How to work with phyllo

Confession: When it comes to desserts, I love the impractical.

phyllo cups

My favorite impractical ingredient right now is phyllo dough (pronounced fee’-lo or fie’-lo). It really looks like it shouldn’t be edible—it’s papery thin, crackly, and dry. It’s probably made of tree bark, I don’t know. It has no nutritional value at all,* and it has to be filled at the last possible minute or it will get soggy.

* unless you eat five sheets of it, which is the recommended serving size

All of which are excellently impractical reasons to enjoy it at your next party. If the White Queen tries to believe six impossible things before breakfast, I try to do six impractical ones.



Phyllo is usually available in the freezer section of a grocery store, rolled into sheets of paper-thin pastry.

Here’s how to work with it:

  • Stack the sheets atop each other, spraying each sheet with a light layer of cooking oil. You may stack as many or as few layers as you wish; I like about seven.
  • Use a pizza cutter to cut the stack into the right size of squares.
  • Press into muffin cups, tart pans, or whatever you would like to use.
  • Bake at 375° for just a few minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Fill as desired. Enjoy within two hours.

phyllo tart

I have seen beautiful recipes for savory fillings—Chicken Florentine or Tomato-and-Basil, but I’ve only played with sweet. Pictured here is fresh peach pie filling, topped with a cream cheese fluff. Once, I layered black raspberry filling with lemon yogurt and whipped cream. Now that was a beauty.


Do you play with phyllo? What’s your favorite impractical ingredient in the kitchen?

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10 years ago

I think I’ve always been to afraid to try using it, but you make it sound pretty easy. I love the endless possibilities. I’m making some baked crab rangoon this week and it called for wonton wrappers (shaped like yours above) and I’m wondering now if using phyllo might be tastier? Thanks for making it look and sound so yummy.

10 years ago

This is my go-to recipe when playing with phyllo dough: But I keep thinking that I need to try making baklava sometime…

10 years ago

These look really good. Have you done dessert crepes? The kind with rich chocolate sauce inside and raspberries and whipped cream on top? I make those IF my husband helps me.

10 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

Ooh! I never have. Do you have a recipe or link to share?

10 years ago
Reply to  Shari

I’ve used a recipe from my old Betty Crocker cookbook for crepes. I don’t think there’s any special secrets on those. My partner in cooking found the chocolate sauce recipe — I think one of the several chocolate sauce recipes from Joy of Cooking. As long as it’s mostly chocolate chips and cream (or half and half) it’s going to be good. And just mash up your favorite berries and whip and sweeten some cream. I can email you a picture that will make you want to make them. 😉

10 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

If you email me first.

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