Italian “fast food” tends to be much nicer than American fare. It’s common to see piadina — Italian flatbread — folded over delicious sandwich ingredients for a quick meal or snack.
Check out even more Italian recipes you can make at home.
Originally published April 2020; this post has been updated.
Making Piadina Italian Flatbread from Scratch
There’s no baking required for this Italian flatbread, and it’s yeast free, so there’s not a long rise time. It’s truly an easy recipe that utilizes simple pantry ingredients. This soft Italian bread is bendable, making it just right for folding around your favorite sandwich ingredients.
It’s made entirely on the stovetop, which makes it a nice homemade bread to make during the hot summer months — no need to heat the oven.
Flour — When I bake with all-purpose flour I opt for the unbleached version. Bleached flour is very white, but it’s also treated with bleaching agents that I don’t really need in my food.
Olive oil — Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil so you really get the authentic flavor.
Baking soda — Provides our leavening!
Salt — Select a high-quality salt.
How to Make This Recipe
Combine dry ingredients and then stir in the wet. Divide into desired size balls and let rest for 20 minutes at room temperature – that’s it!
I like to use my cast iron pan, but you can use any skillet you have. The trick is to get the skillet very hot before you begin cooking. Once the pan is hot, spread a very small amount of olive oil on the bottom of the pan.
Transfer an uncooked piadina to the hot skillet and allow to cook for about a minute, then flip to the other side. Cook each side a second time, for about 30 seconds each, to attain a nicely browned surface. I rolled mine out as I cooked them, transferring each flatbread to the hot skillet as I rolled it.
Assembling the Flatbread Sandwiches
What I noticed about filled piadina in Italy is that unlike an American sandwich, there’s not usually any sort of spread, like mayonnaise or mustard.
Instead, these easy sandwiches are filled with high-quality meats and cheeses. A simple speck (ham) and cheese is as basic — and delicious — as it gets!
You’ll find piadina available hot or cold. A hot version is much like a Mexican quesadilla, but with ingredients like melted cheese, meats, and fresh veggies (hello, arugula!). Perhaps a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze as a final touch! (Watch a hot piadina made here.)
What’s the difference between a piadina and a tortilla?
Namely the fats used – lard is traditional in tortilla where of course the Italians use olive oil. They have the same ingredients otherwise, though a tortilla is generally pressed or rolled more thinly. A piadina is thicker and pillowy.
Can I use this for pizza?
You can certainly use this flatbread, well, flat! It would work great as a thin pizza crust. A piadina is typically folded and filled, but you can top it as well. You could also give this delicious focaccia bread recipe a try for holding your favorite pizza toppings.
- 2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt (scant)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Stir olive oil into dry ingredients until well combined. Add water and mix with a fork until almost all of the flour has been incorporated.
- Use your hands to continue mixing until the dough forms a smooth ball. You can do this right in the bowl or turn the dough out onto a flat work surface.
- Form the dough into a log shape and cut into 4 or 5 pieces, depending on how large you'd like the piadina to be.
- Roll each piece into a smaller ball. Allow to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature under a damp tea towel or plastic wrap if you use that in your kitchen.
- Lightly dust a flat surface with flour. One at a time, press dough ball down with your hand and then use a rolling pin to roll dough very thin.
- Place a frying pan or griddle over high heat until it's very hot. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in the pan and spread it around. Transfer one piadina at a time into the hot pan. Cook for about one minute. You may see small bubbles form on the surface of the flatbread.
- Flip the piadina and cook for another minute. Cook each side for an additional 30 seconds or so, until the flatbread begins to brown. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining piadina.
If the dough is too stiff, drizzle in about a tablespoon of water. If it's too loose, add about a tablespoon of flour.
Serve piadina as a side dish to hearty meals, or fill it with your favorite cold cuts for a light main dish meal.
Store cooked piadina in an airtight container for several days. Warm them in a hot pan to make them more flexible.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 551mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g