Want to make fresh pasta from scratch? You’re in the right place. This article outlines everything you need to make authentic fresh pasta at home – and it’s a lot easier than it sounds (we promise).
Ingredients-wise, making fresh pasta is actually incredibly straightforward – all you need is flour and eggs. The same goes for equipment, you don’t need a pasta machine for our fresh pasta dough recipe, just a few common kitchen utensils and a clean work surface.
We’ve enlisted the help of our Head Chef Roberta to guide you to becoming a pastaio (fresh pasta maker). Having first learned the art of homemade fresh pasta from her nonna, Maria-Assunta, Chef Roberta now spends her days sharing these secrets with aspiring pasta-makers at our Pasta Academy. For our money, there’s no one better to learn from.
Want to impress your friends and family with your pasta-making skills, or throw your own fresh pasta fuelled Italian dinner party? Andiamo – let’s get started!
Making pasta from scratch only requires a few tools: a rolling pin, a fork, a clean work surface and a pasta cutter or knife for shaping your pasta. If you don’t have a pasta cutter, don’t worry – most pasta shapes can be made with a knife and a little patience. That said, if you fancy yourself as a true pastaio, it’s worth taking a look at our range of pasta making kits. While you can of course use a pasta machine to speed up the process, we prefer a more ‘hands-on’ approach – just like Chef Roberta was taught by her nonna.
Which flour is best for making pasta?
Flour is the single most important ingredient for making fresh pasta, so choosing the right flour can make all the difference.
The three most commonly used types of flour for pasta-making are all-purpose flour, “00” flour and semola (sometimes called semolina flour in the UK). All-purpose flour does what it says on the tin, so it's perfectly fine to use for making pasta. However, most authentic pasta recipes will recommend either semola or “00” flour. “00” flour is best for fresh pasta recipes that include egg, while semola excels in pasta bianca – fresh pasta made without any egg.
While a wide variety of flours can be used in pasta making, we do recommend against using self-raising flour as it contains baking powder – which can lead to undesired results when cooking your pasta.
Should you use eggs or water in your fresh pasta dough?
There are three main types of pasta in Italy. Below we discuss the benefits of each.
Pasta all’uovo (traditional egg pasta)
This is the pasta type we will be making below, using both the egg white and yolk. We recommend starting with a traditional egg pasta as it’s the easiest to work with. This dough is perfect for making filled pasta like ravioli or tortellini, as well as longer shapes like pappardelle or tagliatelle.
Pasta bianca (white pasta – pasta without egg)
Water replaces the egg in this style of pasta, so this dough is suitable for vegans. Eliminating the eggs in the dough means there is less protein, which changes the texture and binding properties of the pasta. You can use white pasta dough to make a variety of shapes, including orecchiette and strozzapreti. Avoid using white pasta dough for filled pasta shapes though – it lacks the resistance of its egg-rich alternative and may fall apart.
Pasta al tuorlo d’uovo (egg yolk pasta)
Using only the egg yolks creates a rich, golden dough. As the yolk is 48% water, 17% protein, and about 33% fat (compared to an egg white which is 90% water), the dough is stronger and produces silkier pasta. Again, avoid using this type of dough for filled pasta shapes as it may fall apart during cooking.
Our fresh pasta recipe
Watch as Chef Roberta shows you how to make pasta without a machine. The full fresh pasta dough recipe is below.
Serves: 4 people
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 468 kcal
- 400g ‘00’ flour (plus more for work surface)
- 4 large eggs
Chef’s tip: When you make fresh pasta, the ratio is always 1 egg and 100 grams of flour per person – so it’s easy to scale this recipe up or down.
- Rolling pin
- Wooden board (or a marble work surface)
- Pasta cutter or knife
Step 1: Making the dough
- On a clean marble or wooden work surface, pile the flour into a mound.
- Make a well in the centre of the mound large enough for all of your eggs
- Crack the eggs into the well.
- Beat the egg mixture with the fork, slowly pulling the flour from the sides of the well until the egg has all been absorbed by the flour. As the mixture thickens, start using your hands to continue incorporating the flour.
- If your dough looks dry, add a drop or two of warm water and continue mixing with your hands until you have a ball of dough.
Step 2: Kneading the dough
- Clean the work surface of any excess flour or dough bits that weren’t incorporated, then lightly flour your clean work surface.
- Knead the dough by pressing the heel of one hand into the ball, keeping your fingers high.
- Press down on the dough while pushing it firmly away from you. The dough should stretch and roll under your hand to create a shell-like shape.
- Turn the dough over, then press into the dough with your knuckles, one hand at a time. Repeat this process around 10 times.
- Form your dough back into a ball and repeat the stretching and knuckling process, using more flour if needed to prevent any stickiness.
- Repeat the process for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and silky.
- Roll the dough into a smooth ball.
Step 3: Letting the dough rest
- Place the dough in a small bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature or up to 1 day in the refrigerator.
If the dough has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before rolling and shaping.
Step 4: Rolling the pasta
- Lightly flour your surface.
- Shape the dough into a rough circle.
- With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough as you would with a pastry crust, starting in the centre and rolling away from you to the outer edge.
- Turn the dough a quarter-turn, and repeat, working your way around, until the sheet of dough is 1/8 inch thin or less. Scatter a small amount of flour on the dough whenever it starts to stick to the surface or the rolling pin. You now have your sheet of fresh pasta dough.
Step 5: Choosing the right shape for your pasta
With hundreds of pasta shapes to choose from, you could quite easily try a new one every day of the year. Need a little bit of help narrowing down your options? Here’s our guides to making three popular pasta shapes – all of which are well suited to a traditional egg pasta dough.
Step 6: Cooking the pasta
Now that you have fresh pasta, get a suitable sauce ready and your meal is just five minutes away. A quick tip – if you’ve been a little overzealous and made too much dough, check out our guide to storing fresh pasta.
Chef’s tip: Save a mug of your pasta cooking water to add to your sauce. The starch and salt in the pasta water adds flavour and helps thicken the sauce.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt generously.
- Add pasta and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until al dente. Remember to always taste a piece first to ensure your pasta is cooked to perfection.
- Drain the pasta and add it to your pan of sauce, along with a splash of pasta water. Toss everything together until the pasta is well-coated.
- Shave some Parmigiano Reggiano on top and enjoy. Buon appetito!