Pita bread and naan are types of flatbread. They’re often eaten with hummus. Both are delicious, light, and won’t fill you up easily. They even look alike. Naan tends to be softer than pita, while pita bread has a pocket.
Let’s look at their differences in more detail.
Pita Bread vs. Naan
Pita bread is a strong type of bread that’s common in Mediterranean dishes. It is used in eating hummus, curries, and various types of dip, and it is a bit leaner than naan.
Naan is softer, thicker, and richer than pita bread. Naan is often smaller than pita, too.
Pita is usually round and large, in part because it is made to be stuffed with meat and other foods. Naan is usually smaller and has more of an oval shape. These characteristics are not etched in stone, however, because both of these breads can come in a few different sizes and shapes.
Of course, there are more differences between pita and naan breads than just the shape and texture. . . .
Pita bread has an air pocket because it was originally intended to make sandwiches. Between chicken, tuna, and falafel, pita bread makes for a sandwich that is unique and fun to eat. Naan, on the other hand, was originally intended to eat with curries, which is why it does not contain a pocket. Pita bread gets its pocket when the bread is cut down the middle after it’s baked.
Naan is baked in a tandoor, while pita bread is baked in an oven at a high temperature for a few minutes and then removed so it can be cooled and cut. Pita bread is a favorite among home cooks because it requires no special equipment, such as a tandoor. Only experts with the right equipment can bake naan at home.
Pita bread and naan have very different flavors and textures. Pita has a duller flavor, although it is not tasteless. It is made this way because it is intended as a “wrap” for sandwiches. Pita often has a rougher texture, whereas naan is smooth and soft.
Naan bread contains a lot of fat, so it has a cake-like texture and a rich, buttery flavor. Spices can be added to a naan bread recipe to enhance the flavor. Naan is almost always fluffier and tastier than pita bread, which tends to be flatter and a little less tasty. You can easily eat naan by itself and enjoy its flavor.
Both naan and pita have a very light taste overall.
Size and Shape
Pita bread has a definite round shape, whereas naan is more oval-shaped. People often make naan in a “mini” size as well as a regular size. Pita is usually 4–10 inches in diameter, whereas regular-sized naan is often more than 10 inches in size. The mini naans can be as small as 3 to 4 inches in size.
Pita bread comes from the Middle East, while naan originated in India. Both are used for a variety of dishes, including Mediterranean and Indian. In fact, both pita and naan are now so popular and well known that they are used all over the world in hundreds of dishes. Depending on the dish, the breads can often be used interchangeably.
The basic ingredients of these two breads vary somewhat. Pita usually requires only flour (white or whole wheat), salt, water, and yeast, although sometimes other ingredients are used as well. This includes oils and sugars, which add flavor and extend the shelf life of the bread.
Naan, on the other hand, usually requires more ingredients and a baking method that is a little more complex. In addition to flour, salt, water, and yeast, naan uses oil, yogurt, and pure butter. Sometimes, spices such as cumin are also used, but of course, it’s the butter that gives naan its soft texture and its yummy flavor.
Neither of these breads has tons of sugar. As a general rule, pita bread is lower in calories and fat than naan is. Naan is higher in calories and fat simply because of its added ingredients, such as butter and yogurt.
Can Pita Bread and Naan Be Used Interchangeably?
You can use pita bread in place of naan, but usually not the other way around, since naan doesn’t have a pocket. That being said, some pita breads also do not have pockets, and if that’s the case, many people use them for dips and curries, similar to what naan bread can be used for. Greek pita bread usually has no pocket, and it is often fluffier and softer than regular pita bread.
In short, pita is thin, has a pocket, and is meant for making sandwiches. Naan, on the other hand, is made for dipping and is therefore softer and fluffier.