Pita bread is easy to make at home and takes less time and effort than you might think. Unlike making a typical loaf of bread, you don’t have to knead the dough, and the dough only needs 45 minutes to rise. Each pita takes 1-3 minutes to bake, so you can really finish the whole process pretty quickly (you can do multiple at the same time) and it’s not totally out of the question to make these to go with dinner if you have a little extra time on your hands.
You can either make them on the stovetop or in the oven. If you make them in a Dutch oven or griddle on the stove top they are soft and chewy and a thousand times better than store bought. If you make them in the oven, they are also fantastic, but instead of being super soft and chewy a bubble forms in the dough creating the pita “pocket” effect. I prefer the ones made on the stovetop that are spongy, but the ones in the oven are great too and you can use them to make pita sandwiches.
The other plus is it’s a really good activity to get kids involved in. They can roll out the balls of dough into rounds, and if you’re baking them in a Dutch oven the kids can brush olive oil on them too. We now keep several of these in the freezer and pull them out for easy lunches for the kids with hummus and chicken or vegetables depending on what we have on hand.
I had never tried to make Pita bread at home (and never really like store bought - it was always dry) until a friend of ours made some along with an incredible dinner that they brought over after we brought our third baby home from the hospital. It was so SO good that once we had our feet back under us, I asked for her recipe and tried my best to replicate it. She made hers on a griddle, but since we don’t have one, I tried it in the oven on a pizza stone. They turned out really well, but not as good as hers. They had a bit of a different consistency than the ones she and her husband had made. The next time I tried it, I made them in our Dutch oven, which gave them that fantastic chewy texture.
I took my friend, Christen's recipe and converted it into cups and tablespoons/teaspoons, which is less precise, but easier for me to streamline in my kitchen.
I decided that I would do a mini experiment and make both variations at the same time: on the stovetop and in the oven. The big difference is that the ones on the stovetop are chewy and almost buttery in consistency. The ones in the oven develop the pita "pocket". They both take roughly the same amount of time. The ones on the stovetop take about 1 ½ minutes each, but you can only fit two or so in the Dutch oven at the same time. The ones in the oven on the pizza stone take 3 minutes each, but you can usually fit three on a pizza stone at once. All in all, I prefer the ones made on the stovetop, but if I was to make pita pocket sandwiches I would do them on the pizza stone in the oven.
Homemade Pita Bread
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 package instant yeast
- ¼ cup olive oil plus extra for brushing on
- 4 cups flour
- 1½ tsp salt
Making the Dough
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the warm water, sugar and yeast, and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the olive oil, flour, and salt. Using a spoon, combine until roughly the shape of a ball.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Usually, I’ll leave the bowl on the kitchen counter but if it’s really cold out and therefore a bit cold in the house, I’ll put it on the back of the oven and turn the oven on so that the area is warm, which helps the dough rise.
- Punch the dough down and divide into 16 balls. Place on the counter and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise for another 15 minutes.
On the Stovetop in a Dutch Oven or the Griddle
- Bring a Dutch oven or griddle to medium to medium-low Heat. On my stove, this means that I set the dial to a “#4” out of “#10” for the burner. This may vary on your stove.
- Roll out one of the balls of dough to ⅛ inch thickness. It should be fairly thin. It will puff up while baking.
- Brush one side very lightly with olive oil. Place oil side down in the Dutch Oven or on a griddle. Let cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until lightly browned. Flip and let cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute on the other side
- On my stove I cook them for 45 seconds on each side. I set a timer so I know when to flip them and take them off. Remove and repeat with the remaining balls of dough. If you can fit more than one in the Dutch oven or on a griddle at once, add as many as can fit. Do not roll out all the balls of dough ahead of time, only roll out what can fit in the Dutch oven/griddle at one time. Otherwise, it will start to rise before you get a chance to bake it.
In the Oven on a Pizza Stone
- Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500° F.
- Roll out 2 or 3 balls of dough at a time to ⅛ inch thickness. Thinner is better since they rise while baking.
- Place the rolled-out rounds of dough on the pizza stone and bake for 3 minutes.
- I usually use a pizza peel with a tiny bit of flour on it to prevent sticking. Using tongs, I slide the dough off the pizza peel onto the pizza stone in the oven. I work in batches only rolling out two to three balls of dough at a time and placing them immediately in the oven. You do not need to flip the dough or put olive oil on them, just bake them on one side only for 3 minutes.