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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. 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.

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
zoomed in image of a cream puff

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.

pouring chocolate ganache onto profiteroles
profiteroles on a white cake stand

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. 🙂

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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 1x
  • 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

Scale

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 SpoonSaucepan | Baking SheetWilton #1A Round Piping Tip | Reusable Piping Bags or Disposable 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 🙂

Keywords: Choux Pastry, Pâte à Choux

one cream puff topped with chocolate ganache

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Just made a batch of choice and they turned out perfect! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe.

      1. Sally, you never lead me wrong!! I just pulled my first ever batch of these out of the oven and they are perfect.

  2. First time perfect and the whole family loved them! I just did cream puffs but will definitely be scaling it up to profiteroles for guests next time. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Not sure why it didn’t work for you. In spite of the author saying to follow measurements, I goofed and added double the flour by mistake. Still came out nice. It is more forgiving than we think.

  3. Tried this today, have been wanting to for years. It was a success, thank you!

  4. Thank you for the recipe! I think I followed everything exactly BUT when i took it out and it cooled down, it deflated?

    I am thinking i either added too much eggs or i screwed up with the flour and sugar mixture and didnt dry it out enough!

    taste wise it was amazing as usual!!
    So thank you!!

    1. Hi Su! My understanding is they should cool down gradually… if cooled too quick they will deflate & puncturing a hole in them for steam to escape is crucial . I made them & they came out great except for -3- of them … which I believe I didn’t put a hole in them & may have brushed too much egg wash on. Personally, I’m leaving the egg wash off next time. Otherwise, very happy with the recipe. Love Sally’s recipes❣️

  5. I made these profiteroles today. I loved the choux. It is an excellent recipe. I made a cream pat and ganache as well. Thank you so much for your recipes!!

  6. The easiest choux receive ever. Mine turned out fantastic especially with Kahlua in the whipped cream. Yummmm. Glad I didn’t give up after my last receive because making these was def worth it.

    1. I haven’t made cream puffs since that one time my mom and I attempted a batch when o was in my teen years. They weren’t bad but we never made them again and I don’t know why! This recipe is easy to follow especially with the accompanying video and easy to follow instructions. I’ve made them twice and they’ve turned out perfect! I did just realize one change my second time around, I only baked each batch for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. I did not leave them in the oven for another 15 minutes or so with reduced temperature, and they turned out just fine. They were a beautiful golden color and completely done . Any thoughts on this? Also, looking for some filling ideas. I’ve been using Jello vanilla pudding instead of whipped creams, etc. What is everyone else using?

  7. Our family uses this dough for dumplings in soup. Just drop using a cookie scoop into the soup, cover and simmer 15 minutes. They will puff then deflate after you take off the lid.

    1. Hi Jan, 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. Let us know what you try!

      1. Thank you …. I was looking for gourgeres recipe on the website. I want to make these bite size so would it work to drop by a tablespoon?

      2. Hi Glenna, yes, you can make them smaller sizes and bake for less time (we’re unsure of the exact timing). Enjoy!

  8. I would like to make these bite-sized as part of a dessert tray. Can you suggest how to adjust the baking time for a smaller cream puff?

    1. Hi Martha! Bake time will depend on exactly how large you pipe them – keep an eye on them in the oven as bake time will be shorter.

  9. Can this recipe be altered to make chocolate choux, and if so what are the measurements? Thanks!

    1. Hi Charlotte! We haven’t tested a chocolate version of choux, and unfortunately cocoa powder can be finicky and isn’t always a 1:1 swap with flour. If you decide to do any experimenting or find a recipe for chocolate choux that you love, we’d love to know how it goes!

  10. First attempt and they came out perfect. Thank you for another great recipe.

  11. Made cream puffs from your recipe. Perfect! (And delicious, too!)

  12. I loved your recipe! I have made these with a champagne chicken salad filling as an appetizer, filled with Creme Chantilly, & also with Chocolate ganache for last night’s Christmas Eve party! mmm! Many compliments! I can post pics of each if I can figure out how they’ll attach!

    1. Hi Reva, For the best results and texture we recommend starting the oven at 400 as instructed.

    1. We haven’t tested it, but other readers have reported success using non-dairy milk. Let us know if you give it a try!

  13. I just made a batch of these and they worked out perfectly. One thing I did differently was to put a hole near the bottom edge of each one as soon as they came out of the oven to allow steam to escape and to make a place to insert the end of a piping tip in. This way you can fill the cream puff without cutting off the top.

  14. Thanks Sally I had given up on Chou pastry till you have given me this gem The recipe went perfectly I live in an over 55s retirement village in Australia and love to conduct high teas for the older residents I have an amazing collection of China and just love trying new recipesTHAT ACTUALLY WORK My menu for tomorrow’s high tea is salmon and ricotta ,and a great selection of sandwiches Baby quiches with home grown spinach herbs and tomatoes from my patch and mini lemon meringue pies caramel tarts home made strawberry jam tarts,caramel tarts Orange poppyseed cupcakes coffee flavoured macarons,jam and cream matches and thanks to you the star of the show will be chocolate ganache profiteroles. Thanks again Kerry from oz

  15. I’m wondering if I can pour the ganache over the cream puffs in advance or if it should be poured on them just before serving. Thank you!

    1. Either is fine– the ganache will eventually set. It doesn’t harden or anything, but it thickens on the pastries.

  16. Do you have to use a glass mixing bowl with the stand mixer, or can I use the metal bowl that came with the mixer??

    1. Hi Leslie, Your metal mixing bowl will be just fine. Enjoy!

  17. I was very nervous about attempting choux dough. Your directions are clear, concise and easy to follow. My cream puffs were perfectly light and delicious. Made vanilla and chocolate cream filling. Yum!

  18. I don’t have a piping bag and was wondering if I could use a scoop to portion out the pastry. Your recipe looks wonderful.

    1. Hi Maureen, that should work, just be sure to smooth it down with a moistened fingertip as directed in the recipe.

  19. Can’t thank you enough. They turned out absolutely perfectly, thanks to your thoroughness. I’d been wanting to try them. It was great to finally get around to it.

  20. This recipe was perfect! I watched the video and followed exact directions, my piping was not good and they still came out so pretty!

  21. My daughter and I followed the recipe exactly and the cream puffs turned out perfectly! We filled with your vanilla pastry cream and drizzled dark chocolate ganache on top. Sooo good! Thank you for the recipes!

  22. We followed this recipe, and added just a touch more flour than called for while the dough was cooking because it still looked just a touch soft. The call to watch for the texture when adding the eggs was spot on – and the puffs came out excellent! We scattered some sugar on the piped puffs from the first half of the mix before mixing, added guyere into the second half of the mix (piping bag was small), just perfection. This recipe is way better than one I used before, will be making this my go-to!

  23. I made these today with creme chantilly and ganache and they were delicious! The recipe was super easy to follow and it was so fun! However, our puffs weren’t quite as hollow as pictured – any suggestions on what we should do differently next time?

    1. When they come out of the oven and are cool enough to pick up, poke a hole in the bottom (where you can pipe cream as well). It will help steam escape!

    1. Hi A, Cruller donuts are made with this dough piped a circle (usually with an open star piping tip) and fried. Let us know if you try it!

  24. Perfect Pâte à Choux recipe! Even if you mess up, it’ll be delicious. I made swans, cream puffs, and eclairs with one batch! I made whipped cream and sweetened it with vanilla pudding (box mix). It was the perfect amount of sweetness to compliment the dough. I wanted a donut alternative so I wouldn’t have to get the deep fryer out & this is perfect & come together so quickly.

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