There are many reasons why you may need a rolling pin when you are cooking or baking. In fact, a rolling pin could be considered an essential kitchen tool.
So what can you do if you are making a recipe that calls for the use of a rolling pin and you do not have one on hand? What can you use in the place of a rolling pin?
Do not worry! Luckily, there are plenty of rolling pin substitutes that you most certainly can find in your home. You may even like one of these substitutes better than a real rolling pin…
What is a Rolling Pin
A rolling pin is essentially a long cylinder. Rolling pins come in varying lengths and weights and are made of all different kinds of materials. There are heavy marble rolling pins, thick plastic rolling pins, pins made of wood and also hollow metal rolling pins. There are also a variety of rolling pin designs that you can choose from.
Most rolling pins have handles on each end of the cylinder. Sometimes, these handles are attached to the pin and do not move. Other designs may have a rotating cylinder that turns as you roll.
The handles stay in place while the center twists back and forth. The style known as a French rolling pin does not have handles at all but is just a long heavy stick that you push back and forth with your hands.
With about 600,000 rolling pins being made and sold every year, it is definitely a kitchen tool that many people use. If you are looking to purchase a rolling pin, you will have to consider all the different kinds of pins, which type you think you would enjoy using and also think about how you will primarily be using the rolling pin.
Rolling pins will typically last years as the simple design will hold up over hundreds of uses. Don’t be afraid to splurge on your pin!
Uses of a Rolling Pin
A rolling pin actually has multiple culinary uses that you may never have even considered. The primary job of a rolling pin, and the one that many of us may think of first, is to roll dough flat.
Many cookie recipes, pie recipes and other kinds of pastries will require you to flatten dough to a specified thickness. The easiest way to do this is to use a rolling pin, pressing the dough or batter in a smooth, uniform motion until it is as thin as you need.
Since rolling pins are quite large, you can make a big piece of dough consistently flat and even in thickness meaning your rolled dough or batter will cook evenly later on. Flattening doughs and batters is definitely the number one job of a rolling pin.
You can also use your rolling pin to grind whole spices. Rather that purchase spices already ground, it is a great idea to buy them whole and then crush them with a rolling pin. When spices are ground fresh, they have more flavor and are much more powerful, enhancing the taste of your recipes quite a bit.
Purchase whole spices and then place them in a small plastic bag. Press down on the spices inside the bag with a heavy weight rolling pin, rolling the pin back and forth over the spices until they are a fine powder. Use them right away while they are the most pungent.
Rolling pins can also be used to tenderize meat. Place the meat you will be cooking on a cutting board or flat, clean work surface. Cover the meat with a piece of plastic wrap and then use a rolling pin to hit the meat, tenderizing even the toughest cuts.
Remove the plastic wrap and then cook the meat as desired! The rolling pin is the perfect replacement for a meat tenderizer.
You can also use a rolling pin as a mold for various baking projects. If you are baking tuile cookies, drape them over a rolling pin while hot in order to give the cookie a beautiful bend. Use the round shape of the rolling pin to form fondant cake decorations as well.
Rolling pins are seriously a versatile tool to have on hand!
Rolling Pin Substitutes
When you need a rolling pin but do not have one on hand, do not fret! There are many suitable substitutes you can use instead of a traditional rolling pin.
Each of these options will help you get the job done and keep your culinary projects moving forward. Take a look at these rolling pin substitutes and see what you have on hand in your kitchen and which you believe will work the best.
The substitutes we will look at are all primarily used for when you need a rolling pin to flatten dough or batter. If you are looking to use a rolling pin in a different capacity (say to tenderize meat), these options may not work so well. But when it comes to rolling, these options are perfect!
If you want to tenderize meat, use a meat mallet. If you want to crush spices, consider a mortar and pestle. If you’re looking to crush breadcrumbs or candies, try a food processor. But, if you need to roll dough, here are a few things you can use.
1 – Wine Bottle
A wine bottle is the perfect substitute for a traditional rolling pin. It is the same cylinder shape as a rolling pin, as a thin neck that you can use as a handle and it is made of non-porous glass which means it will be easy to clean and also food safe.
You can use a wine bottle that is full, half full or empty- all will work well! A full wine bottle is likely your best option as it will be slightly heavy meaning you have to push less on the bottle as you roll out a dough.
Begin by wiping the outside of the wine bottle to ensure it is clean. Dust the bottle with a little flour and then use it in the exact same manner that you would use a rolling pin, rocking the bottle back and forth over your dough.
Once you are done, wipe the bottle clean again and then maybe enjoy the wine inside!
2 – Drinking Glass
A cylindrical drinking glass makes for a great rolling pin. Choose a glass that has straight, smooth sides and preferably made of glass. A plastic cup will work as well but will not be as heavy and sturdy as one made of glass.
Make sure the glass is clean and then dust it with some flour to prevent your dough or batter from sticking to the glass as you roll. Gently push the glass back and forth to flatten your dough to the desired thickness.
One key to using a glass as a rolling pin is to not push too hard near the top of the glass where the glass tends to be thinner. You do not want your glass to break while it is being used as a rolling pin!
3 – Reusable Water Bottle
Many people have reusable water bottles on hand that will make perfect rolling pins. As long as your water bottle has straight sides, it will be able to evenly flatten your dough.
Fill your water bottle with water and close the top tightly. This will add weight to the water bottle and help you roll your dough more easily. Be sure to clean the outside of the bottle first and dust it with flour to prevent sticking.
4 – Soda Can
A soda can is another perfectly cylindrical device that you can use as a rolling pin. Soda cans are little bit on the short side so it make take a few extra passes to flatten your dough perfectly.
When using a soda can as a rolling pin, you will want to use a full can that will be a little stronger than one that is empty. An empty soda can will actually not work well at all since the material that cans are made of will collapse easily when pressed. A full can is the way to go!
If you plan on drinking the soda after you use it as a rolling pin, be sure to let the can sit upright for a few hours before opening it or the carbonated beverage inside may explode!
5 – PVC Pipe
If you have a piece of plastic PVP piping at home, you have a perfect rolling pin! PVP pipe comes in all different sizes, all of which will work well. You can even cut your PVC pipe to be the exact size that you’d like, making a “rolling pin” you can use over and over again.
Be sure to use a very clean piece of PVC pipe, preferably a piece that is new. Even with a new piece of PVC, be sure to clean the inside and outside well before using it in food applications. Some dish soap and hot water should do the trick!
6 – Tortilla Press
If you have a tortilla press on hand, this can be a great tool for flattening cookie doughs. Dust the tortilla press with flour or line it with plastic wrap.
Place a small piece of dough in the center of the tortilla press and slowly close the press. You may not want to close the press all the way as it will be very thin (tortilla presses often make tortillas that are less than 1/16th of an inch thick- much too thin for a cookie or pie crust!).
Instead, close it slightly, pushing the dough down to just the right thickness.
7 – A Watermelon
If you have a large watermelon, this can be a great flattener and used in place of a rolling pin. Watermelons have just the right shape to roll however they can be quite heavy and may not work well on delicate doughs.
If you are rolling a firmer, tough cookie dough, place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and then gently place the watermelon on top. A few gentle rocks of the melon and your dough will definitely be nice and flat!
8 – Wooden Dowel
If you have a wooden dowel on hand, this will work wonderfully as a rolling pin. The larger the dowel, the better however you can get away with using a dowel that is just ½ inch thick.
Wash the dowel well and dry it using a clean towel. Make sure that there is no wood flaking from the dowel before you use it. Cover your dough with a piece of plastic wrap before you use the dowel to roll the dough.
Since dowels are not considered safe for food use, plastic wrap will help prevent the wood from directly touching the dough and possibly getting a splinter of wood in the dough by accident.
Rock the dowel back and forth just as you would with a traditional rolling pin!
9 – Your Hands
If you do not have any of the items on this list, you can always opt to use your hands to flatten your dough. Press the dough with a flat, open palm, pushing it gently and slowly so that it flattens evenly.
Make sure your hands are well floured so that the dough or batter does not stick to your hands as you work. While the dough may not be as perfectly flat and smooth as when a rolling pin is used, you can still achieve the goal of flattening dough to the required thickness!
As you can see, there are many tools that you can find around your house and in your kitchen that will work great as a make shift rolling pin. In fact, you may never even need to buy a rolling pin- simply buy a bottle of wine or a case of soda instead!
Try each of these rolling pin hacks and see which options works best for you in your culinary expeditions!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.