How To Use Phyllo Dough in Low Fat Baking and Cooking

Filo pastry
Debby Lewis-Harrison / Getty Images

Phyllo, or filo, dough has no saturated fat or trans fat, and no cholesterol. Phyllo dough is light, crisp and flaky, and so long as you use butter-flavored cooking spray between layers rather than real melted butter, it's a perfect low-fat choice for making savory or sweet pies, tarts and strudels. The main criticism of phyllo dough is that it’s hard to use. With a bit of planning, handling phyllo dough needn’t be a problem.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Minimum of 24 hours' thawing time, plus 10-15 minutes preparation

Here's How:

  1. Thaw the phyllo dough roll(s) in the refrigerator, according to package instructions. Do not thaw at room temperature.
  2. Have filling and any other ingredients prepared and ready to use.
  3. Unroll the number of sheets you require for your recipe, plus a few extra. Peel them off together rather than separately.
  4. Stack the phyllo sheets you will be using on top of waxed paper or plastic wrap.
  5. Place some wax paper or plastic wrap on top of the last phyllo sheet.
  6. Cover stack of phyllo sheets with a damp towel to prevent them drying out. Accept that you might have to toss a sheet or two if they do tear or crumble.
  7. Uncover phyllo sheets as you need them, re-covering the remaining sheets until ready to use. Work as quickly as you can.
  8. Spray butter-flavored cooking spray or brush some melted jelly between each phyllo sheet as you build up layers.

Tips:

  1. Use phyllo sheets in place of pie crusts by fanning them in a star-shaped pattern, and either trimming the sides or folding in the edges for a galette-style pie.
  2. Wrap your choice of fillings as you would a burrito for an easy strudel.
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut phyllo sheets into strips, and fold flag-style over filling to make triangles.
  4. Cut dough into squares. Spoon filling into center of phyllo squares and gather the corners to make “kisses.”
  5. Cut diamond shapes or squares to make Napoleon-style layers.

What You Need:

  • Box of phyllo dough
  • Wax paper or plastic wrap
  • Damp cloth
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  • Pie or tart pan, cookie sheet, silicone mat or parchment for baking.
  • Prepared fillings
  • Sharp knife and ruler for cutting shapes in dough, depending on recipe
  • Serrated knife for cutting strudels or pies cleanly