Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Unlike tabletop rollers or pasta maker attachments made for stand mixers, extruder-style machines mix, knead, and press the dough for you. (The dough is forced through a cutter disc, shaping it into noodles.) The only time you need to get hands-on with an extruder is when it’s time to guide the noodles away from the machine and slice them off of the disc. But efficiency isn’t the only metric we consider when cooking dinner. We, like many other pasta fans, wondered whether extruders were worth the higher price tag than their manual counterparts. 

To find out, we tested seven electric pasta extruders from a variety of manufacturers and came away with some key learnings. When given time for trial and error, extruders produced fine pasta, with attractive, uniform shapes and a springy texture.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Philips blew the competition out of the water: The two models we tested produced more consistent noodles and were easier to clean. This moderately priced machine doesn’t offer a lot in the way of hands-on work (it’s controlled via a dial with just three settings: automatic, off, and extra extrude, which gets the last little bit of dough out). We loved how cleanly the noodles were cut during the extrusion process. It runs surprisingly quietly, even during extrusion, and the texture of its spaghetti was a clear favorite.

This option is one of the priciest we tested, but we think it’s well worth the splurge. Small details, like a built-in storage drawer for the attachments and cleaning brush, went a long way in making the Avance Collection feel like a luxury investment. (Note: This model is currently out of stock, but we’re keeping an eye on its availability.)

At under $125, Starfrit’s electric extruder is a great deal. The motor struggled a bit in comparison to Philips’ powerful extruders, but we really liked that, unlike most other electric machines, this one produces small batches of pasta (we considered naming this the “best option for small families”). It comes with eight cutters, which allows for greater creativity when shaping pasta.

The Tests

Serious Eats / Russell KilgoreSpaghetti Test: To evaluate the machines’ performance with a thinner noodle, we mixed the dough according to the manufacturer’s instructions, choosing the spaghetti die for cutting. We evaluated how easy it was to follow the machine’s directions, as well as the quality of the noodles produced (and whether they came out fully cut, or had to be separated by hand).Fettuccine and Linguine Test: We repeated the above methodology to test a thicker, egg-enriched dough. After separating and drying the noodles, we cooked the pasta and evaluated it on standards of texture, appearance, and flavor. For both the spaghetti and fettuccine tests, we severed the noodles from the die with the manufacturer’s cutting accessory (if included) or a knife (if not).Penne and Rigatoni Test: To evaluate the machines’ performance in thicker doughs with a tubular shape, we repeated the above methodology for penne or rigatoni presets. We dried the pasta on a baking sheet and evaluated the finished pasta as well as the machines’ performance. Cleaning Test: After completing all of the dough formation tests, we cleaned each machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, evaluating how easy (or not) it was to dislodge bits of dough. We also considered efficiency in disassembly and reassembly.

Should You Buy a Pasta Extruder or a Pasta Roller and Cutter Set?

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

For most home cooks, a regular ol’ pasta maker will be totally suitable for their fresh pasta needs. These generally come with one roller and two cutters (one of these being fettuccine).

That being said, pasta extruders are certainly fun, allowing you to make rigatoni, spaghetti, penne, and more at home. They are also, arguably, more hands-off than using a roller and cutter. There are some culinary reasons to be anti these specific electric pasta extruders, though. “The thing with pasta is the hydration of the dough is key to the final pasta’s quality. Too wet and the pasta comes out overly limp once boiled. Really good pasta requires a minimally hydrated dough, and that in turn requires an incredibly powerful extruder—the kind of thing that looks like a tank and costs thousands of dollars,” senior culinary director Daniel Gritzer says. “The problem with home machines is they generally don’t have the power to do that, forcing you to over-hydrate the pasta just to get it to come out the holes in the die. That doesn’t mean they’re not fun to use, or that you can’t enjoy the results, but it puts a limitation on the quality of extruded pasta you’re able to make.”

This being said all of our testers (who have a culinary background) enjoyed the pasta these extruders made and would happily eat it alone or topped with sauce and cheese.

What We Learned

A Powerful Motor Was Key

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Perhaps counterintuitively, when using an electric pasta extruder, the dough isn’t kneaded until it’s pushed through the pressing mechanism. This makes high wattage and a powerful motor essential for developing gluten even somewhat properly. The extruder attachments (like the KitchenAid model) struggled with this in particular.

Dull Cutters Were Frustrating to Work With

The sharpness of the cutters, or dies, really matters. Electric extruders offer an almost entirely hands-off method for making pasta, but you’ll still need to guide the noodles out of the extruder. During testing, we found this process to be stressful and cumbersome if we had to separate the individual noodles from each other at the same time. Dull cutters will merely imprint on the pasta dough, rather than cutting it into distinct pieces.

Expect a Learning Curve

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Consider your first few attempts at fresh pasta with an electric extruder to be trial runs. Adding the ingredients in the correct order, in the right quantities, is crucial to a supple, strong dough. Unfortunately, the dough recipes provided by the manufacturers weren’t always the best ones. Once you’ve figured out the ideal ratio through trial and error, it’s much smoother sailing. Also of note: These machines are “first pancake offenders” in that the first few inches of extruded pasta will look imperfect and should be discarded.

Plan on Big Batches

With the exception of the Starfrit extruder, the models we tested produced large quantities of pasta: more than most families would realistically eat on a regular basis. Halving the recipes produced variable results, depending on the model; in general, we think electric extruders are best used for big batches (think four to eight servings).

The Criteria: What to Look for In an Electric Pasta Extruder

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Electric pasta extruders should feel solidly made, and have strong motors that can stand up to the dough pressing and kneading portion of the process: We found that models with weak motors struggled to actually extrude the noodles. Equally important are the dies, or cutters. Look for a machine with super sharp cutters; this will minimize gummy noodles that have to be separated by hand as they’re extruded. A machine with a clear, easy-to-follow manual is ideal because there’s a learning curve in nailing the timing of ingredient addition when mixing the dough. Most electric extruders struggle with smaller batches of dough, so be aware that you’ll likely be cooking for a crowd (unless you choose the Starfrit Electric Pasta Maker, which we found excelled at a half-batch).

The Best Electric Pasta Extruders

What we liked: It’s hard to beat the convenience and speed of Philips’ electric extruders, and this one is a great mix of affordability and high-end features. Unlike the stand mixer attachments, this model comes standard with three cutters (for spaghetti, fettuccine, and penne). The noodles are extruded perfectly clean with no sticking, and they can be sliced from the machine using the included cutter or a knife. We thought it produced some of the best-looking spaghetti we made during testing. The “extra extrude” button is handy if you’ve got a little dough left in the machine. Surprisingly, it’s pretty quiet!

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

What we didn’t like: The beginning of each batch comes out looking frayed, although that rectifies itself as the noodles get longer. Although the extruder is made from stainless steel, we felt the plastic base and cover were flimsy.

Price at time of publish: $180.

Key Specs

Number of thickness settings: Fully automatedNumber of cutting attachments: 3Primary material: Plastic base and cover, stainless steel extruderSerious Eats / Russell Kilgore

What we liked: Using this machine is on the intuitive side, and it has a friendlier learning curve than most of the other extruders we tested. It produced nice pasta, with a bouncy al dente texture we liked. It looks smart, and compared to the Philips Avance has a more sturdy construction. It includes four different cutter shapes, and—big win here—has a handy storage drawer underneath the machine for storing all the parts. There are four included cutters (spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, and lasagna).

What we didn’t like: The machine jammed and clogged when we attempted to make a smaller batch of pasta dough. (It worked great with large batches.) It’s a hulking, spaceship-like machine that requires a fair amount of real estate for storage. It’s currently unavailable, which we’re keeping an eye on.

Price at time of publish: $399.

Key Specs

Number of thickness settings: Fully automatedNumber of cutting attachments: 4Primary material: Plastic base and cover, stainless steel extruderSerious Eats / Russell Kilgore

What we liked: As far as electric pasta extruders go, this one is modestly priced. It includes eight cutting attachments (penne, spaghetti, lasagna, angel hair, fettuccine, tagliatelle, spaghettini, ravioli, and dumplings), which is more than some of the pricier models we tested. It produced fine pasta and was easy to operate. It did the best job with smaller batches of pasta, too. 

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

What we didn’t like: In contrast to the Philips machines we tested, the Starfrit actually struggled with larger amounts of dough. The full-size batch tends to get overworked during the kneading process which makes it harder to extrude, thus clogging the machine. (We had no issues when making a half-batch).

Price at time of publish: $120.

Key Specs:

Number of thickness settings: Fully automatedNumber of cutting attachments: 8Primary material: Plastic base and cover, stainless steel extruderSerious Eats / Russell Kilgore

The Competition

Cuisinart Pastafecto Pasta/Bread Dough Maker: This pricey model was able to roll and cut the dough without any jams, but swapping out the cutters required partial disassembly, and it produced extraordinarily uneven pasta (the top of the extruder yielded 20-inch long noodles, while the bottom struggled to turn out 5-inch ones).Emeril Lagasse Pasta & Beyond Automatic Pasta and Noodle Maker: An overwhelming amount of fiddly problems made this machine a headache to use. We experienced undermixed spaghetti, with visible lumps of flour, and penne that was so overmixed that it became too tough to extrude.Hamilton Beach Electric Pasta Maker: This model was an average performer, but the instructions were confusing, and the internal scale resulted in poorly mixed pasta; we would have preferred the option to manually weigh ingredients ourselves before adding. Overall, we felt the Philips and Starfrit models provided a better value.KitchenAid 6-Piece Gourmet Pasta Press Attachment: If you’re looking for a pasta-making attachment compatible with your stand mixer, skip this one and get the traditional 3-in-1 attachment. Our tests revealed that KitchenAid’s take on an extruder produced sloppily shaped and cut noodles, and was a nightmare to clean. 

FAQs

How does a pasta extruder work? 

These machines measure and mix the dough ingredients according to a recipe. Instead of being kneaded traditionally, the dough is processed with a large amount of force and pressed through a die in the desired shape. Heard of “bronze die” pasta? That refers to the material (bronze) of the cutting mechanism (the die).

Is the KitchenAid pasta extruder worth it? 

Although we recommend the KitchenAid pasta-making attachment, the extruder attachment fell short in our tests. We found that dough that performed well in the traditional attachment was too wet to form quality pasta with the extruder. Additionally, the extruder does not have enough power (or sharp enough cutters) to produce consistently shaped noodles. Finally, the extruder is extremely hard to clean. 

What is extruded pasta? 

Extruded pasta is mixed in a machine, and automatically pushed through a machine’s cutter using high pressure, which produces perfectly-shaped, precisely-cut pasta. It’s a helpful, totally hands-free option for small noodles and specialty shapes, or anyone looking to make fresh pasta with less mess or hands-on time.

Why We’re the Experts

For this review, we tested seven pasta extruders; we compared the results against our previous pasta machine review, considering metrics we used in evaluating tabletop pasta makers and stand mixer attachments.We considered how well the extruders performed, in addition to how well they translated to a home cook’s kitchen, based on the machine’s learning curve as well as the quantity and quality of pasta produced.Rochelle Bilow is a food writer with a focus on reviewing and testing appliances and tools.She has been writing professionally for almost two decades and has written for Serious Eats since 2021.

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