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. 🙂
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. So, in other words, cabbage pastry. Why is it called “cabbage” 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 pastry, let’s simply call it choux pastry.
Like other French pastries such as croissants or even croissant bread, 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.
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
- stick to the ingredients and measurements
- 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 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!
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.
The yolks in the eggs bring most of the flavor and color to choux pastry:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
↑ These mounds bake into this golden puffy pastry! ↓
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!
And for profiteroles, ice cream with a generous shower of chocolate ganache. I teach you how to make these pictured cream puffs and profiteroles in the recipe notes below.
See Your Choux Pastry!
Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂Print
How to Make Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Yield: 16 puffs
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: French
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.
- 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
- medium saucepan
- wooden spoon or rubber spatula
- handheld or stand mixer
- large mixing bowl
- 2 baking sheets
- parchment paper
- pastry brush
- piping bag (reusable or disposable)
- piping tip
- Watch the video in the blog post above; it will help guide you through the next few steps.
- 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.
- 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.
- Your choux pastry dough is complete! You can use it immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. There’s no need to bring it to room temperature after refrigerating. In fact, you can store it in a piping bag (see step 6) in the refrigerator and then pipe/bake right away. If it’s too stiff to pipe, though, let it warm to room temperature a bit as the oven preheats.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Glass Measuring Cup | Wooden Spoon | Saucepan | Baking Sheet | Wilton #1A Round Piping Tip | Reusable Piping Bags or Disposable Piping Bags | Pastry Brush
- 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).
- 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 🙂
Keywords: Choux Pastry, Pâte à Choux
Reader Comments & Reviews
High Sally…great recipes and instructions.
Have you ever used WHITE Chocolate ganache with these recipes? (Family favors Vanilla and white chocolate with recipes).
Hi Marilyn! Thank you! I absolutely LOVE white chocolate ganache. If you need a recipe for it, see my chocolate ganache recipe notes.
Hi Sally, I made your choux pastry filled it with pastry cream and topped with ganache for my daughters birthday yesterday….they were amazing, thank you so much for the recipe. Also made ur salted caramel and chocolate bars..too good it was
Made them this morning and could not believe how easy it was. Your step by step instructions were great. I filled them with vanilla bean whipped cream.
Thank you! Delicious!!!!
Thank you very much for this recipe, Sally (and all of the work that you put into helping us. I filled half of the pastries with cream and poured ganache over them and filled the rest with homemade lemon curd lightly mixed with beaten cream. They were delicious!
I used this recipe to make eclairs and I loved them! Such an easy recipe to do and so little time! These taste amazing!
Yours is the best instructional on Profiteroles that I have found (believe me, I looked at a lot of utube and read many recipes). The one question I haven’t seen addressed is whether to use a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Does it make a difference?
Hi Cheryl! In my experience testing the choux pastry, a flat baking sheet or jelly roll pan does NOT make a difference. Use whichever is more convenient for you.
You guys, these are so good! I had no issues with the recipe. They turned out cute and delicious.
Thanks for the meticulous recipe!
For dinner patties, I like preparing things ahead. So I am planning to make the choux in the morning, fill with cream chantilly and jam (lightly stirred before piping) then freeze and get out 10 minutes before pouring the chocolate ganache and serving.
My question is, can I also prepare my chocolate ganache in the morning? And how to best reheat it?
You are welcome, Tania! For the ganache if you make it ahead of time you can slowly reheat it on the stove on low heat or in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each until the desired consistency is achieved.
Thank you for this wonderful technique based article! I love the science behind it and your tips (and the history). I’m a notorious scroller as most gals go on about how hard it is to get their kids to eat veggies or the problem their husband had with the stove. Who cares?! Thanks for sticking to the relevant topic and making it an interesting and useful read!
Hi sally! I have a question. Can this recipe be used for churros? So instead of baking you just fry them.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
I’d like to make savoury puffs, cheese and herbs. Can you help?
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.
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!
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!
I just made these and they came out perfectly! I couldn’t have just one! Thanks for another excellent recipe, Sally 🙂
I’m so glad that you enjoy this pastry recipe! I haven’t made pastry horns before, but let me know if you do and how they turn out. 🙂