Let's get one thing straight: Phyllo dough is not the same thing as puff pastry. They are similar and similarly used, but not the same. Here, we're showcasing a dozen recipes that make the most of phyllo dough — you'll thank us later.
Yes, you can make homemade phyllo, but you definitely don't need to. Store-bought phyllo dough, usually found in the freezer aisle, works just as well in these recipes. Layers of phyllo can be used as blankets for a feta cheese and spinach pie, a weighted blanket for vanilla pastry cream with macerated strawberries, and a cardigan for cream cheese with plums.
When working with phyllo, keep it mind that it dries out very easily. Keep sheets of phyllo hydrated by laying an ever-so-slightly-damp kitchen towel on top of the remaining phyllo. Oh, and it's delicate. Very delicate. Like, it's going to rip and tear for sure — and that's OK! Patch it back together and no one will be the wiser. Give it a try and let us know how it goes.
Best phyllo dough recipes
We are eternally grateful to Sohla El-Waylly for creating this sky-high napoleon, which gets a summery breeze from juicy strawberries macerated in rose water.
Sometimes we'll remind you that yes, you can make homemade phyllo dough! This is not one of those times. Here, we're reminding you that store-bought phyllo pastry is absolutely acceptable and delicious, especially as a way to get these squash and feta pinwheels on the table in under an hour.
These sweet hand pies filled with cream cheese and diced plum are kid-friendly and kid-approved. Just ask Food52's Resident Samatha Seneviratne and her son, Artie.
Recipe developer Charles Dabah shared his take on his great-aunt's recipes for these cigar-shaped pastries, which are a staple in Middle Eastern households.
One of the most popular savory phyllo dough dishes is spanakopita, a Greek spinach and feta pie. Brushing each layer of store-bought dough with clarified butter ensures that they will become golden brown and super crispy.
That syrupy, spiced, sticky-sweetness is what makes baklava a beloved dessert around the world. The zest and juice of oranges and lemons are added to the honey syrup and nutty filling for bonus brightness, and a trio of spices warms you from the inside out.
These (deep-fried!) cookies are crispy on the outside but stay soft on the inside, thanks to a luscious almond filling.
What makes a phyllo pie crust so special? For starters, it requires absolutely no par-baking, which means less room for error. Plus, it naturally lends itself to sooo many flaky layers that regular pie dough could only dream of.
Baklava doesn't always need to be sweet. In fact, it is just as delicious when you swap the sweet honey syrup and nuts for a savory filling, like this one, which is made with cherry tomatoes, pork shoulder, tomato purée, and fennel seeds.
Instead of just spinach, this spanakopita features an assortment of hearty greens like collards and mustard greens, plus jalapeños. "Those little kicks of flavor work together with the creaminess of the feta, while the soft greens are accompanied by the crunch of the nuts and the crispy pastry," says recipe developer Alon Shaya.
A phyllo dough crust is the perfect substitute for the crisp, thin wafer of this classic candy. "It's filled with a milk-chocolate hazelnut gianduja and finished with a milk-chocolate glaze and toasted hazelnuts," writes Food52's Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell.
Store-bought phyllo dough is easy, it's accessible (both in its ubiquity and price), and it tastes great. These are logical but important reminders of why you should cook with it more often. Try it in this take on the Eastern European "pita" filled with three kinds of meat and sour cream.