Homemade Puff Pastry

Adrienne Cheatham’s recipe is the perfect template for any tart

Photo: Johnny Autry

Chef Adrienne Cheatham grew up in the restaurants. Her mother managed around Chicago. But her dad, a Mississippi native, also wanted her to experience the South, so each spring and summer break, she went to live at her great aunt Ruby’s house in Jackson. “There was always food everywhere,” says Cheatham, now a chef in New York City and the author of the cookbook Sunday Best. “But literally nothing went to waste. Chicken bones, turnip greens, everything had a use whether it was on our table or feeding the neighbor’s pigs.”  

Honoring that ethos, one of her go-to ways to use what she has on hand is to create a tart with puff pastry dough. “I always have it in my freezer, no matter what,” she says. “If you get a last-minute call to visit friends, or are having people over, you can throw together a main course or an appetizer or dessert with it using whatever you have at home.”

Find recipes for tarts that work perfectly with this pastry recipe.


  • Homemade Puff Pastry (yield: 1 (10-by-12-inch) pastry)

    • 2½ sticks unsalted butter, cold

    • 1 tbsp. plus 2 cups flour

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 1 tsp. sugar

    • ½ cup cold water


  1. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate 1½ sticks of cold butter into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. flour over butter and toss to coat. Spread the butter onto a plate or a small baking tray and place in the freezer.

  2. Cut the remaining stick of butter into 1/8-inch slices and place in the mixing bowl with remaining flour, salt, and sugar. Use your fingers to break the butter up slightly (you want the pieces to still look like shards, not be fully crumbled). Use a spatula to stir in the cold water, then use your hands to gather and press the dough into a ball. Flatten your ball into a rough rectangle, about ¾ inch thick, and place on a tray in the refrigerator. Chill for 10 minutes.

  3. Lightly flour your work surface and a rolling pin. Place chilled dough on the surface and remove grated butter from the freezer. Scatter butter evenly over the top of the dough and roll the rectangle to a thickness of about ½ inch. Fold the two shorter sides of the rectangle in toward the center, so they now touch in the middle (the layer of butter should be fully wrapped by the outer layer of dough). Fold this onto itself—left side flipped onto the right—in half again (this is called a book fold). Roll the folded bundle of dough back to about ½-inch thickness. If the dough and butter are getting warm, place on a tray in the refrigerator to chill for 5 to 10 minutes.

  4. Repeat the book fold and rolling two or three more times. Roll the final dough to a rectangle about 10 by 12 inches, cover with plastic wrap, and keep chilled until ready to use. To freeze, fold dough to a size that fits into your freezer, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in a freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator and roll out to your desired thickness before using.