Easy Homemade Puff Pastry Recipe
Leave those frozen sheets on the store shelf! This is the best tasting, easiest homemade puff pastry recipe ever! Comes together in just 15 minutes.
Puff pastry: It’s the kind of thing that just makes things feel like a special occasion. All those light, flaky layers, and that rich buttery flavor!
But it’s definitely not the kind of thing you’d make yourself. I mean, puff pastry is just an ingredient you buy from the grocery store freezer section. Right?
Wrong! What if I told you you can make homemade, all-butter puff pastry sheets from scratch, in your own kitchen? And that it only takes 4 ingredients and comes together in about 15 minutes?
It’s true! This is the most delicious puff pastry you’ll ever taste, and it is SO EASY to make. You’ll never buy frozen sheets again!
What is puff pastry?
Puff pastry is a delicate, light, and flaky pastry that can be used in countless different ways. You might also know it by its French name: pâte feuilletée.
Like pie crust, biscuits, and danish, puff pastry is meant to be tender, buttery, and flaky. And the most important thing to keep in mind when making these kinds of pastries is to keep them nice and cold at all times!
Butter is layered within the dough, creating hundreds of flaky layers. This process is called “lamination.” When the cold butter goes into a hot oven, steam is released, causing all those layers to separate and the pastry to puff up sky high!
How to make homemade puff pastry
Most puff pastry recipes will tell you to start by combining soft butter with a little flour, and then form that into a square that gets encased in dough. There are a lot of steps, a lot of chilling, measuring, rolling, and folding. It can get really specific and precise, and to be honest, that really stresses me out. I like when things are a bit more simplified and intuitive.
So, I have cut back the number of steps mercilessly, as well as the overall time needed to create this homemade puff pastry. In other words, this is a shortcut recipe. The end result is almost identical to authentic puff pastry made the fancy French way, but the prep time has been cut down to about 15 or 20 minutes.
Start by combining flour and salt in a big bowl. Just give the mixture a quick whisk to combine everything evenly.
Then, get your cold butter, and slice it thinly. You want lots of slices, all of them no thicker than 1/4-inch. Toss the butter slices into the flour mixture, making sure each slice of butter is evenly coated.
Next comes cold water. Pour in the water and stir everything together until the dough forms a ball. Don’t worry if you see big hunks of butter- that is exactly the way it should be!
At this point, your butter is probably starting to warm up and get soft, so it’s best to give the dough a chill. Flatten it into a disk shape, wrap it in plastic wrap, and pop it into the fridge for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
Once it’s cold and stiff, dust your work surface with flour and start laminating. It’s as easy as rolling the dough into a rough rectangle shape, and folding it into thirds, like a letter. After each fold, give it a 90-degree turn and then repeat. You can see what I mean if you watch the video below.
I’m not going to tell you what the dimensions of the rectangle should be. It doesn’t matter. As long as you are able to fold it into thirds it’s just fine.
And I’m not going to tell you exactly how many folds you should make either. I’ll leave that to the fancy-pants French pastry chefs. The bottom line is, the more you fold it, the more flaky layers it will have. I usually fold anywhere from 4 to 6 times. After that point the butter is probably starting to soften up again, so it’s probably a good idea to get it back in the fridge or freezer.
How to bake puff pastry
When you’re ready to bake your puff pastry, pull it out of the fridge and roll it to a thickness of about 1/8 to 1/4-inch, depending on how you’re planning to use it.
If I’m making a baked brie, for example, I might go a closer to 1/4-inch, but if I’m making puff pastry cups, I might roll it a little thinner so it’s easier to tuck into the wells of the cupcake pan.
Then you can cut your puff pastry down to whatever size you need. I like using a pizza cutter to do this.
If you want to give your pastry a beautiful, golden brown sheen, brush it with an egg beaten with a couple of teaspoons of water.
And the most important thing to remember: for this to work, the pastry must be COLD and the oven must be HOT. Make sure the pastry feels cold and stiff and make sure your oven is preheated, so that the minute it goes in, the butter releases steam and lifts all those gorgeous layers.
Bake times will vary based on exactly what it is you are making, so follow your recipe! But I have found that most of the time, an oven temperature of 400 degrees F and a bake time of 20 to 25 minutes works best. The pastry should look puffed (obvs) and deeply golden brown, and it should feel light and shatteringly crisp.
Can homemade puff pastry be made ahead?
You can absolutely make this puff ahead, in fact, I would recommend it! There may only be 15 to 20 minutes of active time for this recipe, but you will need to get it nice and cold in the fridge, so there will probably be no less than 2 1/2 hours of chill time.
Definitely make it at least a day before you plan to serve it, if you can. It can be kept in the fridge (tightly wrapped) for several days or in the freezer for a few weeks.
If you decide to go the frozen route, just let it thaw in the fridge until it’s pliable enough to be rolled out and cut.
What can puff pastry be used for?
One of the best things about puff pastry is how versatile it is. It can be used in so many ways, both sweet and savory!
Savory uses for puff pastry
- Cut the pastry into long strips, sprinkle with grated cheese, twist and bake for cheese straws.
- Wrap strips around sausages or mini hot dogs for the best sausage rolls/pigs in a blanket ever.
- Cover a small wheel of brie or camembert cheese for a brie en croute, aka: baked brie.
- Make little tarts or cut rounds and top with mushrooms, spinach, and/or onions for a savory appetizer or pizza.
- Top individual chicken pot pies.
Sweet uses for puff pastry
- Bake rectangles of puff pastry and sandwich around whipped cream or pastry cream and fruit, for napoleons.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, roll into a tight “C,” cut into slices and bake elephant ears, aka: palmiers.
- Roll around a fruit/cheese filling to make a strudel of sorts.
- Sandwich around jam for homemade pop tarts.
- Cut into rings and fry in hot oil for the most incredible donuts!
Next time you’re planning on making something with puff pastry, don’t bother with the pre-made, frozen, pre-packaged stuff. It’s loaded with partially hydrogenated oils and goodness knows what else! Plus the flavor doesn’t compare to this homemade version. And with only 4 simple ingredients, and 15 minutes of active time, there’s no reason not to make it from scratch! It’s so easy!
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks), cold
- 1/2 cup cold water
- Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Cut the cold butter into 1/4-inch slices and add to the flour mixture, tossing to coat.
- Stir in the cold water until a thick dough forms.
- Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk-shape, and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Chill for 1 hour in the fridge, or 20 to 30 minutes in the freezer.
- Unwrap the dough, dust the work surface with flour, and roll the dough into a rough rectangle shape.
- Fold the dough in thirds, like a letter.
- Turn 90 degrees, roll and fold again.
- Repeat about 2 to 4 times, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and chill for 2 hours or overnight.*
*Dough can also be frozen. It will keep for several weeks in the freezer, tightly wrapped. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Some more classic pastry recipes you might enjoy: