Homemade Phyllo Dough

Homemade Phyllo Dough

The Spruce

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Rest: 12 hrs
Total: 12 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 pounds
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
117 Calories
1g Fat
24g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 117
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 35mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

What do baklava, spanokopita and burek have in common? They all start with sheets of tissue-thin phyllo (or filo, in Greek: φύλλο, pronounced FEE-low). The dough, which turns shatteringly flaky when baked, is used in a variety of Greek and Middle Eastern sweet and savory dishes.

Although phyllo dough is readily available frozen at most supermarkets, fresh phyllo is far more soft and supple and well worth the homemade effort. It has a reputation for being challenging to work with, but a bit of patience and know-how will help you handle this delicate dough with ease.

What's the Difference Between Phyllo Dough and Puff Pastry?

You'll often find phyllo dough side-by-side with puff pastry, but the two are not the same. Puff pastry is rich and airy, while phyllo gets crispy and flaky. The techniques used to make them are quite different. When making layers of phyllo, fat is often brushed between each sheet, whereas puff pastry has layers of butter laminated into the dough. They should not be substituted for one another.

Tips for Working With Phyllo Dough

Homemade phyllo dough calls for just a handful of ingredients, including raki, an unsweetened anise-flavor liquor. If you can't find raki, simply substitute with white vinegar. The other important tip to keep in mind when it comes to the ingredients: Use the hottest tap water possible for phyllo success.

Once the dough is complete, you will need to turn the dough into thin sheets—you can either use a pasta machine or roll it out with a rolling pin; the latter takes time and experience to master. When using the rolling pin method, the sheets will be about the thickness of two sheets of copy paper. Over time, as you become familiar with the texture and rolling process, you should be able to make the dough even thinner; however, rolling out to the thickness of commercial phyllo dough—which is done with a machine—may never be achieved. It should be noted that even the thickness of copy paper will produce a fine and flaky crust.

How to Keep Phyllo Dough from Drying Out

Phyllo dough sheets should always be kept under a piece of plastic wrap, parchment, or waxed paper followed by a damp towel. The sheets easily dry out and crack and tear, and so should be exposed to air as little as possible. Do not simply use a damp towel, since the delicate sheets will become gummy and stick together.

Your Phyllo Dough's Ready—What Next?

Phyllo or filo dough can be layered and used to make sweets like baklava, savory dishes like spanakopita, or arranged to make a bottom and/or top crust for a variety of pies, tarts, and quiches.

To make a crust (top or bottom) for a sweet or savory pie, add a sheet of phyllo to a greased pan. Brush with melted butter or oil and add another layer, rotating the sheets to make sure the coverage is even. Make as many layers as you like—at least six is recommended for a sturdy, flaky crust.

For mini pies or triangles, brush a long sheet of phyllo with butter or oil. Add the filling at one end and fold over one corner making a triangle. Fold as you would a flag, making several layers over the filling.

Bake according to the recipe instructions, until the phyllo is golden brown and flaky. If making enclosed pastries, simply brush with butter or oil and place on the baking sheet seal-side down. This will keep the filling enclosed. If you'd like the seal to be a little tighter, brush a very small amount of egg wash just on the edge and press to seal.

Our Favorite Recipes Featuring Phyllo Dough

Once you learn to make homemade phyllo dough, a whole world of delicious flaky goods will be unlocked. Here are some of our favorite recipes to get you started:

"Great recipe to have on hand in case you want to try making phyllo dough at home. It's very straightforward and the ingredients are what you already have in your pantry. Whether using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, the dough rolls out easily if it's rested enough." —Tara Omidvar

Homemade Phyllo Dough Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Phyllo dough recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand until it holds together. If needed, add more water, a little at a time, until a dough forms.

    Phyllo dough on a floured surface
     The Spruce
  3. On a floured surface, knead by hand for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and malleable with a smooth feel.

    Knead dough by hand
     The Spruce
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before using.

    Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate
     The Spruce
  5. Divide the dough into 8 to 10 equal pieces.

    Divide the dough into 18 to 20 pieces
     The Spruce
  6. To make phyllo sheets, run the pieces of dough through the pasta machine. Starting with setting 1 (the thickest), and run each piece of dough through several times, increasing the setting number each time you put it through. For pastries, finish at setting 9; if you are making small fried pitas (pies), use setting number 6.

    Running pieces of dough through a pasta machine
     The Spruce
  7. To roll out by hand, sprinkle a work surface with flour and roll out each piece with a rolling pin to paper-thin thickness.

    Roll out phyllo dough by hand

    The Spruce

How to Store

Fresh phyllo can be kept in the refrigerator for a day, floured between sheets and tightly wrapped with plastic wrap. Phyllo dough can also be frozen for 2 to 3 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.