickness adjustments here, which allows you a quite a bit of versatility, going from the thinnest linguine to the thickest fettuccini. Just turn the dial to adjust the steel rollers. The handle and clamp are removable for easy cleaning and storage.
One thing that you may notice is that there’s an almost imperceptible uneven gap between one end of the rollers that makes your dough a touch uneven, especially when making spaghetti. However, for the price, this is the best bang for the buck pasta maker here.
Eppicotispai Chitarra Pasta Cutter
We’re going old school and very inexpensive now. If you don’t mind rolling out the dough yourself but don’t want to cut it with a cookie cutter or knife, the Eppicotispai Chitarra Pasta Cutter can do the job. It is the kind of cutter that people actually use in Italy.
This artisanal Italian made natural wood product would make a great gift for home chefs. Even for experienced cooks who can roll out dough easily, some pastas like angel hair are difficult to cut, and even thicker ones like fettuccine can be time-consuming without a pasta cutter, so this type of pasta cutter is quite handy.
The name “Chitarra” means guitar in Italian, and that’s what this tool looks like! There are several rows of wires along both sides of the wooden frame. One side is for 3mm angel hair pasta and the other is for 5mm fettuccine.
You place your rolled out dough on top of one set of wires and press it through using your rolling pin. All it needs is a few rolls up and down and the wires will cut through the dough to make fine strands that will emerge below. You can even strum the wires like a guitar to make the strands fall off and onto the wooden board below! The slope in the wood allows you to just push the prepared pasta off the board and into a tray so that you can continue cutting more pasta. Before using, make sure to tighten the strings and dust them with flour so that they cut through the dough easily and the cut strands fall through without getting stuck.
Manual Pasta Extruder
Before we go any further, you should know that most manual pasta machines made for the home are the roller and cutter type. If you’re looking to do a good amount of shaped tubular pasta at home, pick an electric type of extruder. The following are decent options only for light use and small quantities of shaped pasta.
Newcreativetop Manual Noodles Press Machine Pasta Maker
The Newcreativetop Manual Noodles Press is a very decent basic pasta extruder, but this tool isn’t just for making noodles and pasta; it will juice citrus fruits too! Yes, it is inexpensive, which means if you want to learn how to make shaped pasta, this is the unit to get because it does a very credible job with the 5 extrusion discs provided. You can make a 5mm wide flat noodle like fettuccine, or 3 different round noodles of diameter 1mm/2mm/3mm, or a thick drop pasta with the nested mold.
This manual noodle press is made of stainless steel and is easy to use and easy to clean. You only need two hands to operate it and all the parts are dishwasher safe.
All you have to do is unscrew the cover of the cylinder body on the top and insert one of the disc molds. Then insert a prepared ball of pasta dough and screw on the dough press with the rotational handle on the top. Now slowly rotate the handle so that the press moves farther and farther down into the cylinder and pushes the dough through the chosen pasta mold. The shaped pasta strands will be extruded out and into a ready plate below. When one ball of dough is almost over, add another and keep going.
With this extruder you’ll have to experiment with the wetness and stiffness of the dough and you may need to start off with smaller amounts to make sure that it’s not too strenuous to extrude the dough. However, the price is right, and if you want a foolproof way of making shaped tubular type pastas at a low price, then this machine is a good choice.
Marcato Atlas Regina Extruder Pasta Maker
From the makers of the highly rated Marcato Atlas pasta roller and cutter, comes the best manual pasta extruder on the market – the Marcato Atlas Regina Extruder Pasta Maker.
You’ll get 5 pasta dies with this machine, Rigatoni, Macaroni, small Macaroni, Bucatini, and Fusilli. There is an attached cutter, hand crank, and clamp. There are different accessories that can be ordered for mincing and extruding meat, but really, this machine is made to make pasta, and it does a wonderful job when used for that purpose.
Because it is a manual pasta extruder, the crank may be hard to turn for stiffer dough. Adding water will make the dough softer and therefore easier to crank the handle, although it will need a bit more drying time afterward.
This hand crank pasta machine is made primarily of thick plastic, so it is fairly light weight. Make sure to add smaller pieces of pasta dough to minimize hard cranking, and smaller batches made at one time work best. This is also the most expensive pasta maker on the list, but because it extrudes the dough directly into the shape you want with no feeding in of dough, and gives you leverage to crank, unlike the hand held pasta maker above, it is the easiest to use when making shaped pasta. That alone may be the best reason to get one.
The parts can be dismantled and easily washed by hand.
A pasta roller is definitely worth it if you plan to make pasta even semi-regularly. A machine makes it easier and more consistent than making it by hand. Also keep in mind that you can make a lot more than just pasta with a machine. Ramen noodles come to mind, but so do almost any other kind of dough-based foods, as listed farther down.
Manual pasta makers are cheaper than automatic ones and are more compact to store, so it can be a happy medium between hand-rolling and cutting pasta and buying an electric pasta machine.
Packaged dry pasta by itself is not unhealthy per se, but fresh homemade pasta can be a little healthier and definitely tastier.
Dry pasta does not contain egg, so it is slightly lower in cholesterol than fresh pasta. However, dry pasta is more carb-heavy gram for gram because of the absence of egg. Fresh pasta is, therefore, more nutrient-rich because of the eggs. That said, some brands of dry pasta are enriched with essential nutrients, like Manganese, Thiamin, Folate, and Selenium.
When you take the sauce into account, you indirectly end up getting lots more calories when using dry pasta because sauce doesn’t stick to it that well. Fresh pasta is more porous and absorbs sauce better, so you don’t need to make a huge batch.
Dry pasta can be stored almost indefinitely because no egg is used to make it and the pasta is completely dry before packaging. Fresh pasta must be cooked immediately or it will spoil.
Finally, if you want a gluten-free option or just a better ratio of unprocessed flour to processed flour, it’s best to make pasta at home. Gluten-free pasta, whole wheat pasta, etc. aren’t as readily available in all grocery stores.
Empanada/mince pies, pie crusts, and tart crusts: These doughs use a lot of fat to make a tasty and flaky crust, which makes hand-rolling a bit tricky. That’s why a couple of passes through pasta rollers will ensure a nice pressed sheet of dough that won’t break apart and is consistent in thickness throughout. You can use a cutter setting to cut the sheet into strips for making criss-cross tart crusts or you can make a small to medium pie or empanadas with a single sheet. Just feed in an appropriate sized ball of dough.
Wonton and egg roll wrappers: Just like ravioli, Asian-style wrappers need to be very thin. In fact, translucent wonton wrappers for steaming are even thinner than ravioli. With a pasta machine, you can turn the thickness setting down to the lowest and pass the dough through a few times to get a really good wrapper.
Pita bread, crackers and Cannoli shells: You can pass bread dough through pasta rollers to make even sheets to bake in the oven. For Pita bread, you would need a thick setting, while for crackers and Cannoli you could go thinner. For small crackers use a cutter setting for ribbons that you cut with scissors. Add seeds or herbs to the dough for variation.
Pressed cookies: Melt in the mouth, formed and flat butter or sugar cookies are traditionally rolled and cut out. However, you have to make sure that each is uniformly thick so that all cookies in a batch get cooked evenly in the oven and there are no burnt edges. Instead, use the thickest setting on a pasta roller to get an even sheet of dough before using cookie molds to cut shapes out.
Marzipan and Fondant cake decorations: You can make a wonderfully decorated cake at home by making your own smooth and consistent fondant or marzipan sheets that you then cut and manipulate to make decorations for cakes. You could also try an extruder to make tubular strings of fondant or marzipan sweets.
Polymer clay crafts: A pasta machine is perfect for pressing polymer clay to make homemade jewelry or decorations. The finish will be smooth and consistent. A roller would give you a sheet that you can cut shapes out of, while an extruder might give you strands to stick together. You can add threads of color to the clay before rolling or pressing to create a natural watercolor effect.