Phyllo vs. Puff Pastry: What's the Difference?
Phyllo dough and puff pastry dough are both used to create baked goods, from sweet desserts to savory tarts and pastries. They have similar uses, but they're not the same thing. Here's what you need to know:
Phyllo vs. Puff Pastry
The main differences between the two doughs are preparation method and fat content.
Puff pastry is laminated, which means butter is folded into the dough multiple times to create alternating layers of butter and dough. This results in lots of thin layers and an airy texture.
Phyllo, meanwhile, is a paper-thin dough that's made with oil instead of butter. The delicate sheets are brushed with butter or oil, then layered and baked.
What Is Phyllo Dough?
Making homemade phyllo (or filo) is a labor of love, as it takes time and skill to roll and stretch the dough into large sheets. The unleavened dough is traditionally made with just flour, water, and a small amount of oil. The origins of phyllo are unclear, but it's common in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Phyllo is particularly common in Greece, where it's an essential ingredient in baklava and spanakopita.
How to Make Phyllo Dough
Many home cooks choose to buy frozen sheets at the grocery store instead of making phyllo dough from scratch. If you want to go the traditional route and make it at home, though, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Make sure the rolling surface and rolling pin are well-floured to prevent sticking and tearing.
- The process requires a large surface that stays cool during rolling. Many bakers prefer marble countertops and rolling pins for this reason.
- Not sure if your dough is thin enough? Test it by gently lifting it – each sheet should be almost see through.
Get the recipe: Chef John's Homemade Phyllo (or Filo) Dough
Recipes With Phyllo Dough
Try your hand at using phyllo dough with these delicious recipes:
What Is Puff Pastry?
Puff pastry, "pâte feuilletée" in French, is a light and flaky laminated pastry made by folding cold butter into a lean dough (a dough that contains no fat) multiple times. Making homemade puff pastry can be a practice in patience, as it requires many trips to the fridge to keep the dough cold and to allow the gluten to build.
The water from the butter turns to steam during the baking process, resulting in an extra flaky texture and glossy finish.
Though puff pastry (a descendant of phyllo dough) is often associated with French cuisine, it likely originated in 16th-century Spain.
Learn more: What Is Puff Pastry and How Do You Use It?
How to Make Puff Pastry Dough
Puff pastry dough is easier to make than phyllo, but it can still be a laborious task. That's why prepared versions, available in the freezer and refrigerator sections of the grocery store, are popular among many home bakers.
Get the recipe: Puff Pastry
If you don't want to buy store-bought, but you want to avoid the traditional method, you can try making a "rough" puff pastry (also called flaky pastry or blitz pastry). This is an easier process in which room temperature butter is incorporated into the dough, which is then rolled and folded.
Get the recipe: Blitz Puff Pastry
Recipes With Puff Pastry
Use your homemade or store-bought puff pastry to make these tasty treats: