I started making pita flat breads at home using only whole wheat, water and salt. I usually make it really fast by putting all the ingredients together and start giving it a roudish shape straight away. Then I just put it in the frying pan both sides for a couple minutes.

Now, I noticed that sometimes it starts to puff, which is good as I can simply cut trough it and fill it easlly, lile a kebab.

However it only happens sometimes, and I wanted to know if there is a way to make it always inflate... It seems pretty random to me so far. Any help?

  • 1
    Are you using a recipe? If so, please post it. Do you use a scale for precise measurements?
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


Puffing is caused by steam evaporating inside the dough. The gluten matrix holds the steam in, especially after you've cooked it on one side. If you cut into the puffed dough, you'll notice that a lot of hot steam escapes.

Be careful when you do that. You can burn yourself. I speak from experience. Besides, the texture is better if you give it a few minutes to set up completely: cut it too early and the cutting force can glue the edges together.

You get similar effects in naan, tortillas, and chapatis. These are also generally un-yeasted. The yeast doesn't have time to produce that much air, and it's quickly killed. (I use yeast in mine anyway because I like the texture and flavor.)

As for getting it to puff every time... it seems to be a knack. Preferably learned from one's grandmother, I gather, but I didn't. The way I do it is to mimic a tandoor. While I shape the dough, I preheat a cast iron pan and the broiler. When ready, I put the dough on the pan and pop it into the oven. Cooking on both sides simultaneously means it cooks on the outside, making a steam-proof seal.

It can be done just with the frying pan. It's a matter of timing, flipping it when it's sufficiently cooked on one side to set, but not cooked through. I haven't mastered that, I'm afraid, but many others have.


One thing that helps develop the air pocket is gently pressing the pita flat with your hand and a clean towel. Or chapati, which is what I usually see cooking, but the technique should work the same on pita.

Why this works, I'm not quite sure. It may trap moisture a bit better, it may press the dough more firmly to the hot pan (therefore heating quicker), it may increase the pressure in any bubbles to encourage them to grow sideways instead of up, it may be some combination thereof, it may be something I am unaware of.

While this often helps encourage puffing, it isn't a guarantee and there may be other tricks or tips that will also help. I've heard of upping the moisture - say, sprinkling water on a few minutes before cooking them - and also being careful the pan is hot enough, it may become a bit cooler if there isn't quite enough time between each round.

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