Naan and pita are two popular types of flatbreads, and if I’m being honest, I have both in my freezer right now. While these bread types are commonly mistaken for one another, they have a few key differences to separate them.
Hey, everyone! I’m Michelle, and I love exploring the kitchen. While I do plenty of baking, I’m also a fan of trying new recipes for lunch and dinner. Some of the recipes I’ve used have needed naan or pita bread, so I decided to find out the key differences.
I discovered that naan bread contains more ingredients than pita, making it fluffier and softer – the perfect vessel for curries.
Pita is designed as a leaner, stronger flatbread with a pouch for filling. They’re also cooked differently, with naan created in a tandoor and pita baked in the oven.
Let’s find out more about the difference between naan and pita!
6 Key Differences Between Naan and Pita
Although naan and pita are both tasty flatbreads that look alike, they’re not the same thing. In fact, some apparent dissimilarities set them apart. Here are the top six differences between naan and pita.
First and foremost, you can tell the difference between these two flatbreads by the way they are shaped. Naan has a definitive oval shape, while pita has a rounder construction.
2. Pouch or No Pouch?
Aside from their looks, one key indicator you’re consuming pita bread is that it (typically) comes with a pouch. The pouch is formed when the pita bread is sliced down the middle.
The goal is to use the pita as it was intended: as a sandwich. From falafel to tuna and chicken, there are endless filling possibilities.
Naan, on the other hand? Well, it’s kept flat and whole to accompany curries. In recent years, though, naan has branched out into less typical recipes like pizza, tacos, and burritos. There is something about the naan texture that makes it oh, so versatile.
Pita bread is pretty basic. Most recipes only require salt, yeast, flour (white or whole wheat), and water. (Although, sometimes oils and sugars are added to enhance the overall flavor and extend the shelf life).
Naan bread, on the other hand, is a bit more advanced. Naan bread utilizes the same basic ingredients as pita: salt, yeast, flour, and water. However, it goes a step further by adding yogurt, oil, and butter. It’s not uncommon for spices like cumin to join the mixing bowl, too.
4. Baking Process
Traditionally, naan is baked in a tandoor. This provides the flavor and texture that is well-loved in authentic naan flatbread. (It can also be made in a skillet, although this will not render “authentic” results.)
Pita is baked in a hot oven – no special equipment is required. It bakes at a high temperature for several minutes before being removed, cooled, and consumed, usually in the form of a sandwich.
Since pita flatbread does not require a tandoor to meet the same robust flavors, it’s more common to make at home.
Naan originated in India, while pita originated in the Middle East. Regardless, they are now famous around the world.
Since naan includes the addition of fats like butter, oil, and yogurt, it tends to have a fluffier and crumblier texture compared to pita. Pita is much more structured, flat, and firm, the perfect “base” for sandwiches big and small.
When it comes to flavor, naan takes the cake once more. Again, it’s all thanks to the added fat, providing a more decadent and indulgent taste. Sometimes, naan also gets a flavor boost from adding robust spices.
Pita has a duller flavor, but that’s mostly because it relies on being stuffed with delicious ingredients. The pita acts as a starting point for all types of sandwiches, so it doesn’t need to be indulgent or overwhelming, like naan.
Since pita bread is made with a few basic ingredients, it is lower in calories and fat compared to naan. Naan has a much higher calorie and fat count due to the presence of added fats, like yogurt and butter.
Last but not least, size differentiates naan and pita bread. Pita bread tends to be smaller, ranging from four to ten inches. Naan is much larger, with most naan flatbreads being oven ten inches. It’s the perfect size for sharing with the family – or enjoying tons of curry by yourself!
There – now you know which flatbread is which, and more importantly when to use them! If you want to keep learning, check out these frequently asked questions asked by users just like you.
Which is healthier: pita or naan?
Due to the ingredients of pita, pita flatbread is healthier than naan. Naan includes high-fat and high-calorie elements like yogurt, butter, and oil, rendering it less healthy (albeit a tad more delicious, in my opinion.)
Is Pita a good substitute for Naan?
Pita and naan bread are relatively different, but they share many similarities, too. With that in mind, yes, pita is a good sub for Naan. You can also use other similar options like roti, paratha, and even a simple tortilla.
Do all pitas have pockets?
Surprisingly enough, not all pitas have pockets, but it is most commonly served with a pocket. The only pita bread that does not contain a pocket is “Green pita bread.” Greek pita bread is softer and fluffier than traditional pita bread and does not contain a pouch.
Do you have to toast pita bread?
You do not have to toast pita bread unless you really want to. Many people have fallen in love with toasted pita bread and use it for appetizers. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see “toasted pita squares” on grocery shelves nowadays.
Pita and naan bread are pretty similar, but they have more differences than similarities. Overall, naan bread is larger, fluffier, and contains more ingredients compared to pita. Pita bread is thinner, smaller, and designed with a handy pouch for stuffing all of your favorite fillings.
Do you prefer naan or pita? Do you know of any other differences I forgot to mention? Let us know in the comment section!About Michelle