Italian Pasta Machine FAQs

- Answers to your most frequently-asked pasta maker questions

I receive lots of questions about Italian pasta machines through the Fresh Pasta Q&A and Pasta Q&A sections of this site.

However there are some queries that pop up time and time again.

To save you from having to search through all those posts to find the answers you need, this page answers these common pasta machine posers.

I hope you find it useful.

1. Why does my fresh pasta dough stick in the machine and not cut accurately into shapes?

Most often, this is a problem with the dough, namely it's too moist. Therefore try kneading or rolling a little more flour into your dough.

To avoid this in future, I recommend trying the manual (AKA 'old-school') dough-making approach outlined on this page.

The key is this: when you've mixed the mixture in the middle of the 'bowl' of flour, be sure to thin the walls with the side of your hand until they're a mere 1cm/half-inch thick, maximum.

This ensures you don't have very dry, over-floured dough. Then be sure to sprinkle flour liberally over and under your dough when you're kneading/palming it and rolling it afterwards.

That usually works for me to bring the dough to the right level of moisture - not too dry as to be inflexible, but not too wet that a pasta machine will struggle to deal with it.

Additional note 1: some people add water as well as eggs to their pasta dough. I don't really know why, as it's really not needed and it certainly increases the chances of the dough being too moist!

Additional note 2: I have noticed sometimes however that when using a pasta machine to cut very fine long pasta shapes (spaghetti and finer), these creations can clump together on the work surface once they've come out of the machine. A good tip here then is to use a long spoon to catch them half-way. Then hang them over the back of a chair, cupboard door, or use a pasta drying rack to keep them separate and dry them out.

All of that said, if you tried various different dough consistencies with your machine and it's still struggling to chop your pasta into accurate shapes, then this could be down to a problem with its cutters. As I say, it's probably the dough, but it could be the cutters. In this case obviously revert back to the store or manufacturer.

Related Reading:

2. Where can I buy components for Pastamatic and Simac (Lello brand) pasta machines?

One reader asked about parts for their Pastamatic 1400 pasta machine. My answer is added as a comment here.

Several readers meanwhile have enquired about how to buy replacement or additional parts (specifically discs) for Simac's Lello pasta makers. You can read all about sourcing these discs on this page.

3. What is the purpose of the Imperia pasta roller's tray?

Imperia sells its manual pasta roller machine in various guises and forms, and through different retailers. Some of these, such as Williams Sonoma in the US, include a small metal try in the box. And this little tray has continually confused visitors to this site. Truth is, it confused me the first time I spied it too.

So what is this tray for?

Well it's designed to save you having to use your second hand to lower the pasta dough into the machine (as you turn the handle with the other).

Instead, the fresh pasta - which ideally you've rolled a little in advance with a rolling pin - sits on this tray while you simply wind the handle. This way the dough is pulled in 'automatically'. (What you're then supposed to be doing with your now 'free' hand I've no idea. Glugging chianti I guess!)

However... contributers to the Q&A threads about this try - below - have concluded that it is really not worth the bother. Especially as some users have found that the tray actually falls off the machine "with the slightest provocation".

One reader comments, "When I was flattening my pasta, the dough kept catching on the back ridge of the tray, popping it off and leading to a lot of noise pollution from the chef!". 

Related reading

4. Which pasta maker can make all shapes of pasta?

Okay, so you've got a handle on making fresh pasta dough and now you want to turn this into delectable pasta shapes of various sizes.

Which pasta machine can you buy that will make them all?

The truth is that the vast majority of home-aimed pasta machines are dedicated to making and cutting long pasta shapes, such as the popular Imperia and Atlas models.

These two pasta makers also offer lots of different attachments for parcel-type pasta such as ravioli. (Note: I highly recommend, and use, both of these machines.)

There are also electric versions of these machines that you can spend a few more pennies on too, should you be really too lazy to wind the handle.

Meanwhile, more expensive stand mixers from the likes of KitchenAid, also offer pasta making attachments that 'extrude' long pasta shapes.

As for producing short pasta shapes such as penne, rigatoni and so on, outside of large-scale industrial machines you currently have the following options:

• The Atlas Manual Pasta Extruder Regina. I have this little boxy beauty at home and will be reviewing it in full on this site shortly. To sum it up in a few words based on one quick starter session: it does the job perfectly well, but it's a bit of a headache to set-up and clean - so maybe best for occasional big batches...

• The electric Lello 3000. This can produce short macaroni, and readers of this site seem to rate this machine pretty highly (see the end-of-page comments via the link above).

• An extruder add-on for the Kenwood Stand Mixer.

• And a similar KitchenAid extension for their stand mixer.

In summary...

These stand mixers above, at least the KitchenAid I'm sure about, can produce both long and short pasta thanks to their different add-ons.

However they are very expensive, running into hundreds of dollars. Therefore they're probably only worth considering if you either have cash to splash or you also bake a lot too - as they're demons at whipping up cake mix!

My suggestion, value-wise, is to opt for either the Imperia or Atlas model for your long shapes and ravioli. Then get busy making your short pasta shapes by hand (or with the Atlas Regina - see my
forthcoming review). I have various guides to help with handmaking various short pasta shapes on this fresh pasta page. It's not difficult. In fact once you've practised a little it's really rather satisfying, in a Slow Food kind of way. 

Related reading

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