Naan and Pita: Unwrapping the Flavors of Traditional Breads

You’ve definitely heard of naan and pita bread if you enjoy Indian or Mediterranean food. Both of these flatbreads have been around for a very long time and are used in many different types of food. But how do naan and pita bread differ from one another?

freshly baked pita bread on a wooden table close-up

Indian bread known as naan is frequently oval-shaped, fluffy, and bubbling. It is prepared with flour, yeast, salt, and occasionally milk or yogurt. Naan can also be prepared on the stovetop or in an ordinary oven in addition to the tandoor, which is a clay oven. Naan is frequently served with kebabs, Indian curries, and sandwiches.

On the other hand, pita bread is a round Middle Eastern bread with a pocket in the center. Flour, water, yeast, and salt are the ingredients. Traditionally, pita bread is baked in a brick oven, although it can also be done on the stovetop or in a conventional oven. Pita bread is frequently used as a wrap for sandwiches or served with hummus and falafel.

Naan Origin

Homemade Butter Naan

Around 1300 AD, the leavened bread known as naan was invented in India. It’s thought to have originated in the Mughal Empire’s royal courts, where it swiftly became well-known. Naan is frequently prepared in a tandoor oven using flour, water, yeast, and salt. This distinguishes it from other kinds of bread by giving it a distinctive texture and flavor.

Pita Origin

close up of pita bread on a wooden board

However, the history of pita bread is considerably older. Around 4,000 years ago, in the Eastern Mediterranean, is where it is thought to have started. The ingredients for pita bread include flour, water, yeast, and salt. Pita bread is normally cooked at a high temperature, which causes the bread to inflate up and form a pocket in the middle. This pocket is ideal for storing components like meats, vegetables, and other foods.


Indian naan bread on wooden desk

Pita bread and naan both have certain parallels and distinctions when it comes to ingredients. Let’s examine each one in more detail.

Naan Ingredients

The usual ingredients for naan bread include wheat, yeast, salt, sugar, yogurt, and oil. Water or milk may also be used in some recipes. While the sugar helps to stimulate the yeast and give the bread a little sweet flavor, the yogurt and oil aid to give the bread a soft and supple texture.

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Pita Ingredients

Contrarily, pita bread is created from a few basic ingredients: wheat, water, yeast, salt, and maybe a little oil. Pita bread has a firmer texture and a more neutral flavor than naan bread because it doesn’t contain any additional ingredients.

Cooking Methods

pita bread on wooden board

There are a few differences to be aware of when making naan and pita bread. Since naan is often prepared in a tandoor oven, it has a distinctive scorched flavor and airy texture. There are alternative ways to prepare naan at home if you don’t have access to a tandoor oven, though.

On the cooktop, a cast-iron skillet can be used as one option. With this technique, you can make chewy, dense, but yet excellent naan. Brush the naan with melted butter or ghee before cooking it in a skillet that has been preheated over medium-high heat. The naan should be cooked for two to three minutes on each side, or until golden brown and fluffy.

Naan can also be grilled in the backyard. With this technique, fluffy naan with a subtle smokey flavor are produced. Set the grill to medium-high heat and brush the naan with melted butter or ghee before grilling. Naan should be grilled for two to three minutes on each side, or until golden and fluffy.

On the other hand, pita bread is often baked in a hot oven. Pita gets its distinctive pocket and chewy texture from this process. Pita bread can be baked at home by preheating the oven to 450°F and setting the pita on the oven rack. Bake the pita for 5-7 minutes, or until it puffs up and starts to turn golden.

Texture and Taste

Indian naan bread on wooden table.

Naan bread often has a softer and fluffier texture than pita bread. Naan has a fuller texture since it is made with milk or yogurt. Yeast is also used to leaven it, which causes it to rise and give it a fluffy, light feel. Contrarily, pita bread is typically denser and chewier. It is prepared without using any dairy products and is made with flour, water, salt, and yeast.

Due to the use of yogurt or milk, naan bread has a flavor that is creamy, slightly sweet, and slightly tangy. As a result of being cooked in a tandoor oven, it also has a little burnt flavor. Contrarily, pita bread has a more neutral flavor that is ideal for blending with spreads and dips. Due to the inclusion of whole wheat flour in some recipes, it has a faint nutty flavor. Both naan and pita bread can be utilized for a variety of cuisines when it comes to toppings.

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Pita bread is frequently used for sandwiches and wraps, whereas naan bread is frequently used as the foundation for curries, stews, and kebabs. Pita bread can be filled with falafel, hummus, or veggies, while naan bread can be topped with cheese or garlic butter.

Nutritional Comparison

pita bread on a dark table, top view

Pita bread and naan have several nutritional similarities and variances. The breakdown of their nutritional value is as follows:


Pita bread typically has less calories than naan bread. Pita bread has about 170 calories per serving, compared to about 320 calories in a normal piece of naan.


Naan and pita bread both contain a lot of carbs. While a serving of pita bread only has about 33 grams of carbohydrates, a serving of naan has about 50 grams.


Protein content in pita bread is higher than in naan bread. Pita bread has about 6 grams of protein per serving, but naan bread has about 4 grams of protein per dish.


Pita bread often has less fat than naan bread. Pita bread has only about 2 grams of fat per serving, compared to about 12 grams in a serving of naan.


Compared to naan bread, pita bread has more fiber. Pita bread has about 2 grams of fiber per serving, but naan bread has about 1 gram of fiber per dish.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pita bread and naan are both comparatively deficient in vitamins and minerals. Pita bread, however, has higher levels of potassium and iron than naan bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coriander Naan - Indian flat bread with a sprinkle

Which is healthier: naan or pita?

When it comes to health, both naan and pita bread have their pros and cons. Naan is typically made with white flour, which is higher in calories and lower in nutrients than whole wheat flour. Pita, on the other hand, is often made with whole wheat flour, which is higher in fiber and nutrients. However, naan is often brushed with ghee or butter, which adds extra calories and fat. If you’re looking for a healthier option, choose whole wheat pita bread and skip the butter.

Is pita a good substitute for naan?

If you’re looking for a substitute for naan, pita bread is a good option. While the two breads have different textures and flavors, they are both flatbreads that can be used for dipping, wrapping, or serving with meals. Pita bread is a bit thinner and has a pocket, while naan is thicker and more doughy. If you’re making a dish that specifically calls for naan, you may want to stick with naan for the best results. But if you’re looking for a versatile bread that can be used in a variety of dishes, pita bread is a great choice.

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Do all pitas have pockets?

No, not all pita bread has pockets. While traditional Middle Eastern pita bread has a pocket that can be filled with ingredients, some modern versions of pita bread are pocketless. If you’re looking for pita bread with a pocket, be sure to read the label or ask the baker.

Do you have to toast pita bread?

No, you don’t have to toast pita bread, but toasting it can add extra flavor and texture. To toast pita bread, simply place it in a toaster or toaster oven and toast until golden brown. You can also toast it over an open flame or on a grill for a smoky flavor. Toasted pita bread is great for dipping in hummus or serving with a salad.

How do you store naan and pita bread?

To store naan and pita bread, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze naan and pita bread for up to three months. To thaw frozen bread, simply place it in the refrigerator overnight or microwave it for a few seconds.

Tasty pita bread on old wooden table.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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