Let’s talk about rolling pins. One of the questions I think my pasty school instructors were most sick of hearing was: “What’s the best rolling pin for [insert project here]?” Because most of the time, the correct answer is: “Use whatever rolling pin(s) you feel most comfortable using.”
But with a plethora of unique rolling pin designs, rolling pin materials, and rolling pin sizes out there — that doesn’t mean that different rolling pins aren’t designed for specific tasks. Having the right rolling pin for the job can seriously level up your baking! So let’s talk about what to look for in a rolling pin and how to use the different kinds of rolling pins that are out there.
There are so many types of rolling pins I can’t possibly get into all of them here, so I’ve covered most of the basics and included links for where you can buy the rolling pin designs I really like. If you don’t see the specific thing you’re looking for here, then I hope you come away from this with a better understanding of what exactly it is you’re looking for in a rolling pin.
What to consider when choosing a rolling pin
Rolling pins come in all sorts of material — raw wood, polished wood, bamboo, plastic, silicone, marble, porcelain, etc. While you can use a rolling pin in any material for any task, different materials do conduct heat differently (crucial for pastry doughs) and some are more porous than others, which means the doughs might be more likely to stick to them.
Knowing what you’ll be using your rolling pin for most will help you determine which rolling pin material is right for you. For example, when it comes to wood rolling pins, I prefer a raw wood finish to a polished finish because I like how flour clings to the raw wood.
Are you primarily rolling out tiny dumpling wrappers or are you planning to make babkas in bulk? Is your kitchen a sprawling Nora Ephron-approved space or do you live in a tiny New York City apartment with a tiny kitchen and one countertop? While you can use a large rolling pin for a small project or a small pin for a large project, you’ll find it easiest to work with a pin that’s the right size for the job and for your kitchen space. Also consider how big or small your hands are — how easily will the pin fit? Will your knuckles be crunched against the counter?
A heavier rolling pin means you have to apply less pressure on your dough and can really just focus on moving the rolling pin forward and backward. A lighter rolling pin might require you to apply more pressure as you roll, but is less likely to accidentally tear more delicate, thinly rolled doughs.
Ease of cleaning
This could also be called “handles or no handles” because that’s one of the things that will make the most dramatic difference in how complicated cleaning your rolling pin is. Most rolling pins just need a quick scrape with a bench scraper and a wipe down with a damp paper towel — no need to run them through the dishwasher.
A rolling pin with handles has a hollow core for the handlebar to move, which means more room for water, flour, dirt, and dust to get trapped. Wooden rolling pins can be porous and might need periodic treatment with food-safe mineral oil to prevent the wood from cracking. Painted rolling pins might chip or flake over time without proper care. Again, that doesn’t make any of these bad options — just something to consider when you’re choosing the rolling pin that’s right for you.
Rolling pins are a lot of things, but easy to store is not one of them. Before bringing home a new rolling pin, think about where you’re going to store it, and consider measuring the space to make sure it will actually fit. The last thing you want is to wedge it in a drawer where it’s so annoying to dig it out that you end up never using it!
1. French tapered rolling pin
A French tapered rolling pin is a solid rolling pin with gently sloped (tapered) ends. The tapered ends make it easy to rock and pivot the rolling pin as you work so that your dough ends up even. By applying pressure on one end or the other you can roll just a small section or edge of dough in very precise ways. These are particularly useful when rolling dough into a round shape.
My wooden French tapered rolling pin is one of my favorite rolling pins — I prefer it to my big heavy rolling pin with handles because I find it’s easier to maneuver on tougher doughs and I don’t have to worry that I’m putting too much pressure on the ends. It’s also easier to clean because there’s no moving parts.
- Buy this wooden French tapered rolling pin on Amazon here! ($)
- Buy this stainless steel tapered rolling pin on Amazon here! ($)
- Buy this hand crafted wooden French tapered rolling pin on Etsy here! ($$)
2. Lightweight bamboo dowel rolling pin
Maybe it’s years of working in too-small kitchens and cramped quarters, but my small bamboo dowel rolling pin is the first one I reach for on pretty much any project (the French tapered rolling pin is the second). These small bamboo rolling pins are lightweight and designed for rolling dumpling wrappers, pita bread, pierogi, tortillas, and other small rounds of dough. I use mine for a lot more than that, too.
Sure, sometimes I have to switch out the small rolling pin for a bigger or heavier one depending on what I’m rolling, but these tiny but mighty wooden rolling pins are great multi-purpose rolling pins. Their small size and light weight makes them easy to maneuver, but if you’re rolling something wider than the pin you do have to take care to keep it even — you don’t want the end of the pin cutting into your dough!
3. Straight wooden dowel wooden pin
A straight wooden pin is exactly what it sounds like — a big wooden dowel. It’s everything you love about a small wooden dowel rolling pin just… bigger. They’re great for pretty much anything you might need to roll, a true multi-tasker in the rolling pin world. A straight wooden rolling pin is particularly useful when it comes to rolling laminated doughs (croissants, danishes, puff pastry, etc) where you want to apply even pressure across the whole dough all at once. Sure a tapered rolling pin could do the job, but if you accidentally put a little more pressure on one side of the pin it will start to pivot and might tear your layers of dough. A straight rolling pin reduces the risk of that happening.
The other reason straight wooden rolling pins are great for laminated doughs is that you’ll need a rolling pin sturdy enough to whack your butter block flat — a rolling pin with handles is hollow inside and has thin handles which are sturdy — but not sturdy enough to survive that kind of action.
4. Straight wooden rolling pin with handles
These classic, “grandma-style” rolling pins are probably the first thing you picture when someone says “rolling pin.” They’re straight wooden rolling pins with handles coming out either side. The handles are thinner and run through the middle of the pin allowing it to roll when you move the handles forward or backward. These are great, classic pins that can be used for just about anything.
A high-quality straight wooden rolling pin with handles should have some real weight to it. The idea is that the weight of the pin does most of the pressing for you. You don’t want to be putting a ton of pressure on the handles — they’re not delicate, but they’re also not made of vibranium, you know? You can press down on them a bit, but the weight of the pin itself is there for a reason. If you’ve gotta put your whole weight behind the pin to roll out your dough, you’ve got the wrong rolling pin for the job.
- Buy this 18″ wooden rolling pin with handles on Amazon here! ($)
- Buy this 18″ hand crafted wooden rolling pin with handles on Etsy here! ($$)
I like those two models for their size, weight, and for how snugly the handles fit into the center of the rolling pin. There’s minimal room for dust, flour, and water to get trapped inside. BTW! Some pins in this design have fixed handles that don’t roll inside the pin. I don’t recommend these. Though they might look pretty, the handles aren’t very practical when it comes to rolling.
5. Embossed rolling pins
These novelty embossed rolling pins might resemble straight wooden rolling pins with handles, but they’re much much smaller, lighter and designed for just one purpose: pressing designs into your dough. You’ll still need a non-embossed rolling pin to do the bulk of your rolling. These embossed rolling pins are just meant to add the finishing touch. They work best on sugar cookie dough or any sort of cut out/slice-n-bake style cookie that won’t spread a lot in the oven.
- Buy this dinosaur embossed rolling pin on Etsy here! ($$)
- Buy this Star Wars embossed rolling pin on Etsy here! ($$)
- Buy this honey bee embossed rolling pin on Etsy here! (various sizes, $-$$)
- Check out more embossed rolling pins on Etsy here! ($-$$$)
6. Marble rolling pin
Besides being chic as all heck and looking super stylish in any kitchen (especially if you get one that comes with a snazzy stand) marble rolling pins are so much more than just pretty to look at. Marble is a naturally cold material (which is why marble counter tops are great for rolling pastry dough) and the perk of a marble rolling pin is that you can chill the whole dang pin before use. This makes them an ideal choice for doughs where keeping butter cold is a must. So if you’re planning to get your croissant on or whip up a bunch of pies, especially if you live somewhere warm, a marble rolling pin might be exactly what your kitchen needs. The only downside: Marble is a bit harder to source and therefore these tend to be a bit more expensive.
- Buy this French tapered marble rolling pin with stand on Amazon here! ($$)
- Buy this marble straight rolling pin with handles and stand on Amazon here! ($$)
7. Adjustable height rolling pin
These rolling pins are super trendy and show up on lots of kitchen gadget lists. The cool thing about this design is that the colored rings on the end can be removed/adjusted to ensure your dough is rolled to an even thickness. The only downside is that if your dough is wider than the length of the pin, those colored rings will dig into your dough which you definitely do not want. But you can always turn it into a straight rolling pin by removing all the adjustable knobs at the end. JosephJoseph’s popular wooden design is 13.5″ long so in most cases you’ll probably be okay, but there are longer models out there if you’re someone who rolls out huge sheets of dough in every direction and want the adjustable knobs to keep them even.
- Buy this 13.5″ JosephJoseph adjustable rolling pin on Amazon here! ($)
- Buy this 17″ stainless steel adjustable rolling pin with ruler on Amazon here! ($)
8. Rolling pin with built in flour shaker
This innovative design from iconic kitchenware brand Mason Cash is a rolling pin and flour shaker in one. It’s made of ceramic and weighs 1.1 pounds, making it fairly substantial given that the inside is hollow. It holds 350 grams of flour that can be easily shaken out onto your counter from the end of the pin. The other end of the rolling pin pin has a small plug to keep the flour inside.
Now, I haven’t personally used this pin before but if I could bring one more rolling pin home right now, this would be it. The pin is dishwasher safe, which means you can clean out the inside, and I love the fact that you don’t have to keep a small pile or cup of flour on your bench while you’re working (I always end up knocking them over, oops).
9. Plastic fondant rolling pin
Plastic rolling pins are lightweight and don’t retain cold the way marble or metal rolling pins do. They’re more temperature neutral if anything. Plastic pins are used in bakeries often for rolling out fondant for cake decorations because of their sleek, non-stick surfaces.
They’re easier to clean (dishwasher safe!) and require less maintenance than wooden rolling pins, but their softer surfaces means you need to take care not to store them around sharp objects that might gouge or scratch the material, because those scratches will transfer into your fondant. While a scratch on a wooden rolling pin can be sanded down, that’s not the case with plastic rolling pin. The real benefit of this rolling pin is that it’s less likely to stick to your dough compared to slightly more porous wooden pins might or cause temperature issues like metal or marble pins might.