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Which is better pita or naan?

Both pita and naan are types of flatbread that are popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine respectively. They share some similarities, but also have key differences when it comes to ingredients, cooking methods, texture, taste and usage. This article will examine the characteristics of each bread and compare them to help determine which one is “better” overall.

What is Pita Bread?

Pita bread is a soft, slightly leavened flatbread that is common in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. Some key features of pita bread include:

  • Originated in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean regions
  • The dough is made from wheat flour, water, yeast and salt
  • The dough is kneaded thoroughly to develop gluten, giving it structure and stretchiness
  • The loaf is baked at a high temperature, causing the bread to puff up and form a pocket
  • When cooled, the pocket collapses leaving the signature pita pocket shape
  • Pita has a soft, chewy texture and simple flavor
  • Commonly used for sandwiches, dipping, wrapping foods

There are two main varieties of pita – white and whole wheat. Whole wheat pita has a slightly nuttier taste and texture due to the whole wheat flour. Pita bread is a dietary staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and popular worldwide.

What is Naan Bread?

Naan is a type of flatbread hailing from South, Central and West Asia, especially popular in Indian cuisine. Some key attributes of naan include:

  • Originated in Central and South Asia
  • Made from wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, and yogurt or milk
  • Some versions are enriched with eggs, butter, evaporated milk, garlic, coriander, nigella seeds
  • The dough is kneaded then left to rise before shaping into oval shapes
  • Baked by slapping the dough onto the walls of a hot clay tandoor oven
  • Has a soft, chewy texture with some charring
  • Often served with Indian curries and kebabs

There are many regional varieties of naan across India and South Asia. Some popular types include garlic naan, butter naan, cheese naan, peshawari naan filled with nuts and raisins. Naan is an integral part of Indian cuisine.

Comparing Ingredients

Both pita and naan are made from a basic dough of flour, water, yeast and salt. However, naan often contains enriching ingredients such as yogurt, milk, eggs and butter, while pita dough is more simple.

A comparison of typical ingredients:

Ingredient Pita Naan
Flour All-purpose or whole wheat flour Refined wheat flour, sometimes whole wheat flour
Water Yes Yes
Yeast Yes Yes
Salt Yes Yes
Yogurt No Often
Milk No Sometimes
Eggs No Sometimes
Butter/Ghee No Often
Sugar No Sometimes

As shown in the table, naan bread often contains enriching ingredients like yogurt, milk, eggs and butter, which add moisture, flavor and richness to the dough. Pita dough takes a more simplistic approach.

Cooking Methods

Pita and naan also differ significantly in their traditional cooking methods:

  • Pita: Baked in an oven at about 450°F – 500°F. The high heat causes the flattened dough rounds to puff up and form an interior pocket.
  • Naan: Baked by slapping the dough directly onto the hot walls of a tandoor clay oven at high temperatures around 900°F. This gives the naan its distinctive charred spots and crispiness.

While commercial pitas may be baked on hot stones to simulate a tandoor, the traditional cooking methods give each bread a markedly different finish. Tandoor ovens impart a unique charcoal flavor that can’t be truly replicated in an oven.


The textures of baked pita and naan bread differ in the following ways:

  • Pita: Soft, puffy and spongy interior with a tender, flaky flatbread crust
  • Naan: Chewy, soft and fluffy interior with some crispiness and charring on the irregular bubbled exterior

Pita has an airy pocket that collapses when cool, while naan remains rounded and pillowy. The charring from the tandoor oven gives naan bread more textural variation from its uneven bubbles and burnished spots. Pita has a more uniform consistency.</p>


Since pita dough is simply flour, water, yeast and salt, the bread has a fairly mild, neutral flavor profile. Naan is richer in taste, due to ingredients like:

  • Eggs – adds richness
  • Yogurt – tangy flavor
  • Milk – softens flavor
  • Butter – richness
  • Ghee – nutty flavor

Naan can also take on flavors from any added herbs, spices, garlic or onions. The high-heat tandoor oven can impart a smoky charcoal taste. Pita has a more understated flavor, serving as a canvas for other ingredients in sandwiches or dips.

Nutritional Value

Nutrition Facts Pita (per 100g) Naan (per 100g)
Calories 313 329
Carbohydrates 60.7g 59g
Protein 9.3g 8.5g
Fat 1.6g 5.8g
Fiber 5.1g 2.8g
Sugar 0.22g 2.9g

Pita and naan have comparable amounts of carbohydrates and protein. Pita is slightly lower in calories and carbs, while naan contains more fat from ingredients like butter and eggs. Pita provides more fiber and less sugar than enriched naan bread.

Ease of Making at Home

While homemade pita and naan are both achievable, pita bread is simpler and more accessible for home bakers. Reasons why pita is easier to make:

  • Requires only 4 basic ingredients – flour, yeast, salt, water
  • No special enriching ingredients needed
  • Can be baked at standard oven temperatures
  • Pita recipes are consistent; naan recipes can vary widely
  • Shorter prep and rise time

Naan requires sourcing specialty ingredients like ghee or yogurt and mastering the high heat of a tandoor oven. Pita just needs a standard oven and basic components most kitchens already stock.


Commercially, pita bread loaves are generally more affordable than naan. Some average prices for name brand options:

Brand Pita Price Naan Price
Toufayan $3.49 per pkg $5.49 per pkg
Trader Joe’s $2.49 per pkg $3.99 per pkg
Joseph’s $4.49 per pkg $5.99 per pkg

While prices vary store to store, pita bread consistently costs $1 – $2 less per package than naan. The extra ingredients and artisanal production process involved in naan making contribute to its higher retail price point in stores.


Pita and naan are used in the following ways in cuisine:

  • Pita: sandwiches, pizza crust, pocket for fillings/dips, bread for hummus, cutting into wedges for dipping
  • Naan: scooping up curries, wrapping kebabs and meats, dipping in sauces and stews, making pizza, stuffing with spices

In summary:

  • Pita – versatile bread for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes
  • Naan – essential flatbread for Indian curries and kebabs

Their distinct textures lend themselves to different culinary applications. Chewy, sturdy naan is ideal for sopping up rich curries, while soft pita suits lighter Mediterranean dips.


Both breads are widely consumed globally, but pita consumption is higher overall:

  • Pita – Popular in Middle East, Mediterranean region, Europe, Americas
  • Naan – Popular in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Asia, UK, Middle East expat communities, gaining recognition worldwide

As a dietary staple in the Middle East, pita bread has established itself more firmly worldwide. But as Indian cuisine expands its global footprint, naan is also becoming a recognized flatbread well beyond South Asia.


In the battle of pita versus naan, there is no clear winner. Each flatbread has its own distinct strengths:

  • Pita – Simple, budget-friendly, versatile bread for Mediterranean cuisine. Its convenience for sandwiches and dips makes it a popular everyday staple.
  • Naan – Tandoor-baked specialty bread that adds rich flavor to complete Indian dishes. Its soft, chewy texture perfectly complements curries.

The choice ultimately comes down to the cuisine. For Middle Eastern and Greek cooking, pita’s mild flavor suits these dishes optimally. Naan is specially designed to pair with the complex spices, sauces and proteins of Indian fare. While similar, pita and naan are each uniquely tailored to play a role in their native culinary traditions.

So which is better? There is no definitive answer – it depends on personalized taste preferences and the regional cuisine being consumed. Pita and naan each have merits that make them the right flatbread for their culinary context. The optimal bread comes down to the individual diner and dish. Both can happily co-exist as two great options for flatbreads!