Homemade Pita Bread

Homemade pita bread is not only delicious, especially as soon as it's finished cooking, but it's super easy to make too! The resting period is only a couple of hours and then you get immediate gratification with only a few minutes of cooking time.

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Ingredients in glass bowls on a marble countertop with a wooden spoon.

Homemade Pita Bread

Not all pita bread is made equal. This is a fact. While I have definitely bought different brands of pita bread in a grocery store or bakery, I rarely enjoy any of them as much as homemade pita bread. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, store-bought pita bread tends to be thin, drier and less pliable than homemade, which is no surprise since it has usually been sitting on a shelf for a few days. Depending on the brand, some store-bought pita breads seem to exist only as a vehicle for what you might put inside. Homemade pita bread, on the other hand, I could eat all by itself very happily. 

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Yeast proofing in a glass bowl with a small bowl of olive oil and a large bowl of flour and salt, all next to a wooden spoon on a marble countertop.

How to Make Pita Bread

To be honest, making homemade pita bread is also a lot more enjoyable than buying it in a store too! It’s one bread recipe that gives you almost immediate gratification. You start with yeast (proofing it in warm water) and make a basic bread dough with flour, sugar, salt and olive oil. It takes a couple of hours to rise and then you roll it out and cook it either in your oven on a stone, steel or cast iron pan, on the stovetop in a cast iron pan or in your air fryer. That cooking part only takes a few minutes and before your eyes, you have pita bread! 

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A hand kneading dough on a marble countertop.

Kneading by Hand

I prefer to knead pita bread dough by hand because the dough is smaller in quantity and you get a better feel for when it has been kneaded enough. It will start out ragged, but as you knead, folding and pushing the dough over on itself, it will transform into a smooth pliable dough.

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Fingers stretching dough away from a ball to show its elasticity.

How to Tell You’ve Kneaded Enough

You’ll feel the difference happen underneath your hands, but one good way to check to see if you’ve kneaded the dough enough is to test the strength of its elasticity. To do that, pull a small part of the dough away from the ball gently and see how thin you can get the dough to stretch before it breaks. You should be able to see the light through the stretched dough.

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Six pita bread dough balls on a counter with a flour wand, a bowl of flour and a rolling pin.

Let the Dough Rest

After kneading, the dough needs to sit, relax and rise for a couple of hours. It should double in bulk and when you poke it with your finger, you should see a fingerprint that rebounds ever so slightly. Then, you can divide your dough into 4 or 6 pieces, depending on how big you’d like your pita breads to be. Then, again… the dough needs to rest. Every time you touch and work the dough, it needs to rest so once you’ve shaped your portions into balls, take a break and let the dough do the same.

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Pita bread dough rolled out on a coutertop.

Roll out the Pita Bread

When you roll the pita bread balls out, be careful not to roll them too thin. About ¼- to 3/8-inch thick is good. If you roll them too thin, you won’t get a pocket inside. Roll the balls out while you pre-heat your oven, your air fryer or your cast iron pan. 

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Pita bread cooking in a cast iron skillet.

Stovetop Pita Bread

When you make pita bread on the stovetop, you’ll see the air pockets develop in the dough as it cooks, which is rather exciting. You may not get a full pocket when you cook the pita this way, but it will be delicious and tender. There’s no need for any oil or fat in the pan – that would just brown the bread too quickly. You may need to adjust the heat underneath the pan as you continue to cook the pita breads so that the pan doesn’t get too hot and cook too quickly. I like to use stovetop pita breads as flatbread bases (think: Peach, Prosciutto and Burrata Flatbread), or for scooping up delicious spreads like Tzatziki or an Edamame-Kale Dip, or as wraps for Chicken Shawarma or Chicken Gyros

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Pita bread cooking in an air fryer oven.

Air Fryer Pita Bread

In the air fryer or oven, your pita bread will puff up, giving you a perfect pocket to stuff. I don’t need to give you ideas for what you might stuff inside a pita, but I will anyway! You could make my Turkey Waldorf Pita Sandwich in an air-fried pita bread very nicely.

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Pita bread on a blue and white striped towel.

What to Serve with Pita Bread

Pita bread is a perfect accompanying bread for lots of different foods. You could make a Greek meal with Chicken Souvlaki and Greek Potato Wedges, or use the pita to scoop up the end of your bowl of Mulligatawny or any soup or stew that needs mopping up afterwards to get the last drop. Of course, if you’re like me, you might just like to enjoy that pita all on its own!

Pita Bread - Stovetop Version

  • Prep Time: 21 m
  • Cook Time: 6 m
  • Rising Time: 2 h
  • Total Time: 2 h 27 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • cups warm water 90º - 110º F
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing
  • kosher salt optional

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure the yeast is active – it should foam a little. (If there’s no foaming, discard and start again with new yeast.)
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture along with the olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon until a ragged dough comes together. Add a little more flour if needed to get the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl or add a little more water if the dough seems too dry.
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 15 minutes by hand). Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 to 6 portions and roll each portion into a circle about 6- to 8-inches in diameter.
  5. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes until water droplets sizzle immediately when dripped on top

  6. Place the rolled dough into the skillet and cook for about a minute. Flip the dough over with tongs and cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes or until it has browned and has a few dark spots.

Pita Bread - Oven Version

  • Prep Time: 21 m
  • Cook Time: 6 m
  • Rising Time: 2 h
  • Total Time: 2 h 27 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • cups warm water 90º - 110º F
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing
  • kosher salt optional

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure the yeast is active – it should foam a little. (If there’s no foaming, discard and start again with new yeast.)
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture along with the olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon until a ragged dough comes together. Add a little more flour if needed to get the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl or add a little more water if the dough seems too dry.
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 15 minutes by hand). Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 to 6 portions and roll each portion into a circle about 6- to 8-inches in diameter.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 475ºF with a pizza stone or steel or a cast iron pan inside for at least 30 minutes.

  6. Place the rolled dough onto the stone for about 30 to 60 seconds. Flip the dough over with tongs and cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes or until it has browned and has a few dark spots.

Pita Bread - Air Fryer Version

  • Prep Time: 21 m
  • Cook Time: 6 m
  • Rising Time: 2 h
  • Total Time: 2 h 27 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • cups warm water 90º - 110º F
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing
  • kosher salt optional

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure the yeast is active – it should foam a little. (If there’s no foaming, discard and start again with new yeast.)
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture along with the olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon until a ragged dough comes together. Add a little more flour if needed to get the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl or add a little more water if the dough seems too dry.
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 15 minutes by hand). Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 to 6 portions and roll each portion into a circle about 6- to 8-inches in diameter.
  5. Pre-heat the air fryer to 400ºF.
  6. Air-fry one or two pitas at a time at 400ºF for 6 minutes, flipping it over when there are two minutes left in the cooing time.
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Comments (4)Post a Reply

    1. Hi Karen. On top of the recipe title are different tabs to click on for different cooking methods. Click on Air Fryer and the air fryer version of this recipe will pop up.

  1. 3 stars
    I just made the pita bread. The dough was tough and difficult to roll out, though. Also, after cooking the dough rounds in a cast-iron skillet, they tasted bitter. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hi Nikki. If the dough was tough and difficult to roll out, it was too dry. The challenge in replicating recipes like this is in the measuring. If you are scooping your flour when you measure, you’re adding more flour than you should be adding. Check out this article on measuring: https://bluejeanchef.com/cooking-school/how-to-measure-ingredients/ Volume measurements can vary so much, which is why professional baking recipes always use weight measurements. The other thing that might be happening is that your yeast was dead. If the yeast was inactive, it would not release any gasses into the dough, there would be no rise and the dough would be tough. Make sure you proof your yeast before using it to make sure it is active by putting a little yeast in a bowl with a pinch of sugar and some warm (90ºF) water. Wait 15 minutes and you should see some activity. If there’s no activity – no bubbling or foaming, you need to start with new yeast. As for the bitter taste – I can’t think what the problem was there unless the bread was picking up some flavor from the pan or the flour or olive oil was rancid. There are not a lot of ingredients to blame in this recipe.

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