How to make Pasta Dough by hand

Most pasta dough is usually made from combinations of flour, eggs and water. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of variations on the flour-egg-water ratio used, as well as types of flour and herbs added to the mixture. Variations also matter as the different shapes of pasta depends on some extent to the different amounts of each ingredient used. There are all sorts of flavored pastas that use extra ingredients like herbs, spices, and pastes, but for this post we’re just making a basic dough for fettuccine.

The ingredients are usually very easy to find and inexpensive. In this case, we’re using 4 cups of unbleached flour, 5 eggs, a pinch of salt and about 1/4 cup of water. The water is used to adjust moisture and elasticity. A simple rule to remember is: “Too moist, add flour – Too dry, add water”.

Simple Guide to Making Pasta Dough by Hand

Make a mound of flour on your pasta board or stone counter, then shape a large bowl in the center and pour in your whisked or beaten eggs.

Readying the flour & egg for mixing by hand.
Readying the flour & egg for mixing by hand

Begin by whisking the flour into the egg mix, and continue working until dough starts to form.

Start the mixing process by folding flour into the egg pool.
Start the mixing process by folding flour into the egg pool

Continue by folding the flour into the forming dough ball. As the dough ball grows, knead it with your fingers or the palm of your hands. Continue kneading until the flour is completely worked into the dough ball. Note that you may have to adjust with a little water or flour, depending on if it’s too moist or too dry. The finished dough ball should be smooth and elastic.

Kneading pasta dough by hand.
Kneading pasta dough by hand.

This dough ball is now ready to be turned into fettuccine. If you are new to pasta cutters, please see our article on how to properly use a hand-cranked pasta cutting machine.

A nicely formed dough ball ready to be shaped into pasta.
A nicely formed dough ball ready to be shaped into pasta

Hand-kneading vs. Electric Mixer

This article focuses on the old-world art of hand-making dough. It is heavy work, and some might feel that using a standing electric mixer with hook attachment to do that work is a preferable method. The most common reason is hand fatigue or pain. I totally understand that. I’m getting that more often now as I’ve aged. Please feel free to use an electric mixer if you want to, as it is the same ingredients. Only the mode of making it is different, and the mixer manual will guide you on how to do so.