I have been told to fold fresh pasta when making fresh pasta. Why is it important to fold the dough three times before running it through the pasta machine?

  • just a guess: gluten formation. In sourdough baking you do a stretch and fold to promote gluten formation, which gaves you more flexible dough.
    – jcollum
    Feb 15 at 23:44
  • Broadly because you're trying to ensure it blends not only physically, but also chemically. I don't know what they teach in today's schools but 'cookery' might well ignore such details. For me 50 years ago 'domestic science' included such details… although sadly, most people who weren't on such courses derided them as fancy terms for cookery and housekeeping. Feb 18 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


It's not, in particular.

A common way to knead pasta dough is by repeatedly folding it over, and running it through the pasta machine on its widest setting. This spares you the difficulty of trying to knead a very hard, dense dough on a board.

However, how you fold it is really up to you. I tend to fold mine by quarters, with the edges meeting in the middle (two folds, non-overlapping), which eventually provides the dough with a nice, clean, straight edges. There are lots of different folding patterns, and none of them is really "best".

  • 1
    I tend to partially disagree here: for what I know, folding & subsequent stretching is done to stretch the gluten in the dough. The more you stretch, the better. Folding in three and then passing it through the machine in the orthogonal direction will stretch the gluten by 3x, while folding it as you suggest will stretch it by 2x in one direction, and none in the other as the machine can really stretch on one direction only. I am happy to better understand your point though. Feb 14 at 12:52
  • @VladimirCravero I think you overestimate the importance of the directional component of the dough going into the machine, and underestimate the exponential effect of the stretching of the layers. Feb 14 at 23:11
  • Vladimir: regardless, I'm going to keep folding and rolling until the pasta dough looks right. Folding it the way I do might mean running it through the past machine more times, but it's also easier because I don't need to flatten the folded dough before putting it in the machine. It ends up being the same amount of effort either way.
    – FuzzyChef
    Feb 14 at 23:59
  • Thanks to both, you raise valid points - of course a few more passes are not an issue, and I did not consider the exponential component. If I understand correctly FuzzyChef technique, they still end up with three layers, like folding in thirds, so theoretically the directional component dominates as the exponential one is the same, but regardless you need to get the texture right. I was just wondering if I was missing some specific effect, hence my question. Feb 15 at 8:35

As a kid making pasta with my dad we always folded in three on the first 2 passes. I never asked why. As an adult I have made ravioli and tagliatelle multiple times. The first few times I forgot about the fold(old age!). When I remembered to do it the ravioli had straighter lines. But it also allows you to ensure the pasta is smooth and even before rolling/cutting which may not happen if you hand press then roll. I.e. the sides splitting out and being thinner or jagged.

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