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Electric Pasta Machines

Published January 2021

How we tested

Our favorite manual pasta maker, the Marcato Atlas 150 Wellness Pasta Machine, flawlessly rolls and cuts dough for perfect homemade fettuccine, sheets of lasagna, and angel hair pasta. But the Marcato and manual makers like it can’t produce extruded pasta such as spaghetti or tubular shapes such as macaroni and penne. Enter electric pasta makers, which promise not only to make these extruded pasta shapes but also to mix and knead the dough for you. Some even have built-in scales to weigh ingredients as you add them, so you don’t have to use a separate kitchen scale. But how well do these machines actually make pasta—and how easy are they to use and clean? 

To find out, we tested three machines, priced from about $130 to about $250, and used them to make spaghetti, fettuccine, sheets of lasagna, and penne. For these tests, we followed the recipes provided in each of the machines’ instruction manuals. We also made two types of spaghetti—using our Master Recipe for Pasta Dough and gluten-free fresh pasta dough—with each of the models.

How Easy Were the Machines to Use? 

The three machines in our lineup were similarly designed. Each featured a mixing paddle centered inside a chamber topped with a transparent plastic perforated lid. Shaping disks were positioned in a holder at the front of each machine. To make pasta, we added the flour to the mixing chamber, closed the lid, turned on the machine, and slowly added the liquid ingredients (egg and water) through the perforated lid. Once the dough was mixed, the paddle reversed direction and slowly pushed the dough through the shaping disk. We then cut the pasta strands as the machine extruded the dough.

One of the machines was easier to use than the others. It had the simplest control panel, with limited options: start/stop, mix, and extrude. The control panels of the other two machines were less intuitive and more jumbled, with lots of buttons and settings.

Our favorite machine came with an extremely useful flat-edged tool for cutting the pasta as it was extruded through the shaping disk—we had to use kitchen shears for this task with the other two models. We also liked that this machine mixed the dough for just 3 minutes before extruding it (the slowest machine took about 5 minutes) and that its shaping disks were positioned vertically, so the extruding pasta was easy to see and cut. The disks of one machine faced downward toward the counter, making it hard to see the pasta as it came out.

Can You Use Any Pasta Dough Recipe in These Machines? 

When we tried to make spaghetti using our Master Recipe for Pasta Dough and our recipe for gluten-free fresh pasta dough, all the machines struggled. Because these recipes weren’t designed with an electric pasta machine in mind, they were far too wet. After examining each machine’s pasta recipe booklets, we noticed that all their pasta dough recipes called for fewer eggs, producing dough that was dry and crumbly. There was a good reason for this: The dough needed to be looser in order for the mixing paddle to push it through the shaping disk. When we followed the machines’ recipes, we had success—and our favorite model was able to produce excellent spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, and sheets of lasagna. However, the other two models struggled at times, even with their own recipes. The edges of their fettuccine were ragged, their sheets of lasagna were narrow and torn in parts, and one made curved penne that looked more like macaroni (the other didn't include a penne shaping disk at all). What’s more, one of the machines left a significant amount of unextruded dough in the mixing chamber—even after it automatically stopped, indicating that the extrusion was done.

Our takeaway? It’s best to use the recipes that come with and are designed for the machines. Our favorite model includes an entire recipe booklet, with instructions for regular, gluten-free, and even vegetable-dyed doughs.

How Easy Were the Machines to Clean? 

To put it bluntly, none of the machines was easy to clean. This is because you have to disassemble the machine and wash each part separately. Our favorite electric pasta maker, for example, requires you to remove the front panel, then the shaping disk, then the disk holder, then the mixing paddle, then the mixing chamber. All the models also came with cleaning tools that had needle-like pointed ends to help you remove dough from the nooks and crannies of the shaping disks. And, of course, you must reassemble everything afterward. 

The Best Electric Pasta Machine: Philips Pasta Maker

Our favorite electric pasta maker was the priciest of the bunch, at about $250. It effortlessly made spaghetti, fettuccine, and sheets of lasagna. It produced good penne, too. At times, the penne had a slight curl to its ends, but it still had defined ridges, which we liked. We liked its simple control panel and the flat-edged tool for cutting the extruded pasta. Like all the pasta machines, it took a bit of time to clean. And while it came with just four shaping disks (for spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, and lasagna sheets), you can buy extra attachments for shells, paccheri, rigatoni, macaroni, angel hair, pappardelle, and tagliatelle.

Methodology

  • Test three electric pasta machines, priced from about $130 to about $250
  • Make spaghetti in each machine following the instructions provided in each of the machines’ instruction manuals
  • Make fettuccine in each machine following the instructions provided in each of the machines’ instruction manuals
  • Make lasagna sheets in each machine following the instructions provided in each of the machines’ instruction manuals
  • Make penne in the two machines equipped with penne shaping disks and following the instructions provided in each of the machines’ instruction manuals
  • Make spaghetti in the machines that provided gluten-free dough recipes
  • Make spaghetti in each machine using our Master Recipe for Pasta Dough
  • Make spaghetti in each machine using our gluten-free fresh pasta dough recipe 
  • After each use, clean the machine and its parts according to the manufacturer’s instructions  

Rating Criteria

Pasta: We evaluated how well the machines mixed and extruded pasta and the final quality (shape, taste, texture) of the pasta.

Ease of Use: We determined how easy the machines were to use and whether their controls were straightforward.

Cleanup: We evaluated how easy the machines were to clean.


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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*