Best Pasta Extruders and Shapers for Home Use
Introduction – Best Pasta Extruders and Shapers
In this guidance page we look at the best pasta extruders and shapers for home use. We will also be looking at the best pasta dough recipe for use with pasta extruders. When using pasta extruders the dough consistency needs to change slightly. This is in order to soften the dough and make it easier to pass through.
Many of the pasta shapes you are familiar with such as Penne can only be produced using a pasta extruder. A traditional pasta pasta sheeter (also called pasta maker or pasta machine) will roll and cut pasta into long strips. However, if you want more complex shapes you have to use a pasta extruder.
What is a Pasta Extruder
A pasta extruder is a device for creating different pasta shapes. It does this by squeezing pasta dough through shaped ‘dies’ like a toothpaste action. Different pasta shapes are achieved by changing the pasta die. For this reason, the more dies you have, the more shapes you can produce. Not all pasta extruders have the same number of dies and this must be a consideration when selecting a pasta extruder.
The dies can be made from steel, brass and plastic. However, the purist will argue that the best pasta extruders use brass dies. These give the pasta a rough texture which helps the pasta to stick to the sauce. If you ever buy quality dried pasta, look on the label for the term ‘brass die’. You will notice the pasta looks dull in appearance and has a rough texture.
That said, although some of the home pasta extruders do have brass dies, you really need to look at the overall offering each has before making a buying decision; price being one of those criteria.
Noodles versus Pasta
When looking at pasta extruders you will notice that some are geared towards Noodles as opposed to Pasta. Don’t let this put you off if you are wanting to use the device for pasta extrusion. Both Noodle dough and Pasta dough are very similar. The key thing to look out for is whether the Noodle extruders provide all of the die options needed to produce the difference shapes that you may require.
Adjusting Pasta Dough Recipe for Pasta Extruders
As mentioned briefly further up, it is necessary to adjust your pasta recipe in order to press it through the extruder. The pasta dough needs to be quite dry to prevent it sticking. So to make this more workable, we suggest adding 2 table spoons of olive oil per One Pound or 500g of Flour. This may mean using less eggs or water.
When using an extruder it is also worth experimenting with Semolina (semi-milled) flour. This yellow flour is high in protein (Gluten) and comes in two formats, either course or fine. Whilst the fine semolina flour is great for pasta sheets or ravioli, for extrusion you really want the courser option. Many restaurants would use 100% semolina with water or eggs. We suggest you experiment and see what you enjoy the most. To start with we suggest 50% course semolina flour plus 50% of normal ’00’ pasta flour plus eggs, salt and olive oil. If you decide to use 100% semolina, the ideal combination will be in the region of 3 flour to one liquid (including the oil) by volume e.g. 3 cups of semolina to 1 cup of water. Some trial and error is required and small adjustments might be necessary.
Our Favourite Pasta Extruders
In writing this guidance we looked for the best pasta extruders and eventually found the following to be our favourites. Three of these are manual devices and one is an attachment for the electric KitchenAid appliance. Electric pasta extruders for home use are rare unless you decide to opt for a complete electric pasta maker which both mixes and extrudes. These are based on larger metal models used in restaurants and factories.
KEY FEATURES: Brass Extruder / 5 Die Plates spaghetti (diameter 2.5 mm), small maccheroni (diameter 8 mm) and bucatini (diameter 4.5 mm).
This Taglispasta manual dough press comes complete with 5 Brass dies. These produce a variety of different pasta shapes through a pasta extrusion process. The device attaches to the side of a flat work top for stability and so make sure you have a suitable place in the kitchen.
The device is based on the design of the traditional meet mincer. You place small pieces of dough into the hopper and turn the handle. This turns a screw forcing the pasta through the selected die.
Given the small size of the device, you are restricted to how much you can feed through at once. However, by continuously adding more and more pasta dough in the top whilst turning the handle, there is no limitation on pasta length. The device is fairly simple to operate by one person but an extra pair of hands would be ideal.
All in all a decent device which gets the job done but not the best pasta extruders and more expensive than the Torchietto.
KEY FEATURES: 3 Brass Dies / Manual Pasta Extrusion / Clamps to table
The best pasta extruders use brass dies and this ‘TORCHIETTO Manual for Pasta with Propeller and TRAFILE’ does just that. It is a table top device that creates pasta shapes via extrusion. It clamps to the table top and is quite stable when in use. Just make sure you have somewhere to attach it to.
The Torchietto pasta extruder is very well made consisting 99% of metal. Cleaning is a bit fiddly but the unit can be immersed in water. Alternatively, the dough can be left to dry and the simple removed with a stick or brush.
This is not a large device and so it can only process small pieces at a time, similar to a pasta roller / cutter.
All in all, a good little device capable of producing the kind of shapes not possible with traditional rolling and cutting.
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KEY FEATURES: Creates pasta shapes / Attaches to any KitchAid Stand Mixer / Allows you to use 2 hands
We have saved the best pasta extruder until last. The KitchenAid KPEXTA Pasta Shape Press for Stand Mixers attaches to any KitchenAid Stand Mixer. It follows in the impressive tradition of KitchenAid attachments in terms of quality and price! Whilst not a cheap option, prices have reduced since it was first launched. However, with little competition in this area, the KitchenAid KPEXTA Pasta Shape Press for Stand Mixers offers something fairly unique.
Once attached to the KitchenAid (you must have one of these first – not included in the price) it forms a stable and effective unit. Walnut sized pieces of dough are fed into the hopper at the top and are squeezed out through the plastic dies (called ‘plates’ by KitchAid). It comes with a choice of Spaghetti, Bucatini, Rigatoni, Fusilli and two sizes Macaroni.
The parts can be washed but disassembly and reassembly is time consuming. You also need to get the dough mixture right, otherwise it will clog.