How to Make Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

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Deliciously soft and creamy cream puffs with homemade light and airy choux pastry! Easy pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. 🙂

How to make light and airy choux pastry for cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome to the September Baking Challenge! By popular request, we’re working on a French pastry dough this month: 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 for a monthly baking challenge because if you stick to the 1 basic recipe below, the door to DOZENS of other pastries is wide open.

Deliciously soft and creamy cream puffs with homemade light and airy choux pastry! Easy pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredients for homemade choux pastry on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!!

How to make light and airy choux pastry for cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!!

How to make light and airy choux pastry for cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 for choux pastry on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

How to make light and airy choux pastry for cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make light and airy choux pastry for cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

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!

Moisten the parchment paper when baking choux pastry. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to pipe choux pastry on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make light and airy choux pastry for cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These mounds bake into this golden puffy pastry! 

Light and airy choux pastry recipe and video tutorial. The BEST homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade vanilla whipped cream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Light and airy cream puffs with homemade choux pastry and vanilla whipped cream! Easy pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deliciously soft and creamy cream puffs with homemade light and airy choux pastry! Easy pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deliciously soft and creamy cream puffs with homemade light and airy choux pastry! Easy pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

The BEST profiteroles with homemade choux pastry and decadent chocolate ganache. Fill the airy choux pastry shells with your favorite ice cream. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The BEST profiteroles with homemade choux pastry and decadent chocolate ganache. Fill the airy choux pastry shells with your favorite ice cream. Homemade pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Join the September Baking Challenge

Make the choux pastry recipe below and turn it into your favorite pastry such as the cream puffs or profiteroles pictured today and detailed in the recipe notes. You can also use my choux pastry recipe below to make eclairs, churros, croquembouche, French cruller donuts, choux beignets, or gougères. Let your creativity shine this month because with the choux pastry recipe below, your possibilities are endless!

If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate September Baking Challenge:

After you make the pastry or alternate recipe, share your photos throughout September using #sallysbakingchallenge on your public Instagram or Twitter, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me. By sharing or sending your photo, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway!

Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

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

Directions:

  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.

Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. For the pictured cream puffs: 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).
  2. For the pictured profiteroles: 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 🙂

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Deliciously soft and creamy cream puffs with homemade light and airy choux pastry and rich chocolate ganache! Easy pate a choux recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

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

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

117 Comments

All Comments

  1. I started my choux pastry adventure last year. We made classic and banana. They were so good. And very easy. However… i would LOVE if you would share how to do the french cruellers! They are my all time favorite donut! I had no idea how many things you could make with this dough! So cool!

    1. Isn’t it great? Choux is so so versatile! I’ll have to eventually try my hand at French crullers. Thank you for the suggestion!

  2. I just finished making these they were much better than my first attempt a year or two ago, but my husband mentioned that they tasted eggy. Is that just the nature of choux dough or do you think I added the eggs too early? Or too many? I intentionally let it cool before adding them and it did not look like the eggs cooked in the batter.

    Some of them ended up being beautiful, but I had a couple that ended up being quite flat. All in all, they were actually easy to make and your instructions were easy to follow! I will be exploring more with these soon like, maybe tomorrow!

    1. Hi Andrea! They naturally taste a little eggy. You didn’t add the eggs too early. How was the consistency? Very thin? If so, maybe there was too much egg. I’m so glad that you gave choux pastry another try!

  3. Hi Sally,I just made my prfitrols,,but I changed a little in the way of baking,,I didn’t brush the parchment paper, baked them on silicone mat ,I sprayed the profitrols with water and took longer in the oven to turn golden brown.i filled hem with my homemade vanilla ice cream… inspired by yours… thanks Sally…

  4. I made the cream puffs and eclairs today! Possibly the best thing I have ever made. I could have eaten the pastry cream by itself right out of the bowl. Ok I sort of did eat some out of the bowl-it was so delicious!! Thanks again Sally for the best recipes and instructions ever!

    1. Hi Michelle! After the eggs are added, you can beat in 4 ounces of shredded cheese (any kind) and some fresh or dried herbs. Bake as directed.

      1. HI Sally that was fine and it did pipe nicely my other problem was they all fell flat I thought it was maybe too much moisture . Could that have been the case I wet the parchment paper beforehand ?

  5. Just made these today and they are perfect! I used my food processor since I don’t have a mixer (stand or hand). They cooked faster than recipe, but my oven is tiny and fickle. We live in a 3rd world country and having easy luxuries like these is great. I also made your pastry cream from your Boston Cream Cake recipe and it also is a great success! Found you on Pinterest and so glad I did.

  6. Thanks for the reply Sally! I think what I did wrong was that I didn’t let the water, butter, salt, sugar, flour mixture cool at all and put the eggs in to the hot pan. I tried again today and followed instructions to a T and even used weight in grams rather than cups and it worked. phew! I thought that I just got lucky the first time but it really is just like a chemistry protocol and needs every detail to be followed. 🙂

  7. These are delicious Sally! I made a half batch and was so pleased with how my cream puffs turned out. I added orange juice and zest to flavour the dough, cream and chocolate, what a combination! The only issue I had was the puffs stuck to the paper despite moistening it, and I found a silicone mat was better and the puffs came off easily 🙂 Thank you for another winning recipe!

  8. I think the size of the eggs one uses make a difference. My mom went to a Chicago cooking school in the 1950’s. Her recipe calls for 4 medium-sized eggs. I get eggs from a farmer. They are varied in color and size. The four eggs I used created a dough that was too wet, so the result were flat cream puffs. If the egg amount was given in grams or ozs ( without shells), I thinks the results would be more consistent.

  9. Hi Anna! Did you do anything differently the 2nd time? Is the weather a little more humid today? Maybe you used a little more egg than yesterday? A couple factors could definitely be the culprit! Sorry you had trouble today.

  10. Hi Lisa! I’m so glad you enjoy and trust this choux pastry recipe! How frustrating the overnight batch didn’t puff up. Was the dough covered in the refrigerator?

  11. Hi Debbie. I personally have not tried the choux pastry with almond milk. You can use an extra 1/2 cup of water instead of almond milk though.

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Reviews

  1. We made these and they came out very good. I had my teens from church over and it was a blast making these. Next time I will make a little bigger. They came out smaller than expected.(my own fault)I should have baked them for less time . But overall very easy to make. Instead of ganache on top. The girls put it inside with their Ice cream. Thankyou for all the pictures and the video. They really helped us alot.

  2. Incredible, in-depth recipe for a beginner like me! If anyone worries about the right consistency of the choux (like I did), I learned online that, if you put it between your thumb and forefinger and then pull the fingers apart, the bottom peak of choux should be limp and fall over. This was perfect for my eclairs!

Questions

  1. Is it important to use 2% or whole milk? We normally keep 1% milk and fat-free Lactaid in the house, so I’m wondering if it would be ok to use one of those, and if I should alter anything with the recipe if I used milk or Lactaid with less or no fat. Thanks.

  2. Hi Sally! When making the profiteroles, do you out the ganache on right before eating? Or can I assemble them as a whole & freeze until ready to eat?

      1. Thank you so much!!! Mine didn’t puff up as much, but they taste delish! I will try again next weekend!

  3. Hi, sally! I want to make these smaller, but idk how to adjust the time because there are two temperatures.

    Normally, i would time the eyeball the first batch, then adjust on the succeeding. But i’m not sure how to do that here. Help please? Thanks

  4. How long will the baked choux pastry keep for at room temperature?

    I want to bake the eclairs today and full them tomorrow.

    1. Hi Holly! See the recipe instructions. 🙂 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.

  5. Hello, Sally! I am curious how long these would keep filled with whipped cream/pastry cream before they would get soggy? Pastry cream, especially. Would it be okay to keep them filled overnight in the fridge? Thank you!

  6. Hello, I was wondering if it matters that I use real butter and lactose milk? I might be trying to make it for a lactose-free crowd.

  7. Can you double this recipe? Or is it better to make two separate batches? I’m feeding a crowd lol made this for last month challenge and it was delicious and way easier than I ever thought with your tutorial!

    1. Hi Nikki! For the best results, I recommend making 2 separate batches. Don’t want the texture to be ruined from working with too much batter.

  8. Hi Sally!
    I made these yesterday and they turned out beautifully with lots of air in them. I made them again today and the did not puff up at all. They didn’t fall flat, they just didn’t puff up. I was so disappointed and perplexed! Do you have any suggestions as to what I may have done wrong?

  9. What is the inside of the shell supposed to look/feel like? I made a batch today and while I got them to be hollow, there are some pieces from the inside that feel too doughy when I rub a bit of it between my fingers. Is this right or are they underbaked?

  10. I have made your recipe a couple of times, always baking the fresh dough immediately. They’ve been beautifully perfect and puffy! This time I made dough and immediately made a test batch, which were perfect. I put dough in fridge overnight but they didn’t puff up. They did not form the little pocket or double in size. I let the dough warm up to pipeable consistency before baking as usual. Instead of filling them, we “dipped” them in curd, cream etc. What might have gone wrong?

  11. Hi Sally. I made these yesterday and they turned out beautifully! My only issue was that they weren’t as hollow as I thought they would be.

    I filled them up using the toothpick method; poked a hole and filled the puff by poking a tip inside. I squeezed whipped cream until I could squeeze no more. But when some of the puffs were bitten into, there was only a bit of cream in them. The rest of the puff was empty. I did notice that there were almost ‘floors’ or levels of dough inside so only one layer would have the whipped cream and the rest would be empty.

    Do you have any suggestions for how to fix this?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ikhlas! I suggest poking other holes in the baked pastry, all over if needed, and squeezing a little whipped cream in to ensure the whole thing is filled. That’s what I do when I have a feeling it’s not completely full. 🙂

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