When recipes call for phyllo dough shells, you can find them in the grocery store freezer section. You can also make your own little pastry shells from phyllo (or filo) dough sheets – which are also from the grocer’s frozen foods aisle.
Sometimes we can’t find the pastry shells at our grocery store, but we can get the sheets of phyllo dough. And, as with most things, it costs less if you make it yourself so that’s a plus.
Fortunately it’s really easy to make your own phyllo dough shells from the sheets of dough!
I use this method for phyllo dough shells to make the pastry for easy cannoli bites. They are so good!
How to make phyllo dough shells
Thaw a roll of phyllo dough according to the directions on the box. I use Athens brand phyllo pastry sheets, which come with two individually wrapped sleeves of dough in the box. I thaw one at a time. One roll of dough goes a long way!
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly spray a mini muffin/cupcake pan with cooking spray. You can actually use the inside *or* the outside of the muffin pan to make the phyllo dough shells. I like to use the outside. I find it a bit easier to form the dough this way. I also like that it gives me a slightly larger pastry to fill.
- Melt 2½ tablespoons of butter.
- Unroll the sheets of dough and place on a smooth, dry surface. (I keep the dough on the sheet of plastic from inside the packaging.)
- Cover the flat stack of dough with parchment paper or wax paper, then place a damp towel on top of the paper. This step is important because the individual sheets of dough are super thin, so they can dry out quickly and flake or crumble if they’re not covered. Don’t skip this step, even if you think you’re going to work fast.
- On a large cutting board (12″x15″ works well), place a single sheet of phyllo dough and recover the rest of the dough.
- Lightly brush the dough with the melted butter, working from the edge toward the center.
- Layer another sheet of phyllo dough directly on top, repeating with the butter and layers until you have five sheets of phyllo dough stacked together.
- Cut your prepared phyllo dough into 12 sections. Use a nice, sharp knife to cut cleanly through the dough. (Since it’s a rectangular shape, make three cuts down from long side and two cuts across from the short side.)
- Carefully press each of the 12 pieces of prepared phyllo dough into *or* around the outside of the mini muffin pan, depending on which way you prepared the pan in step 2. Shape the dough as flat as possible at the bottom so the baked cup will sit flat.
- I repeat this process to make a batch of 24 of the phyllo dough shells. (Since each roll of Athens brand dough sheets has 20 sheets, I refreeze the unused sheets in the package.
- Bake for about 7-10 minutes until your phyllo dough shells are a nice golden color. Keep a close eye on them to prevent them from getting overdone, and pull them out when they look right.
- The shells should pop right out/off from the muffin pan.
- Cool and use with your favorite fillings! These light, flaky shells are a great crust for desserts like cannoli bites, mousse, etc. They can also be used for little appetizers, such as egg salad.
These instructions are adapted from the phyllo cups technique from thekitchn.com. I’ve never tried storing the baked shells on their own, but they have instructions for how to store them if making the shells ahead.
I’ve only stored the shells after they’ve been filled. In my experience using them for cannoli bites, the shells become mushy after a couple of days in the refrigerator so I don’t make a huge batch. I only make and fill enough at one time to finish within a couple of days.
Note: The basic instructions for working with phyllo dough are right on the side of the Athens box. Their instructions are helpful!
This recipe for phyllo dough shells is linked up at some of these link parties.