Introduction: Fresh Gluten-Free Pasta

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Martha…

This instructable is a follow up to my fresh Pasta Making class. I've been receiving student requests for a gluten-free recipe option and have finally found an ingredient combo that makes workable and delicious dough!

This dough is smooth and elastic enough to hold up to being put through a pasta machine, so celiacs and intolerants rejoice!! You too can experience the fun, satisfaction, and tastiness of making fresh pasta from scratch!

NOTE: The first thing my boyfriend said when I fed him this recipe was, "This is gluten-free?!", so I'm fairly confident that it will satisfy even gluten friendly taste buds.

Step 1: Ingredients & Tools

The biggest obstacle to making successful gluten-free dough, is that it's the gluten and protein in wheat flour that creates the elasticity, plasticity, and complex structures required to have dough that's workable and not crumbly. (To learn more about the nature of wheat and t's roll in pasta dough, watch Lesson 2 of my free Pasta Making class.)

Flours free from gluten, while they have varying amounts of protein, cannot on their own generate good pasta dough qualities. So we need to re-create the binding nature of gluten without actually using gluten itself. This is where the superpowers of xanthan gum come in!

Xanthan gum is a thickening agent that binds the flours together and holds onto moisture, providing some elasticity and desired stickiness, enabling the pasta dough to be properly rolled and shaped.

Another helper on the path to gluten-free fresh pasta dough is egg whites. Their protein content contributes added smoothness and structure to the dough, making it easier to roll thinly, if desired.

Here are the ingredients and amounts you need for this recipe:

NOTE: Recipe makes 6 appetizer servings or 4 main course servings

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch + 1-2 extra tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 3/4 teaspoon iodine-free kosher or sea salt
  • 3 larges eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

And these are the tools you'll need:

Step 2: Mix It Up!

Place all the dry ingredients in the food processor and press pulse a few times to combine.

Then, add the eggs and oil.

Run the food processor until the ingredients form a ball (like pictured).

Note: If you don't have a food processor, there is still hope! Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Mix the eggs and oil together in a small bowl and then slowly stir the wet mix into the dry mix.

Don't do this too quickly or the light and puffy starches will go a flying! Form a ball and then continue to follow along with the instructions.

Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap so that the surface doesn't dry out before you're ready to use it.

Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.

To learn why we let pasta dough rest, watch the Lesson 3 video of my Pasta Making class (starting at 05:41). Letting the dough rest isn't as necessary for gluten-free pasta dough as it is for wheat based doughs, but I still find it produces better results.

Step 3: Setting Up the Pasta Machine

When setting up to roll out the sheets of dough, attach the pasta machine to the right of you, as the rollers are on the left side of the machine and that's the side the dough will exit on. The thickness dial will be on the end that's pointing away from you.

Line up the machine end that's closest to you with the edge of the counter. If your counter's edge isn't deep enough to accommodate the clamp, you can use a large, thick cutting board to clamp to instead (like I have done in the photos above). Tighten the clamp, securing the pasta machine to the work surface.

Insert the crank handle into the hole that lines up with the rollers.

Make sure your thickness dial is on it's widest setting. For mine, that is '0', but on other brands it can sometimes be the highest number.

Step 4: In Preparation for Rolling

Set out two clean dish towels. This is where we'll place the dough sheets as they come out of the pasta machine.

Once 10-15 minutes has passed, remove the plastic wrap from the dough ball and knead it for 2-3 minutes.

NOTE: To learn proper kneading techniques, watch the Lesson 3 video from my Pasta Making class, starting at 05:41.

Once you're done kneading, reshape the dough into a ball and cut it into 4 equal pieces using a sharp knife.

Wrap 3 of the 4 pieces loosely in the just removed piece of plastic wrap.

Step 5: Flatten Down the Batches!

Use the heal of your hand to flatten the first quarter into a disc shape.

Sprinkle both sides with potato starch.

Then, use a rolling pin to further stretch and thin the dough bit in preparation for putting it through the pasta machine. This may seem like a redundant step, but I find if I roll it out manually a bit first, it has a smoother texture and tears less.

Why a pasta machine at all then? I find using a pasta machine to complete the rolling process, as opposed to hand rolling, creates more uniform and even sheets, which results in more uniformly cooked noodles. The machines are also just fun to use. :D

NOTE: If you don't have a pasta machine, you can keep on rolling it out with the rolling pin. Just make sure to keep flipping it and sprinkling on more potato starch to prevent sticking and tearing.

Once you've used a rolling pin to get the dough down to about 1/4 inch thick, start using the machine. Place the flattest end of the sheet in between the rollers (set to the widest setting) and crank the dough through.

Continue to put the dough sheet through the rollers, reducing the width one number at a time until you get to the middle thickness offered on your machine. On my Atlas that means stopping at setting 4 or 5. Going any thinner risks tearing.

If the sheet gets long and unwieldy, use a sharp knife to cut it in half.

Set the sheet(s) on the clean dish towels to air dry for 10 minutes (before cutting into noodles).

Repeat for the remaining 3 dough pieces!

Step 6: Prepare a Temporary Holding Surface for Noodle Nests

Dust a cookie sheet or large cutting board with potato starch to place your fresh noodles on as you cut or shape them.

Step 7: Hand Cutting Noodles

If you don't have a cutter attachment for your pasta machine, not to worry, it's super easy to cut your noodles by hand!

Lightly dust both sides of a pasta sheet with potato starch and loosely roll it up.

Use a sharp chef's knife to slice the roll into your desired thickness of noodle.

Unroll the noodles and form them into a little nest*. Place the nest onto the dusted surface you prepared in the last step.

*To watch a video of me making noodle nests, go to 06:54 in the video from Lesson 5 of my Pasta Making class.

Step 8: Attach the Noodle Cutter

If you do have a cutter attachment for your pasta machine, yay!

Before attaching it, unclamp the machine and move it to the left of you, as the noodles will exit from the machine's right side as you crank the dough sheets through.

Then slide on the attachment and place the crank handle in the hole that corresponds with the width of rollers you want to use. I'm starting with the wider fettuccine rollers!

Step 9: Cutting Noodles With a Pasta Machine

Dust both sides of a sheet of dough.

NOTE: When using wheat based doughs, it isn't necessary to dust the sheets with flour before putting them through the cutters. To ensure that the less elastic gluten-free dough doesn't tear, I recommend dusting both sides of each sheet before cutting them.

Place the straightest edge in between the rollers of your chosen cutter and slowly crank the dough through.

Form the noodles into nests and place them on the dusted cookie sheet.

And that's it!! All that's left to do is cook the pasta in salted, boiling water for the following times, add your favorite sauce, and then enjoy!

  • 3-5 minutes for thin noodles like angel hair and tagliolini
  • 4-5 minutes for fettuccine and tagliatelle
  • 7-9 minutes for shaped pastas that have overlaps, like farfalle and garganelli

NOTE: Pay close attention to the noodles while they cook, as gluten-free pasta can go from underdone to mush in a VERY short amount of time.

For more tips, or to try your hand at other parts of my Pasta Making class like:

  • How to Keep & Store Fresh Pasta
  • Cooking & Serving Fresh Pasta
  • Hand Cut & Shape Pasta
  • Flavored Dough
  • Making Ravioli
  • Creamy Pesto Sauce
  • Classic Tomato Sauce

Enroll in my free Instructables class on Pasta Making!

Thanks for following along and happy making!