How to Make Palmiers, the Flaky, Buttery Pastry You Didn't Know You Needed in Your Life
Learn how to make palmiers, a delicious pastry that can go sweet or savory. We break it down step by step with photos to guide you.
By Kelsey Mueller, Senior Digital Editor; Peggy Woodward and Gina Nistico, Food Editors
When you take a bite of a palmier, the pastry shatters between your teeth in a delightful crunch, then the buttery, flaky dough melts in your mouth. The pastry is addictively light, making it the perfect nibble after a dinner party alongside a cocktail or last glass of wine. I like it best for breakfast, with a big mug of coffee and a newspaper to catch the crumbs. Find more delicious breakfast bakes this way.
Also known as elephant's ears, pig's ears, French hearts and eyeglasses, the delicate pastry looks like a figure 8, with pretty swirls of pastry running through each side. Frankly, it looks fancy, fussy and complicated—as though it belongs in a French patisserie window, not on your kitchen counter. Happily, palmiers are actually incredibly simple to prepare at home, and they only require two ingredients.
Read on to learn how to make palmiers, with step-by-step photos to guide you.
For a traditional sweet palmier, you'll need:
1 cup sugar, divided. (You can use plain white sugar, raw sugar for an added crunch, brown sugar for a molasses flavor, or a mix.)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, preferably made with butter, thawed (thaw in the fridge the night before you're going to bake)
Step 1: Prepare the first sugar layer
You'll need a relatively large surface to make palmiers, so set up on a cleared countertop or table. Sprinkle the surface with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Unfold your pastry sheet across this. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Step 2: Roll and sprinkle again
Roll the dough into a 14x10-in. rectangle. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar. You want the sugar to cover the sheet as evenly as possible, but leave a 1/2 in. perimeter around the edges. Lightly press the sugar into the pastry.
Test Kitchen tip: When working with the dough, it should feel cool to the touch, not room temperature. If it becomes limp or warm, refrigerate it for 30 minutes until it's cool. You can do this at any step in the process, up to baking. Why? If the dough becomes too warm, the butter may melt, ruining the flaky layers that distinguish puff pastry.
Step 3: Roll it up
With a knife, very lightly score a line across the middle of the pastry, widthwise. Starting at one end, roll the dough up into a log (like a jelly roll, if you've made one). Stop at the score mark in the middle. You've made one half of the palmier; stop to admire the pretty swirl of your rolled dough.
Then roll the other end up, stopping when you reach the middle.
Step 4: Slice and bake
Heat the oven to 425°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking.
Test Kitchen tip: We needed two sheets to hold all the palmiers. You can also bake one batch at a time. Keep the unbaked palmiers cool until baking time. If you only have one baking sheet, wait for it to cool off before loading on another batch. You don't want the hot pan to melt the butter.
Cut the log of dough in slices about 3/8-in. thick. As you cut, you'll see your pretty palmier shape.
Set the slices out on your baking sheets, cut side up. Space them about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle lightly with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake at 425° for 12 minutes.
Turn pastries over and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake 5 minutes longer, or until golden brown and glazed.
Step 5: Cool and enjoy
When the palmiers are done, remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store them in airtight containers until you plan to eat them. Note that palmiers taste the best the day they're baked. (Oh darn, you'll have to finish them off.)
You should have about two dozen tasty palmiers.
More Flavor Ideas for Palmiers
- Add spices like cinnamon or cardamom
- Add dried fruits like raisins or chopped apricots
- Spread a bit of jam onto the dough
- Add chopped nuts, like walnuts or almonds
Savory palmiers make fantastic snacks with drinks and appetizers! (Please note: Omit the sugar for all of these.)
- Spread the pastry with pesto
- Sprinkle the pastry with cheese
- Add chopped olives or capers (drain well so you don't add too much liquid to the dough)
- Add chopped nuts, like walnuts or almonds