Homemade Phyllo Dough

Homemade Phyllo Dough

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 18 to 20 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
25 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 25
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 71mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 0g
Calcium 12mg 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.)

In Greek: φύλλο, pronounced FEE-lo

Phyllo is the dough used in a variety of Greek sweet pastries and savory dishes, such as baklava and spanakopita. The tissue-thin layers make for flaky results, but can also be challenging to work with. By being patient and following some simple steps, however, you can learn to easily handle this delicate dough.

Although phyllo dough is readily available frozen in most markets, freshly made phyllo dough (also spelled "filo") is always preferable, and it isn't difficult to make. Flour, hot water, raki, olive oil, and lemon are the five ingredients for this filo recipe. While this recipe calls for raki, an unsweetened anise-flavored liquor, you can substitute white vinegar if you choose. Also, the key to a successful phyllo dough is to use the hottest tap water possible. 

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 (see below for special instructions). Also, take note that the technique for making the dough differs depending on which method you use to roll out the dough.

The dough is ideal for small fried and baked pies, as well as pan-sized pie crusts.

Ingredients

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this phyllo dough is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation.

Using a Pasta Machine

  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.

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix
     The Spruce
  3. On a floured surface, knead by hand for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and malleable, with a smooth feel.

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

    Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate
     The Spruce
  5. Divide the dough into 18 to 20 equal pieces.

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

    run the pieces of dough through the pasta machine
     The Spruce
  7. Unused phyllo can be kept in the refrigerator, in air-tight wrapping, for up to 10 days after making.

Using a Rolling Pin

  1. Add 6 cups of flour to a large bowl (the remaining 2 cups will be used when rolling out the dough). Make a well in the center and add water (start with 1 cup) and raki or vinegar. Combine with a fork. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and continue mixing, adding more water if needed to make a soft dough.

    Add 6 cups of flour to a large bowl
     The Spruce
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand, oiling hands if needed, until the dough is soft, malleable, and smooth about 10 minutes.

    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface
     The Spruce
  3. Divide the dough into 18 to 20 equal pieces and roll each piece out to a roughly oval shape, about 18 to 19 inches across, sprinkling the work surface and phyllo with flour to keep from sticking.

    Divide the dough into 18 to 20 equal pieces
     The Spruce
  4. Use the rolling pin to gently roll out the dough to paper-thin thickness.

    Use the rolling pin to roll out phyllo dough
     The Spruce

The finished phyllo dough sheets can be used for baking pies or pie crusts.

Phyllo Dough recipe

 The Spruce

Tip

  • 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.
  • Phyllo dough is not the same as puff pastry. The ingredients are different and the technique to make them are also different. Puff pastry is rich and airy while phyllo gets crispy and flaky. They should not be substituted for one another.