While phyllo dough sheets are often used for baking sweet baklava and savory spinach pie, don’t make the mistake of underestimating the power of these paper-thin pastry sheets. Phyllo dough is versatile and works just as well fried to create a crisp, browned and savory wrapper for a wide variety of fillings. Put a different spin on finger foods by swapping out thicker wraps for this light and airy option.

Phyllo Basics

Most known for its use in Middle Eastern desserts and pastries, phyllo dough is an unleavened flour dough. Typically separated with a layer of butter between each opaque sheet when used for baking, phyllo dough is strong and sturdy enough for frying when several layers are used together. Use phyllo dough as a wrapper in the same way an egg roll wrapper or wonton wrapper is used. Able to blend with both sweet and savory ingredients, you can fill phyllo dough with ice cream to make fried ice cream or add savory fillings for fried egg rolls or spring rolls.

Working With Phyllo

Find phyllo dough in the freezer section of your grocery store. Before using, thaw it on the countertop for two hours or in your refrigerator overnight to make handling it simple. Because it is so thin, phyllo dough dries out and tears easily. Open the package and separate the amount of phyllo dough that you need for your recipe and wrap the rest of the dough in an airtight storage bag to ensure freshness. Cut phyllo dough to the needed size and work quickly to prepare your dish.

Fill and Seal

Use at least three layers of phyllo dough for deep frying to minimize tears and create a strong exterior that withstands the frying process. Swap out the butter between layers for a lightly beaten egg wash to hold the layers together. Use a pastry brush to spread the egg wash on each layer before you add another sheet to its top. Because phyllo dough browns quickly, always used cooked fillings when wrapping them with phyllo dough for frying. Fill the rolls or pastries as desired and use a dash more egg wash to seal the phyllo dough before frying.

Into the Oil

Use a large, deep pot for deep frying and fill it no more than one-third full with a high smoking point oil such as canola, soy or peanut oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and use a kitchen thermometer to ensure you maintain this temperature throughout frying. Lower phyllo-wrapped items into the hot oil using tongs or a slotted spoon. Phyllo sheets will brown and crisp quickly; use a timer to ensure success. Remove items promptly and drain on a paper towel-lined plate before serving.