Tips for Working with and Storing Puff Pastry

Got a box of puff pastry in the freezer? Learn how to thaw it, bake it and troubleshoot in case you find yourself asking, "why didn't my puff pastry rise?"

Love a good palmier, fruit tart or pastry-topped chicken potpie? Chances are you’re familiar with the flaky wonder that is puff pastry (not to be confused with phyllo dough).

Puff pastry consists of dozens of paper-thin layers of dough separated by cold butter. As this pastry bakes, steam created from the water in the dough and butter makes the dough rise up and pull apart to create that flaky, many-layered crunch we all crave.

But to ensure those tasty results, learn how to store and bake puff pastry the right way.

How to Store Puff Pastry

No matter how you prep your pastry, remember that cold is key. Here’s how to store this delicate dough for best results.

How to Refrigerate Puff Pastry

If you’re a daredevil that made their own puff pastry, first, good for you; second, you can store homemade, unbaked puff pastry wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to three days.

How to Freeze Puff Pastry

Homemade puff pastry can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to a month. If you’re picking up a pack of the frozen stuff at the supermarket, just pop that box right in the freezer. It’ll be good until the “use by” date on the box.

How to Store Baked Puff Pastry

Once baked, plain puff pastry can be stashed in an airtight container for up to a week. Filled pastries like these puff pastry danishes are best eaten right away. If you can’t finish a batch in one go, store in a sealed container and enjoy the next day.

How to Thaw Puff Pastry

When you’re ready to break out your frozen pastry to make a delicious puff pastry dessert, remove the package from the freezer and defrost at room temperature for about 20 minutes before handling.

When defrosted, handle the dough as little as possible to keep the butter nice and cold. Like homemade pie crust or biscuits, cold butter equals flaky layers.

Tips for Baking Puff Pastry

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Why didn’t my puff pastry puff up?

This is every baker’s nightmare. Your puff pastry may fail to puff for several reasons.

  • Warm pastry: Your pastry should be cold, cold, cold going into the oven. It’s worth reiterating: Cold butter equals flaky layers. If your pastry is warm, the butter can easily leech right out during baking. For best results, work quickly and keep your hands off!
  • Cool Oven: To get the right lift, puff pastry needs a hot oven—about 400ºF. Don’t pop this pastry in the oven until it reaches the right temperature. For best results, be sure to calibrate your oven every so often. After all, when you set it to 400º, you want it to be precise.
  • Thick pastry: Even perfectly prepared puff pastry won’t rise properly if it’s cut too thick. Be mindful of the measurements in your recipe.
  • Egg wash issues: Be careful when brushing your pastry with an egg wash. If egg drips down the sides of the pastry, those flaky layers can stick together and prevent the dough from puffing up.
  • Serrated knife cuts: When cutting puff pastry, never use a serrated knife. A serrated knife will chew up the edges and make it difficult for the pastry to rise. Instead, use a sharp knife for clean cuts.

Why didn’t my puff pastry rise evenly?

This is almost as disappointing as puff pastry that doesn’t puff at all! Here’s why your puff pastry isn’t rising evenly and how to fix it.

  • Egg wash issues: Yep, egg wash can also cause your pastry to rise unevenly. Sometimes just a bit of egg can drip down the side and cause just a portion of the pastry to stick together. Leave a small margin of untouched pastry around the edge to prevent this issue.
  • Uneven docking: Docking is just the fancy name for pricking pastry with a fork (chances are you’ve done it with pie and tart dough before). Uneven docking can cause some parts of the pastry to puff up too much and other parts to stay flat. For best results, pierce the pastry as evenly as you can. No need to break out a ruler, but be sure that the marks are as evenly distributed as you can make them.
  • Uneven rolling and shaping: Sometimes your puff pastry will have an uneven rise if handled incorrectly, handled too much or rolled unevenly. Puff pastry is notoriously finicky, so don’t beat yourself up! Instead, keep your hands off and chill between steps.
  • Hot spots in the oven: Even a perfectly calibrated oven can have hot spots which can cause pastry to rise unevenly. Rotate your pan halfway through baking to prevent this.

Why didn’t my puff pastry bake evenly?

Even if your pastry gets the perfect puff, an uneven bake can be disheartening. Here’s how to fix common issues with baked puff pastry.

  • Hot spots in the oven: Yes, those same hot spots can cause pastry to bake unevenly. Just rotate your baking sheet halfway through to prevent any issues.
  • Uneven rolling and shapingIf your pastry is rolled unevenly, it can cause an uneven bake. Be careful when you’re shaping.

Puff Pastry Recipes to Try

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.