Homemade Pita Bread
Apr 05, 2018, Updated Aug 06, 2023
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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.
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 pita bread. But there the recipe jumped out, and it includes, of course: yogurt. “Yogurt Pita.” The recipe’s 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.
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 with older bread. This recipe for pita requires simple ingredients you probably already have on hand.
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.
Greek yogurt or Labneh. This luscious ingredient is key for creating fluffy, soft pita pockets.
How to make pita bread
How to make pita dough
- Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this yeast mixture sit for 2-3 minutes.
- 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.
- Transfer the dough ball to an oiled bowl, cover 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.
- 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.
In the stand mixer:
Use the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment to combine.
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.
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.
Pita bread recipe and storage 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 the perfect pocket.
- Keep the pita soft by covering completely with a towel after baking, then store the pita in an airtight container or ziplock bag with the air removed before sealing.
- 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 the 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kmaj or kimaj. Bread in general is called kubiz or kubz. Also known as kubz arabi.
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.
Pita bread sometimes has fewer calories than standard white bread, making it a healthier option for anyone looking to make a calorie-conscious choice.
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.
No! Perhaps the best part about pita is you can make it ahead and freeze it, then thaw to use whenever you want.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Homemade Pita Bread Recipe
- 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
- 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 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!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.