Whether you’re starting your first forays into baking or are an experienced baker with many years under your belt, you’ll eventually find yourself looking for a rolling pin. It can be hard to know where to start and how to choose a rolling pin!
Several factors go into choosing the correct rolling pin for you. The shape, materials, and care and maintenance of the pin can impact your decision. Each type of pin is suited best for a specific job, but when deciding how to choose a rolling pin it mainly comes down to preference.
There are so many different rolling pins out there that will fit every budget and need. Let’s get to know all of them!
Essential Considerations When Choosing a Rolling Pin
When you first start looking for a rolling pin, there are several things you need to consider. Budget is one of the biggest, but there are rolling pins at every different price point. So, what makes a rolling pin worth a significant investment?
There are four big factors to consider when choosing a rolling pin:
- Care and Keeping
These factors will determine the best rolling pin for you. Each of them will change how your rolling pin functions, some for different purposes than others!
No matter what shape you choose, you need to select the rolling pin that works best for you. That comes down to preference, but some rolling pins function better for specific tasks.
When looking at rolling pins, you’ll find them in a variety of shapes and sizes! While rolling pins are generally universal for all baking applications some can be better than others depending on what you’re baking. The shape of your rolling pin is the single most crucial part of choosing your rolling pin.
The shape of your rolling pin is not only a style choice, but you should also consider how you’ll use it. If you’re planning to use your rolling pin for baking exclusively, some shapes are better suited. Similarly, some other shapes are better used for other recipes.
There are three main rolling pin shapes:
All three of these have different applications in the kitchen and come in a wide variety of different sizes. Let’s meet each of them!
First up, we have the tapered rolling pin style. Sometimes called ‘French-style’ rolling pins, they look pretty different from ‘American-style’ rolling pins (we’ll touch on those later).
Tapered rolling pins have larger middles and thinner ends where you place your hands. These pins are great for moving the direction you’re rolling without moving the dough itself, such as making dumpling wrappers. They are also easier to hold onto because they aren’t one consistent size. These French or “Patisserie-style” pins are great for pie crust, pizza dough, pasta and other pastries.
Typically made of wood, tapered pins come in a wide variety of sizes and wood types so there is something for everyone out there! Tapered pins are usually between fourteen and twenty-two inches long, though some artisans make them even smaller.
We find the tapered pins easy to maneuver and grip vs the traditional American style rolling pin with handles. They also tend to make it easier to maintain or change the amount of pressure you roll with to achieve the desired thickness of your cookie dough or pie crust. It’s a bit of a learning curve to make the switch but go wild, ditch those handles and try out a tapered style pin! A good length for the tapered rolling pin that will be versatile for most applications is 22 inches.
When you think of rolling pins, you probably think of a straight rolling pin. These are the same shape the whole way around and are simple dowels.
However, straight rolling pins do not have to be simple. If you look, you’ll find them in marble, fine wood, silicone and some may even come carved with intricate patterns.
Straight rolling pins are best for rolling out your dough to an even thickness. This is the pin type for you if you make a lot of pie crusts or pasta. They are straightforward, and your dough will pass the window-pane test every time.
Rolling Pin with Handles (American Style or ball bearing)
The ‘American-style’ of rolling pins have two distinct handles on either side of the pin. These pins were most popular during the 20th century but are seeing a comeback with modern American nostalgia. When purchasing an American style pin, you’ll want to know the length of pin with and without the handles. This is important to determine the surface area that will come in contact with the dough, for example the pin can be 10” but total length is 18” with the handles.
Famous Chefs and their Rolling Pin Preferences
We thought it would be fun to see what the professionals prefer when it comes to how they roll their dough. We checked ranker.com’s list of famous bakers and did our research. For what it’s worth, Julia Child, Martha Stewart and Paul Hollywood (a judge on the popular Netflix show The Great British Bakeoff) all prefer a French-style pin. They all claim that it gives them a better feel for the dough. It is also Anna Olson’s (Food Network chef) go-to rolling pin.
Duff Goldman who founded the famous custom cake outpost Charm City Cakes and made appearances on Ace of Cakes has used the same straight rolling pin for over 20 years according to a 2017 interview he did with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Now we’ll get into how each material differs and why each may be good to use depending on the application.
Plain wood rolling pins are among the least expensive types of pins you can buy, and they can be found pretty much anywhere. On the other hand, artisanal wood rolling pins made of specialty wood can be found selling for over $100 due to the rarity of the wood. Regardless of your budget or personal preference, wood pins are great generalist pins and can be used for any baking application in the kitchen.
These pins can last an incredibly long time but require some degree of maintenance which can be a turn off to some. You’ll want to read the care and use instructions that came with your pin to keep it looking new and bacteria free. We do find that sometimes our wood pin is too light for certain baking applications such as making dough for croissants. So, one recommendation is to have a 2nd pin in a different material to alternate depending on the baked good you’re making.
Metal rolling pins are the cream of the crop for bakers who work extensively with butter-filled dough. Puff pastry, shortbread, and pie crusts will all have a beautiful flaky texture once you have used a metal rolling pin.
Their conductivity can also be a drawback, however. While these pins stay cold for a long time, if you can’t handle the temperature, you might find your rolling pin unusable. They can also be prone to rusting without proper humidity management.
A more recent but popular choice, marble rolling pins are chic, stylish, and practical. Marble pins check several boxes for the home baker that is looking for both form and function. They’re aesthetically pleasing, heavier in weight than wood and knead very well. Not only do they hold onto cool temperatures for longer, but they come in a wide range of colors. You can even purchase one with a matching cradle and proudly display it amongst your kitchen décor.
While we love our tapered wood pin, the marble pin is our go-to for croissants. It’s superior to wood in this case as it keeps the dough cool for easy rolling and it’s heavy which eases the pain when working through all those dough and butter layers. Your forearms will thank you! If you’ve ever made a homemade pie crust then you know the colder the dough the better the pie crust. If your dough is sticking to your marble pin and you find yourself needing to add flour try chilling the pin to solve this problem.
Pro tip: Chill your marble rolling pin in the refrigerator for one hour before rolling out your dough.
There are some drawbacks to marble rolling pins. While they do look lovely, they can chip if not used carefully. The chipped marble can create a breeding ground for bacteria growth. You’ll also want to hand wash and dry your marble pin to avoid exposing it to the extreme temperatures of the dishwasher.
In many instances, the weight of the marble pin works to the users’ benefit. It can also be a drawback as well. Consider a 10-inch pin with handles weighing in at over 5 lbs. The heavier weight means it can also be difficult to handle for some and make working with the dough more of a challenge. You’ll want to go to a store and make sure you’re comfortable with the weight of a marble rolling pin before investing in one.
A relatively new addition to the rolling pin world are silicone pins which can be used for various things. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes. Silicone is naturally non-stick so you may not need to add as much flour as you roll the dough.
Less common than the other options above, stainless steel rolling pins do have their place in the kitchen. These pins have natural anti-stain properties for those that tend to bake more with colored dough or fondants. Stainless steel is also non-porous which means it’s good for those that work with ingredients with strong flavor profiles as it won’t retain smells or flavors. You can also refrigerate stainless steel beforehand to keep the dough cold while rolling.
Believe it or not, look and you shall find accessories that you can purchase for your rolling pin. Accessories that can help you roll the dough to a precise thickness as well as those that can help with flour retention to prevent sticky dough.
Rolling Pin Rings or Pins with Guides
Why we like them: A great tool when you’re recipe calls for a specific dough thickness and you’re tired of stacking coins to determine its thickness. The removable rings can be adjusted to your dough size to ensure uniform thickness of the dough in between. The rings themselves are dishwasher safe.
Here are several choices depending on whether you’re looking to purchase the rings separately or together with a rolling pin:
Regency Wraps Evendough Bands
Do you already own your pin? are you intrigued by the idea of something to make rolling your dough to an even thickness an easier task? If so, you should definitely consider these. Made by Regency a trusted name, the set comes with bands in four thicknesses including 3/8, 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16. The bands are designed to stretch easily over a standard American rolling pin up to 2.5” in diameter. To clean just handwash the bands with warm soapy water, rinse and let dry. The Regency Wraps Bands are currently on sale for $11.
Joseph Joseph Adjustable 13.6” Rolling Pin with Removable Rings
For those bakers that don’t already have a pin and like the idea of rings, the Joseph Joseph pin is a great choice. Made of beechwood, the 13 ½ inch pin is etched with measurements and includes 4 pairs of removable discs that attach to the pin with plastic screws for easy storage. Total length of the pin with the discs attached is 17”. The disc thicknesses are 1/16” (2mm), 1/6” (4mm), 1/4” (6mm) and 3/8” (10mm). The wood pin should be handwashed and discs are dishwasher safe. The Joseph Joseph pin set can be purchased for under $20.
This pair goes hand in hand to keep the dough from sticking to your worksurface and pin. Just rub flour into the cloth and the pin cover and roll the dough as you normally would.
Rolling pin covers come in a variety of sizes so be sure you purchase one that’ll fit your pin. You’ll want to make sure that the length of the pin cover will fit the surface of the pin that comes in contact with the dough.
Pin covers can be safely stored in a plastic bag in the freezer to avoid them from becoming rancid.
Bakers either love them or find them unnecessary but one thing seems to be true, excess flour will be absorbed by the fabric and not the dough. This results in a dough that’s light and flakey. If they work for you, you’ll end up with tender baked goods and a bit more flour leftover in your container. Best of all they won’t break the bank and you can find a pair that includes a cloth and pin cover for under $10, and yes they’re reusable!
Caring for Your Rolling Pin
Now that you’ve assessed what type of rolling pin you’re looking for, you need to think about how to care for it.
While some rolling pins may be rated for the dishwasher, it is not recommended to put them there as damage may occur. You should always plan on hand-washing your rolling pin.
One example is rust on metal rolling pins. Another is rust or damage to the handles of your American style wood rolling pin. Yet another could be chips on your marble rolling pin. All of these could happen when your rolling pin is put in the dishwasher.
Such damage could cause cross-contamination. The last thing you want is rust or marble chips in your food. Yuck!
By hand-washing and properly caring for your pin it can last for many years and even a lifetime.
Maintenance is another thing to consider when deciding on the type of pin to buy. If you choose a wooden rolling pin, you’ll need to periodically oil it to keep it looking like new. This is crucial for the lifespan of your rolling pin and will keep it shiny and crack-free for the rest of its life. Oiling your rolling pin is not only for aesthetic reasons. It’s also necessary to keep the wood protected from damage and decay (like cracking) and to help season the surface. The regular use and cleaning cycle will put normal wear and tear on the wood and it’s important to give it the proper care.
Food-safe mineral oil is the best choice when oiling a wooden rolling pin. Butcher block oil is another excellent choice if you have a hard time finding mineral oil. Stay away from food oils, such as canola, olive, walnut, or veggie oils for maintaining your pin. These can go rancid overtime and can lead to bacteria growth.
You should oil your rolling pin frequently, but you can increase or decrease the frequency depending on your home’s humidity. Cool, dry areas should lubricate more regularly, while warm, humid places can oil less frequently.
So, what makes the best rolling pin? It should be well-made and not too heavy, with a decent length to work with. If you use it as a display item, it may even fit your aesthetic.
However, the essential feature of any rolling pin is how it feels in your hands and how it works for you. At the end of the day, if you are happy with the results your pin has given you, you have chosen the correct rolling pin. And remember if you ever find yourself without a rolling pin, reach for the closest wine bottle and roll out that dough!