Where and How to Buy Pita Bread

And How Its Made

Hummus with pita

Sheridan Stancliff / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Pita bread is a type of versatile flatbread that is soft and slightly chewy and often features a pocket inside, which is a result of baking the bread in a hot oven. This type of bread is popular in the Middle East, Greece, and the eastern Mediterranean region. The word pita comes from the Greek language.

In order to get the freshest pita bread for your snacks and sandwiches, you might want to see if there is a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern market in your area. These stores will also likely have the least expensive loaves of bread to choose from, too. If not, there are several online stores that ship freshly baked pita bread every day. If all else fails, most supermarkets carry at least one brand of commercial pita bread.

If none of these options work for you, then you can make your own pita bread, too.

Where to Find It in the Supermarket?

Pita bread can be found in most supermarkets in the bread aisle. You may see a few different brands and varieties like white, whole wheat, low carb, or gluten-free. Some come with pockets; others are pocketless and thicker. The pocketless variety is most often used in Greek cuisine for souvlaki and gyro sandwiches. The thinner type with pockets is most often used for falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, and other Middle Eastern selections.

If you cannot find pita bread in your bread aisle. try the deli area of your supermarket with freshly baked artisanal bread. It most likely will not be made by the store's bakery, but it should be a recognizable commercial brand name. And if it is all sold out, a good substitution is commercially sold pocketless naan bread, a similar type of bread popular in Indian cuisine.

Buyer Beware

Whenever you purchase pita bread from the store, check the expiration date. This is very important when buying pita. This type of bread does not fly off the shelves like white and wheat sandwich bread, so make sure the "use by" date has not passed.

Secondly, check to see how it soft it is. A lot of stores buy pita in bulk and freeze it and set it out to thaw. Yes, you can freeze pita, but the flavor may get compromised. Softer loaves of bread are fresher. Loaves of bread that feel more firm may have been frozen and thawed.

Commercial Baking Process

Most pitas are baked at high temperatures (450 to 475 F). The water in the dough turns into steam, causing the pita to puff up and form a pocket. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita. This allows the bread to be opened to form a pocket. 

In modern commercial bakeries, pita is prepared on advanced automatic lines producing thousands of loaves per hour. The ovens used in commercial baking are much hotter than traditional clay ovens getting up to 800 to 900 F. Each loaf is only baked for one minute. The pitas are then air-cooled for about 20 minutes on conveyor belts before being shipped immediately or else stored in commercial freezers kept at a temperature of 10 F.