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Is Greek Pita Bread Unleavened?

Pita bread

Pita bread is a staple food in households in most countries on the Mediterranean Sea coast. Served as a standalone dish on the table or used to make gyro, a Greek wrap variety, pita bread is a simple and tasty bread that you’re guaranteed to fall in love with as soon as you try.

Pita bread is also a topic of many questions for folks who weren’t born, haven’t lived, or whose families don’t have roots in Greece. 

One of the top questions that people are asking about pita bread online is… Is Greek pita bread unleavened?

Pita bread is a yeast-leavened flatbread variety traditionally made in Greece. It contains wheat flour, baker’s yeast, salt, and sugar. Pita bread is prepared by making dough, letting it rise for 1-2 hours, then rolling it out and baking it.

Traditionally made pita bread is vegan friendly. If you are vegetarian or vegan, always check the list of ingredients on the package before you buy pita bread. Some bakeries may add lard, butter, yogurt, milk, or honey to their pita bread, making it incompatible with your diet.

How to Make Pita Bread at Home

Keen to make your own pita bread at home? Here’s my best recipe.

Pour lukewarm water into a large bowl. Add dry yeast and a pinch of sugar, dissolving them slowly and gradually with your dominant hand.

Start adding all-purpose flour to the bowl, stirring and mixing it with the water using your dominant hand. Add fine-grain salt and extra-virgin olive oil.

Continue adding flour until the mixture turns into a coherent and hard dough ball that you can knead on a hard surface.

On a hard surface like a wood board or a table, covered with a silicone baking mat (check price at Amazon), start kneading the dough.

Knead for 10 minutes until the pita bread dough ball becomes smooth and elastic. Then, separate the dough into 15 to 20 small dough balls.

Put the dough balls in a large bowl and cover the bowl with a wet towel, then let the dough rise for 1-2 hours.

When the dough balls have risen, flatten each one with a rolling pin (or, if you don’t happen to have a rolling pin, with a bottle of wine after you’ve removed the label). Make each pita bread circular in shape and about ¼ inch thick.

To bake the pita bread, preheat a frying pan with a thick base (ideally, use a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel frying pan) on medium heat, brushing the cooking surface of the pan with extra-virgin olive oil.

Cook the pita breads one at a time, for about 1-2 minutes per side. Serve and eat the pita bread warm. Pair with souvlaki, tzatziki, melitzanosalata and/or Greek salad.

Where Can I Find Pita Bread?

Most grocery stores sell baked and packaged pita bread in the bread aisle. Walmart, Target, Kroger, Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Aldi stores carry pita bread.

Some supermarkets will put pita bread in the sections for Mediterranean or Greek food. If you can’t find pita bread in your neighborhood supermarket, you can also look for it in a Greek bakery, deli/market, or fishmonger.

Packaged pita bread is also sold online.

While I do like to make my own pita bread every now and then, more often than not, I buy mine baked and packaged:

My favorite Greek pita bread brand

How Do You Eat Pita Bread?

If you’ve visited Greece, you know that pita bread is considered a dish on its own and is usually served in triangular slices in a bread basket for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s eaten with the main dish as well as with the appetizers like Greek salad, melitzanosalata, and tzatziki.

Pita bread is also an ingredient that the Greeks use in their fast food. It’s used for making “gyro” or “gyros,” a wrap made with pita bread, vegetables, tzatziki, and pork roasted on a vertical rotisserie. In a way, gyro is similar to Turkish döner kebab and Mexican tacos al pastor.

Should Pita Bread Be Reheated?

Reheating pita bread brings out its best aroma, flavor, and texture. 

To reheat pita bread in the oven, preheat your oven to 200°F (94°C), place the pita bread on a baking sheet, and let it bake for 10 minutes.

Pita bread can be reheated in a frying pan over medium heat. Brush the bottom of your frying pan with olive oil, then reheat the pita bread for 2-3 minutes on each side.

To reheat pita bread in the microwave, wet a paper towel and lay the damp towel on top of a microwave-safe plate. Place the pita bread on top of the towel and heat it for 30 seconds at a time.

Is Pita Bread Greek?

Pita bread is a Greek yeast-leavened flatbread variety. The word “pita” is Greek and means “cake” or “pie.” Though the recipe for pita bread comes from the country of Greece, it’s actually a variety of ancient flatbread that predates it.

According to Wikipedia, flatbread comes from the Middle East during the Stone Age. The first evidence of people baking flatbread dates back as far as 14,500 years ago, when the Natufian people (in a territory that’s now known as Jordan) made flatbread from wild cereal grains.

Today, flatbread is made in commercial and home kitchens across the Middle East and the Mediterranean Sea coast. Flatbread exists in many shapes and forms, from Greek pita to Arabic khubz, Armenian lavash, and Syrian flatbread. 

Most flatbread varieties contain baker’s yeast and are therefore yeast-leavened. The most popular unleavened flatbread variety is Turkish yufka (also known as “saj bread”), the flatbread that the Turks make döner kebabs in.

Is Pita Bread Better Than White Bread?

One pita is usually 6 ½ inches in diameter and weighs 60 grams. 

According to the USDA, a serving of pita bread of this size made from unenriched white flour has 0.7 grams fat, 322 milligrams sodium, 72 milligrams potassium, 5 grams of protein, and 33 grams carbohydrates (of which 1.3 grams are dietary fiber). The same serving of pita bread contains 5% calcium, 4% iron, and 4% magnesium.

Pita bread has comparable nutritional values as a same-sized serving of white bread. In other words, pita bread is neither significantly more nor significantly less healthy than white bread; it is simply a different bread variety.

Is Pita Bread the Same as Gyro Bread?

Even if you haven’t eaten pita bread as a standalone dish on the table, you probably had pita bread when you last ate a Greek fast food staple, the gyro (or, as it’s also known, “gyros”).

Gyro is a Greek wrap made from freshly-baked pita bread, sliced vegetables, tzatziki sauce, and pork roasted on a vertical rotisserie. Gyro is the Greek equivalent of Turkish döner kebab and Mexican tacos al pastor.

The Bottom Line

Pita bread is a yeast-leavened flatbread made in Greece. Traditionally, pita bread is made with wheat flour, baker’s yeast, salt, and sugar.

Pita bread comes from Greece, but it originated elsewhere. Pita bread is actually a flatbread variety. Flatbread dates back to the Middle East during the Stone Age.

Today, pita bread is a flatbread made in commercial and home kitchens across the Mediterranean. It’s also one of the few ingredients of the gyro, an incredibly tasty Greek wrap.

Do you like pita bread? How do you like to make and serve it? Let me and the rest of this post’s readers know in the comments below.


Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.

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