Filo cups are specifically shaped food containers made of filo dough. Filo dough is a unique kind of unleavened dough, where many thin sheets make up a thicker dough wrapping or layering component for food. This type of dough is known by many other names in other food cultures and regions of the world, but the most common name in many commercial markets is filo or phyllo dough. Both spellings of the word come from the Greek word for “leaf.” This meaning reflects the thin, papery nature of the individual dough layers.
The common ingredients in the dough that makes up filo cups are flour and water. Cooks may also use a small amount of olive oil or other vegetable oil, as well as vinegar or a wine-based or fermented liquid. Although not all recipes call for a lot of oil or butter, many cooks use this element between each layer of the dough for a specific textural result.
Although cooks can make filo cups of handmade filo dough, many of these items are pre-manufactured and sold commercially, sometimes with preservatives to help the food keep longer on the shelf. Filo cups are often frozen and sold for home or commercial use, where more ready-made items will be sold already filled. The ready-made cups are easy to finish, and usually come with instructions for baking in a conventional oven for a specific time at a specific high temperature.
Some of the most common uses for filo dough are in Greek dishes. One of these is spinach pies or spanakopita, where the filo dough is the wrap for a spinach spread. To make spinach pies with filo cups, cooks will often allow the top of the filling to be seen, where they might otherwise use sheets of filo dough to wrap the entire spinach pie.
Filo cups can also be used for small quiches, Greek lasagnas, or any other food combination where the thin, papery dough complements the filling ingredients. These are often baked to allow the dough to get its unique papery texture. Although many of these foods contain animal products and are perishable, some versions may use vegetarian recipes to give the individual small cups more shelf life after they are baked.