Tucking into a plate of plump, succulent pasta is one of life’s great culinary pleasures. Pasta is wonderfully comforting, quick to cook, and incredibly versatile. Plus, there’s a pasta dish for every mood and occasion. Spaghetti bolognese, penne arrabbiata, pesto pasta, lasagne, fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti carbonara… the list goes on! But perhaps the most rewarding pasta dish of all is one you’ve made from scratch.

Many people think that making fresh pasta at home sounds like too much trouble. But, if you’ve got flour and water, you can make pasta – and the whole process is probably far simpler and easier than you may think.

So, if you’ve always dreamed about making fresh pasta from the comfort of your own kitchen, here’s everything you need to know.

Making fresh pasta from home

Making fresh pasta from home

Before we get started, you might be wondering why you’d want to make fresh pasta when dried pasta is so cheap and accessible. All you need to do is boil it for ten minutes and you have a plate of perfect pasta – so why should you make your own?

But fresh pasta and dry pasta are very different. Dry pasta is great for a busy weeknight when you want to knock up a satisfying meal quickly. But if you really want to savour your food, and appreciate tastes and textures, you can’t beat fresh pasta. It’s silky, tender, and delightfully chewy – so delicious that often the best way to enjoy it is just with a glug of olive oil and a dash and salt and pepper.

While you can buy fresh pasta from shops, making your own is far more rewarding. And though there are thousands of recipes online (many of which call for different ingredients, kneading times, and resting conditions), it really is a quick and simple process.

If you’re not used to working with dough, it might seem a bit intimidating at first. But you’ll soon get the hang of it – and once you do, there are all kinds of pastas you can make. While this article will focus on making long, flat pasta like tagliatelle or fettuccine (depending on how thinly you cut each piece), there are dozens of different pasta shapes, sizes, textures, colours, and flavours you can make.

But, first, you do need to know the basics, which is where we’re going to start.

Choosing your pasta-making tools

Choosing your pasta-making tools

All you actually need to make fresh pasta from scratch is a rolling pin, a knife, flour, and water. There are no fancy gadgets necessary, and if this is your first time making pasta and you’re not sure you’re going to make it again, there’s no need to invest in a pasta maker.

However, if you love fresh pasta and feel confident you’ll be making it again, you might want to think about buying some tools. A manual pasta making machine isn’t very expensive (they tend to start from around £25) and makes it incredibly easy to roll out smooth sheets of dough.

Once you have your sheets of pasta dough, you can use them whole to make lasagna, use pasta cutters to stamp out squares to make ravioli – or use the thickness and width settings on the machine to crank out perfect fettuccine, tagliatelle, spaghetti, linguine, or vermicelli.

Other than a rolling pin and/or a pasta maker, you also need to have a few square feet of surface space where you can prepare your pasta and generally make a bit of a mess. If you don’t have much surface space in your kitchen, you can use a dining table.

If you’re serious about getting into the pasta-making game, you might want to read this article by Serious Eats, which showcases the best tools for making, cooking, and serving pasta. To see how easy it is to use a pasta maker, have a watch of the video below.

Choosing your ingredients

Choosing your ingredients

Then it’s on to choosing your ingredients. The only thing any pasta recipe always needs is flour and water, because this is how gluten is created – and it’s gluten that gives pasta its wonderful soft-yet-chewy texture and bite. To make perfect gluten-free pasta from scratch, try this three-ingredient recipe from The Loopy Whisk.

But there are many different variables for making pasta. There are different types of flours, recipes with eggs and recipes without, and questions about whether or not you should add salt or olive oil.

Choosing a pasta type

In Italy, there are three main types of fresh pasta: pasta all’uovo (egg pasta), which uses flour and both the egg white and yolk; pasta al tuorlo d’uovo ( egg yolk pasta), where only the egg yolks are used; and pasta bianca (pasta without egg), which uses water instead of egg.

Egg pasta is the most common type of fresh pasta and works well for filled pasta. Try this recipe by Pasta Evangelists to make traditional egg pasta.

Egg yolk pasta makes a rich, deep-yellow dough that’s higher in fat and works well for strong pasta noodles. To make egg yolk pasta, try this recipe by Pasta Et Al.

Eggless pasta is used to make shapes like orecchiette, strozzapreti, and long pasta, and is ideal if you’re vegan or watching your cholesterol. To make eggless pasta, try this recipe by Alpha Foodie.

Choosing your flour

In terms of flour, there are also three main types of wheat flour that are usually used. These are semolina flour, all-purpose flour, and Tipo 00 flour – which is finely milled flour with a powdery texture, and can be bought in large supermarkets or Italian delis.

While in Italy 00 flour is traditionally used, you can ultimately use any of these flours, and if you have all-purpose flour in the cupboard, you can start pasta-making right away. To find out more about the different types of flour you can use for pasta, check out this article by Pasta Evangelists.

Deciding whether to add salt and olive oil

Salt is also added to most fresh pasta doughs. Though, if you’re watching your sodium intake, you can leave this out. If you’re making egg pasta, there’s no need to add olive oil, as it may make your pasta mushy. However, if you’re making eggless pasta, a dash of olive oil works really well.

To see how to make perfect egg pasta – and be taught by an Italian food guru! – have a watch of the video below.

Mixing, kneading, and resting the pasta dough

Mixing, kneading, and resting the pasta dough

Whatever type of pasta you’ve chosen, making the dough follows the same format: mix, knead, and rest. If you have a food processor, you can mix the dough in there. But it’s more authentic (and satisfying!) to mix by hand.

First, pour your flour onto your work surface. Then, using your hands, make a well in the middle, so it looks like a little volcano. If you’re making egg pasta, crack the eggs into the well – and if you’re making eggless pasta, pour your water and olive oil into the well. If you’re using salt, this is when you add it.

Then, using a fork or your fingers, start pushing the flour into the egg or water mix in the centre until you’ve formed a wet dough. Collect as much flour from the surface as you can and add to the dough, then knead it well. This usually takes at least 10 minutes, and by the end, your dough should be smooth and silky. If the pasta isn’t kneaded for long enough, it won’t have that lovely springy texture.

Once you’ve kneaded your pasta, it then needs to rest – so place it in a bowl and cover the top with cling film or a plate so it doesn’t dry out. Allow the dough to rest for at least an hour at room temperature.

To see how to make, knead, and rest pasta bianca dough, have a watch of the video below.

Rolling and cutting your pasta dough

Rolling and cutting your pasta dough

Once your pasta has rested, you’re almost there! The next step is rolling out your pasta dough. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a rough circle, then roll out the dough as you would pastry dough.

If you’re using a pasta machine, you only need to roll the dough so it’s thin enough to feed through the machine (which you’ll do several times before it’s thin enough). But if you’re cutting it by hand, you should keep rolling until the dough is about ⅛ of an inch thick. If it starts to stick to the rolling pin or surface, add another dusting of flour.

If you’re cutting your pasta shapes by hand, it’s easiest to start with a thicker pasta – so tagliatelle or fettuccine, rather than spaghetti. However, it’s your pasta and you can make whatever shapes you like. Check out these guides to make fresh pappardelle, fresh tagliatelle, or fresh ravioli.

When using a pasta making machine, you’ll need to select the thickness you want on the cutting attachment, then feed the pasta sheet through the machine, and it will come out the other end as perfectly straight noodles.

If you’re not cooking your pasta immediately, be sure to cover it up with a tea towel or cling film to stop it from drying out.

To see how to make tagliatelle by hand, watch the video below.

Cooking the pasta

Cooking the pasta

The final step is cooking the pasta. And if all this mixing and kneading has worked up an appetite, the good news is that fresh pasta cooks incredibly quickly – sometimes in less than 90 seconds!

Cook fresh pasta as you would dried pasta; in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Just make sure you only cook it for a few minutes. The precise amount of cooking time will depend on your dough and pasta shape, so it’s best to taste a piece of pasta after around 90 seconds or two minutes to see how it’s doing. Perfect pasta should be al dente: cooked until soft but still firm to bite.

If you’re enjoying your fresh pasta with a sauce, it’s always a good idea to save some of the cooking water – perhaps around ¼ cup. The starch and salt from the pasta water helps the sauce thicken to a richer consistency and adds flavour.

And that’s it! Plate up your fresh pasta, add some salt, pepper, olive oil and Parmigiana Reggiano if you like, and enjoy the fruits of your labours.

To get inspired and see all the different types of pasta you can make by hand, watch the video below.

Final thoughts…

While it might take you a few attempts to master your pasta making machine or cut out perfectly straight noodles, making your own fresh pasta from scratch isn’t a long or complex process.

If you’re not used to working with flour and water, making your own dough can seem a bit overwhelming. But once you have a go, you’ll probably find it’s much easier than you think.

Once you’ve learned how to make basic pasta dough, a whole world of fresh, homemade pasta opens up to you, and you can get creative making plump ravioli that’s stuffed with all manner of delicious ingredients or vivid green pasta that’s coloured with spinach. You can also have fun experimenting with different pasta shapes.

Whatever you do, sitting down to a plate of homemade pasta will always feel like a wonderful achievement.

For more culinary inspiration, why not check out the food and drink section of our site?

Have you made fresh pasta before? Or are you passionate about pasta and tempted to have a go? We’d love to hear about your culinary adventures in the comments below.