What’s the Difference Between Phyllo and Puff Pastry? (2024)

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Christine Gallary

Christine GallaryFood Editor-at-Large

Christine graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and she has worked at Cook's Illustrated and CHOW.com. She lives in San Francisco and loves teaching cooking classes. Follow her latest culinary escapades on Instagram.


updated May 1, 2019

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What’s the Difference Between Phyllo and Puff Pastry? (1)

Phyllo dough and puff pastry are both wonders of the frozen food world that help us create amazing pastries, tarts, and other baked goods at the drop of a hat. Of course, if you’re the ambitious type you can make them yourself, but the beauty of these is their convenience and ease — you can pluck them straight from the frozen case.

Both doughs are flaky and delicious, but how are they different, and can they be used interchangeably?

Phyllo Dough

Phyllo (also spelled filo), which means “leaf” in Greek, is tissue-thin sheets of dough that have very little fat. Many popular Greek dishes, such as baklava and spanakopita, are made with phyllo dough. Phyllo dough can also make great edible serving cups for appetizers or desserts.

Phyllo is found in the freezer section in flat squares or rolls, although you may be able to find fresh phyllo in Greek markets. Defrost in the refrigerator and not on the counter since it can get gummy. Because phyllo dough doesn’t have much fat, the sheets are usually brushed with melted butter or oil and then layered together. When it bakes up, the layers get airy, crisp, and flaky.

The main thing to know about working with phyllo dough is to keep it from drying out. Keep the sheets covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel while you’re working, and don’t be discouraged if a sheet rips — just patch it back together and move on, it’ll bake up just fine! Don’t refreeze phyllo, as it will get brittle.

  • Learn more about working with phyllo dough: How To Work with Phyllo Dough
See Also

Phyllo Dough Recipes

  • How To Make Baklava

  • Phyllo Napoleons with Blackberry Sauce and Vanilla Cream
  • Goat Cheese Tart with Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, and Caramelized Onions

Puff Pastry

Puff pastry, called pâte feuilletée in French, is a type of laminated dough, which means chilled fat, usually butter, has been folded multiple times into the dough to create many alternating layers of butter and dough. When made and baked properly, it puffs up into lots of very flaky, airy layers.

Puff pastry is usually sold frozen in folded sheets that are about the same thickness as rolled-out pie dough. The best commercial puff pastries are the ones made with pure butter — always check the label, as some puff pastries are made with oil or other fats that just don’t taste as good as butter. Defrost in the refrigerator to make sure those butter layers stay nice and cold.

When working with puff pastry, you want to work quickly while it’s still cold and you want to handle it as little as possible to keep the layers from getting squished down together and producing a dense final result. Use sharp knives to cut straight down without sawing back and forth too if you need to cut or trim the dough.

Puff pastry can be used in both sweet and savory applications — use it for tarts, croissants, pastry pockets, or shaped into little appetizer cups. It’s definitely denser but sturdier than baked phyllo dough.

Tips on Working with Puff Pastry

  • How To Work with Frozen Puff Pastry
  • How To Braid Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry Recipes

  • Hot Crab Puffs
  • Cheater Nutella Sticky Buns

  • Pesto Chicken Tart
  • Nutella Puffs

Can Puff Pastry and Phyllo Dough Be Used Interchangeably?

Due to the big differences in thickness, their ingredients, and how they’re made, you should not substitute phyllo dough for puff pastry or vice versa. They are very different pastries with differing textures, and recipes will turn out best if you use the correct one.

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What’s the Difference Between Phyllo and Puff Pastry? (2024)


What’s the Difference Between Phyllo and Puff Pastry? ›

Due to the big differences in thickness, their ingredients, and how they're made, you should not substitute phyllo dough for puff pastry or vice versa. They are very different pastries with differing textures, and recipes will turn out best if you use the correct one.

Can I substitute phyllo for puff pastry? ›

Due to the big differences in thickness, their ingredients, and how they're made, you should not substitute phyllo dough for puff pastry or vice versa. They are very different pastries with differing textures, and recipes will turn out best if you use the correct one.

Which is healthier phyllo or puff pastry? ›

Even better, switch your pastry from shortcrust or puff to filo. This is the lowest-fat pastry by far, with 2.9g fat per 100g. This compares with 26.2g for puff or 31.4g for shortcrust. Filo is the lowest-calorie option too, and it's easy to use.

Can I use phyllo dough instead of puff pastry for beef wellington? ›

Lower the fat content of your wellington by using filo pastry instead of puff, eliminating butter, a non-stick frying pan to reduce the amount of oil needed, replacing the pate and using herbs and garlic to boost flavour without needing salt.

Is filo pastry the same as flaky? ›

Filo pastry is a thin flaky pastry used in sweet and savoury pies and pastries. It originated in Turkey, but you'll commonly find it used in Greek, Middle Eastern and Balkan cooking in classic dishes such as spanakopita, baklava and börek. The name filo comes from the Greek word for leaf.

Is Pepperidge Farm puff pastry the same as phyllo? ›

The main differences between puff pastry and phyllo dough are their fat content and preparation. Puff pastry is a laminated dough that gets its signature airy puff from layers of butter, while phyllo dough is comparatively low-fat. Phyllo dough is mostly flour and water and can dry out easily.

Are crescent rolls puff pastry? ›

The crescent-shaped croissant is a flaky pastry with buttery layers whereas a puff pastry is a drier composition of dough. Both use similar ingredients and preparation work.

How many layers of phyllo dough should I use? ›

Phyllo dough is usually found in the frozen food section, either in flat squares or in rolls. One package contains dozens of paper-thin sheets of phyllo. Most preparations use 5 or more of these sheets stacked together. These sheets can become gummy if too damp or brittle if too dry.

Can diabetics eat phyllo dough? ›

The phyllo dough topping is infinitely more interesting than a standard crust. This recipe and other comfort food favorites made for people with diabetes is available in The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook.

Why is phyllo dough so good? ›

Phyllo (Greek for "leaf") is actually layered sheets of paper-thin pastry dough that, when baked, become light, crisp and flaky, with a wonderful toasted flavor.

Does phyllo dough puff up? ›

Filo is a much drier dough that's stretched into paper-thin sheets, and it's layered with melted butter or oil much in the same way you layer sauce and noodles to make lasagna. Fewer layers plus distinct sheets of a dry dough equals less overall rise and a pastry that's more crunchy than puffy.

How do you keep puff pastry from getting soggy in beef Wellington? ›

Tying the tenderloin improves both the appearance of the final dish, and leads to more even cooking. Phyllo provides a moisture barrier, preventing the puff pastry from getting soggy. A double layer of plastic wrap makes it easier to wrap up the tenderloin.

Why is my filo pastry chewy? ›

A very common mistake is to leave it defrost at room temperature as this will make the outer layers gummy; when working with phyllo dough, it should be defrosted, but still cold.

Can I use filo pastry instead of puff pastry? ›

Filo is much more crumbly and light, while puff pastry will be denser. What is this? As a rule of thumb, if you are using filo for recipes where you just want a flaky pastry, then puff pastry may work instead, such as some appetizer bites, but otherwise I'd suggest you don't substitute.

What is baklava made of? ›

Baklava is a sweet dessert made of layers of flaky phyllo pastry filled with crushed nuts and sweetened with honey syrup.

Why is my filo pastry dry? ›

Phyllo dough dries out super fast. Lay a damp (NOT wet) kitchen towel over the phyllo sheets while you are putting together your recipe. Make sure the towel is just slightly damp, enough to give the phyllo dough a little moisture so it doesn't dry out.

Why is filo pastry often used as a healthier substitute for puff pastry? ›

Filo also acts as a healthier substitute for puff and shortcrust pastry. Very little fat is included in the dough and extra only added when assembling the filo sheets, therefore the quantity and type of fat used is at the discretion of the cook.

Do you have to cook filo pastry straight away? ›

Good to know:

Filo pastry can be bought frozen (defrost for ~ 1 hr before use) or in the fridge section, ready to be used straight away. It's super thin and can dry easily once it's removed from it's packaging, so work quickly or use a damp kitchen towel to keep it covered and supple.

Can I use filo instead of brick pastry? ›

It is less prone to breaking but also slightly harder to tear up and scrunch and a bit less tender to eat. So you probably can use brick dough for the Old Rag Pie but bear in mind that the pastry will not be quite as flaky and light as filo pastry and our preference would be to use filo if at all possible.

Can you roll out phyllo dough? ›

Traditionally, filo dough is made from wheat flour, water and a small amount of oil or melted butter. Sometimes, a small amount of vinegar is added into the dough as well. It's first rolled out and then stretched by hand into very large, extremely thin sheets.

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