Homemade Phyllo Dough

Homemade Phyllo Dough

The Spruce

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Chill: 8 hrs
Total: 8 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 18 to 20 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
27 Calories
1g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 9mg 0%
*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.)

Phyllo (or filo, in Greek: φύλλο, pronounced FEE-low) 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 is always preferable and it isn't difficult to make. Flour, hot water, raki, olive oil, and lemon are the five ingredients for this dough recipe. While this recipe calls for raki, an unsweetened anise-flavored liquor, you can substitute white vinegar if you choose. Note that one of the keys 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. The technique for making the dough differs depending on which method you use to roll it out. 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. Add more water, a little at a time, as needed to form a dough.

    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 18 to 20 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. Unused phyllo can be kept in the refrigerator, in airtight 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 the 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.

    Flour added to a large bowl; wet ingredients added
     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
  5. The finished phyllo dough sheets can be used for baking pies or pie crusts.

    Phyllo dough sheets layered on a counter

     The Spruce

How to Use

  • 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.
  • To make 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.

Tips

  • 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 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.

Are Phyllo Dough and Puff Pastry the Same?

Phyllo dough is not the same as puff pastry. The ingredients are different, and the technique to make them is also different. Puff pastry is rich and airy, while phyllo gets crispy and flaky. When making layers of phyllo, fat is often brushed between each sheet, whereas puff pastry already has layers of butter present in the dough. They should not be substituted for one another.

How Do You Seal Phyllo Dough?

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.