Why You Should Start Baking With Phyllo

Golden, flaky pastry with a distinct, toasted crackle, phyllo dough is one of life's simple pleasures. And, thanks to store-bought, prepared phyllo dough, we mean simple.

According to Bakerpedia, authentic phyllo dough was first made in Greece in the third century B.C.E. The dough had its roots in Syria, with the first baklava delighting palates around the eighth century B.C.E. The dessert made its way to Turkey, where it was called yufka; and then onto Greece, where they stretched the dough, transforming it into the paper-thin pastry we use today.

Phyllo (Greek for "leaf") is also called fillo and filo, and the dough is actually layered sheets of remarkably-thin pastry that bake up light, crisp, and flaky, with a nutty, toasted flavor (via Food Network). With just 180 calories per five sheets, phyllo dough delivers 5 grams of protein, and no saturated fat, no trans fat, no cholesterol, and a respectable 170 milligrams of sodium (via Athens Foods). These honorable stats make phyllo dough an excellent substitute for high-calorie, high-fat puff pastry, pre-made pie crusts, and canned, refrigerated dough.

What should you make with phyllo?

The question should be, what shouldn't you make with phyllo? Incredibly versatile, phyllo dough sheets and pre-baked cups can be used anywhere you would use puff pastry and other prepared dough, including appetizers, snacks, and main dishes. And swapping in phyllo is a great way to dodge calories and fat. According to the Pioneer Woman, unlike puff pastry and pie crusts, where the dough is created with copious amounts of butter, phyllo dough is "virtually" fat-free.

And, although many recipes call for buttering each phyllo sheet as you layer it, The Spruce Eats asserts that butter-flavored cooking spray and olive oil (for savory dishes) work just as well.

The options are pretty much endless when it comes to ways to use phyllo dough. Epicurious suggests using the multipurpose dough in everything from pie crusts (for regular pies and open-faced galettes), to pot pies, strudels, tarts, beggar's purses, napoleons, twists, nests, and wraps. The pre-made cups are great for sweet and savory appetizers and crisp, toasty desserts (via Delish). And the shredded and baked phyllo dough, called kadayif in Turkey, makes a great topping for salads, pot pies, sweet pies, chilis, soups, and stews (via Saveur).