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Refreezing Thawed Puff Pastry Dough

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2013

When you can't use an entire box of store-bought puff pastry, is it OK to refreeze dough that’s already been thawed?

Whether store-bought or homemade, puff pastry is made by laminating fat between multiple layers of dough. When puff pastry is baked, the water in the dough turns to steam, creating flaky pockets.

To find out if we could reuse leftovers, we purchased two common brands: Dufour Pastry Kitchens, made with butter, and Pepperidge Farm, made with butter and shortening. We allowed a sheet from each brand to thaw overnight in the refrigerator (per the package directions). We then cut rounds of dough with a cookie cutter from half of each sheet and baked them until bronzed and cooked through. Meanwhile, we rewrapped the leftover doughs (being sure not to compress the layers) and put them back in the freezer. Two days later, we thawed the doughs and baked more rounds.

We couldn’t tell the difference between the once and twice-frozen Pepperidge Farm pastry, made with butter and shortening. But we did notice that the refrozen all-butter Dufour pastry didn’t rise quite as high as the control sample when baked. Why? Butter has a lower melting point than shortening. This means that during the freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle, butter melts more readily than shortening does. And when the butter melts, the pastry layers adhere, so refrozen dough is unable to rise quite as high.

That said, the effect is fairly minimal, and in the future we’ll feel comfortable refreezing thawed pastry dough, even when it’s made with just butter.