Puff Pastry vs. Phyllo Dough

While working on my next big post,  I realized something. I’ve been mixing-up my terminology when it comes to puff pastry. Although this isn’t a uniquely vegan ingredient,  it’s one of those things that instantly (and easily) adds a lot of elegance to any meal. So I’ve chosen it as the next topic in my What’s That? series.

The first time I ever used Phyllo dough was probably back during my university days when I made homemade Baklava as a vegan dessert option for our family holiday gathering. I remember unrolling the paper-thin sheets of Phyllo dough and carefully laying them out to brush them with vegan margarine, sugar and nuts. And then somewhere along the way, I began to stack-up 5-10 phyllo sheets to make pie shells for things like tofu pot pie. And that’s how it went for years until I moved to Australia. Here, I came across thick vegan puff pastry and I began to use the terms puff pastry and phyllo dough interchangeably. But they’re not at all the same thing!

Facts:

  • Puff pastry dough is made by placing chilled butter (or margarine) between layers of pastry dough. It is then rolled out and folded, again and again until there are many layers of dough and butter/margarine. Croissants are a well-known use for puff pastry.
  • Phyllo (also spelled filo) dough is tissue-thin pastry dough. It is used in many Greek and Middle Eastern dishes. Phyllo dough can be used as a substitute for strudel dough or for other pastry wrappers, such as turnovers or spring rolls.
  • Puff pastry dough and phyllo dough are very different. In some cases, you could use them interchngebly – like for a pie crust or struddle. But for things that are very fluffy and flaky- like Baklava – you’d definitely want to use Phyllo dough.
  • Phyllo dough is lower in fat than puff pastry – but if you use a lot of butter or margarine between the phyllo layers, it might even-out. Another option is to use a light spray of olive oil instead.

Phyllo Dough

Phyllo Dough

Puff Pastry Dough

Puff Pastry Dough

Personally, I prefer to use puff pastry for typical things like pie shells or stuffed pockets, because:

  • You only have to work with one sheet (as opposed to maybe 5-10 stacked sheets of Phyllo)
  • I find that puff pastry doesn’t dry-out as quickly as Phyllo so it’s a lot more forgiving
  • With Phyllo dough, you typically have to defrost the whole roll. However, here in Australia, I’ve managed to find 23x23cm sheets of puff pastry dough that are individually wrapped – so I only have to defrost what I need.
  • Phyllo dough takes 24 hour to defrost in the refrigerator, but my puff pastry sheets are ready to use within 15 minutes. I like the fact that I can pull-off a “fancy meal” at a minute’s (well, 15 minutes) notice.

So, now that we’ve cleared all that up, hopefully you’ll be inspired to try puff pastry in your next recipe. It’s certainly not something that I eat every day… but it lets me be creative with the delivery and creativity of my meals and it’s really easy to work with. If you haven’t tried using it, give it a go, it’s really easy but your meal will look like you slaved all day!

PS. I’ve fixed all my puff pastry recipes that were previously calling for Phyllo :)

13 Comments

  1. all I know is that I LOVE puff pastry, and am giddy that it’s vegan. :D I’ve never liked phyllo as much, and you’re right, puff pastry just adds that extra something.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      I know, right? I bet a lot of people wouldn’t suspect that it’s vegan… but if you find a good brand, you’re set! I’m just happy to have cleared-up the confusion in my head between the two – haha!

      Reply
  2. Jodi says:

    I know you’re in Australia but what brand puff pastry do you recommend? The Pepperidge Farms is vegan but definitely has some not so healthy ingredients!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Jodi – good question! I’ve put a question out to a Twitter friend who uses puff pastry all the time, will let you know!

      Reply
      • vegangela says:

        Hey Jodi,@Spabettie said “the one I have (from Whole Foods) is Aussie Bakery brand – no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no hfcs –> http://t.co/4N6VC9J” – Hope this helps!

        Reply
        • Jodi says:

          Thank you and @Spabettie! I will definitely have to look for this since the unhealthy kind has been keeping me from making some amazing recipes. I love your blog, your recipes look amazing!

          Reply
  3. Suz says:

    Where can i buy vegan puff pastry?

    PS. I love your blog, im new to veganism and your blog keeps things simple and i’m learning alot!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Suz,

      Thanks so much your comments and for the for kind words!

      As per the comments above, it sounds like the Aussie Brand from Whole Foods is the healthiest option in the USA. Hope that helps! :)

      Reply
      • Suz says:

        Sorry, i forgot to mention im in Sydney Australia too. Are the regular frozen ones from the supermarket vegan?

        thanks

        Reply
        • vegangela says:

          Hi Suz – Oh sorry about that, so many of my readers are American but I should never assume!

          Check the packaging before you buy but I did a bit of Googling and it looks like these two brands are vegan in Australia

          pampas.com.au
          borgcraft.com.au

          I’m all out of puff pastry now but next time I buy some (at Coles or Woolie’s), I’ll try to remember to post the brand :)

          Reply
  4. Linda says:

    How can puff pastry be considered ‘vegan’ here if it is made with butter?
    Butter is dairy. It is not vegan.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      It can be made with vegan margarine.

      Reply
  5. Kristy says:

    Pampas and Borgs pastry contain palm oil in their vegetable oil/margarine.

    Reply
Leave a Comment





Vegan Cuts