How to Make Homemade Pasta

by Giuliano Hazan on December 28, 2010

Egg Pasta of Emilia Romagna / Pasta all’Uovo

From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan

A young Giuliano making pasta in Italy

Making pasta dough by hand is simple.  Do not be discouraged by the length of my instructions.  I have tried to describe as clearly as possible the method.  With a little practice it will easily become second nature and you will have finished dough in less than 15 minutes.  Rolling the dough out by hand with a rolling pin undoubtedly makes better pasta than using a machine with rollers, however it is a skill that is a bit harder to master.  Fortunately, machine rolled pasta is almost as good as hand rolled and certainly far superior to store bought.  If you must buy egg pasta use the dried egg noodles in boxes.  Avoid the so-called “fresh pasta” in the refrigerated case.  Pasta cooked while still fresh is not superior to pasta that dried completely. In fact, pasta that is not allowed to dry spoils unless some kind of preservative is used, which is why you should avoid commercial “fresh pasta.”

The region in Italy that is best known for egg pasta is Emilia Romagna, of which Bologna is the capital.  There are other regions that have an egg pasta tradition and each makes it differently.  In Tuscany a little olive oil and salt is often added to the dough.  In Liguria they use fewer eggs and add water.  In Piedmont and the Veneto, a very rich pasta is made using predominantly egg yolks and very few whites.  The egg pasta from Emilia Romagna is made simply with whole eggs and flour.  My family is from Emilia Romagna, so perhaps I am biased, but I find this egg pasta the most satisfying.

It is impossible to give a precise measurement for the amount of flour needed.  Depending on the size of the eggs, the humidity, and even the temperature in the room, you may need more or less.  In making pasta it is important to avoid cold so use room temperature eggs.  Also, do not work on a naturally cold surface such as marble or stainless steel.  Wood is best; otherwise Corian or linoleum will work.  If you do not make perfect pasta dough the first time don’t be discouraged.  All you need is a little practice.  Just have some store-bought pasta on hand for dinner the first time around!

Homemade Egg Pasta Recipe

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Total time from start to finish:  approximately 45 minutes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

3 eggs

1.  Pour the flour in a mound in the center of your work counter.  With your fingers make a well.  When your fingers reach the counter, push the sides out to make a well in which the eggs will fit comfortably.  To avoid the possibility that the eggs will overflow, it is better to make the well a little wider than necessary than too small.

2.  Break the eggs into the center of the well.  Using a fork, beat the eggs as if you were making scrambled eggs until the yolks and the whites are thoroughly blended together.  Use the fork to mix a little flour into the eggs by taking it from the bottom of the inside walls of the well.  Continue until the mixture thickens enough to cling to the fork when you lift it into the air.  Use your fingers to squeeze the dough attached to the fork back into the well and set the fork aside.  Push about 1/4 cup of flour to the side, then use your hands to bring the rest into the center of the well.  Mix together with your hands to begin forming a dough.  If the dough feels sticky when you plunge a finger into the it add a little more flour.  The dough should feel moist but not sticky.  Wrap the dough in plastic, because the surface of the dough can begin to dry out in as little as a minute, while you scrape off any bits of dough that have stuck to the counter.  Reserve any remaining flour off to the side.

3.  Unwrap the dough and begin kneading it.  Think of stretching the dough rather than compressing it by using the heel of your palm and pushing away from you.  Knead until the dough feels homogeneous and smooth.  If it seems to stick to your hand or to the counter, add a little more flour.  On the other hand, if it feels too hard to knead, you may have added too much flour.  Try wetting your hands and kneading the moisture in.  If that does not seem to help, it’s probably easier and faster to start over.  I you don’t need to add any more flour while kneading, it should only take 5-6 minutes.  Adding flour during the kneading process may increase the time since the further along you are, the longer it takes for the flour to get incorporated.  When you have kneaded the dough sufficiently, wrap it in plastic again and let it rest for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours.  Never refrigerate or freeze pasta dough.  As the dough rests, the gluten in the flour will relax, making it much easier roll the dough.

4.  Unwrap the pasta dough and knead it a few times to incorporate the moisture that inevitably rises to the surface.  The surface of the dough at this point should feel silky smooth (a baby’s bottom is what it is traditionally compared to).

5.  Cut the dough in as many pieces as you used eggs, in this case three.  Wrap two of the pieces in the plastic wrap.  Flatten the remaining piece of dough as best you can with your hands then put it through the rollers of the machine set at the widest setting.  Fold the dough in three, and put it through the rollers again with the folds perpendicular to the rollers.  Fold the dough in half and put it through one more time, again with the folds perpendicular to the rollers.  Lay the dough on a towel and repeat the procedure with the other two pieces.

6.  When all the pieces have been through the machine at the widest setting, adjust the rollers down one notch and put each piece of dough through once.  Repeat, going down one notch at time, until you reach the next to last setting.  Cut each sheet of pasta in half then put each piece through the machine at the thinnest setting.

7.  If making noodles, let the pasta dry on a cloth until it is leathery in consistency, dry enough that noodles will not stick together when cut, but still pliable enough that it won’t crack, anywhere between 5-25 minutes depending on the temperature and humidity in the room.  To cut pasta using the machine, cut the pasta sheets into lengths approximately 12”-15” long.  Put each piece through the desired cutting attachment of the pasta machine.  Loosely fold the noodles into nests.  Once the noodles are completely dry, they will be easier to pick up.  If cutting the pasta by hand, roll the dough loosely and use a chef’s knife or cleaver to cut the pasta into noodles of the desired width.  After every 5 or 6 cuts, unravel the noodles then loosely fold them into nests.

To make filled pasta, you need to keep the pasta moist to be able to seal it.  Work on just a portion of the sheet of pasta at a time and cover the rest with plastic so it won’t dry out.  If using the machine, roll out only one piece while keeping the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic.  Cut the pasta sheet in half before putting it through the rollers the last time.  For filled pasta squares, such as tortelloni or tortelli, lay the pasta flat on a cutting board.  Place 1 tablespoon dollops of filling at 1″ intervals along the bottom half of the pasta sheet.  Fold the top half of the pasta sheet over the stuffing and gently press down with your fingers in between each dollop to squeeze out excess air.  Use a pastry cutting wheel to cut along the bottom edge, the sides, and in between each dollop of stuffing forming approximately 1 1/2” squares.  The edges will be sealed by the cutting action of the pastry wheel.  Place the

filled pasta on a dry cloth without overlapping.  Continue the process until all the pasta and/or the stuffing is used up.

6.  Noodles may be cooked right away or dried and stored in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator) almost indefinitely. Noodles that are cooked right away will be done by the time the water comes back to a boil.  Dried noodles will be done in about 3 minutes.  Filled pasta needs to be cooked within a couple of hours or the pasta that is in contact with the stuffing will get too wet and eventually dissolve.  It is best when served as soon as it is cooked but it is possible to make it up to 2 days ahead, if necessary.  Cook it partially, about 1 minute, then toss with some vegetable oil, cool, and store in zip lock bags in the refrigerator (do not freeze).  When ready to serve, drop into salted boiling water, and cook until done, 1-2 minutes.

Green pasta variation: Cook 8 ounces frozen spinach or 12 ounces fresh spinach in salted boiling water until tender.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Using your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible.  Chop finely by hand or in a food processor.  Proceed as for Egg Pasta of Emilia Romagna, adding the spinach to the eggs and an extra 1/2 cup of flour.

Comments on this entry are closed.

aisha July 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I want to make a gluten-free pasta and was wondering if I substituted the all-purpose flour for an all-purpose gluten-free flour would it work?
Is there something I would need to add to it extra?


Giuliano Hazan July 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for your comment. I have not tested with gluten free flour so I’m not sure what adjustments you would need to make.

Pete June 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Thank you for your great videos on making pasta. I was going nuts trying to get silky fettuccine and your instructions have meant that it’s now coming out just the way I imagined it should be.

I used your process for going down one setting at a time on the pasta machine, all the way to the last setting. Do you use a different setting for spaghetti?

Giuliano Hazan June 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I’m so glad that you have found the videos helpful. Spaghetti is normally a flour and water pasta best made by a pasta factory rather than at home. They are made by extruding the dough through dies, preferably made of bronze for better texture.

Marsha February 22, 2012 at 4:55 am

Question about rolling the dough out by hand. What final thickness should I be aiming for, and how long are those half-pieces after the final trip through the pasta machine – or does it matter?

I learned to make egg noodles from my mother-in-law before she died, and I’ve decided to try your pasta, which is more involved. I only roll mine out once, as did she!


Giuliano Hazan February 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

Final thickness should be pretty thin. It’s when the pasta sheet starts becoming transparent. It should be either the narrowest setting on the pasta machine or the next to last one. Good luck!

Penny February 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I just went back and reread this and found the answer to my question…I guess it was so late last night I just missed it…thanks….

Giuliano Hazan February 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Hope it comes out well. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Penny February 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Tomorrow I am making pasta for our Valentine’s supper. This is my first attempt at it. I do make my own bread so I am hoping I will be able to make pasta. I have looked at many videos and I think yours is the best. I don’t have a pasta machine so will be doing all of this by hand. Thank you. I do have one question. After I roll out my pasta, is it best to let it sit for a little bit before I cut it? Someone told me I should let it dry just a bit before cutting it with a knife. Thanks

Gina Ellis January 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I have just purchased a pasta machine and just loved your simple instructions. Once I have made my pasta eg. Spaghetti, can I let it dry or do I have to wrap it up to keep moist?

Giuliano Hazan January 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Pasta always keeps best when dry so you should never try to keep it moist. Do wrap your noodles into nests before they dry completely, but not when they are so wet they stick together. It will make handling them when they are dry much easier.

Wendy December 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

Thank you so much for your great instruction, video and recipe. My only request is that you might have advised how many servings the recipe yields and what exactly a serving of pasta might be. Oh and to make more videos of things like tortellini, gnocchi and ravioli…please!

After watching you a few times, I set off to the kitchen to make 18 dozen eggs worth of pasta. Well, my back is a bit sore but there were no tears, swearing or tantrums of any kind. In fact, it was practically flawless — except the part where I am tone deaf and was singing along with the Christmas Carols. Now I have a fan on my little nests of happiness and am waiting to turn them once more before going to bed. Everyone is getting homemade pesto, pasta, focaccia and biscotti as gifts this year. Thought everyone could use a good homemade family meal right about now. Guess I found my inner Italian and well, I like her. I really really do. Next — ravioli for the New Year!

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

Giuliano Hazan December 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Buon Natale to you too! I’m so glad your pasta came out well. Did you really make 18 dozen eggs worth of pasta?? Wow! As far as yield, 3 extra large eggs of homemade pasta is roughly equivalent to 1 pound dried pasta. Showing how to make stuffed pastas and gnocchi is definitely on my list, hopefully after the holidays. Buon appetito!

Micah September 6, 2011 at 3:17 am

I like that you’ve rightfully warned but encouraged the uninitiated into making fresh pasta..

I’ve attempted to make pasta twice in a row and both times, it resulted in disaster. Somehow my dough has holes in it and looks like cellulite after having passed the widest setting on the pasta machine. I fold it in three and pass it again with the same results. Cellulite dough with holes!

I love pasta and am determined to make this work somehow. I know I’m doing something wrong.. any advice for me? I use a one egg-one cup of flour with some olive oil recipe which I surmise is the ‘safest’.. Help!

Giuliano Hazan September 6, 2011 at 9:16 am

Perhaps it’s how you are making the dough. I use no olive oil and about 3/4 cup all purpose flour per large egg, often even less flour. Also, make sure you let the dough rest at least 20 minutes before rolling it out. Good luck!

Jamie December 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

I’ve only made fresh pasta a few times and was surprised each time how easy it is – and fun! Why don’t we do it more often? I’ll have to try your recipe next time. And thanks for the tips on fresh vs dried egg pasta. Didn’t know this! I also think that fresh pasta can’t really be ruined to the point that, even if not perfect, it is usually edible! :-) And I so adore seeing the girls making fresh pasta! Truly impressive!

Annie December 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Your instructions are great, but I’m still intimidated to make homemade pasta! I thinks it’s best to learn this skill early! Lovely photos!

Lael Hazan December 30, 2010 at 10:45 am

Dear Annie:

You can do it! Trust yourself and be prepared that it may not be perfect the first time. We teach this at our cooking school in Italy (we still have availability in Spring) and frequently receive comments from former students saying that they find themselves making pasta at home often.

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