Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

cream puffs

Today I’m teaching you how to make choux pastry (pâte à choux) with about 100 pictures to show you how it’s done. If you’re not digging all the step-by-step photos, video tutorial, and explanations, scroll down to the recipe to get started. 🙂

overhead image of choux pastry after baking

By popular request, we’re tackling a French pastry dough: choux pastry, pronounced shoe pastry. Or, in French, pâte à choux. I learned how to make choux pastry in the French baking class I took earlier this summer. We spent an afternoon diving deep into this versatile classic and I’m sharing everything I learned with you today.

“Choux” means cabbage and pâte means paste. So, in other words, cabbage paste. Why is it called “cabbage paste” you ask? The name comes from the resemblance the pastry has to tiny cabbages. When baked, the pastry puffs up with little crinkles and ruffles– pictured above. Little cabbages! But instead of cabbage paste, let’s simply call it choux pastry.

Choux has the reputation for being difficult, but– as I witnessed with several other bakers in our French pastry class– it’s surprisingly simple. Master this easy recipe and you can make many pastries most bakers are scared to try. Pipe logs and fill with pastry cream for eclairs, pipe dollops and sandwich with whipped cream or ice cream for cream puffs and profiteroles, mix it with cheese and herbs for savory gougères, deep fry it for churros, French cruller donuts, choux beignets, the list goes on.

Choux pastry is a wonderful recipe to master because if you stick to the 1 basic recipe below, the door to DOZENS of other pastries is wide open.

cream puffs

Ingredients for choux pastry

Today I’m showing you how to make sweet cream puffs and profiteroles. Later this week, I’ll show you how to make eclairs. (Update: here is the eclairs recipe!) Feel free to use this basic choux dough in any of the pastries listed above!

TWO SIMPLE RULES FOR CHOUX PASTRY

  1. stick to the ingredients and measurements
  2. don’t open the oven while it bakes

The 7 ingredients are staples that you likely have in the kitchen right now: butter, water, milk, sugar, salt, flour, and eggs. Some recipes use all water instead of milk + water, but I find the combination yields a slightly softer and richer pastry. Not many choux pastry recipes call for sugar, but only 2 teaspoons provide a little flavor. The bulk of the pastry dough is eggs. Eggs provide some leavening, allowing the pastries to puff up when baked. The centers are soft, light, and airy. The exterior is golden and crisp. A beautiful marriage of textures!!

choux pastry dough in a saucepan

Choux pastry comes together in about 10-15 minutes. Most of the ingredients are cooked together on the stove; this initial cooking causes the starch in the flour to gelatinize, which will help the pastry hold onto steam and puff up. The Spruce Eats has an interesting article explaining the science of choux pastry if you’re into that!!

choux pastry dough in a saucepan

After the choux pastry dough is gently cooked on the stove, transfer to a mixing bowl and add AROUND 4 beaten eggs. That’s the finicky part– the number of eggs in choux pastry isn’t really consistent between batches. Humidity, the exact size of egg, or an accidental extra 1/2 teaspoon of flour creates inconsistencies. 4 beaten eggs is an ideal starting point, though. Only add as much as you need to create a shiny, thick, and smooth dough with a pipeable consistency. I usually leave a few teaspoons of beaten egg behind, which can be used with the egg wash.

Beaten eggs in a glass measuring cup

The yolks in the eggs bring most of the flavor and color to choux pastry:

choux pastry dough in a stand mixer bowl

choux pastry dough in a glass bowl

At this point, our choux pastry dough is complete! Yes, that’s really all you need to do before shaping/baking it. Cook 6 ingredients on the stove, then beat in the eggs.

Now let’s make our cream puffs or profiteroles.

CREAM PUFFS

Filled with flavored whipped creams. Today I’m using homemade vanilla whipped cream, aka Crème Chantilly. Top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or a spoonful of chocolate ganache.

PROFITEROLES

Filled with ice cream and frozen. Topped with chocolate ganache. Profiteroles were my FAVORITE!!! We used butter pecan ice cream and coffee ice cream.

Choux Pastry Video Tutorial

Watch me make the choux pastry and shape/bake into cream puffs and profiteroles:

 

Do you have a better understanding of the process after watching the video tutorial? Not too scary at all, right? You totally got this!

brushing water onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

ONE TRICK I LEARNED

And it makes a huge difference in (1) how much the pastry puffs up and (2) how delicious the pastry tastes. Bake the pastries on parchment paper, the BEST nonstick surface for this choux pastry dough. But before you pipe the dough onto the parchment paper, moisten it with water. You can see me doing this in the video tutorial above.

Why? Think of cheesecake. We bake cheesecakes in a water bath, right? Cheesecake, like choux pastry, is egg-heavy. Eggs need a moist and humid environment in the oven to (1) properly rise and (2) avoid drying out and burning.

Water moistened parchment paper = perfectly puffed up pastries with a deliciously light center and crisp exterior. Pastry perfection.

piping choux pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

For cream puffs and profiteroles, use Wilton 1A piping tip. Pipe 2-inch mounds about 3 inches apart. (Watch the video above for a good visual.) You could also use a zipped-top bag and cut off the corner for easy piping. Using a water moistened finger, smooth down the peaks and lightly brush each mound with egg wash.

choux pastry before baking

These mounds bake into this golden puffy pastry! 

choux pastry after baking

homemade whipped cream in a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment

Split open the baked and cooled pastries, then fill with homemade whipped cream, lemon curd, jam, pastry cream, a combination of these, or your favorite filling!! You can also poke a hole in the pastries and pipe the filling inside.

Check out these beautiful hollow pastries, thanks to the steam created from the moisture inside and outside the baking dough!

spooning whipped cream filling into baked cream puffs

overhead image of cream puffs

zoomed in image of a cream puff

And for profiteroles, ice cream with a generous shower of ganache. I teach you how to make these pictured cream puffs and profiteroles in the recipe notes below.

pouring chocolate ganache onto profiteroles

profiteroles on a white cake stand

Print
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zoomed in image of a cream puff

How to Make Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 16 puffs
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French

Description

Choux Pastry can be used in anything from cream puffs, profiteroles, and eclairs to churros, croquembouche, French cruller donuts, choux beignets, and gougères! It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare and the options for filling and shaping are endless.


Ingredients

Choux Pastry

  • 1/2 cup (115g; 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) 2% or whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk or water

Equipment


Instructions

  1. Watch the video in the blog post above; it will help guide you through the next few steps.
  2. Make the choux pastry dough: Combine the butter, water, milk, salt, and granulated sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted. Bring mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and add the flour all at once. Stir until the flour is completely incorporated and a thick dough clumps into a ball. Mash the dough ball against the bottom and sides of the pan for 1 minute, which gently cooks the flour. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or, if using a handheld mixer, a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool down for a few minutes before adding the eggs in the next step.
  3. Read this step in full before starting. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the eggs in 3-4 separate additions mixing for 30 seconds between each. The mixture will look curdled at first, but will begin to come together as the mixer runs. Pour in the final addition of beaten eggs very slowly. Stop adding when the choux pastry has reached the desired texture: shiny, thick, and smooth with a pipeable consistency. I usually leave a few teaspoons of beaten egg behind, which can be used with the egg wash.
  4. Your choux pastry dough is complete! You can use it immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  5. For cream puff and profiterole shells: Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment with water, which creates a humid environment for the pastry shells allowing them to puff up without drying out or burning.
  6. Transfer choux pastry dough to a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1A piping tip. Pipe 2-inch mounds about 3 inches apart. Watch the video in the blog post above for a visual. You can also use a zipped-top bag and cut off the corner for easy piping. Using a water moistened finger, smooth down the peaks and lightly brush each with egg wash.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes then, keeping the pastries in the oven, reduce oven to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for 10-15 more minutes until golden brown. Do not open the oven as the pastries cook, as cool air will prevent them from properly puffing up. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before filling.
  8. Split open pastries and fill with homemade whipped cream, lemon curd, pastry cream, jam, a combination of these, or your favorite filling. You can also poke a hole in the pastries and pipe the filling inside. For my pictured cream puffs and profiteroles, see recipe notes.
  9. Cover and store leftover filled pastries in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cover and store unfilled pastries at room temperature for 1 day, in the refrigerator for 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before filling and serving.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare choux pastry dough through step 3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before shaping and baking.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Glass Measuring Cup | Wooden Spoon | Copper Saucepan | Baking SheetWilton #1A Round Piping Tip | Piping Bags | Pastry Brush
  3. Cream Puffs (pictured): Crack open each cooled pastry shell and generously spoon homemade whipped cream (it’s vanilla flavored, so it’s called Crème Chantilly) inside each. Top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or drizzle of chocolate ganache (ganache instructions below).
  4. Profiteroles (pictured): Crack open each cooled pastry shell and fill with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Freeze for 1 hour or up to 1 day. Top with chocolate ganache. For the chocolate ganache, finely chop two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars and place in a medium bowl. Heat 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Allow to cool for 3 minutes before pouring over pastries.

Adapted from Baltimore Chef Shop, where I took my pastry class 🙂

one cream puff topped with chocolate ganache

319 Comments

  1. I made this recipe, following directions exactly, and found this to be a wonderful first-time experience with choux pastry! Thank you for the multiple pictures, video and detailed written instructions. Now, I’m addicted. 😉

  2. I made this recipe and it is soo yummy! Easy to follow and baked perfect according to the time and instructions.

  3. Thank you, very helpful video and instructions…
    My puffs are not as firm and crispy as I would like…they deflate a bit…
    I baked them @ 375 for 25 min per another recipe.
    I noted that you baked @ 400 for 20 and then an additional 10-15 @ 375.
    I will try that next. Any other notes for a crispy exterior ?
    Does the size have anything to do with their success. Mine are a bit larger than yours.
    Thank you.

  4. I’m a rookie in the kitchen. This has always been one of my favorite desserts. I NEVER would have thought I could ever make something like this. I watched the video more than a few times, read and re-read the instructions. They came out perfect and I’m seriously addicted! I still can’t believe I made this! Thank you so much for all the info you included and the time you took to share this. Now I want to branch out and try different fillings and toppings. You have a new follower. Thank you!

  5. Lyn asked if making a larger sized Choux makes a difference and about cooking temperature differences. I have not tried this recipe yet but have a couple of store-bought jars of lemon curd I’m thinking about using.
    Please advise about using lower temperatures and/or making the choux in a different shape (like an oval shape or eclair shape) and just making it larger in general.
    Thank you for this recipe!!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tacy, Here is exactly how to make this choux pastry as a larger eclair!

      1. I am in the middle of making this. It seems very fluid not thick at all. What have I done???

  6. Tayana Cardoso says:

    Most perfect recipe!

  7. I never bake. But profiteroles are my girlfriend’s favorite. This recipe was excellent, I was able to easily follow along with the pictures and videos and they came out perfect.

  8. Hello, how many choux pastry will this recipe make? I want to make about 30 for Thanksgiving. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kris, This recipe yields about 16 puffs. For the best results, we recommend making 2 separate batches. Don’t want the texture to be ruined from working with too much batter!

      1. Thanks Stephanie!

  9. Hi Sally, is it okay to use margarine instead of unsalted butter?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      No, we do not recommend margarine here. Best to stick with real butter.

  10. Hi Sally,
    Thank you for the very detailed tutorial on pate choux.
    I live at 7,600 feet. What modifications do I need to make for this altitude? I also want to try the molten lava cake…. what would be those modifications?

    Thank you!!
    Suki

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      I wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  11. Will it work the same with soy milk?

  12. This recipe was easy to follow. The instructional video was a bonus! My whole family loves them! Perfect dessert for us on Thanksgiving today! Thank you!
    They turned out perfect and I followed your whipped cream recipe and my son loves it more than cool whip!!!

  13. Hello
    Thank you so much
    I made it and it was wonderful

    I am now just asking if I want to fry it as churros, what is the needed oil temperature at the beginning of the process and after that should I lower it?

    Thanks again

    1. Hi Maher, I’m so glad you enjoyed the choux pastry. For churros, I would recommend the same temperature for frying these homemade doughnuts: 375°F (191°C)

  14. Thank you for this great recipe Sally! I’m a beginner baker and I’ve literally been baking using all your recipes! I never thought I would be able to bake cream puffs at home but thanks to you I did! I surprised my parents with these and they loved it! I just have one question where would you recommend I place the baking tray in the oven? I placed mine in the middle rack and used the exact temperature as your recipe states and some of the puffs came out with their tops a little darker than golden brown. Should I have put it on the lower rack perhaps? Thanks again!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stacy, We are thrilled you have been enjoying our recipes and that these were a hit! If they baked well but were just a little brown on top, you can lower the oven rack so the pastries are lower in the oven. That’s an easy fix if you try them again!

  15. Wondering why mine are kind of wet inside like they’re not cooked

    1. Me too!!! The outdide is always perfect. More oven time would make it burn. What should be done to make inside not wet?

      1. Hi Kay Kay, I recommend lowering the oven temperature (try 350°F (177°C)) and extend the bake time, which should help the pastries cook more evenly.

  16. Made for first time. Always stayed away from making as figured too hard lol!
    Anyway first time success story. Will now be part of regular baking favourites

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so glad you decided to give this recipe a try, Rhonda. Thank you!

  17. Yakov Russell says:

    Help! I’ve tried this recipe twice and both times I ended up with egg bread. They didn’t rise or puff at all. I followed the recipe very carefully. What am I doing wrong?

  18. Simone Lazarus says:

    My dough was too runny and I followed exact measurements

    1. Hi Simone! I think it’s because of the eggs. You can place and beat the eggs in a separate bowl and pour them slowly into the mixture until you get the perfect texture. 😉

  19. Do you put the ganache on when you make them? Or right before serving?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly, If making Profiteroles you will fill with a scoop of your favorite ice cream and freeze for 1 hour or up to 1 day. Then you can make the ganache and pour on top before serving. See recipe notes for details!

  20. Fredie Marsault says:

    I am french and pate a choux is one of my very favorites. I learned to make them as a child. Your instructions are spot on. They are indeed fairly easy to make, once you know how to incorporate the right amount of egg.
    One trick you didn’t mention, that I learned way back when, was this: once the petits choux are baked, and before filling them, poke a whole in the bottom not too large but enough to allow you to remove the small amount of the dough that is not as cooked as the rest. You can you your finger or the handle of a teaspoon. That is usually a small amount at the base of the chou. Make sure to close the flap (as small as you can make it) after the filling is in.
    The reason you do that is that this small amount of “less-cooked” dough is harder to digest and keep repeating hours after you eat the delicious choux. Try it!

  21. This was so much fun to make! And so much easier than I imagined; definitely finding ways to use it often, thank you! I also made the lemon curd recipe linked in this pastry recipe- also fantastic.

  22. Yeah I got egg bread too, it sucked! And I’ve been making choux for years, I’ve even made reduced carb choux that was better than these stodgy doughy messes. I followed the directions exactly too. I have a classic recipe that uses water and oil, no dairy, but was too lazy to dig it out. Live and learn.

  23. I really want to make this recipe, but I don’t have parchment paper. Could I use silicon baking mats instead?

    1. Hi Lydia! I’ll try to answer your question;) of course, you can use a silicon mat for choux or eclairs ☺️

  24. Mine turned out a bit too dark, a bit too “eggy” tasting, and not quite light enough. I’m going to try a recipe without milk next time I think. I also think it’s a bit strange to egg wash a pastry that’s mostly eggs and butter…so I won’t be doing that again. They did puff up really nicely though.

  25. Great recipe with detailed instructions. I used margarine instead of butter and it still turned out great.

  26. Sally, do you recommend using the higher protein King Arthur All Purpose Flour for this? Looking forward to trying this later in the week!

    1. Hi Andi, I usually bake with King Arthur Flour– simply my preferred brand. Though I’ve made these with other brands when flour was hard to come by last year. Should be fine with any.

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