Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

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

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.

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.

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!

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

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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

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 🙂

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

245 Comments

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  1. This recipe turned out great for making cream puffs! I used soy milk instead of dairy milk and it didn’t seem to be a problem. I omitted the sugar. My oven tends to run hot, so I reduced each baking temperature by 25 degrees. I turned off the oven at the end of the baking time and left them for 10 minutes so they wouldn’t collapse. They were light and perfectly hollow. I filled them with creme patisserie and topped them with chocolate ganache.

  2. Hi, Sally! (And Sally’s assistants!) I am thinking of making these for my parents’ anniversary. I want to make them like Gougères. How much cheese should I use and how should I go about doing this with this recipe? (Should I filled them with cheese after baking or fold cheese into the batter?)

    Thank you so much! I love all of your recipes and I hope you and your family are safe and healthy during these times! Peace be with you.

    1. Hi! I recommend finding a gougères recipe and using this pastry for them. It’s usually about 1 cup of shredded cheddar added right after the eggs.

      1. Thank you so much!!

  3. These turned out really well for me. Just one question though. My batter wasn’t as yellow or shiny as Sally’s. Is the color supposed to be as yellow and shiny in the picture, or is it just the lighting/camera?

    1. Hi Jenna, it could be the lighting, but also the amount of eggs. Did you use all 4 to reach the desired texture/look? (Shiny, thick, and smooth with a pipeable consistency?) I saw your other note about whole milk– best to use whole milk if you try this pastry again.

      1. Ok, thank you!

  4. I have a question. I’m unable to squeeze a pastry bag and am wondering if I dollop the dough and form it carefully with my fingers if that will work. Thank you.

    1. Hi Deb! Are you able to squeeze any bag at all? I recommend a regular zipped-top bag instead. Or you can dollop the batter with a spoon and smooth it down with a moistened fingertip as directed.

  5. I happened to make this and they turned out pretty good. I think they were in the oven too long. They were very crispy and VERY golden brown. I think that extra time in the oven was unnecessary . I filled them with pastry cream a ganache for sweet, and goat cheese for savory. Really tasty!

  6. Hi Sally,
    I was wondering how and why I should change the oven temp in the baking process. I tend to avoid recipes that ask to change the temp in the baking process because I don’t know how to. Can you answer this?

    1. Hi Alexis, You simply preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) and bake your pastry for 20 minutes. Then without opening the oven door you turn your temperature dial down to 350°F (177°C) for the last 10-15 minutes of the bake time. Do not open the oven as the pastries cook!

  7. Very amateur baker here and loved making these! I wanted to try something a bit more challenging, the video helped a lot and I found the recipe very easy to follow. I made these with your lemon curd recipe (which also came out delicious). Thank you!

  8. I made these today, following the instructions exactly and they came out perfectly! Just like a bakery but even better. It was my first time with this kind of dough and the video was so helpful. Perfect recipe and I’m glad I gave it a try!

  9. Hi Sally! I made this recipe and it turned out almost great, with the only exception that the bottom was totally black but the rest of the pastry wasn’t burned at all. Can you please tell me a tip or trick because if I got them out earlier they would have been raw.

    1. Hi Sofia! So glad you tried these. I’m happy to help for next time, though. The uneven baking can be fixed with a couple small adjustments. I recommend lowering the oven temperature by 25°F. Lower the oven rack so the pastries are lower in the oven, too. Use a light colored metal pan. Go easy on the water when dampening the parchment paper– and try a lighter coating of egg wash, too. I suspect it was mostly excess water and/or egg wash burning on the bottom.

  10. Hi I just made a batch, but I was a bit confused about the dough. I added all four eggs, but the mixture was not as smooth as shown in your pictures. The dough wouldn’t drop from the spoon unless with a firm hit against the bowl. Should I add more egg mixture, or did I just overmix it? The outcome was fine. Most of them puffed up fine, only a few collapsed afterwards. The shell was a bit thinner and softer than the commercial ones. Could it be due to the dough was spooned onto the parchment paper, instead of being piped?

    1. Hi plegfx, thank you for trying this recipe. It sounds like your dough could have benefitted from a little more egg. And I definitely recommend piping if you can!

  11. All went well except they collapsed after taking them out! Still tasted great!

  12. gedelyn sayco says:

    hi sally made this and the taste is great using also the homemade whipped cream you shared as filling. The color us nice just like at the picture. However, the bottom has a hole? I mean not burnt but a space underneath has formed.

  13. Hi Sally! What if i want to make bigger cream puffs. Will I still follow the same baking time and temperature?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nina, The temperature will remain the same, the bake time will be a bit longer if you make them significantly larger.

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