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Chewy, perfectly puffed pita bread is easier than you think
Milk Street Bowtie Pita Bread

Pita Bread

4 hours 40 minutes active

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Pita Bread

Free

Pita bread is a yeast-leavened flatbread from the Mediterranean and Middle East. We make ours with whole-wheat flour and whole-milk yogurt for full flavor and a pleasant chew. Yogurt is common in some flatbreads but is generally not used in pita. We, however, found it helped produce a soft, elastic dough and a tender, but slightly chewy baked bread. To ensure the breads puff nicely and form pockets, they're baked two at a time on a heated baking steel or stone. We preferred a stand mixer for making the dough, but a food processor worked, too. To make the dough in a processor, combine the flours, yeast and sugar in the workbowl and pulse until combined. Add the water, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of oil and process until a smooth, slightly sticky ball forms, about 1 minute. Add additional water, 1½ teaspoons at a time (up to 2 tablespoons total), if the dough feels too dry. Let the dough rest in the processor for 5 minutes, then add the salt and process until smooth and pliable, about 1 minute. Knead by hand on a lightly floured counter for 1 minute, then transfer to an oiled medium bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until not quite doubled in bulk. Continue with the recipe from the third step to shape and bake. It's not unusual if one or two of the rounds don't puff during baking—the bread will still taste great. The ones that do puff will not deflate as they cool. Store leftover pita in a zip-close bag for up to a day. To warm, wrap the pitas in foil and heat for 4 minutes at 300°F.

10

5½-inch pita rounds

Tip

Don’t forget to heat the baking steel or stone for a full hour before baking. And do cover the pita breads with a towel when they come out of the oven to keep them soft.

4 hours

40 minutes active

4 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
171 grams (1¼ cups) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
175 grams (1¼ cups) whole-wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons white sugar
3/4 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F), plus more if needed
1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
Ingredients
  • 4

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

  • 171

    grams (1¼ cups) bread flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 175

    grams (1¼ cups) whole-wheat flour

  • teaspoons instant yeast

  • 2

    teaspoons white sugar

  • ¾

    cup warm water (100°F to 110°F), plus more if needed

  • ¼

    cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • teaspoons table salt

Directions
  1. 01
    Coat a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add both flours, the yeast and sugar. Mix on low until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the water, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Mix on low until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. Feel the dough; it should be slightly sticky. If not, add water 1½ teaspoons at a time (no more than 2 tablespoons total), mixing after each addition, until slightly sticky. Let rest in the mixer bowl for 5 minutes.
    See Demo
    10 27 17 Cpk 011
  2. 02
    Add the salt and knead on low until smooth and pliable, 10 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, forming it into a ball and turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until well risen but not quite doubled in volume, 1 to 1½ hours.
    See Demo
    10 27 17 Cpk 066
  3. 03
    Dust a rimmed baking sheet evenly with bread flour. Transfer the dough to the counter. Using a dough scraper or bench knife, divide the dough into 10 pieces (about 2 ounces each). Form each into a tight ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each ball with ½ teaspoon of the remaining oil, then cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until well risen but not quite doubled, 30 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 500°F with a baking steel or stone on the upper-middle rack.
    See Demo
    10 27 17 Cpk 433
  4. 04
    Lightly dust two rimmed baking sheets with bread flour and lightly dust the counter. Place a dough ball on the counter; use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the ball into a round ⅛ inch thick and 5½ inches in diameter. Set on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, placing them in a single layer on the baking sheets. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
    See Demo
    10 27 17 Cpk 472
  5. 05
    Lightly dust a peel with bread flour, then place 2 dough rounds on the peel without flipping them. Working quickly, open the oven and slide the rounds onto the baking steel. Immediately close the door. Bake until the breads have puffed and are light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using the peel, remove the breads from the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and cover with a dry kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Serve warm or room temperature.
    See Demo
    10 27 17 Cpk 671
Tip: Don’t forget to heat the baking steel or stone for a full hour before baking. And do cover the pita breads with a towel when they come out of the oven to keep them soft.
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Reviews
Tyler B.
June 27, 2022
A project but perfection
This was one of those recipes where you wonder as you make it -- is this worth it? But it is totally worth it. Best pita I've ever had. Super satisfying with hummus, or as a vessel for a greek salad. Not for a hot day-- heats up your kitchen with the super hot oven.
Kathryn A.

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Kathryn A.

Cooked on the stovetop in cast iron on medium for a few minutes each side. They didn't puff, but I didn't have to preheat the oven to 500 for an hour.

Kathryn A.

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Seran A.

Is it possible to substitute whole wheat flour with all purpose flour? Thank you :)

Janelle C.

This is a great question. Would you post it in our Q&A Forum for Milk Street Insiders and Digital subscribers? It's currently free for all to use and we're sure others would love to hear the answer to this one.
https://www.177milkstreet.com/discussion/

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Jessica B.

I tried this today. Only one out of ten puffed, but I forgot to rest them for 10 minutes after rolling them out.

Adan C.

Overall a great recipe, only note was in my oven using a pre-heated baking steel 3 minutes was too long. They still tasted great, but I would bake them less next time (~2min).

Kathy M.

I followed the recipe to the letter. They did not puff. Also, they are too salty.

Sharon M.

I just made these. I thought the amount of salt sounded excessive, so I reduced it to 1 1/2 tsp. It’s plenty in my opinion. I only have Red Star active dry on hand. I softened it for a few minutes. Worked just fine. Finally, I made a mistake by skipping the second rise. They baked perfectly. Will definitely make again.

Diana L.

I made this today. Its very good. The dough puffed up. I have tested it both with waiting for 10 min and without and both ways they have puffed up. It is not salty as other reviews have pointed out. It states sea salt so its not the same as regular salt so maybe that is the problem with saltiness. I have used Morton Sea Salt Course type. Also, I did not have bread flour so I used all purpose but I have added 1 tsp of baking soda. I let my dough rise for 2 and half hours. I cooked it on the BBQ on the stone at 500 degrees. I have waited for 30 min until I started cooking on the stone. Great recipe and I will make it again.

Marsha D.

I don't have a stand mixer. Can this be done with kneading by hand? Thanks.

Lynn C.

Hi Marsha -

You can do this by hand, it just might require a little elbow grease. After adding the yogurt to the bowl in Step 1 mix the dough together using a spatula and then by hand until the dough forms a pretty loose sticky ball. Let the dough rest then mix in the salt. This is the only part that could be tricky since it can be a bit challenging to mix the salt into a formed dough without the help of a stand mixer. If you've left the dough a bit loose in the previous step it will be easier to incorporate the salt by hand. Sprinkle the salt onto the dough and then knead in the bowl to incorporate. Once the salt is incorporated, transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop and knead until the dough springs back when poked with a finger. This will likely take longer by hand than the 10 minutes called for in the recipe. Make sure you don't use too much flour on the counter or the dough will become dry. A bench scraper can be helpful for kneading a sticky dough by scraping the dough off the counter and folding it over itself. Good luck!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Rory S.

Do I need a proofing oven? Will it work by leaving it covered, on the counter?

Lynn C.

Hi Rory -

Nope! You can definitely just leave it on the counter. Make sure to cover your bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warmer, draft-free part of your kitchen.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Lee R.

can buttermilk be used instead of yogurt? or low fat yogurt?

Lynn C.

Hi Lee -
We haven't tested this with buttermilk so I can't give you a definitive answer. I would recommend low-fat yogurt over buttermilk since the texture is more similar to the whole milk yogurt. Due to the lower amount of fat, however, you may find the pita less rich and drier.
Best,
The Milk Street Team

Lynn C.

Hi Gary -

We haven't tested baking these in any other way than on a baking steel or stone. My only suggestion would be to preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven and bake one pita at a time on the skillet. That *may* replicate the same heat as the steel/stone to trigger the puff. Let us know if you try this and the results!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Justin P.

Way too salty. I would cut it back to 1 1/2 TSP kosher salt next time.

Susan K.

This recipe is excellent. Every one of my pitas puffed. I served it with Milk Street’s fatoush, Fast & Slow hummus,
Baked zucchini fritters, and semolina cake.


Down arrow

Pita Bread

Get Ready to Cook

10

5½-inch pita rounds

4 hours

40 minutes active

Tip

Don’t forget to heat the baking steel or stone for a full hour before baking. And do cover the pita breads with a towel when they come out of the oven to keep them soft.

Ingredients
  • 4

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

  • 171

    grams (1¼ cups) bread flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 175

    grams (1¼ cups) whole-wheat flour

  • teaspoons instant yeast

  • 2

    teaspoons white sugar

  • ¾

    cup warm water (100°F to 110°F), plus more if needed

  • ¼

    cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • teaspoons table salt

Step 1 of 5

Mix and form the dough

3
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
171
grams (1¼ cups) bread flour
175
grams (1¼ cups) whole-wheat flour
teaspoons instant yeast
2
teaspoons white sugar
¾
cup warm water (100°F to 110°F), plus more if needed
¼
cup plain whole-milk yogurt

Coat a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add both flours, the yeast and sugar. Mix on low until combined, about 5 seconds.


Add the water, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Mix on low until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. Feel the dough; it should be slightly sticky. If not, add water 1½ teaspoons at a time (no more than 2 tablespoons total), mixing after each addition, until slightly sticky. Let rest in the mixer bowl for 5 minutes.

Step 2 of 5

Knead and form

teaspoons table salt

Add the salt and knead on low until smooth and pliable, 10 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, forming it into a ball and turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until well risen but not quite doubled in volume, 1 to 1½ hours.

Step 3 of 5

Divide and oil the dough

1
tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

Dust a rimmed baking sheet evenly with bread flour. Transfer the dough to the counter. Using a dough scraper or bench knife, divide the dough into 10 pieces (about 2 ounces each).


Form each into a tight ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each ball with ½ teaspoon of the remaining oil, then cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until well risen but not quite doubled, 30 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 500°F with a baking steel or stone on the upper-middle rack.

Step 4 of 5

Roll the dough into rounds

Lightly dust two rimmed baking sheets with bread flour and lightly dust the counter. Place a dough ball on the counter; use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the ball into a round ⅛ inch thick and 5½ inches in diameter.


Set on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, placing them in a single layer on the baking sheets. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Step 5 of 5

Bake and serve

Lightly dust a peel with bread flour, then place 2 dough rounds on the peel without flipping them. Working quickly, open the oven and slide the rounds onto the baking steel.


Immediately close the door. Bake until the breads have puffed and are light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using the peel, remove the breads from the oven.


Transfer to a wire rack and cover with a dry kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Serve warm or room temperature.

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