Here's our quick guide to this essential tool.

By Victoria Spencer
October 21, 2020
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Wooden rolling pins and pie dough on floured surface
Credit: Con Poulos

A basic kitchen tool and must-have for making everything from pie to cookies, a rolling pin is a very simple and often overlooked essential. While bakers might consider all the options before they invest in new cookie sheets, mixing bowls, or a cookbook, the rolling pin is humble and often overlooked. But it shouldn't be. Why? Having the right type of rolling pin for you—meaning, for the way you work and how strong you are—can make a great deal of difference when you're rolling pie dough for those Thanksgiving pies or batches of cookie dough for holiday treats. Here, we explain the basic styles of rolling pin to help you decide what will work best for you.

There Are Two Main Types

You'll find that most kitchen supply stores (and even some supermarkets) carry a variety of different rolling pins, but all those options generally fall into one of two categories: with handles or without. Those without are called French rolling pins. Handled pins are heavy and have a wide body diameter. French pins are lighter, longer, and thinner; some are uniform in diameter, others are tapered.

Any good wooden pin is made from a hardwood, such as maple ($11.99, bedbathandbeyond.com), beech, or ash. Martha's favorite rolling pin is made from mahogany (she got it in Paris on her honeymoon). While wood is the standard, marble ($24.95, crateandbarrel.com) is also an excellent choice because it stays cool as you work and is less likely to stick to the dough.

Choosing the Right One for You

How do you decide? If you prefer handles, select a baker's pin with handles that are fitted with ball bearings (which makes it easier to roll) rather than one that is stationary ($46, amazon.com). With a French pin, you can cover a large surface of dough with just one stroke because it has no handles and a longer body. Many professional bakers prefer a long, slender wooden French pin without handles or tapered ends ($22.75, amazon.com), as this type allows for the most control and lets you "feel" the dough as you roll. It's particularly good for rolling cookie dough. Others like the tapered pin ($19.95, williams-sonoma.com) for the control it gives when rolling pie dough

How to Clean a Rolling Pin

Never wash wooden rolling pins with soap. Instead, wash them with hot water and a rag to take off any excess specks of dough or flour. Whatever you do, do not run them through the dishwasher. You can even skip turning on the water and wipe with a soft, damp cloth instead. Just make sure to dry thoroughly before storing this essential tool.

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