How to make pita bread
This is a no bake, stove top pita bread recipe! These pitas are so soft and easy to tear. They also have a wonderful pocket in the middle, perfect for filling with favorites like hummus, veggies, deli, falafel, chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, and more!
I could eat pita bread with almost every meal. Breakfast? Pita bread. Lunch? Pita bread. Dinner? Dinner rolls … Just kidding. It’s pita bread. I find pita is such a versatile type of bread that you can honestly have with pretty much every meal.
Pita with eggs for breakfast is outstanding. Pita wraps for lunch are a great healthy meal. And you can almost never go wrong with pita bread with chicken, lamb, beef, falafel, or any other protein (meat or veggie). So pita bread is great to keep on hand, and it also freezes really well for instant pita!
What is pita bread made out of?
This pita bread is made up of flour, salt, water, sugar, and yeast. Pita dough is almost identical to pizza dough, the only difference being I don’t add any fat like olive oil. In pizza dough, the fat helps with flavor, browning, and prevents the toppings from soaking into the dough while baking.
While pizza dough flavor is amazing, it’s not the same flavor that I’m going for with pita bread. Browning is also not what I want with this recipe, since the pita bread can sometimes brown too quickly when there’s fat in or on the dough.
And finally, there aren’t going to be any toppings on the raw pita bread, so having them sink in isn’t going to be a problem. That being said, if you do top your pita bread (for example, to make a pita pizza … yum!) you won’t have too much of an issue with toppings sinking in as the pita will already be cooked and have a crust on the outside as protection.
How to cook pita bread:
This recipe involves a bit of an unconventional way to cook the pita. While most recipes make pita in the oven, I prefer this stove top method for two main reasons.
1) It’s much quicker and easier than in the oven.
And 2) I find pita in the oven can be a bit trickier to get a pocket in the middle than on the stove top. Since the stove top method pushes direct, strong heat on the pita, you get a more dramatic rise, and your pita will end up softer (since the cook time is shorter) than when it’s done in the oven.
That being said, this is achieved by doing a 2 cook process. First, the pita is cooked in a dry skillet to give it a crust and dry out its 2 sides. Then, it’s placed on a wire rack positioned over a burner set to medium-low heat. This gives it color and makes it rise.
Because of how these pitas are cooked, I recommend using a stainless steel wire rack for part 2. Since there’s going to be direct heat on it, wire racks coated with special dyes or a non-stick coating may not react well to the direct heat. So please only use stainless steel here.
Tips for pita bread:
Now before I start with the technical tips, I wanted to give a little personal tip: don’t be discouraged when making pita! No matter how good the recipe, technique, or instructions, you may get a pita or two that are just too stubborn to rise and won’t create a pocket in the middle. It happens a lot. They’re still delicious!
If you find none of your pitas are rising, then I have a tip for that below! But definitely don’t worry if you get some that rise and some that don’t. Just eat the evidence, and keep on cooking!
Tip #1: When none of the pitas rise, check the stove temperature, try dropping the pita and/or checking the yeast. If none of the pitas rise, it can sometimes be because the temperature on the stove is too low. The best temperature for the second stage of cooking the pita is medium-low (around 3 or 4 if you have numbers on your stove dials).
If playing around with the temperature doesn’t work, I find that lifting the pitas up (about an inch high) and dropping them forces the yeast to push up and create a pocket in the center.
If none of those work, then the yeast in the dough may be expired, or the water used to dissolve it while making the dough was too hot or too cold. Any impact on the yeast will impact the final rise, but the final taste usually won’t be impacted.
Tip #2: When rolling out your pita dough, use the bare minimum amount of flour. Since this will be cooked on a wire rack on the stove, excess flour can sprinkle down onto your stove and cause flare ups. Not only is that a nightmare to clean up, it can also be dangerous. So try to avoid too much flour, and brush off any excess before cooking the pitas.
Tip #3: Roll your pita bread thin, but not too thin. An overly thin pita will not give your dough enough room to create a pocket in the center. An overly thick pita will be hard to cook all the way through. The best thickness for pita is around 1/8th of an inch, which will give you a pita that’s about 6 inches in diameter.
Tip #4: When all the pita is done, keep covered. This is a very important step to make sure your pita doesn’t dry out! After the pita is cooked, if you’re not going to serve immediately, place the warm pitas on a tea towel lined plate and cover with a tea towel on top to avoid having the pita harden.
Once cooled, store your pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 3 days at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Things to make with pita bread:
What I love about pita bread is that it’s basically a blank canvas. You can serve a million things with it! Maybe an exaggeration … but there’s really so, so much you can do with it. Some of my favorite uses include pita pizza, pita sandwiches, pita chips, pita with hummus, pita with falafel, and dessert pita with Nutella.
How to warm up pita:
I like to warm my pita either in a skillet, a wire rack over the stove, or in the oven. If using a skillet, place your pita in a cold, dry pan, and place it over low heat. Warm your pita on one side for about 1 or 2 minutes, flip, then warm the other side for another minute or two.
To heat on the stove using a wire rack, place a stainless steel cooling rack over your burner. Set burner to low heat and heat pita bread for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until warmed through.
To heat in the oven, preheat to 350°F. Place pita in the center of the oven and heat for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until warmed to your liking.
Pita Bread Storage:
While your pita is still warm, it’s important to keep it covered under a tea towel to keep your bread from drying out. Once the bread cools, you can transfer it to a plastic bag or an airtight container for storage. Pita bread will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
If you’re not going to serve the pita bread within about 3 days, then you can also freeze your pita bread! To freeze, place in a large freezer bag and seal well (pushing out as much air as possible. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To defrost, you can leave your pita at room temperature for a few hours to defrost. I like to place my frozen pita in a preheated 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. This way it defrosts and warms up at the same time!
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Watch: How to make pita bread
Pita bread recipe
- 1 cup lukewarm water about 110°F
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
- 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and shaping
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside the mixture until it starts to bubble and foam on top (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add flour and salt to the water/yeast mixture. Stir together until the ingredients start to come together into a rough ball of dough.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky (about 5 minutes by hand). Add flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your hands. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a smooth ball. Arrange the balls on a lightly floured cutting board, work surface, or baking sheet, leaving a bit of room to allow them to expand. Cover the balls with plastic wrap or a lint free towel, and set aside to rise for 20 to 25 minutes in a warm place (until almost doubled in size).
- Lightly flour your work surface and the top of one ball of dough. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/8 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Set aside, and continue rolling until all of your pitas are shaped.
- Warm a large, dry skillet over medium heat for about a minute to heat. Add one pita to the skillet. Cook on medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute on each side, or until the surface of the pita is dried out. The top will also start to bubble slightly. * You don’t really need to get any color on the pita at this stage. Transfer the pita to a plate and repeat this step with the remaining pitas.
- Next, place a stainless steel wire rack over a large stove burner set to medium-low heat. Place one pita over the burner on the wire rack. Cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until lightly golden brown. Transfer cooked pitas to a tea towel lined plate and cover with another towel to keep them from drying out. Finish cooking the other pitas on the wire rack. Keep pitas covered until ready to serve.
I would love to hear any tips you’d like to add to this post and how your pitas turned out in the comments below!
Have any questions? Any ideas to improve this recipe? Feel free to comment for that as well.
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