The Best Rolling Pin

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A rolling pin is such a simple tool that we wondered if there could be much difference among models, but after nearly 20 hours of research and a dozen conversations with bakers and cooks—both professional and amateur—we learned that small variations matter. When we tested 12 carefully selected rolling pins (out of nearly 30 we considered) on three types of dough, the timeless maple Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin proved to be a superior tool and a great value. It’s more agile than a handled pin, doesn’t stick to the dough as much as cheaper models, has just enough heft to do some of the work for you without smashing fragile dough, and is one of the easiest to clean.

Last Updated: January 28, 2016
Correction: The flat of the Vermont Rolling Pins model is 7 inches, not 6 inches. We regret the error.
Our Pick
Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin
This tapered pin rolls dough more efficiently than handled pins, works well for rolling both pies and cookies, and is one of the easiest to clean. Plus, it’s good looking and sturdy enough to last a lifetime.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

You may be surprised not to see handles on any of our recommended pins. When most people think of a rolling pin, they conjure the image of a wooden one with two handles, but the experts we interviewed and novices we tested with agreed that a pin without handles gives a better sense of the dough and is a better tool if you are baking for hours. Even our 10-year-old tester came to prefer them. (If you really want a handled pin, we did test a few.) The hand-finished Whetstone, a tapered French-style pin, not only worked better than handled versions; it proved superior to similarly shaped mass-produced pins (while costing a fraction of what hand-turned pins sell for). Its long, tapered shape also makes it ideal for rolling rounds of crust for pie and the more oblong shapes for cookies.

Also Great
JK Adams 19-inch Wooden Rolling Dowel
This dowel-shaped pin isn’t quite as agile as our main pick for making round shapes and needs to be dusted with flour more often. But it’s ideal for rolling oblong and rectangular shapes and can be fitted with spacers to help achieve precise thickness.

The JK Adams 19-inch Wooden Rolling Dowel isn’t as good for rolling rounds of pie crust, but its long dowel shape makes it easier to roll out a big sheet of cookie dough that is perfectly even. A generic set of spacers (essentially rubber bands of various thicknesses), which won’t work on a tapered pin, can help novice bakers roll to a precise thickness and avoid making one section thinner than another. Its weight was similar to our top pick: light enough not to crack or dent fragile dough, but heavy enough to help the work go quickly with less muscle. The JK Adams dowel is widely available and affordably priced.

Also Great
Tomnuk French Rolling Pin
This thoughtfully designed and crafted pin requires even less dusting with flour than our top pick and is even easier to clean. But at triple the price, it’s not for everyone.

The Tomnuk French Rolling Pin is beautiful to look at and a joy to use. At around $90, we can’t recommend this pin for everyone, although it would be a thoughtful gift for the baker who has everything (and it would be the best-looking addition to a stylish kitchen). The beeswax-polished walnut wood is not only a striking color, but the wood also has a more porous surface that holds a dusting of flour longer than any other rolling pin we tried. A brass hanging ring embedded in one end emphasizes that this is an object you’ll want to display. It’s so agile that beginners may find it tricky to handle compared to our other recommendations, but for an experienced baker that likes a tapered pin, it provides an unparalleled experience.

Also Great
JK Adams French Rolling Pin
While not as beautiful as our top pick—it requires more dusting with flour and more effort to clean—this is a perfectly good tool for a great price.

The JK Adams French Rolling Pin isn’t as fun to use or nice to look at as the Whetstone and Tomnuk pins, but for $10 it gets the job done. It doesn’t have a significant functional advantage over similarly-priced walnut pins we tested, but it is widely available, with shipping options that keep its cost low. It’s often used in professional and teaching kitchens because it is cheap and good. If you bake often, think about spending an additional $20 for the Whetstone pin, which will last you a lifetime. But if you are setting up your first kitchen or don’t want to spend too much, this is a good choice.

Table of contents

Why you should trust me

I’ve worked as a pastry baker in Providence, RI, at Olga’s Cup and Saucer and Cook & Brown (sometimes rolling out hundreds of pies in a day), recipe developer for publications that include Edible Brooklyn and Marie Claire, and food stylist for sites such as Refinery29. Believe it or not, I still bake for fun, too. In my home kitchen, I’m a rigid minimalist—living in a Brooklyn apartment, I have to be. For any tool to be awarded a bit of the limited space, it must be effective and versatile. I don’t have room for useless duplicates, silly gadgets, or junk.

When I set out to write a review of rolling pins, I began by reading every review I could find. Sources included articles from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required), The Splendid Table, Good Housekeeping, Saveur, Remodelista, The Kitchn, Real Simple, Martha Stewart, and Serious Eats, and forums on eGullet and Food52 (among others).

I interviewed experts who not only have extensive experience but can relate to a home cook’s point of view. Stella Parks, a professional pastry chef who writes for home cooks on her blog Brave Tart, is known for down-to-earth explanations of the science and technique of pastry. Erin Patinkin, co-owner of Ovenly bakery and co-author of the Ovenly cookbook, started as a home baker without formal training. Derek Laughren, test kitchen manager at Food52 and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, doesn’t consider himself much of a baker, but is frequently called upon to produce perfect pastry in his work. I also had informal conversations with experts and amateurs alike, including baking blogger Yossy Arefi, chef Monica Byrne of home made and Atelier Roquette, and friends and family who bake anywhere from once a year to once a week.

Who should get this

In a pinch, you can use a wine bottle in place of a rolling pin—indeed, many fine pies have been made this way. If all you ever roll out is forgiving yeasted dough for pizza or sticky buns, a wine bottle might be all you need (until you tire of digging through the recycling bin every time you bake). But if you’re after precision in your pies and cookies, a rolling pin is worth the $10-$30 investment.

If you already own a rolling pin that you like, you needn’t fret over getting a better one: the best rolling pin is one that you are comfortable with. However, it may be time to upgrade if you find yourself struggling with sticking or cracking dough, a pin that’s difficult to maneuver, or a handled pin that spins in place instead of rolling smoothly across the surface.

How we picked and tested

rolling pin action

Making sticky buns with our youngest tester, left.

When you think of a rolling pin, you probably picture the kind with two handles, called a baker’s or American rolling pin. But most professional bakers and all of our experts use a handleless pin. Handleless pins come in two styles: ones that taper towards the end, often referred to as French rolling pins, and straight dowels that are sometimes called Shaker pins.

Tapered pins pivot easily as you roll, making them ideal for flattening round pie crusts. Derek Laughren says, “I prefer them, because of the added control, ease of cleaning (no moving parts, no rust, no nooks and crannies), as well as the aesthetic appeal.” Erin Patinkin of Ovenly says, “I have my grandmother’s handled pin at home as well as a French pin that [my business partner] Agatha gave me.” While she likes both, once she opened her bakery she found that with repetition using the handled pin made her hands cramp. She explains, “When you roll away from your body using the tapered pin, you can roll the pin using the underside of your forearms, which relieves stress on your hands as compared to a handled pin.” When rolling out large oblong or rectangular shapes, some bakers find that a tapered pin requires more finesse to make the surface perfectly even—sometimes it causes subtle hills and valleys, particularly if the taper is too extreme.

Dowel pins have a slight advantage for creating large surfaces that are perfectly even and can be fitted with spacers (essentially plastic rings) to help you roll dough to a precise thickness. If you are rolling a big rectangle or oval and quick pivoting doesn’t matter, a dowel may work a tiny bit better than a tapered pin.

rolling pin jk adams 19-inch rolling dowel

A dowel pin, like our runner-up, the JK Adams 19-inch Wooden Rolling Pin, makes it easy to a get a big sheet of cookie dough perfectly even (which is sometimes a struggle with a pin that tapers dramatically).

Without prompting, each of our experts expressed that a handleless pin gives them the best sense of contact with the dough—that they can really feel the dough through the pin and know if it is level.

Without prompting, each of our experts expressed that a handleless pin gives them the best sense of contact with the dough—that they can really feel the dough through the pin and know if it is level. “When your hand is actually on the body of the pin, you can feel every little bump and discrepancy,” says Stella Parks. Heavy-handled pins do more of the work for you by providing more leverage but give you less of a tactile sense of the dough. However, Stella Parks points out that her mother makes gorgeous pies with a handled pin and feels awkward using the French style—ultimately, the best pin is one you like.

The ideal length of a handleless pin is 18-22 inches. If it’s tapered, look for a straight section in the middle of seven inches or more, or look for a very gradual arc across the whole pin. The surface should feel very smooth, but not so slick that flour won’t adhere. Dusted with a little flour, the pin shouldn’t stick to your dough.

Weight and diameter are subjective: light, narrow pins are more agile, while heavier pins do more of the work for you. A good pin shouldn’t be so so heavy that it cracks a flaky piecrust, or so light that you have to lean your whole weight into it to get any work done. It should roll smoothly and turn easily to roll out a circle. It won’t conduct the heat from your hands and melt buttery pastry. And it should be simple to clean and store.

rolling pin group

12 carefully selected rolling pins, ready for testing.

Traditionally, pins are turned from hardwood. Maple and beech wood, the most common hardwoods used for rolling pins, provide good value, durability, and a pleasing weight. Some high-end rolling pins are made from other hardwoods, like walnut or cherry, while the cheapest pins use beechwood. Derek Laughren, test kitchen manager at Food52, uses a basic wooden tapered pin like he had in culinary school. “We frequently use a wine bottle at home. It’s often something people keep on the counter close to the stove, so you don’t have to go digging for a pin.” But when he was given a walnut pin, he found that because it’s more porous and flour adheres better, he didn’t have to dust it as often or use as much flour.

Pins made from thermally conductive materials such as marble, stainless steel, and glass are meant to be chilled (or in some cases filled with ice water) before using so that they won’t warm buttery dough. But each has its drawbacks. Marble pins are beautiful but heavy, making them hard to maneuver and causing some kinds of dough to crack. Aluminum pins can discolor eggy dough; neither metal nor glass hold flour well. Pins meant to be filled with ice water create condensation that can dampen what you’re rolling out.

Conductive materials like marble and metal might be good at getting cold, but they are also good at getting warm quickly. Stella Parks of BraveTart points out that these can transfer the warmth from your hands, while wood is a terrible conductor, so the heat from hands is unlikely to transfer to the dough. Silicone is also a relatively bad conductor (and therefore also good at keeping your dough cool). Wood and silicone are the most affordable and versatile materials.

There are wonderful wooden rolling pins to be found in flea markets and antique stores, and from small manufacturers and craftspeople around the world. It would be an impossible feat to review all of them, but you can assess any pin you come across based on the criteria we’ve set out. It should feel smooth but not slick, be at least 18 inches long, and if it tapers, look for a very gentle arc or a seven-inch straight section in the middle.

The 12 pins we tested were wooden, except one silicone tapered pin. They ranged in price from $10 to about $90. We prioritized the handleless pins favored by experts, testing two dowel pins (with and without spacers), three basic tapered pins, three fancy hand-turned tapered pins, and the tapered silicone pin. We also included three handled pins as a point of reference.

rolling pin group

All the pins we tested from shortest to longest. Length is important for rolling big sheets of cookie dough. Our winning pin, far right, was the longest of the pins we tested.

We tested the rolling pins on a hot humid day in a small Brooklyn kitchen—challenging conditions for even the most skilled baker—with a 10-year-old and a 24-year-old who didn’t have much experience baking. We had to race to roll out each piece of dough before it softened into a buttery mess.

We put our rolling pins to the test with three different kinds of dough to see how they performed on a variety of textures and shapes. (The higher-end pins were already treated with mineral oil or beeswax, so I rubbed mineral oil into the untreated wooden pins the night before testing to level the playing field). We rolled very buttery and fragile-flaky pie crust into circles, soft and sticky sugar cookie dough into wide ovals, and a sweet yeasted dough for sticky buns into squares. I prepared batches of dough with as much precision as possible, using weight instead of volume to measure ingredients in order to eliminate variables that might throw off the results.

As we tested, we assessed the pins on the following criteria:

  • Surface: Does the dough stick to the pin? Can the pin be cleaned easily? How much flour do you have to apply during rolling?
  • Weight: Hefty pins require less strength to use than lighter ones, but they can dent or crack dough—is there a happy medium?
  • Maneuverability: Does the pin turn smoothly when rolling out a circle? Does it feel comfortable in your hands?
  • Dough flatness: How smooth can you roll the surface of the dough? It should be flat and even from center to edge, without dents.
  • Other features: How easy will it be to store? How does it feel in your hands? Is it a beautiful object?

Our pick

Our Pick
Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin
This tapered pin rolls dough more efficiently than handled pins, works well for rolling both pies and cookies, and is one of the easiest to clean. Plus, it’s good looking and sturdy enough to last a lifetime.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

At $30, the hand-finished Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin has all the pleasing features of a high-end rolling pin without the outrageous price tag (similar hand-turned pins cost $60-$100). Our experts and testers agreed that a handleless pin is the best tool; this one stood out amongst the 12 rolling pins I tested. The hard maple surface has a smoother finish than a basic mass-produced rolling pin, which keeps dough from sticking and makes it easy to clean. The heaviest of the tapered pins, it flattened dough with less effort than narrower lighter models, but it wasn’t so heavy that it cracked or dented the dough (as handled pins sometimes did). With a significantly longer straight section in the middle than other tapered pins, its shape offered the agility of a tapered pin with the surface smoothing capabilities of a dowel pin. Less expensive rolling pins may be perfectly functional tools, but this is a beautiful object to have in your kitchen that will last a lifetime with proper care.

rolling pin whetstone woodenware french rolling pin

The Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin is great for pies—and cookies!

The hand-finished Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin has all the pleasing features of a high-end rolling pin without the outrageous price tag.

We suspected that the advantage of higher-end rolling pins was mostly aesthetic, but it turned out that their smoother finish generally meant less sticking, less dusting with flour, and easier cleaning. The frustration we experienced with the basic French rolling pins that retail from $10 to $25—JK Adams, Martha Stewart Collection for Macy’s, and Threshold from Target—dissipated as soon as I began working with the Whetstone pin. It glided across flaky pie crust, requiring fewer applications of flour than the aforementioned pins. When little bits of dough occasionally stuck, I could brush them right off with my hand as opposed to struggling with a plastic bench scraper as I had with the others. The Tomnuk pin benefits from a similar finish but costs three times as much. A cherrywood model from Vermont Rolling Pin was so smooth it wouldn’t hold a dusting of flour and ended up with dough all over it that was a hassle to remove. The Whetstone pin was just right.

The weight of the pin also arrived at a happy medium. It’s thicker, heavier, and longer than any of the other tapered pins. At 23 ounces, it had just enough heft to help my smallest tester, 10-year-old Vivi, roll out chilled cookie dough. Lighter pins, in the 11-to-16-ounce range, proved difficult for someone of smaller stature (who naturally has less leverage). On the other hand, heavier pins like the two-handled models from JK Adams (28 and 36 ounces) left dents in the dough when not in constant motion and felt a bit clunky to lift.

rollin pin group

The Whetstone Woodenware pin (top) is longer, wider, and heavier than the other tapered pins, but still not so heavy it crushes or cracks fragile dough.

The shape of the pin allowed for rolling out large surfaces smoothly, as well as truly round discs. Of the seven French rolling pins I tested, Whetstone had the longest straight section in the middle, measuring 12 inches compared to the typical six to eight before tapering off towards the ends. The longer-than-average straight section of the Whetstone pin allowed it to work more like a dowel or handled pin for even flattening, with the maneuverability of a French pin for turning. Win-win!

Rolling pins are tinged with nostalgia for real or imagined mothers and grandmothers, and they are your tactile connection with the dough you shape.

While function is the most important aspect of any kitchen tool, aesthetics make a difference in how you relate to it. Rolling pins are tinged with nostalgia for real or imagined mothers and grandmothers, and they are your tactile connection with the dough you shape. The better experience you get with a hand-tuned pin starts with opening the box. Like the Vermont Rolling Pin and Tomnuk models, the Whetstone came neatly packed in an appropriate-size box (pins from Target and Amazon came in outrageously large packages) that makes you feel like it came from a person, not a warehouse. Turned on a vintage Powermatic 90 lathe and hand-finished in Indiana from Indiana Rock Maple, it arrives with care instructions and a little piece of fine sandpaper for keeping it perfectly smooth. The ends are gently rounded off instead of bluntly cut like a mass-produced pin. Unlike those more basic rolling pins, it is already treated with mineral oil, so it is ready to use right away. It feels like a special object that you will want to care for well and keep forever. We think you’re likely to do a lot more baking if you have a tool like this. Thanks for the recommendation, Remodelista!

Flaws but not dealbreakers

We wavered about recommending a $30 pin when one that costs $10-16 does the job just fine. If you bake only a few times a year or are just starting out, you may want to spend as little money as possible on a rolling pin and go for our budget pick. On the other hand, a rolling pin that’s less frustrating to use presents a big advantage that might make you want to bake more often. An extra $15-$19 isn’t much to spend on a tool that will last you a lifetime. We think it’s money well spent.

Runner-up

Also Great
JK Adams 19-inch Wooden Rolling Dowel
This dowel-shaped pin isn’t quite as agile as our main pick for making round shapes and needs to be dusted with flour more often. But it’s ideal for rolling oblong and rectangular shapes and can be fitted with spacers to help achieve precise thickness.

Although we think the Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin will work best for most people, the JK Adams 19-inch Maple Rolling Dowel ($17) also performed well. Perfectionists may appreciate this pin for rolling to a precise thickness, as it can be fitted with spacers (essentially color-coded rubber bands of various thickness). And this pin was easier to use for our 10-year-old tester. But it’s not as agile as the Whetstone, which makes it slightly awkward for rolling out round shapes. The surface of the pin was not as smooth as our main pick, so it required more dustings of flour and it took more effort to clean.

This pin is less expensive than our top pick, and more widely available, so it may be a more practical choice for some readers.

The JK Adams pin weighs only an ounce more than the Whetstone Woodenware French pin, but that seemed to make the work easier for someone of small stature, such as our 10-year-old tester. And even though the pin was less agile for rolling out round shapes, it was the most effective pin we tested for evenly rolling large surfaces such as an oval or rectangle of cookie dough, regardless of skill level. This pin is less expensive than our top pick, and more widely available, so it may be a more practical choice for some readers.

rolling pin jk adams 19-inch rolling dowel

The JK Adams Rolling Dowel can be used with a variety of spacers for evenly rolling dough to a specific thickness.

We tested this pin with and without spacers ($8 on Amazon) and liked it both ways. While our 10-year-old said she didn’t need the spacers, we noticed that the thickness of her cookie dough was perfectly consistent when she used them and fairly uneven when she didn’t. The spacers did feel a little awkward, as it was hard to find a placement where they didn’t interfere with your grip or make tracks in the dough. In most instances it doesn’t matter if the dough is perfectly even as long as it’s close, but consistent thickness does help prevent some cookies on a sheet from burning while others undercook, and it’s important if you are baking pieces that will fit together, such as for a gingerbread house. We preferred the simplicity of this pin to an over-designed model from Joseph Joseph that had its own screw-on spacers.

rolling pin jk adams 19-inch rolling dowel

Rolling evenly is foolproof, even for a novice, when you use spacers.

Compared to some of the thin French pins weighing 11–16 ounces, this 24-ounce dowel requires less strength to flatten dough. That’s important if you’re making dozens of cookies or racing to flatten pie dough before the butter melts on a hot day. Our adult testers couldn’t tell the difference between the weight of this and the 23-ounce Whetstone Woodenware French pin (which is thicker than other tapered pins we tested). But the dowel’s one ounce of extra weight seemed to matter for our child tester, who had less leverage.

While not as quick to pivot as a tapered pin when rolling out a circle, the JK Adams 19-inch flat section consistently flattened a large surface area evenly. Only the Whetstone pin, with its 12-inch flat section, came close to flattening the dough as evenly. Our 10-year old tester had an easier time with this pin: the quick turning of a tapered rolling pin provides an advantage for shaping even circles, but it takes more dexterity to control. Our 24-year-old who had little experience baking quickly got used to the tapered pins and ultimately prefered them. It should be noted that some very skilled bakers, like Yossy Arefi of the blog Apartment 2B Baking Co., prefer a dowel pin. Chef Monica Byrne, of home made in Brooklyn, also concedes that a dowel flattens more consistently. The trade-off between agility and even rolling is a matter of personal preference.

This pin is less expensive and more widely available than our top pick, so if you are on a budget or in a hurry to buy a rolling pin by tomorrow (since the Whetstone doesn’t come with overnight shipping) it may be the best choice. The JK Adams 19-inch Maple Rolling Dowel is available through Amazon, Sur la Table, and many other online and brick-and-mortar kitchen stores small and large. This isn’t the beautiful object that the Whetstone Woodenware’s French Rolling Pin is, but it is an effective tool and a good value. And if precise dough thickness is important to you, a dowel pin with a set of spacers is the best choice.

Also great for experienced bakers (and aesthetes)

Also Great
Tomnuk French Rolling Pin
This thoughtfully designed and crafted pin requires even less dusting with flour than our top pick and is even easier to clean. But at triple the price, it’s not for everyone.
Like the race car of rolling pins, the Tomnuk French Rolling Pin felt more agile but also more finicky than more utilitarian models, making it best suited to experienced bakers.

The Tomnuk French Rolling Pin (around $90) is an object of beauty to display in your kitchen. It’s a highly effective tool, but probably too expensive for the average baker. The naturally dark walnut wood stands out beside the golden maple of most other rolling pins, and it’s both smooth and porous, so it holds a dusting of flour longer than any other rolling pin we tested. It also cleans with the least effort. Like the race car of rolling pins, the Tomnuk French Rolling Pin felt more agile but also more finicky than more utilitarian models, making it best suited to experienced bakers. By comparison, our pick and runner-up are like a good family car: reliable, practical, and easy to drive.

rolling pin tomnuk french rolling pin

The Tomnuk walnut pin is thoughtfully designed for both aesthetics and function. We loved it for pie dough!

The details of the Tomnuk French rolling pin set it apart from mass-produced rolling pins and even other hand-finished pins. It feels much smoother in your hand than a basic rolling pin and even slightly smoother—almost velvety—compared to the other hand-finished pins. Its dark walnut color looks fancier than other rolling pins, but the singular features that distinguish it as a truly special hand-crafted object are the brass hanging ring and softly rounded ends. You get the sense that every aspect of its design and use has been considered: how it looks, how it feels and functions, even how you store it when it’s not in use.

The superior surface of this pin needs even less dusting with flour than the Whetstone pin, and it cleans with just the swipe of a rag (we occasionally had to scrape or scrub our other favorite). Walnut is more porous than the maple most rolling pins are turned from; when we dusted the pin with flour, it visibly collected in the grain of the wood. The first time we rolled out a pie crust with it, we had to dust it with flour only twice compared to three to five times for all the other pins. The same was true with cookie dough. With sticky bun dough only the Whetstone pin performed as well, needing just one dusting. We hardly had trouble with dough sticking as we had with basic rolling pins from JK Adams and Martha Stewart for Macy’s.

The Tomnuk pin worked quickly and easily even though it was the second-lightest pin we tested (perhaps because we didn’t waste time re-applying flour or struggling with sticking dough). With other pins, more weight meant easier rolling. This pin weighs 11 ounces (compared to the 23 ounces of the Whetstone Woodenware pin and the 24 ounces of the JK Adams Rolling Dowel, not to mention the 28- and 36-ounce handled pins). And yet, it glided across the dough almost effortlessly, making quick work of flattening pie, cookie, and sticky bun dough. Only our 10-year-old tester found it more difficult to use than heavier pins—she needed a heavier pin to flatten the dough quickly enough that the butter didn’t start to melt.

We had no trouble rolling out large surfaces in spite of its unusual shape (or maybe because of it). Instead of a straight section in the center that tapered towards the ends, like all the other tapered pins we tried, this whole pin is shaped in an arc. Its curve is barely perceptible in the center and more distinct towards the ends. Contrary to what one might expect, it was just as effective as the other tapered pins at evenly rolling out large surfaces.

rolling pin comparison

The Tomnuk pin (front) has a slight curve from end to end, compared to the Whetstone (back), which has a flat middle section and tapered ends.

Experienced bakers will find the Tomnuk pin an absolute joy to use, while beginners may find it finicky. I loved it right away and my 24-year-old amateur favored it once she got used to it, but our 10-year-old tester held fast that she preferred the dowel. We agreed that we would be unlikely to purchase it for ourselves because of the cost, but that we would love to have one. At $100, it is by far the most expensive rolling pin of the 12 we tested. It would be a wonderful gift for the baker who has everything, and a fitting choice for a beautifully appointed kitchen.

Also great for occasional baking

Also Great
JK Adams French Rolling Pin
While not as beautiful as our top pick—it requires more dusting with flour and more effort to clean—this is a perfectly good tool for a great price.

Amazon’s top seller, the JK Adams French Rolling Pin ($10) is one of the least expensive on the market, and while it’s not as easy to use as our top pick and runner up, it’s a good tool. (You’ll see it in a lot of professional and teaching kitchens.) All the basic wooden French rolling pins we tested were pretty good, but the JK Adams is the most widely available and the least expensive when you factor in shipping options. We had less trouble with dough sticking than we did with a comparable pin from Target. The JK Adams pin was the thickest and heaviest of these pins, so it took a little less pressure to flatten the dough. None of the basic tapered pins were as good as our top pick at flattening a wide piece of dough smoothly, but this is a reliable tool and you can’t beat the price.

rolling pin jk adams french rolling pin

The JK Adams French Rolling Pin is cheap and gets the job done.

All the basic French pins had similar surfaces. The Target model was made of beechwood, while Martha Stewart and JK Adams tapered pins were made from maple. Whether because of the material or the quality of manufacturing, the Target pin required more dustings of flour and picked up more sticky bits of dough (which were more difficult to clean off, even with soap and water). The JK Adams and Martha Stewart pins were indistinguishable in terms of flouring/sticking/cleaning. None performed as well as the Whetstone Woodenware pin, but they are still effective tools (if occasionally frustrating).

The JK Adams pin is a little thicker and heavier (16 ounces) than the Martha Stewart or Target tapered pins (11 and 13 ounces, respectively). For someone without a lot of strength or leverage, like our 10-year-old tester, the extra weight helps with the work. We found the Martha Stewart pin to be slightly more agile than the JK Adams or Target models, and we liked its eight-inch straight section compared to their seven inches (the full length was around 21 inches on all three), but can’t recommend it because the shipping cost doubles its price.

It’s not as beautiful or smooth as a hand-turned pin, but the JK Adams French Rolling Pin is a good tool that’s recommended by Bon Appetit and America’s Test Kitchen. The level of craftsmanship doesn’t compare to the Whetstone Woodenware or Tomnuk pins, but JK Adams manufactures their pins in Vermont from hardwood they promise is sustainably grown and harvested nearby in New England and Canada. For very little money ($8 less than even our runner-up) you can easily procure this pin and be baking with it tomorrow.

Care and maintenance

Wooden rolling pins, just like wooden spoons and cutting boards, should never be run through the dishwasher or submerged in water, for they are likely to warp. The best way to clean your rolling pin is by wiping it with a dry dish towel. Stubborn bits of dough can be scraped off with a bench scraper, but be careful not to gouge the wood. You can wash your pin with a soapy sponge if you need to, then rinse it and wipe it dry. If you can’t bear the idea of hand washing, buy a silicone pin.

From time to time, when the wood feels rough or dry, apply a little mineral oil with a rag and rub it in. Like a cast iron skillet, a rolling pin can become seasoned with use, but mineral oil gives you a head start and can compensate if you have to wash the wood with soap. Higher-end pins like the ones from Whetstone and Tomnuk are already oiled, but basic pins like our recommendations from JK Adams need to be oiled before use. Whetstone Woodenware recommends: “After the first few times of use and hand washing, buff the [rolling pin] with a piece of 400 grit wet/dry sand paper or a Green 3M Scotchbrite® pad,” to remove any fuzzy raised grain. How often you should oil or buff your pin depends on how often you use it and the climate you live in; when the wood looks pale and feels rough like dry skin, it’s time to care for it.

The competition

Martha Stewart Collection Stewart For Macy’s ($25)

We slightly preferred this one over the JK Adams French Rolling Pin for its agility and extra straight inch in the middle, but it’s only available from Macy’s, and the shipping makes it too expensive if you aren’t buying other products to qualify for free shipping. At $12, it should be a good deal, but with $13 taxes and shipping, it’s not. It’s made in China, while the JK Adams pins are made in the USA.

JK Adams Handled Pin 12 x 2¾ ($20)

A handled pin is the most familiar style for most people, and you shouldn’t feel bad about sticking to it if it feels more comfortable. It can also be fitted with spacers like a dowel pin. Our 10-year-old tester initially preferred a handled pin because it did most of the work for her, but after a few more tries she decide the dowel was better because it gave her a sense of contact with the dough. With a 12-inch barrel, it’s a good length for most projects compared to a shorter Martha Stewart Model. We preferred the simplicity of dowel and tapered pins which have no bearings to wear out and no cracks for flour to collect in. And we liked the more agile handling of a tapered pin. But this was kind of fun and nostalgic in comparison!

JK Adams Small Handled Pin 12 x 2⅜ ($15)

Same as above, but a little thinner and lighter. The main advantage of a handled pin is that it does a lot of the work for you, so we think the wider-diameter heavier version of this pin is a better choice.

Silpin French Pin ($35)

This is a good rolling pin, but the Whetstone Woodenware looks, handles, and cleans better for a few dollars less. Silicone is recommended for rolling fondant, but in our experience, a well-seasoned wooden pin dusted with confectioner’s sugar works just fine. Flour doesn’t adhere well to this pin like it does with wood, but it can be dusted directly on the dough instead. Less dough stuck to this pin than on inexpensive wooden ones, but what did stick was harder to remove. That said, this is the only pin we tested that could be soaked in soapy water or run through a dishwasher.

Target Threshold Beechwood French Rolling Pin ($9)

This pin was adequate but nothing special. We had more problems with dough sticking to it than with similar pins, and the manufacturing felt cheap. It’s made in China, while the JK Adams pins are made in the USA.

Joseph Joseph Adjustable Rolling Pin ($18)

This cool-looking pin recommended by Saveur has a set of built-in spacers, and markings on the shaft of the pin for measuring the diameter or width of your dough. The spacers are built like plastic washers held on with a plastic bolt. Fussing with unscrewing the set and screwing back on the desired spacer was a hassle and we could imagine losing them in our kitchen. We prefered the easily-replaceable generic spacers we tested on the JK Adams Rolling Dowel.

Vermont Rolling Pin French Rolling Pin, Cherry ($45)

This was the one case where I felt like a pin hand-turned in the USA was designed for aesthetics and not function. The wood is beautiful, but it was so slick that flour didn’t adhere like it did with the other wooden pins, and it was the most difficult to scrape clean. The unique torpedo shape with only 7 flat inches (in contrast to the 12 inches on our main pick) was too extreme for good handling or smooth rolling.

Martha Stewart Collection [Handled] 10.5-inch rolling pin ($15)

This pin was too short to be useful, and it felt flimsy compared to the JK Adams handled pins. The handles on the JK Adams pins were more comfortable. Considering that Martha Stewart herself prefers a tapered pin, perhaps this design didn’t get much thought.

What we didn’t test

Chef’n Pin Pair Silicone and French Rolling Pin Set ($20)

This pin seems overly complicated for no good reason.

Fox Run Marble Rolling Pin ($20)

Some cooks swear by marble for rolling out pies, but it’s too heavy for some kinds of dough, and not versatile enough to be the best all-around pin for most readers.

Sur La Table Marble Tapered Rolling Pin ($25)

We were intrigued to find a marble pin without handles, but are still concerned that marble isn’t as versatile as wood. It also seems likely to break your toe or crack in half if you drop it.

KitchenAid Nonstick Rolling Pin with Silicone Handles ($50)

Good Housekeeping gives it 4.5 stars (out of five), but we didn’t feel that silicone offered enough advantage to be worth a higher price than wood, and we preferred handleless pins.

Totally Bamboo French Style Tapered Bamboo Rolling Pin ($17)

It’s not cheaper than hardwood like beach or maple. Bamboo is very light, so it is not ideal for a rolling pin—you want just enough heft to help with the work.

Herriott Grace Oak Fin Rolling Pin ($80)

This is probably a very nice pin, but we weren’t primarily looking to test high-end pins. At about the same price as the Tomnuk pin, it’s not for everyone, and it doesn’t have the nice details like a brass hanging ring.

Ateco Professional Rolling Pin ($70)

A $70 handled rolling pin seemed way too expensive for a style that isn’t favored by most professional bakers. It might be good for a specific task in a bakery, but doesn’t seem like the best pin for most home bakers.

We also opted not to test glass or metal pins, and we generally eliminated anything under 12 inches.

(Photos by Hannah Kirshner.)

Correction (1/27/16): We originally stated that the flat of the Vermont Rolling Pins pin was 6 inches. It is 7 inches. We regret the error.

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Sources

  1. Stella Parks, Brave Tart, Interview
  2. Erin Patinkin, Ovenly, Interview
  3. Derek Laughren, Food52 Test Kitchen, Interview
  4. Cook‘s Country, Rolling Pins, America‘s Test Kitchen, August 1, 2012
  5. Rolling Pin Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  6. Laura Sant, One Good Find: Adjustable Rolling Pin, Saveur, April 10, 2012
  7. Rolling Pins, The Splendid Table
  8. Megan Gordon, My Favorite Baking Tool: The French Rolling Pin, The Kitchn, February 14, 2012
  9. Janet Hall, 6 Favorites: Display-Worthy French Rolling Pins, Remodelista, August 21, 2013
  10. Baker’s Must-Haves: French Rolling Pin, Martha Stewart, July 11, 2014
  11. 11 Best Baking Tools for the Holidays, Real Simple
  12. Donna Currie, Gadgets: Put Training Wheels on Your Rolling Pin, Serious Eats, June 12, 2014
  13. Noelle Carter, Test Kitchen Tips: Rolling Pins 101, L.A. Times, January 31, 2012
  14. $80 vs. $20 rolling pins, eGullet Forums, February 2009
  15. Food52, Discussion, 2010
  16. Sara Henderson, French Rolling Pins vs. Rolling Pins with Handles, Food Service Warehouse, July 6, 2016
  17. Elisa Huang, Rolling Pins, Bon Appetit, April 7, 2008

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