Rolling Pins: A Buyer’s Guide

I learned how to cook in my mother’s kitchen with an old battered rolling pin. We rubbed plenty of flour on the pin, dusted the dough with more flour, and got by just fine. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t know that all the extra flour was making the dough tougher and drier. Now I would never use anything but a slick-surfaced rolling pin.

What to Look for in a Rolling Pin

  • A slick, nonstick surface.
  • Tough, sturdy, and long-lasting.
  • The ability to chill the rolling pin.

Wood vs. Non-Stick Rolling Pins

Wood is out. It meets none of these criteria: dough sticks to it, the surface is going to get dinged, and you can’t chill it. Additionally, many wood rolling pins are built cheaply—without features like roller bearings—and won’t last.

So you are left with clad (a non-stick roller that has a plastic tube, covered with a metal sheath, and topped with a nonstick surface), marble, or stainless steel.

Marble and steel rolling pins can be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer. When you make a pie crust, sugar cookies, or laminated pastry, you absolutely must keep the butter or shortening from melting. If the butter melts, your dough turns to a soggy mess. When your goodies hit the oven, you want thin sheets of solid butter that will melt in the heat of the oven causing the laminations that give pastries their flaky consistency.

A clad rolling pin cannot be effectively chilled. But it is utilitarian and much less expensive than stainless or marble.

Which Rolling Pin is Best for You?

So what do you choose? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much am I going to use it? If I rarely use a rolling pin, you can make a clad work.
  • What am I going to use it for? If I’m going to make a lot of pies or laminated pastries, I’ve got to have a rolling pin I can chill.
  • How sturdy is it?
  • How important is price?

In our kitchen, we have two rolling pins: a nice nonstick rolling pin and a big, heavy, indestructible stainless steel pin.  Often, we grab whichever is handy and use the nonstick pin a lot.  When we get serious and want to keep the dough chilled, we put the steel pin in the freezer.

Nonstick vs. Marble vs. Stainless Steel Rolling Pins

Nonstick Rolling Pin (TN3088) This is a quality rolling pin and it works just fine.  The only downside is that you can’t effectively chill it. However, this nonstick rolling pin is tough enough to last a long time.

When I need to roll a really hard dough and bear down on the handles with my weight, I can feel the shaft give. Then I reach for my heavier steel pin.

Marble Rolling Pin (TN3087) The roller is crafted out of a solid block of granite.  The marble will stay chilled for a long time.  It’s heavy duty with roller bearings and a sturdy shaft.  It should last a lifetime.

Initially, I was concerned about dropping a marble pin on the floor and breaking the marble. But we’ve not had the problem nor have any customers reported breaking the pin. And we’ve sold a ton of these pins.

Stainless Steel Rolling Pin (TN3076) This is the top-of-the-line, built like a tank, rolling pin.  The roller is machined from a solid piece of steel.  The roller is about an inch and one-half longer than other rolling pins.  Because of its mass, you can chill it and it will stay cold for a long time.

It’s heavy.  Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?  It depends on the user.  Some say that the weight is beneficial and makes it easier to roll without applying pressure.  For me, I don’t notice the weight when I begin to use it.

(Updated from May 11, 2014)

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