Only 5 ingredients and a small amount of hands-on work to fresh, soft, warm pita bread. Use homemade pita bread in any recipe that calls for flatbread or naan. Yes, we understand these are fundamentally different, but they can be used in the same capacity.
This is also a great recipe to get the kids involved with. How much fun (and rewarding) is it to make your own bread?
What is Pita Bread?
Pita bread is a yeast bread commonly made in the the Mediterranean, Middle East and surrounding areas. We originally posted a flatbread recipe (unleavened), but so many people commented on it thinking that were making pita bread, that we decided to go ahead and change the recipe to a leavened bread to appeal to the readers.
The original flatbread (yeast free) recipe is in the note section of the recipe card if you are searching for it.
This pita recipe can be made in any size you need, large or small. Make mini pita breads for appetizers and dips and larger ones for wraps and use as sandwich bread or even a super large pita to use as a pizza crust.
This version doesn’t make a particularly good pita pocket, but two slices can be used as the top and bottom pieces of a sandwich or for more of a gyro type of sandwich.
Ingredients in Pita
The key to making a tasty homemade pita bread recipe is using a good quality olive oil. Not all olive oils are created equal and as you can see, there aren’t many ingredients with much flavor, so the olive oil is key.
Look for rich tasting oils that are made in the United States. Unless you know otherwise, many coming from overseas are supplemented with vegetable oil.
Those made in the states are guaranteed to be 100% olive oil or disclose other ingredients on the nutrition label. It is a total myth that quality olive oil must come from Italy or Spain. Here are the other items you’ll need for our whole wheat pita bread:
- Active Dry Yeast– Just one packet, which is about 2 1/4 teaspoons. Instant yeast can also be used.
- Warm Water– Yeast can fail to activate or die if the water temperature is not correct. Make sure the water is between 105°F-115°F.
- Sugar- Just the tiniest amount of sugar will help the yeast bloom. It can be omitted, if desired.
- Whole wheat flour & All-Purpose Flour- We used a combination of whole wheat for the bread. All whole wheat can be used by was a little too rustic and earthy. Using half and half made a nice chewy balance. You can use all-purpose or bread flour for the whole thing if you like. We have not tested this recipe using flour substitutes, but if you do, please come back and let us know how they worked!
- Coarse kosher salt– I love the clean flavor of a coarse kosher salt, but if you are using fine sea salt, cut back the volume by half.
How to Make Pita Bread
Pita bread from scratch is quite simple, but always make sure you have ample flour to prevent sticking. Although it isn’t mandatory, I highly recommend using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. This requires a good amount of kneading and unless you have biceps of steel, it is going to be a hard process! If you do, use a wooden spoon to prevent sticking.
- First, proof the yeast by combining it with warm water and a small amount of sugar. This step ensures that the yeast has been activated and not dead from too hot or too cold of water. Yeast thrives on sugar, so it just gives it something to eat; think if it like a reward for blooming. After the yeast bubbles and becomes fragrant, start making the bread dough.
- Stir in the olive oil and salt to the yeast mixture until well combined and then add the flours. Initially the dough will be slightly sticky, but no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. If it isn’t reaching this stage, add an additional 1/4 cup flour.
- Knead the dough on a low speed for 5-7 minutes until it forms a nice ball and is springy. I find the different stages of the dough while kneading fascinating, don’t you?
- Grease the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and turn the dough out into the bowl. Lightly baste the top of the bread with olive oil as well. This prevents the dough from drying out. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and wait for the dough to double in size, approximately 2 hours.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, form a disc about 1-inch thick and then divide into 8 equal pieces (like pizza slices). Some folks prefer to use a floured rolling pin, but I like the rustic appeal of using my hands. You can just eyeball this, it doesn’t need to be exact. And if you want to make smaller, mini pitas, divide each eighth again to form 16 smaller balls.
- Form each “slice” into a small dough ball, but instead of rolling, pull the dough from the top and tuck the ends underneath the bottom, making a smooth ball. This what will create the “pocket”. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet to prevent sticking, cover again with a damp towel and let them rise another 30 minutes in a warm place. If you are lucky enough to have an oven with a bread proofing setting, this is the time to use it! Don’t skip the second dough rise, this contributes to the air pockets to make it light and airy.
- On a floured work surface, use the palm of your hand to flatten into the dough into a pita shape about 1/4 inch thick.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and lightly baste with olive oil. Do not use high heat because olive oil will burn. Working in batches, place pieces of dough into the hot skillet. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to puff and brown. Toss back to the first side, cooking another 30 seconds, then remove from the pan and allow to cool before using.
How to Make Baked Pita
I find using the stovetop to be much more efficient, but you can also bake pita bread using a baking stone (pizza stone).
- Preheat the oven and baking stone to 475°F.
- Place one to two pieces of flattened dough onto the hot stone. Cook for 2-3 minutes in the hot oven, open the oven and flip using your tongs, the same way you would on the stovetop. Bake until it forms the perfect pocket of air.
- Continue with the rest of the pita dough.
- To add flavor, mix in fresh or dried herbs and/or spices or garlic.
- Char your homemade pita bread on the grill or over an open flame.
- Rub each slice with fresh lemon wedges, garlic cloves or baste with an herb infused olive oil mixture to add pizzazz.
Store baked pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature for up to 5 days. Like most baked goods, it is best enjoyed on the day it is baked, but you can bring some new life into it by heating it slightly in the oven or a hot pan.
Pitas can be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw at room temperature.
What to Serve with Pita Bread
- Spicy Hummus with Harissa
- Chipotle Hummus
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad
- Roasted Eggplant Dip
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Pork and Potato Stew
- Chicken Salad Recipe
Homemade Pita Bread Recipe
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook or a large mixing bowl, combine the active yeast, warm water and sugar (optional). Stir gently and allow to bloom, approximately 10 minutes.
- Stir in the olive oil and salt. Add the flours, using the dough hook, work until the dough is slightly sticky, but no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. If it isn't reaching this stage, add an additional 1/4 cup flour.
- Knead the dough on a low speed for 5-7 minutes until it forms a nice ball and is springy.
- Grease the inside of a bowl with olive oil and turn the dough out into the bowl. Lightly baste the top of the bread with olive oil as well. Cover with a damp towel and wait for the dough to rise, approximately 2 hours.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, form a disc about 1-inch thick and then divide into 8 equal slices (like a pizza).
- Form each "slice" into a small ball, but instead of rolling, pull the dough from the top and tuck the ends underneath the bottom. This what will create the "pocket". Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise another 30 minutes.
- Place dough balls back onto the floured work surface and using the palm of your hands, flatten into the shape of your desired pita bread, about 1/4 inch thick.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and lightly baste with olive oil. Do not go too high because olive oil will burn. Working in batches, place each piece of dough into the cast iron skillet. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to puff and brown. Toss back to the first side, cooking another 30 seconds, then remove from the pan and allow to cool before using.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in the water and olive oil and knead to form a moist dough. Form into a ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 5-30 minutes.
Roll out dough into a long loaf on a very lightly floured work space.
Cut dough into 16 equal parts. Using a lightly floured rolling pin or the palm of your hand flatten each dough knot. Shape is not important, in fact a variety of shapes can make them more interesting.
Heat skillet at a time for approximately 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Bubble may form, allow them to continue, do not pop or you will have uneven cooking. Re-spray pan in between each batch.
Remove from heat and serve or allow to cool to store for later. Store in an airtight container or bag at room temperature to prevent drying.
If you’ve tried this recipe come back and let us know how you liked it!