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Anyone who delves into making fresh pasta at home—whether you’re using a machine or rolling and cutting it by hand—quickly learns that the strands need to be separated as soon as they’re cut and hung to dry before cooking. This is to avoid pasta that clumps and sticks together or dissolves into a gloppy mess as soon as it’s dropped into boiling water. If you don’t plan to cook it right away or have extra pasta that you’d like to keep for future use, fresh pasta can be dried more thoroughly over several hours and then stored at room temperature. This also requires hanging so that it can dry completely and evenly, with air passing around all its surfaces to prevent the formation of mold.
You should dry your pasta before cutting it, according to Stefania Porcelli, chef of Checco er Carettiere restaurant in Rome. Porcelli explains, "After making fresh pasta sheets—whether with a rolling pin or machine—hang them to dry on a rack. They shouldn't be left too long, at most a few hours. You want the sheets to stay a little bit moist so you're able to properly cut them into the desired shape (fettuccine, tagliolini, etc.). Next, lay your cut pasta on a wooden counter or workspace covered with a cloth and some semolina. When the strands are no longer sticky, you can swirl them into 'nidi' or little nests and store. The main thing here is to let them dry both before you cut them and after."
While you can certainly improvise and utilize clothes hangers, a laundry drying rack, the back of a chair, or even a broom handle, if you plan on making homemade pasta regularly, a dedicated pasta drying rack is a more efficient, less messy, and more hygienic solution.
Here are our picks for the best pasta drying racks.
Best Overall: Cambom Collapsible Pasta Drying Rack
Folds down for compact storage
Easy to clean
No low arms that can only hold short noodles
Not as durable as some other materials
Not ideal for large batches
This affordable option, available in several different colors of food-grade plastic, features 10 rounded arms that open up or fold down for storage, a bit like an umbrella. The four legs have slip-resistant feet for added stability. It’s a plus that the arms are all at an equal height, so you won’t have the issue of some arms that can hold long strands and others that only fit short ones, like with spiral-arm pasta racks. However, this rack is the shortest we reviewed, standing only about 11 inches tall, so it’s not the best option for drying super-long strands or multiple portions of pasta.
But if you’re looking for a pasta drying rack for small batches that won’t bust the bank, is easy to clean, and collapses down to store in small, tight spaces, this could be the one for you.
Materials: food-safe plastic | Height: 11 inches (fully extended)
Best High-End: Marcato Tacapasta Pasta Drying Rack
Comes with a handy pasta-transferring tool
Available in four colors
Easy to clean
A bit bulky to store
Lowest arms can only hold short noodles
This pasta rack may be a bit of a splurge for a single-use kitchen item, but it’s made by Marcato, the well-established Italian producer of our top pick for pasta machines, so it’s a sturdy and high-quality option that comes with a 10-year guarantee. Simply turn the knob at the top to fan out the 16 polycarbonate rods into a spiral shape for hanging fresh pasta noodles. It comes with a handy tool that stores in the central column and can be used for easily transferring pasta strands to the arms of the rack or from the arms to the cooking pot. At nearly 20 inches high, it can hold up to 4.4 pounds of pasta and even the longest strands.
The sleek, modern design is available in several different bright colors and it folds up relatively flat for storage. Another plus is that the BPA-free plastic rods and stainless-steel base are easy to clean, even with dried-on pasta dough. One downside with spiral-arm models such as this is that the bottom arms can only hold much shorter noodles than the top level.
Materials: stainless steel and BPA-free plastic | Height: 17.7 inches (fully extended)
Best Large-Capacity: Bellemain Large Wood Pasta Drying Rack
Holds up to 8 servings of pasta
Tall, for holding even long strands of pasta
Large and bulky to store
Cumbersome to assemble and disassemble
If you’re regularly making multiple batches of pasta at a time, some of the more compact drying racks, which might only hold one or two servings of pasta, just won’t cut it. This solid beechwood rack from a family-owned kitchen tool company is large and sturdy and features four 18-inch wooden rods that can hold up to eight servings of pasta for drying. The tapered arms are cleverly angled so that hanging pasta strands won’t touch each other, and the solid wood base is stable, to prevent the rack from tipping over even when the dowels are fully loaded.
The rack is 16.5 inches tall, so it can accommodate even lengthy noodles, and it’s easy to clean by hand washing. On the downside, while the wooden arms slide out for storage and the center column can be disassembled from the base, it’s not as compact or easy to store as some of our other picks.
Materials: wood | Height: 16.5 inches
Most Versatile: Eppicotispai Beechwood Stackable Food Dryer
Can be used for short pasta, herbs, and more
Stackable to expand capacity
Takes up a lot of space
Not ideal for long noodles
Tricky to clean
A strikingly different option, this made-in-Italy mesh rack in a solid wood frame is our most multi-purpose pick. While it’s not the best option for extra-long strands, it can also be used—unlike our other picks—for drying short, shaped, or filled pasta like gnocchi, orecchiette, or ravioli. It can even be used for drying herbs, vegetables, or fruit, and it’s stackable, so if you have large volumes of food to dry you can easily expand the capacity by purchasing multiple trays.
The wooden legs are removable, for flat storage, and the food-safe plastic mesh has large holes for better air circulation and easier cleaning.
Materials: plastic and wood | Dimensions: 19 inches x 15.75 inches x 1 inch
Best Folding: Crate & Barrel Acacia Pasta Drying Rack
Oil-finished wood is easier to clean
Not as tall as other options
This elegant acacia-wood rack is simple and efficient. Its eight smooth, rounded rods fold up for drying strands of fresh pasta or noodles and down for easy, flat storage. It’s a sturdy and affordable option, despite its classy looks, and unlike some other wood pasta racks, it features an oil finish that prevents dough from sticking and makes it easier to clean and more resistant to stains and warping.
One potential downside is that, at 11.5 inches high, it’s not as tall or large-capacity as some other racks. But if you don’t plan to dry large batches of pasta or don’t mind using multiple racks to do so, it’s not a deal-breaker.
Materials: wood | Height: 11.5 inches
The Cambom Collapsible Pasta Drying Rack (view at Amazon) is affordable, simple, and can be stored easily—an all-around great option. If you're looking for a multipurpose dryer, the Eppicotispai Beechwood Stackable Food Dryer (view at Amazon) allows you to dry long, short, or filled pasta as well as herbs, vegetables, and fruit.
What to Look for in a Pasta Drying Rack
Most pasta drying racks are made of either wood, metal or plastic and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Plastic and metal are easy to clean and fresh pasta is less likely to stick to these materials than to unfinished wood, making it easy to slide strands on and off of the rack. On the other hand, if the rack’s arms are too smooth, strands can slide off onto the counter during drying. The natural texture of wood prevents slippage but when bits of fresh dough dry on wood, it can be tough to get them off. Some wood racks, however, are varnished or feature an oil finish that helps to prevent sticking, warping and staining.
Height and Design
Shorter racks will not be able to hold extra-long noodles, and swivel-style designs will only be able to hold short noodles on the lowest arms.
If you’re only planning to make enough pasta for one or two people at a time, a smaller rack is sufficient, but if you regularly make large batches at a time, look for a rack with more arms and more surface area for holding pasta.
Some pasta drying racks come with handy tools to aid in placing noodles on the drying arms or sliding dried pasta off the rack and transferring it to the pot.
Is a pasta drying rack necessary?
It’s not strictly necessary, no, but it makes drying handmade pasta easier, faster and less messy. You can also improvise a pasta-drying setup with objects you already have in your home. One of the most traditional Italian methods, in fact, is a broom handle supported by the backs of two chairs. If you prefer to keep your floor-cleaning tools separate from food preparation, though, a pasta drying rack is a more sanitary alternative that can also potentially hold larger batches. You can also simply lay fresh pasta flat on a clean and lightly floured dishtowel or sheet pan, but you’ll need to turn it frequently to ensure that all sides dry evenly.
What do you use a pasta drying rack for?
Racks with arms are used to dry long strands or noodles before cooking, while screen-type racks can also be used to dry short shapes like rigatoni or farfalle as well as fresh herbs or slices of fruits or vegetables. Pasta needs to be dried before cooking, even if you plan to use it right away, to prevent clumping, sticking and to give the finished pasta the right texture and consistency.
How long should pasta dry on a rack?
If you are making fresh pasta to eat right away or to be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week, it should be dried for a minimum of about 15 minutes. If, however, you’re making pasta to be stored at room temperature for future use, it should be dried for several hours until all its moisture is evaporated.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This article was written by Danette St. Onge, formerly the Italian Food Expert for The Spruce Eats and a features editor at Cook’s Illustrated magazine (part of America’s Test Kitchen). An avid kitchen appliance junkie, she spends hours combing the Internet, comparing options, reading reviews, and testing devices to find the best tool for every job. She interviewed Stefania Porcelli, chef of Checco er Carettiere restaurant in Rome, for additional research on pasta drying racks.