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Easy appetizers: This is the secret ingredient you need for the holidays

It's good for dessert, too

Phyllo pastries
kourosh mirzaei/Unsplash

At long last, the holiday season is very nearly drawing to a close. This is bittersweet for most of us who love the sparkle and merriment but are also looking forward to the clean slate of a New Year. This week, though, most of us are still in the thick of it. This is usually the week we scramble. Scramble for last-minute gifts, scramble to find something at 6 a.m. that will pass as reindeer antlers for our kid’s accursed dress-up week, and scramble to find delicious, easy recipes that will please everyone around the table. If you find yourself in this camp with the rest of us, frantically scrolling your phone for quick and easy appetizers, we’re here to help. The answer can be found in the freezer section, and is sure to be an enormous hit – phyllo dough.

You may be familiar with baklava, the traditional Greek dessert for which phyllo is so famous, but this flaky pastry is so much more than baklava.

Phyllo is often the overlooked layered pastry, and that’s a real travesty because it’s incredible. Unlike her popular cousin, puff pastry, phyllo dough has very little fat and crisps up in the oven in the most delicious paper-thin and crackly way. Just as with puff pastry, though, phyllo dough can be found easily in the freezer section of most grocery stores, taken home, filled with your favorite ingredients then popped in the oven for an array of delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts. These are a few of our favorite phyllo dough recipes to get you through the holiday finish line.

Phyllo dough being brushed with butter
Meruyert Gonullu/Pexels

Phyllo dough recipes

Crispy feta pockets with a thyme honey drizzle


  • 8 ounces block feta cheese
  • 8 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. To a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the honey and thyme. Warm, but do not bring the mixture to a boil. Set aside to cool. Remove the sprigs of thyme and discard.
  2. Drain feta, patting dry with paper towels.
  3. Place one block of feta onto 2 pieces of phyllo, wrapping all four sides around the cheese.
  4. Turn the block over so it’s seam side down, then place it on top of two more pieces of phyllo and repeat the fold.
  5. In a large pan, over medium-high heat until very hot, heat olive oil.
  6. Carefully fry feta until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per side, basting with the oil to coat and cook evenly. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
  7. Transfer the cheese to a plate or serving platter and spoon with thyme-infused honey before serving.

Caramelized onion and phyllo tartlets


  • 30 (2 boxes) phyllo cups
  • 2-3 sweet Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon beef bouillon paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 sprigs Fresh thyme, destemmed, plus more for garnish


  1. In a large skillet, melt butter and add onions, stirring to coat the onions with butter thoroughly. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat until the onions soften.
  2. Remove the lid and add Better than Bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and thyme to the onions.
  3. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and caramelize.
  4. Fill each phyllo cup with a scoop of onion filling and top with shredded gruyere cheese.
  5. Broil for 5-6 minutes until the cheese melts and starts to brown. Garnish with additional fresh thyme.

Goat cheese bites with bacon and fig jam


  • 30 (2 boxes) phyllo cups
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fig jam
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled into pieces
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place phyllo cups on the baking sheet.
  2. Fill each phyllo cup with roughly 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.
  3. Bake phyllo cups for 10-12 minutes until cheese is warmed through and phyllo cups are golden.
  4. Top each phyllo cup with a teaspoon of fig jam and bacon pieces.
  5. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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