Pre-made puff pastry makes putting together holiday appetizers a breeze. But before you open up that box of puff pastry, get familiar with these pro tips—so you can get the most out of your dough.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

When you are using puff pastry dough, always think one day ahead! You will need to thaw your frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight. This is a much better method than just taking it out of the freezer and placing it on the kitchen counter.

There is a lot (and I mean a lot!) of butter in puff pastry. That’s what makes all those delicious flaky layers. But it also means that if the pastry gets too soft, it can get really sticky. Placing the frozen dough in the fridge overnight keeps the dough at a nice cool temperature, ensuring the butter layers stay intact.

Tip #2: Roll it Out

Most puff pastry comes folded. Never try to unfold a pastry sheet unless it is thawed or it will crack. I dust my work surface very lightly with all-purpose flour, then dust my rolling pin. I run the rolling pin very lightly over the puff pastry crease to remove it. Don’t over roll the pastry. Just roll over it enough to remove the crease.

Tip #3: Use a Sharp Knife

Cut the pastry with a sharp knife to get a nice, clean line. Stay away from serrated knives which can tear the dough.

Tip #4: Temperature is Key

Once you have cut and formed the dough into whatever size and shape your recipe calls for, pop it in the fridge for 45 minutes. Why? The butter in the pastry softens as you work with it. A trip to the refrigerator hardens the butter back up so your pastry holds its shape and maintains its flaky texture when it hits the heat of your oven.

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January 11, 2024 — Mary DiSomma