As an avid baker, I’m a firm believer in the power of making things from scratch at least once. Even if it fails, you gain an appreciation for the professionals! But there’s one thing I will never make myself: puff pastry. Until the day comes when I am cast on The Great British Baking Show and faced with a technical challenge, I will be raiding the freezer aisle for this stuff. Puff pastry is a constant in my freezer, a shortcut to beautiful, sophisticated, stress-free food. That’s why, to me, there is no such thing as leftover puff pastry. But if you bought it for a recipe during the holidays and ended up using only one of two sheets in the package, I’m here to show you a world of possibilities. From appetizers and one-bite wonders to centerpiece-worthy main dishes and impressive desserts, puff pastry is one of the most versatile items you can stock in your kitchen. My hope is that by the time you’re done reading this list of all the ways to cook with it, puff pastry will have graduated beyond the land of holiday leftovers and earned a permanent spot on your shopping list.
Meet the easiest people-pleasing app of all time. In my opinion, it’s not a party without pigs in a blanket, and with just a few store-bought ingredients, you can make any night feel like an occasion. Just think of the “everything” seasoning as confetti.
Big Little Recipes columnist Emma Laperruque was gracious enough to share her grandmother’s recipe for these super simple, tasty little bites. Laperruque writes, “This bite-size appetizer slash snack has been the star of my family holidays and get-togethers for decades.” With just six ingredients and an easy-to-make-ahead filling, I think they deserve a place on your holiday table, too.
The title does not lie. Here’s a super-fast recipe that’s equally as perfect for last-minute guests as it is for a frantic weeknight. Three ingredients, 10 minutes in the oven, and you’re well on your way to a party (at the very least, a party in your mouth!).
Baked Brie is like a little black dress: not revolutionary by any means, but always welcome at the party. This particular recipe doubles down on autumnal charm with cranberries, honey, and sumac, plus some toasted pistachios for crunch. Serve this and I can almost guarantee you’ll be getting requests for the recipe—it’s that good.
The Main Idea
I love this idea for post-Thanksgiving eats because it kills two leftover birds (ahem, one literal, one figurative) with one stone by stuffing them all into a comforting pot pie. Puff pastry is ideal for a pot pie with its buttery, flaky layers—and it is far superior to pie crust, in my opinion.
This recipe is a perfect illustration of why I love puff pastry: Bake a slab of it until flaky brown and crispy, topped with a few choice ingredients, and you’ve got an incredibly sophisticated-looking (and tasting) tart. Figs and blue cheese are a no-brainer pairing, making this tart taste like the cheese board of your dreams.
Thought tarte Tatin was only for apples? Think again. Here, halved onions cook slowly, their natural sugars caramelizing until dark brown and burnished. This savory tart is a showstopper for the holidays, but also easy enough to make on any given weeknight.
Sweeten the Deal
Another tarte Tatin sans pommes. (That’s apples, in French!) Baker and cookbook author Joanne Chang’s maple-tinged pear riff still delivers the perfectly caramelized bottom you’d expect from the classic French tart, albeit with a more amped-up fall flavor.
While you can certainly use puff pastry to make palmiers, the flaky French cookies that resemble elephant ears, why not go the extra mile and turn them into little cookie sandwiches, like Dorie Greenspan does? Taking the store-bought shortcut with puff pastry just means more time to experiment and get creative with how you put it to use.
10. Pastel de Nata
To know pastel de nata is to love pastel de nata. Rich egg custard surrounded by a thin, flaky crust, this treat originates from Portugal, but is also widely associated with Hong Kong.