Pita Bread Recipe

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This homemade pita bread recipe yields a super-soft, puffed pita bread that is actually easy to make, easier than you might think! Yogurt in the dough is the secret to soft, beautiful pita.

Homemade pita bread on a wire rack.
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In the house of Abood, and in the houses of grandparents Abood and Abowd, there was a lot of baking. A lot. But none of it included pita bread. I suspect this was in part because we could enjoy perfect, thin, store bought pita bread from nearby bakeries without a thought; this is mid-Michigan, my friends, and while we may have our drawbacks, we’re rich in Middle Eastern bakeries and restaurants.

The first time or two I made pita bread, it was a disaster zone. Then some time back, I found my way into Molly Yeh’s Short Stack book on yogurt. The last, very very last thing I expected to find in Molly’s yogurt book was a pita bread recipe. But there it jumped out, and it includes, of course: yogurt. “Yogurt Pita.” The pita bread recipe description was so simple and inviting (all about the soft dough and the soft pockets it results in) that it made me wait not another day to bake my first round.

The results are pillowy soft pita, made with such ease and such beautiful results you will wonder why you don’t make pita on a regular basis. 

Here’s all of the info and tips you need for how to make homemade pita bread with ease. 

Grilled chicken shawarma pitas with tahini sauce.

What to eat pita bread with?

Everything, but especially homemade hummus, Lebanese baba ganoush, Chicken shawarma, homemade beef shawarma, Lebanese Garlic Sauce, Toum, Shish Tawook, Lebanese Grilled Chicken Skewers, falafel, and homemade pita chips (can use older bread). This pita bread recipe requires simple ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Greek yogurt and labneh being measured out  into a measuring cup.

Ingredients for soft pita bread

Water. Lukewarm water, 105-115 degrees for best results. 

Active dry yeast. You can substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast 1:1 if that’s what you have on hand. Both can be found in standard grocery stores.

Granulated sugar. Just a little bit!

Bread flour. I recommend using bread flour. Whole wheat flour might result in denser bread, but is a good high-protein substitute if necessary.  Bread flour is preferable to all-purpose flour because of its higher gluten structure. Regardless of flour type, save some for dusting.

Kosher salt. The savory touch you need for homemade bread!

Olive oil. This goes in the recipe but make sure you have enough extra virgin olive oil for the dough and extra for coating a large mixing bowl. I’m a huge fan of Lebanese EVOO.

Greek yogurt or Labneh. This luscious ingredient is key for creating fluffy, soft pita pockets.

Yogurt with dough in the mixer for pita bread.

How to make pita bread 

How to make pita dough

Step 1: Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let this yeast mixture sit for 2-3 minutes. 

Step 2: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, and remaining sugar. Add the yeast mixture, oil, and yogurt. Mix to combine on low speed. Knead the pita bread dough in the mixer, or by hand on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is soft and sticky, 7-10 minutes.

Step 3: Transfer the dough ball to an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel (not touching the dough), and let the dough rise in a warm place until it’s doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Pita dough rising in a bowl half covered with a kitchen towel.

Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Cover and let the dough rest for an additional 20 minutes.

Pita dough scored with a bench scraper on a kitchen counter.
Equal pieces of pita dough resting under a kitchen towel.

In the stand mixer:

Use the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment to combine.

By hand:

Knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured, clean work surface. If your hands get too sticky with flour and dough, rub them vigorously together (over a trash bin is helpful!).

How to shape pita

Roll each of the 12 dough balls out into a round shape, 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. You can use a rolling pin to make this easier, and a kitchen scale if you want the dough circles to be of exactly equal weight.

Pita dough being shaped into circles with a rolling pin.
Rolled out pita dough on a baking sheet.

How to bake pita

Preheat the oven to 500°F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Place each piece of dough on a baking sheet an inch apart, and bake in the hot oven until they’re puffy and golden brown on top (begin checking for doneness at 5 minutes). So fun!

Transfer the pitas to a wire oven rack to cool.

Baked pita bread resting on a wire rack.

Helpful Tips

  • Don’t overproof the dough! This means keeping an eye on the dough as it doubles in bulk. Over-proofed dough deflates and loses its loft.
  • Bake one sheet at a time. Don’t place two sheet pans in the oven at once. Each sheet pan needs all of the space around it and full access to the heat as it bakes.
  • Rotate the pan as it bakes to help create perfect pockets.

Storing Leftover Homemade Pita

  • Keep the pita soft by covering it completely with a towel after baking, then store the pita in an airtight container or ziplock bag with the air removed before sealing.
  • How long does pita last in the fridge? It lasts for up to one week. If you want to store them longer, I highly recommend freezing them instead.
  • Leftover pita bread freezes so perfectly! Pull out all or one pita at a time and thaw in the fridge or at room temperature. Keep it in a plastic bag or it will dry out quickly. For a quick thaw: wrap in foil and warm on the bottom rack of a low-temperature oven.

Make Ahead Instructions

If you want, you can make the pita dough ahead of time and bake it another day. After letting the dough rise, put it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This way, you can have fresh homemade pita bread in a snap!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pita bread called in Arabic?

Kmaj or kimaj. Bread in general is called kubiz or kubz. Also known as kubz arabi.

Is pita bread Arabic bread?

Yes, pita is one version Arabic bread. There are several other Middle East breads to bake and enjoy as well, such as Za’atar Flatbread.

Are pitas healthier than bread?

Pita bread sometimes has fewer calories than standard white bread, making it a healthier option for anyone looking to make a calorie-conscious choice.

Are there other ways to bake pita?

This bread is versatile in the baking, as long as the oven is hot and the dough properly rolled out. You can bake your own pita bread on a hot skillet, preferably a large cast iron skillet, for stovetop cooking, or on a pizza stone.

Do I have to use it all at once?

No! Perhaps the best part about pita is you can make it ahead and freeze it, then thaw to use whenever you want. 

Do I need a mixer to make pita bread?

No! You can easily make this bread by kneading it by hand. A wooden spoon to mix and then a rolling pin are helpful tools.

Why won’t my pita puff up?

Sometimes the pita doesn’t puff up if the baking sheet isn’t rotated during cook time. But don’t worry, you’ll still get a pocket inside!

What is the difference between pita bread and naan bread?

Naan is an Indian bread that is thicker than pita, more often eaten on its own. Pita puffs are leaner than naan, and can be stuffed or dipped in just about anything. Try dipping them in some hummus or my whipped feta dip!

What is the difference between Greek pita and regular pita bread?

Greek pita bread doesn’t have a pocket in the center, whereas regular pita bread, including this homemade pita bread recipe, does have a pocket. 

Can I make gluten-free pita bread?

Yes, there are recipes for pita using standard gluten-free flour or other gluten-free flour such as chickpea flour. I have not tested gluten-free pita (yet!) so if you make it,  please share with us how it goes!

More Bread Recipes to Try

Pita bread made with yogurt on a rack
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5 from 2 votes

Homemade Pita Bread Recipe

This perfect recipe is from Molly Yeh’s Short Stack Yogurt book. I use labneh rather than her recipe’s Greek Yogurt, because, well, I always have labneh in my refrigerator and I use it for anything and everything calling for thicker yogurt. If any of the pitas don’t balloon in the oven, don’t worry one bit. They’ll still have a pocket when you open them up and they’ll still taste wonderful. Be sure to put the pita in a ziplock bag or airtight container immediately after they cool off to keep them soft. If they’re at all hard on the outside, they’ll soften right up in the container.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 12 pitas

Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting (if needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt or labneh
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Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, combine the water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let the mixture sit until it’s foamy on top, about 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Add the water-yeast mixture, oil, and yogurt and mix to combine. Knead the dough either in the mixer or by hand on a clean work surface, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic (not touching the dough), and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 12 equal balls. Cover and let rise an additional 20 minutes.
  • Roll the balls out into circles that are 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place them on the baking sheets an inch apart, then bake until they’re puffy and lightly browned on top (begin checking for doneness at 5 minutes). 
  • Transfer the pitas to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Notes

Storing: Keep the pita soft by covering it completely with a towel after baking, then store the pita in an airtight container or ziplock bag with the air removed before sealing. You can also store it in the fridge for up to one week.
Freezing: Leftover pita bread freezes so perfectly! Pull out all or one pita at a time and thaw in the fridge or at room temperature. Keep it in a plastic bag or it will dry out quickly. For a quick thaw: wrap in foil and warm on the bottom rack of a low-temperature oven.
Make ahead: After letting the dough rise, you can put it in an airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This way, you can have fresh homemade pita bread in a snap!

Nutrition

Serving: 1pita | Calories: 183kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 297mg | Potassium: 62mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 0.002mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 12 pitas
Calories: 183
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45 Comments

  1. Reyan F Fakhouri says:

    How much water with flour mix

  2. Dolores says:

    Can I make the pita recipe with labneh if I use all purpose flour

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      You can use ap flour but the texture of the bread will be a little different. The recipe here was tested using bread flour.

  3. Caroline gertz says:

    Hi, did prepare pita using thus recipe and iliked it. Can u also just cook the bread on a pan over the stove?

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Great Caroline! Interesting idea, kind of like baking on a saj dome oven. I wonder if it would puff without all of the heat of the oven that forces the puff action. I’ll try it next time and see!

  4. Ashleigh says:

    Hi! Thank you for your recipes. I made your pita, and I thought I was following the recipe exactly, but I didn’t get a good rise. I still baked them off, but they were more like naan than pita (no pocket 🙁 ) Any suggestions for me to ensure a good fluffy rise?

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Ashleigh, I’m sorry and surprised your pita didn’t puff! I wonder if in the rolling there was too much and too thin. Try rolling them a little smaller next time and see if that helps puff!

  5. Donna Myers says:

    I get very inspired from your photography. I appreciate all you share on your website as it gives me such a great understanding of the Lebanese culture and foods. Thank you for sharing. Donna

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Donna how kind, thanks so much.

  6. Julie says:

    I grew up just calling it Syrian bread. Honestly, my Mother’s family didn’t even decide they were Lebanese until Danny Thomas did so years ago. I’ve since learned the difference in the different kinds. Quickly learned that the store bought stuff was crap. I finally learned how to make our own. My daughter is wanting me to send some to her cross country lol.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      So funny!!! Julie it’s really a treasure these breads homemade. Lucky daughter of yours!

  7. Virginia says:

    My mother had a large flat piece of cast iron in the oven and would slide the rounds of dough directly onto the heated cast iron. She had huge wooden paddles for that job, that i believe were made by my giddo. I seem to remember she would run the loaves briefly under the broiler after they puffed up.The paddles now reside in one of her grandchildren’s kitchen. The kitchen counter would be piled high with her delicious bread. I can appreciate now what a huge job that was every week to feed her large family.

    We called it khubz arabi (spelling?) or Syrian bread.

    I have played with a dough using buttermilk that works well. I guess that worked along the same lines as yogurt.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Virginia what a legacy to love. We call flat thin bread Syrian bread; same with you, or are you saying you call the pita bread Syrian bread? Interesting about the buttermilk!!

  8. Fred Rassi says:

    Hi can I use the pita bread recipe without the yogurt or does some other adjust need to be make? If you can please let me know I would appreciate it thanks

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Fred, the yogurt provides elasticity and tenderness to the pita. If you are looking to be dairy-free, you can leave it out but you’ll want to increase the liquid to replace what is lost by not using the yogurt.

      1. Louise says:

        Interesting that we always called this pita and thick bread khubiz. And we never added sugar! This is an easy looking recipe and I’ll try it with sugar…. Thanks for sharing another one of your fabulous recipes!

        1. Maureen Abood says:

          Interesting Louise! The sugar is just a small amount that helps the yeast develop and also lends to browning.

  9. Jacob says:

    Can this recipe be made with AP flour ?, as that was all my mother used to make all of the Ageen dishes. Gold Medal. The pocket bread , made at home, was always called Syrian bread & the thicker bread, like at Olga’s was pita. The story was that pocket bread originated in Aleppo, Syria generations ago.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Jacob, that was all my Sitto used too. The bread flour is used for a softer texture, but certainly all-purpose flour will work. I have not tried it specifically with the ratios in this recipe, so you may need to tweak.

  10. Marie says:

    Love your site ! Would this dough work well for spinach and meat pies .

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you Marie! My recipe for fatayar dough (which is here) is much different because I like a thinner fatayar dough, and my recipe is designed to help keep the pinched seams of fatayar closed. So, you can give this a whirl knowing that it may prove more challenging with regard to keeping the fatayar closed.

  11. Chris Salman says:

    I can’t wait to try these. For whatever reason, I’ve had bad luck getting fresh pita bread at the store. We’re trying to make all our own bread these day, so this will definitely increase the repertoire. Also, recently I had received pita oven order that I placed last week from spinning grillers.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Chris–your oven and grill products look very interesting! Hope you enjoy this pita recipe; it’s a great one.

  12. cmsolberg says:

    What can you tell me about rose water, which you use in your rhubarb rose jam? or is it rose extract? I have some Star Kay White Rose Extract, Would that fit the bill? Thanks. – CMS White Bear Lake, MN

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      The rose water is different in flavor than the extract. I’m not a fan of extract, as it is alcohol-based and not the soft rose flavor we love in rose water. Great question.

  13. anne says:

    my mother made Lebanese bread when I was growing up she used a saj over wood fire it was not pitta it was more like mountain bread flat my family used to call it the Sydney morning herald as it was as big as the newspaper pages. growing up you could not buy the Lebanese bread that is why my mum made it. when mum cooked once a week all our Australian neighbours would come and visit as they could smell the yummy bread and my mum will give them some. a big plastic bin would be filled with yummy bread. 100% better than pitta bread. my mum no longer makes the bread but it was the best bread I ever tasted.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      That is just such a great memory and story, Anne, thank you! Sounds just like the bread my sitto made. Heaven!

  14. Tina Kanaris says:

    My mother’s aunt Alice had a wood fried beehive oven in her summer kitchen and I remember sitting around watching her make big stacks of them while we waited for our feast to begin.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      That is a real treasure of a memory!

  15. Laurie Joseph, Belgrade, ME says:

    Maureen, I am so happy to have found your website. I love making Lebanese food. My dad was Lebanese my mom Scottish my grandparents came to Ellis Island in 1899 and settled in Waterville Maine. I’m looking forward to making your spinach fataya that’s one thing I have never tackled. I’m the Raw Kibbee maker in my family as well as the cooked, grape leaves, cabbage rolls, hummus Etc I now have my husband making it and he is of Russian descent he does as great a job as I do if not better. Waterville has the only Maronite Church in the state of Maine and my father was a deacon there until his passing 3 years ago at the age of 91. Can’t wait to buy your cookbook.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Now that is so very special Laurie!! I love your story. You are making so many great Lebanese dishes for your family. What a gem of a man your father must have been!

  16. Georgia Hobaica Frasch says:

    Dear Maureen- can’t wait to try this! My Sito had a wood fired oven in her basement and on the day she died at 79, she had just finished baking a 10lb bag of flour into khubiz (we didn’t even know that ‘pita’ was a word!), went upstairs to rest and passed away. My Mom and I make ours on a super hot pizza stone and my kids just wait by the oven and eat them as fast as they come out! There are never any leftovers….lol!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      That is so touching Georgia. I was just recounting to Dan the other day that my dad’s mom died in the kitchen, after coring bushels of koosa. Bless them all.

    2. Reyan F Fakhouri says:

      How much water with flour mix

      1. Maureen Abood says:

        Hi Reyan–just the water that is with the yeast, 3/4 cup. I’ve updated the recipe to clarify this! Thanks!

        1. Reyan F Fakhouri says:

          Thank you.

  17. Rickeia says:

    You don’t heat the baking pans in the oven first before placing the dough rounds in the pan?

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      I know! You can still do that though if you like, to ensure ballooning.

  18. Mary Dahbura says:

    My Mother-In-Law was from Bethlehem, Palestine and she always made her own pita. She would go to the town oven with her dough and wait with other women for her turn to bake her pita. I never had a chance to eat it but my husband always told me how “absolutely delicious” it was. I want to try your recipe. I also want my girls to have this recipe. Thanks for sharing it!
    MARY

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Mary that’s special! You’ll have to share photos with us on FB or Instagram when you do it!

  19. Geoff B. says:

    We never used the term “pita” unless we were referring to the Greek bread that is not pocket bread–it is pita. We always said “khubz”.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Okay then, good to know, thank you Geoff!

  20. Diane says:

    Ok Maureen this may be the recipe that allows me to overcome my doughphobia complex!!!
    Pita perfection

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      You’ve got to! You’re such a phenomenal cook that this will be nothing but great for you!

  21. Kathleen says:

    My mother in law used to have a wood stove down in her basement and it was always so fun to help her make pita bread. She used to fire the stove up to 700 degrees. She would, also make manushi. I used to bake pita in a conventional oven and would place a pizza stone in the oven to get it as hot as possible and then used a peel to take it out of the oven. Great memories!