Make This Fancy Mille-feuille With 3 Ingredients

Make This Fancy Mille-feuille With 3 Ingredients

Assembling cheap packaged ingredients to create something upscale is a way of life. When it comes to desserts, it’s a way of life that I fully subscribe to. For example, faking an exquisite French dessert from a Snack Pack. Is it “authentic?” Well, let’s call it my authentic. 

Making puff pastry from scratch is noble, but it is also time-consuming. On a day like today, which happens to be Valentine’s Day, turning out a beautiful dessert within a reasonable time frame might be more important than nobility. Here’s the easy, cheap way to make a show-stopping mille-feuille that looks fancy and expensive. (Will this dessert reflect that your love is easy and cheap? I don’t know, but it does mean you’re smart.)

The three ingredients

Boxes of powdered sugar, puff pastry, and two containers of pudding on a table.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Mille-feuille, also called a Napoleon, or a vanilla slice in some parts, is composed of puff pastry layered with a pastry cream filling, and a topping. The topping might be feathered fondant icing, or a decorative layer of powdered sugar. The dessert is a delicate textural combination of flaky pastry and creamy vanilla filling that melts in your mouth. 

Making puff pastry, as I mentioned, is hard work. The classic version is a laminated dough, which means the dough layers are striped with fat in an exacting manner. Even “quick puff” has a particular technique for rolling the dough, and it’s easy to muck up. Pastry cream is, essentially vanilla pudding, but one that requires carefully cooking egg yolks so they stay smooth and not chunky. 

Luckily, the grocery store has our back. Instead of making puff pastry, hit the grocery store freezer aisle and grab a box. If you can find a brand made from butter and not oil or shortening, all the better for flavor. Cruise by the pudding section and grab a vanilla Snack Pack. Let’s keep the topping simple. On your way to the register, pick up a box of powdered sugar. You’re about to give the closest French bakery a run for their money.

How to make the easiest mille-feuille

1. Bake the puff pastry

A hand lifting parchment paper off of a sheet of puff pastry.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Thaw the puff pastry according to the package’s directions. You’ll need two sheet pans; one should be able to nest into the other. Line the larger sheet pan, the bottom one, with parchment paper and unfold the thawed puff pastry onto it. Dock the puff pastry all over with a fork and lay another sheet of parchment on top of the pastry. Put this in the freezer for about 15 minutes, and preheat your oven to 400°F.

A hand placing sheet pans on top of other sheet pans.

I used two more sheet pans to weigh down the pastry because mine are lightweight. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

When the oven is ready and the puff pastry has chilled, lay the second sheet pan on top of the parchment-covered puff pastry. So you should have a puff pastry “sandwich” of one sheet pan, parchment, pastry, parchment, and another sheet pan. The purpose of docking the pastry with a fork and the second sheet pan on top is to weigh down the puff pastry and help it maintain a flat shape. Un-weighted, puff pastry will puff up so dramatically and irregularly that you would not be able to get even layers with it. I doubled up on sheet pan “weights” because mine are both kind of light.

Bake it for 15 minutes and rotate the pans. Bake it for another 10 minutes and lift off the top pan and parchment to check on it. The puff pastry should be set and dry. The edges will be taking on a bit of color. If the center is very light in color, bake it for an additional three to five minutes. Remove the tray and replace the top parchment and second sheet tray. This will help maintain the flat shape. Allow it to cool completely for about 20 minutes. 

2. Fill and assemble the mille-feuille

A sheet of baked puff pastry with trimmed edges.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Place the cooled sheet of puff pastry on a cutting board and carefully trim the very edges off to expose the flaky layers. This is a chance for you to even out any weird edges, too. Then slice the sheet into thirds, width-wise. Be patient—the pastry is strong but also brittle.

Pastry sliced into three planks.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Scoop the vanilla pudding out of the packages and spread it evenly onto two of the slices. I used three pudding packs split between the two slices. Don’t do too much or the filling could ooze out, and besides, you want a balanced bite of puff pastry and pudding. 

Pudding spread over two out of three sheets of pastry.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Stack one of the layers on top of the other. Press lightly to make sure there’s good contact. Place the final piece of pastry on top and press again. Leave the pastry in the fridge like this until you’re ready to serve it. While you shouldn’t make this dessert the day before, you can keep it in the fridge for a few hours before you’re ready to slice it. This will help it set, but too much time in the fridge will cause the pastry to become soft.

A note on slicing and assembly: If you want to pipe out the pudding decoratively, you can slice the pastry into individual rectangle servings first. Then pipe out the pudding layers with a piping bag and stack them. This means you don’t have to fuss with slicing later and possibly making a mess with squished-out filling.

3. Slice and serve

With a serrated knife, slice the mille-feuille widthwise into individual servings. Be patient as you cut with a sawing motion. I like to grab the layers with my non-dominant hand so they don’t compress. If any pudding pops out, just run your finger along the edge to make it flush with the pastry. You’ll probably get four or five slices. Before plating, dust the tops heavily with powdered sugar. Garnish your dessert with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or simply as is. 

Cheap and Easy Mille-feuille Recipe


  • 1 sheet of store-bought puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 or 3 vanilla pudding packs
  • Powdered sugar for garnishing

1. Line the larger sheet pan with parchment paper and unfold the thawed puff pastry onto it. Dock the puff pastry thoroughly with a fork and lay a second sheet of parchment on top of the pastry. Chill it in the freezer for about 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Lay a second sheet tray “weight” on top of the parchment covered puff pastry and bake it for 25 minutes, rotating the tray after the first 15 minutes. Remove the top tray and the parchment topper. Reserve them for cooling. If the pastry is very pale in the center, continue baking for another 3 to 5 minutes.

3. To cool the pastry, replace the second parchment and sheet tray toppers to preserve the flat shape. Cool completely. 

4. Use a serrated knife and trim the outer edges off of the puff pastry. Cut the pastry into three equal rectangles. Spread vanilla pudding onto two of the three pieces. About a third of an inch-thick layer. Stack one on top of the other and press gently to make good contact. Top them with the final piece of pastry and press gently again. Keep it in the fridge for up to six hours until you’re ready to serve it. 

When you’re ready to serve the mille-feuille, slice it into individual servings about two-inches wide. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. Keep leftovers wrapped well in the fridge.

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