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We’ve all been without a rolling pin and stuck using something else as a substitute in a jam. Sometimes you have to get creative, but other times it actually makes sense to use a rolling pin alternative. Either way, these rolling pin substitute hacks for when you’re in a bind are here to save the day. And the recipe.
11 Rolling Pin Substitute Hacks for When You’re in a Bind
When replacing a rolling pin it’s not as simple as finding something that can roll out the dough. Certain recipes do better with different weight of rolling pins, other are affected by temperature. A well stocked kitchen might have multiple types of rolling pins, like a french style with no handles, or a marble one that can be chilled.
But, by the sounds of things, you’re not in a well-stocked kitchen right now. So let’s look around and see what you can use instead!
What is a rolling pin?
It’s a kitchen tool that rolls out dough. A lot of people think you only use them for making pies, but rolling pins can come in handy for all kinds of cooking and baking like sugar and other rolled cookies or making pastries like cinnamon buns.
You can also use them for crushing crackers, cookies, nuts, and other things for recipes, tenderizing meat in place of a meat mallet, or crushing herbs to release their flavour.
Rolling pin use dates back to a civilization dominant around 900 BC called the Etruscans, who were settled around northern Italy. Their sophisticated recipes, which required rolling pins to make, were passed on to the Greeks and Romans, who advanced these skills into more gourmet cooking.
What’s most interesting is that over all this time, rolling pin design hasn’t changed or innovated much beyond adding handles attached to a central rod. This is the familiar design we see today where you can hold the handles and the center of the rolling pin moves.
Why do you need a rolling pin substitute?
Well, the main reason to use a rolling pin is to make sure the dough rolls out evenly without overworking it or sticking. Uneven dough cooks unevenly too, and sometimes even breaks apart. A good rolling pin will also help you roll the dough in the right shape, for example, a circle for making pie crusts.
They usually have handles on the sides that make rolling the dough out easier, although French style rolling pins don’t. Instead, you press your palm to the rolling pin and roll it along the dough while applying pressure. That’s the same technique you’ll be using with this rolling pin substitutes, too.
The amount of pressure you apply and your rolling technique will change the thickness of the dough, so keep that in mind when you start rolling out with your makeshift DIY rolling pin.
How to prevent dough from sticking to your rolling pin (or rolling pin substitute)
In most, if not all, recipes something to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin is vital. The most common technique is to lightly flour the dough or the rolling pin before you start rolling to prevent sticking. For most rolling pins, this works fine, but some rolling pin alternatives might not work as well with the flouring.
Another alternative to prevent dough from sticking to your rolling pin substitute is oil or nonstick cooking spray. Simply lightly coat or spray down your rolling pin of choice and start rolling. Both this, and the flouring, may need to be reapplied as you go if the dough starts sticking.
The last technique, and probably best when you’re dealing with potentially germany non-kitchen tools like these rolling pin hacks, is to use parchment or wax paper. By placing this in between the dough and rolling pin, it creates a non stick barrier and the rolling pin doesn’t come in contact with the dough. Perfect for avoiding contamination and sticking.
What’s the best rolling pin substitute?
Really, the best substitute is whatever you have on hand that’s going to get the job done. Look around and see if there’s anything you can use that generally is long, cylindrical, and durable enough to be pressed on while rolling.
Rolling pin alternatives ideally shouldn’t have ridges in them because those will press into the dough and create unevenness. Some recipes will be more forgiving of this, though, and if you’re truly desperate a few creases probably won’t matter anyway.
It’s also a good idea to make sure there’s no cross contamination when using a rolling pin substitute, especially if it’s something that isn’t normally “food safe”. The obvious answer is washing everything in hot soapy water, but that’s not always possible with some of these rolling pin substitute hacks. In that case, either use something like parchment or wax paper as a barrier (which will also prevent sticking, see above) or wrap the makeshift rolling pin in plastic wrap. (Note: keep in mind the plastic wrap may leave indents in the dough.)
Here’s some rolling pin alternative ideas if you need inspiration:
A bottle of wine
This is one of the best rolling pin substitute hacks out there! Not only is it usually a good size, shape, and weight, but you can also chill the bottle for rolling out pastries and other delicate doughs that like the cold. They work full or empty, although a full bottle will give you that extra weight. You can always fill an empty bottle with water, though.
Just some advice before you press that dirty wine bottle on your dough: if you can’t thoroughly clean the outside of the bottle (or don’t want to deal with the label), there’s another way to avoid contamination. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper between the dough and the bottle and roll it out that way.
A tall drinking glass
You need to look for something that’s even and without ridges on it, or else you’ll end up with lines on your dough or an uneven roll. Also make sure you choose a sturdy glass that isn’t going to break when you apply a bit of pressure.
First of all, clean and dry the glass or use the parchment paper trick like from the wine bottle. If you are using the glass right on the dough, though, you might want to dust it with flour or spray it with cooking spray before rolling (whatever you’d normally do to your rolling pin) so it doesn’t stick.
A Thermos or travel mug
A lot of times these are the perfect rolling size and shape, so dig around the drawers (or the backseat of your car) and pull out your insulated travel mug or Thermos. Depending on the shape, you might want to take the lid off to prevent a ridge at the end, though. Again, make sure it’s clean and non-sticked or use parchment paper.
If you find it too light, fill your Thermos or travel mug with water to make rolling the dough out easier.
Plastic or glass water bottle
Plastic single use water bottles can also work if you have the kind handy that don’t have ridges that will change the shape of your dough. If your water bottle is empty, fill it with water for extra strength and weight for rolling. Like a wine bottle, it can be chilled, but a plastic water bottle could also be frozen for some extra weight and stiffness.
If you have fancy glass bottled water on hand, it also makes an excellent rolling pin substitute. Much like a wine bottle, the glass is usually thick enough to sustain pressure from rolling and the bottle can be chilled for rolling out pastries.
If you don’t have anything the right size in the kitchen, venture out to the garage or basement and look for something the size and shape of a rolling pin. A common idea is PVC piping: it’s usually light enough to roll around easily, durable, and the perfect shape. If you have caps, you can also fill the PVC pipe with water for some extra weight. If not, you could always put some rice or beans inside a ziplock bag inside for some added heft.
Just make sure it’s new and not full of dirt, and you are very careful about putting barrier like parchment paper or plastic wrap between the dough and the pipe.
King sized beer cans work pretty great for this, but any kind of beverage can will probably work. The biggest downside is they’re quite short, so you’ll have to roll over your dough multiple times and it will be harder to get even (especially with the ridges). Still, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing. Just make sure the can is clean or use a barrier in between the dough and can, though. They’re usually full of germs even right out of the box.
Ideally your drinking can should be full, by the way. An empty can might collapse under pressure from rolling and lead to uneven dough. You could also chill them for better results, especially when working with chilled dough.
Like the tall drinking glass, a cylindrical vase makes a fantastic rolling pin substitute hack in a pinch. Usually they’re long enough for most recipes to come out even, and heavy enough that you don’t need to worry about the glass breaking as you press down and roll. Just make sure it’s clean and oil it a bit so your dough doesn’t stick.
Wooden dowel rolling pin substitute
Much like the PVC pipe, this is a unique alternative that might just save you in a pinch. After all, aren’t wooden rolling pins basically made out of a big wooden dowel anyway? Either way, grab what you can find laying around (or even pull it out of something if you’re really desperate).
A word of caution with something like this, though, is wood is porous and hard to clean. Depending on what you’re rolling you should ideally put parchment paper in between but if not, clean the dowel good and lightly dust it with flour.
Cylinder shaped cans or jars (like Pringles)
Open up the pantry and take a look for anything that’s kind of rolling pin shaped. Pringles cans are a great choice. Mason jars and other canned goods (as long as they don’t have ridges) are also good choices. Likewise, you might have some storage canisters that will be the perfect shape for rolling out dough.
Actually, any cardboard tube will probably do the trick too, so think “outside the box” (pun intended). Poster shipping tubes, glow stick tubes, and even tennis ball sets might just do the trick. Just do the parchment paper trick so you don’t need to worry about a mess or germs.
The kids’ play dough tools rolling pin substitute
I have to admit this one might be a little bit based on personal experience. If you have young kids in the house who love playing with play dough or modelling clay, or have a pretend kitchen, they probably have some rollers in with their toys. Most of the kids’ products are non-toxic so washing these tools in soap and water before using them on your real dough should do the trick.
They might be smaller than the “real” version but in a bind they’ll get the job done.
Although you’ve probably already tried this, your hands are still a great substitute for a rolling pin in a pinch. If you’re making pizza dough, you could try tossing it in the air Italian style. Otherwise, just use your palm to press out the dough as evenly as possible.
If you have parchment paper on hand, you might find it easier to get it smooth by placing a layer of parchment on top of the flattened dough and rubbing it to smooth out all the finger creases.
See also: If you’ve caved and decided to buy a rolling pin, check out our reviews! We’ve got everything you need to find the perfect rolling pin here!
Hopefully you’ll be able to get your dough rolled out without an impromptu visit to the store with this rolling pin substitute hacks. Once you’re done, though, make sure to pick one up so you don’t run into this problem again.