How To Make Puff Pastry


This is not the post I planned on writing. This was supposed to be how to make croissants. There’s this appetizer my wife makes that calls for a one of those blue cans of pre-made crescent rolls from the refrigerated section at the grocery store. I thought for sure I could do better than that.

So I found a couple of recipes, mixed and matched the parts that sounded good, and … holy crap I made puff pastry! That’s supposed to be hard. For the past year I’ve been telling myself that “someday maybe I’ll be able to make puff pastry, everyone says it’s so hard.”

Maybe it’s hard to make it on purpose, but darned if I didn’t do it by accident. Here’s how.


1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter (first amount)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
¼ cup warm water (105° – 115°)
2½ cups flour
1 cup butter (two sticks, second amount)


Combine the milk, first measure of butter, sugar and salt in a pan.

Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add it to the milk.

Combine the flour and the milk mixture in a mixing bowl.

Use the dough hook.

Mix on low speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. It should still be fairly sticky when it’s done.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set it aside in a warm place for about an hour to rise until it’s doubled in volume.

When the dough has risen, soften one of the remaining sticks of butter in the microwave. (Yes, there is a place for microwaves in cooking.) Add the second stick and mix. You want the butter to be soft and spreadable, but not runny.

When the dough has risen to twice its original size, turn it out onto a floured surface.

Roll the dough out into a square, slightly smaller than the length of a baking sheet. Spread the butter onto the two thirds of the dough closer to you.

Fold the third farthest from you, the part with no butter, back over the middle third. Then fold the near third up over the middle.

Here’s where I took advantage of the weather. It was about 15 degrees outside while I was working on this, so my back porch was like a walk-out freezer. I would never have done this if I had to go downstairs for the freezer.

Move the dough to a baking sheet. Place another baking sheet on top and place it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. You want the butter to firm up, but the dough should still be soft enough to roll out without cracking.

Uncover the dough and roll it out just enough to soften it up.

Fold the ends in over the middle, turn sideways and roll out to the length of the baking sheet again.

Another 15-20 minutes in the freezer and do it again.

I did three cycles outside, with the roll-fold-roll routine in between each time. After the last round outside I rolled it out square. The recipes I’d seen for croissants said to roll it into a circle. But I know the ones in the can come out in squares, and they work just fine.

Use a pizza cutter or an extremely sharp knife to cut puff pastry. If you use a dull knife you’ll press the layers together and they’ll stick together instead of separating when you bake it.

Now that I know I can do puff pastry, I’m going to go back and do the beef Wellington again.

The next two days I’ll be showing the two ways I used this batch. I usually give some silly little hint down here, but I’m just going to come out and tell you one of them is a batch of the best croissants ever.

UPDATE: Here are the home-made croissants, and here is the dill cheese appetizer.

Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter (first amount)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
  • ¼ cup warm water (105° - 115°)
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup butter (two sticks, second amount)


Combine milk, first measure of butter, sugar and salt in a pan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to milk. Combine flour and milk mixture. Mix on low speed until well incorporated. Set it aside to rise until doubled in volume.

Soften remaining butter. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll out into a square. Spread the butter onto two thirds of dough. Fold dry third over the middle, then remaining third over middle. Place dough in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll out and fold inward in thirds again. Freeze again and repeat. Each fold will make pastry flakier.

NOTE: Keep pastry cold enough that the butter spread in the middle doesn't melt and soak into pastry. The butter is what makes the flaky layers.


  1. Hi,
    I haven’t made puff pastry for years, probably since I was at school, when you were told to run your wrists under the cold tap, to keep everything as cool as possible. I have a good idea for rolling out though, I use a cold bottle of wine from the fridge, instead of usual rolling pin, works a treat!
    I think supermarket pastry is very good nowadays, but it will never be as good as homemade! I wonder if I can get my other half to do this?
    Well done!

  2. I’m going to try this with WW pastry flour.

  3. Yeah . . . I would file this under the “things I would very much like to eat as long as someone ELSE makes them” category. But yay for happy accidents!

  4. Oh my god, Drew…that looks amazing!! And seriously not that difficult! I always thought making puff pastry was some magical, day long process that was so time and work intensive it was totally not worth making it, but your post has definitely got me intrigued. Can you freeze it?

  5. Lesley, when you did it in school you probably didn’t have time to freeze it in between each round of folding and rolling. So maybe having cold hands was really important. Although honestly, that sounds like a bit of overkill to me. Making truffles, you’re handling and forming the chocolate in your palms. But for this I barely touched it with my hands.

    Kate, if I had used pastry flour this probably would have really puffed. Just plain white flour made some pretty fabulous croissants, though.

    Kristin, I somehow knew you were thinking that.

    Melissa, I haven’t tried freezing, though I’ve seen it that way in the grocery store. I might make another batch, though, and freeze three of the quarters when I cut it. You’ll see in tomorrow’s post how each quarter yielded 8 croissants. Sounds like a good thing to keep in the freezer for a Sunday breakfast.

  6. Stephanie says:

    This kinda makes puff pastry look doable. I think I’ll have to try it sometime, because it sounds really good and I don’t like going out and buying something if I think I can make it instead. You’ve given me hope! :-)

  7. Stephanie, I think this one succeeded in part due to low expectations. I just wanted to beat the canned crescent rolls and I got some pretty darn good croissants. Is it legitimate puff pastry? Maybe not, but it’s pretty close. And now that I know I can do it, I can working on doing it better.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How the FREAK am i supposed to cook it if you didn't even put how long to leave and how many degrees.

  9. That depends what you're making with it: croissants, or beef wellington, or wrapping it around hot dogs …

    This is just how to make the dough, instead of buying it pre-made.

  10. Lexi Spoon says:

    I tried it and i love it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Lexi, that’s awesome. This is probably one of the harder things I’ve done on the blog, so it’s really great to hear that it worked for someone else.

  12. What about using butter flavored crisco instead of butter ?

  13. First, why would you want to? Crisco was invented as a shelf-stable alternative to lard, for people who thought lard was bad for them. The process that makes corn oil shelf-stable — hydrogenation — created trans fats, which we now know are a huge health problem. And, it turns out, people are starting to recognize that animal fats were never the health problem that some people claimed. (The fact that the people making those claims were all manufacturers of corn-based products is, of course, completely coincidental.)

    Second, the butter in this recipe serves two structural functions. First, the fat coats the layers of dough, keeping them from sticking to each other. This is necessary for the flaky, layered result. Crisco would probably do this pretty well.

    The second thing it does is provide the moisture, which turns into steam, which gives you the rise. I suspect the moisture content in Crisco is lower than butter. If I’m right about that, you would end up with a flaky, but flat, pastry — just like a layered Phyllo dough.

    So if you’re thinking about doing the substitution for health reasons, don’t. You’re better off with butter. If you’re worried about your health, then just make it so it tastes as good as you can, and don’t eat so much of it.

    If you think the taste and texture would be better, I really doubt it. Of all the puff pastry recipes I’ve read, I haven’t seen one that called for shortening instead of butter. There’s got to be a reason for that.

  14. Hi Drew, it’s great to see the step by step guide to make puffs. Well, will you put a picture of final outcome of the puff (how do they look like at the end) :)

    Also at the end, you asked to cut it in squares using pizza cutter. How should i fold them? It will be great if you put some more details at the end.. thanks you for posting ..

  15. Rupa, you’re right, I never updated this with the link. You can see the croissants I made with the leftovers and the dill cheese appetizer that I actually made this for.

  16. Hi Drew thanks for the recipe.. i tried makin puffs accrodin to ur recipe.. but it didnt puff up properly.. can u tell me what causes that..thank u

  17. Vini, most likely what happened is the butter wasn’t cold enough when you folded the dough over. If you fold it even once with the butter too soft, it will get absorbed into the flour. It needs to stay as a thin layer between the layers of dough.


  19. Butter and margarine will be completely different in baking. I’m sure there’s a way to do puff pastry using margarine, but I don’t know adjustments you’d need to make. The recipe above was done with butter.

    Other than maybe the price, there’s no reason to use margarine. It’s much worse for you than butter.

  20. Hi Drew – I don’t have a stand mixer or a dough hook, so is there another way for me to make the dough?

  21. Emily, because this dough doesn’t require kneading — like bread or pizza crust — you just need to mix it enough to get everything together. It’s certainly easier with the stand mixer, but you can do this just fine by hand. The French have been doing it that way for centuries. Once you’re good at it, it doesn’t even take that much longer than the mixer anyway.

  22. I really want to try this!

  23. maggie king says:

    why is it whenever i make pies or any type of pastry when i think its cooked its never cooked underneath

  24. Maggie, my guess would be your oven is cooler than the temperature you set it at, and/or you’re using a glass (Pyrex) baking dish with recipes designed for a thin metal dish. You normally have to add about 25 degrees to the recommended temp when using glass. Also, get an oven thermometer and check that your oven is cooking at what you set it to.

  25. Thanks! I’ve been very suspicious of the notion that ordinary people can make croissant / pastry dough. I thought it was for … I don’t know, machines? Your photographic instructions were great, especially since I made the decision at about 10 at night that I wanted to try making croissant. Mine came out OK, though I’ll have to try again and see if I can get them to rise more / be not as flat.

  26. I am very new to baking etc…. please explain your mention in Ingredients -“two sticks, second amount……; and what do you mean by “first measure of butter”.
    Do you mean half the amount of butter mentioned.

    Thank you for a kind response

  27. If you look at the directions, the first line is, “Combine the milk, first measure of butter, sugar and salt in a pan.” That’s the 1 tablespoon.

    Then after the dough has risen and you roll it out, you spread on the second amount, the two sticks (softened).

  28. Thanks, this recipe looks great. My wife loves croissants, so I hope to surprise her with this.

    I have a question about the butter though. You say you need two sticks of butter, but do not say how big the sticks are (weight wise). I live in China at the moment and butter (if you can get it) come in kilograms. So a weight would be very useful.

    Could you also let me know if you have got around to trying to freeze the dough?

  29. Two sticks would be a half-pound, or about 225 grams.

    The freezing is necessary to get the layered, flaky texture. You’re not really freezing the dough, you’re freezing the butter so that it doesn’t get absorbed into the flour.

    • Thanks that is helpful.

      The question about freezing was really: can I freeze the resulting puff pastry and then use it at a later stage?

      An other question about the butter: Do you use salted or unsalted butter and how would I adjust the recipe if I can only get the wrong sort?

      • Oh, now I understand. No, I haven’t tried freezing it yet, but I can’t think of a reason it shouldn’t work.

        Lots of pastry recipes specify unsalted butter, then add salt. The point is to control exactly how much salt there is, since you never know how much is in your butter. I’ve always used salted butter and never had a problem with something being too salty. My wife has used unsalted for cookie recipes, though.

        This recipe was actually designed for unsalted, but I used salted and it came out fine. So I wouldn’t worry about making any adjustments.

  30. Thank you for the recipe! I’ve been trying to look puff pastry recipes that seems workable for quite some time now. This has been the easiest set of instructions.


  31. hii… m trying to make puff pastry long time… but failed… dunt knw y! the thing is layers dunt separate… i would try this 1 too thou :)

    • Make sure to refrigerate the dough after every round of folding and rolling. If the butter melts it will absorb into the flour and you’ll just have dough. It has to stay semi-solid to hold the layers apart.


  1. […] bacon and cool fruit salad … oh man, this is some good stuff. Check out my previous post for how to make puff pastry. Once you’re at the end of that process, you’re ready to cut and roll the […]

Tip Jar

Like what you see? Buy me a drink.