Cream Puff Recipe

Pâte à choux may sound intimidating, but cream puffs are surprisingly easy to make at home! Made with just 5 ingredients, this basic recipe is a perfect intro to choux pastry. Fill them with a smooth and sweet whipped cream for the perfect compliment to the crisp cream puff.
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Serves: 32 cream puffs
photo of cream puffs filled with whipped cream

This cream puff recipe is a simple classic French dessert that balances sweet, rich, soft, and crunchy all in one fluffy little bite! They are slightly crisp on the exterior, soft and chewy on the inside, and filled with a sweet light vanilla bean whipped cream or pastry cream. Chef Christophe shows us how to make and elevate this simple elegant dessert at home. photo of cream puffs filled with whipped cream

The foundation of the perfect cream puff is a light and airy classic French dough. Pâte à choux is a basic recipe that is the base for many delicious French pastries: eclairs, savory gougères, churros, cruller donuts, beignets, gnocchi, profiteroles, and more. Homemade cream puffs are the best because you get to enjoy them immediately while they’re still crisp, you will never buy one from the store again!  

Cream Puff Ingredientsphoto of cream puff ingredients

European butter will result in better pastries and flavor because it has a higher fat content (83%) than American butter. More fat and less water equal more flavor and better baking results. 

Whole milk is ideal for this recipe due to its fat content. In some recipes, lower fat milk will work fine, but when working with classic French recipes it’s best to use what is recommended for the best results. 

Salt, even the smallest of pinches, can set your pastry apart from the rest. It enhances all flavors and highlights the sweetness of a pastry. 

Eggs are the backbone of this dough, without them, they won’t “puff”. 

Making Homemade Cream Puffs

Classic cream puffs come together in a few stages, make the pâte à choux first, pipe it, bake the shells, and make the whipped cream filling while the shells cool. You can also fill the cream puffs with pastry cream, just make it ahead of time so that it has time to cool as well.

Making the Pâte à Choux

  1. Add the milk, water, salt, sugar, and butter to a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. It is important to make sure that the butter is melting at the same rate the milk is heating so that the milk doesn’t boil before the butter is melted. Slowly moving it around with a wooden spoon helps distribute the heat evenly. milk pouring into a pot over a stove
  2. Once the mixture has come to a boil, turn off the heat and add the sifted flour. flour pouring into a pot of milk over the stove
  3. Begin stirring immediately with a wooden spoon, and continue to stir for 1 minute until the flour is fully incorporated, it will look a lot like mashed potatoes. combined ingredients for pate a choux, looks like mashed potatoes
  4. Turn the heat back on to medium-high heat and continue to stir and keep it moving to dry out the dough.pâte à choux cooking in a pot over the stove
  5. Once you see a browning layer on the bottom of your saucepan the dough is dry enough and remove it from the heat. This is important, as it will help your cream puffs “puff” and ensure that they have a hollow center for the cream filling.pâte à choux drying out in a pot over the stove with brown on the bottom of the pot
  6. Put the dough immediately into the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and begin to mix to cool it down, this should take about 30 seconds. When you can place your hand on the side of the bowl without it feeling too hot, it’s done. pouring pâte à choux into a stand mixer bowl
  7. Add the eggs one at a time, letting each egg incorporate fully before the next. The dough should be fully combined with no spots of dry flour, and stiff enough to hold its shape, but pull to a soft peak when picking up the spoon. pouring eggs into pâte à choux in a stand mixer bowlfinished pouring eggs into pâte à choux dough
  8. Prepare a piping bag with a large round tip, Christophe is using an Ateco 809 tip. Fill the piping bag with the dough.pâte à choux going into a piping bag
  9. Pipe the pâte à choux rounds slightly smaller than your desired final size (about 2-inches), as they will “puff” and expand in the oven. Chef Christophe is using a “silpain” baking mat on a cookie sheet, but parchment paper will work as well.piping cream puff dough onto a baking sheet
  10. Gently smooth the top of the cream puff with a damp fingertip.gloved finger touching the top of an unbaked cream puff to remove the point
  11. Bake the cream puffs at 350°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. baking tray of finished golden cream puffs
  12. Cool the cream puffs completely to room temperature on a wire rack, for about 30 minutes. bottom of a golden brown baked cream puff

Making the Whipped Cream

  1. Split the vanilla pod in half with a sharp knife and scrape the beans. Add the beans to the heavy cream and mix briefly so the beans distribute evenly. knife slicing through a vanilla bean to remove the seeds
  2. Place a strainer directly over your mixing bowl and strain the cream and vanilla beans to remove the larger fibers from the cream.pouring the cream into a strainer over a stand mixer bowl
  3. Add the powdered sugar to the cream in the mixer. adding powdered sugar to whipped cream in a stand mixer bowl
  4. Whip the cream on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment for about 5 minutes until medium to stiff peaks. Keep the whipped cream cold until you are ready to use it. spatula of finished whipped cream

Filling the Cream Puffs

  1. Fill a pastry bag with the prepared whipped cream. Christophe chose a star tip, but any larger tip will do. plastic piping bag pushed into a piping tip to create a seal
  2. Slice the fully cooled cream puff in half with a serrated knife, this will avoid crushing the hollow shell. You can also insert a piping tip into a small hole on the bottom of the cream puff and fill the cream puffs in the center.serrated knife cutting through a cream puff
  3. Pipe a generous amount of whipped cream into the bottom half and gently place the top on, do not squish them down so you can still see the beautiful filling. piping bag piping whipped cream onto a cream pufffinger pushing the lid of a cream puff on top of whipped cream
  4. Sift a light dusting of powdered sugar on top. photo of cream puffs filled with whipped cream

Storing Homemade Cream Puffs

Cream puffs are meant to be eaten the same day as they are made. The moisture of the filling will cause the cream puff to soften and lose its crunch. So the sooner you can serve the cream puffs, the better.

Storing Baked Cream Puff Shells

Cool them completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and store them at room temperature. They can also be frozen if you do not plan to use them in the next day or so. If your cream puffs have softened they can be crisped up in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.

Storing Cream Puff Dough

If you don’t plan to serve your puffs the same day, pipe and freeze the cream puff dough to be baked and filled as needed. Just place them on a baking sheet and let them thaw slightly and bake as directed. If you have leftover filled cream puffs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they will be soft, but still delicious. cream puff cut in half to show a golden hollow inside

Tips For Baking From Scratch

*This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on them I might get a few pennies.

I suggest purchasing a kitchen scale if you don’t already have one to make the best scratch recipes. One cup of flour can vary from scoop to scoop depending on how packed the flour is, humidity, and the type of flour, which can ruin your recipe. All my cake recipes (except doctored box mixes) use a scale. All of Chef Christophe’s recipes are measured in grams, and a scale is necessary.

Practice Mise en Place (everything in its place) which means you measure everything before you start mixing so you don’t accidentally forget something or add any ingredients out of order. I use a set of medium and small pyrex glass bowls I got from goodwill for this and it makes things SO much easier.

Pastry cream

Lemon curd

Chocolate mousse

Mille-Feuille

FAQ

What is the difference between an eclair and a cream puff?

Eclairs and cream puffs are both made from the same choux pastry dough, but the difference is the shape and the filling. Eclairs have a long, rectangular shape and are filled with pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze. Cream puffs are round and can be filled on the inside or sliced in half and filled.

Do you have to refrigerate cream puffs?

After filling the cream puffs, they must be refrigerated and can last up to 2-3 days in an airtight container. If you’re baking the shells ahead of time, they do not need to be refrigerated until filling.

Can I make cream puffs ahead of time?

Yes, you can bake your cream puffs ahead a few different ways. Pipe your dough onto a baking sheet and freeze it, then let them thaw out and bake whenever you’re ready to fill and serve them. Or you can bake your cream puff shells and freeze them, then refresh them in the oven by baking at 350°F for 5 minutes until they’re crisp again. Whatever you do, don’t fill them and keep them in the fridge or freezer for too long because that will make your cream puffs soggy.

What is pâte à choux?

Pâte à choux (also known as Choux dough) is a delicate French pastry dough used for cream puffs, eclairs, savory gougères, churros, cruller donuts, beignets, gnocchi, profiteroles, and more. Choux dough is a cross between a dough and a batter and is a staple in pastry.

Why do I need to use a wooden spoon? 

Using a wooden spoon for choux is recommended because it provides a strong handle to move the stiff dough around the pot. Using a silicone spatula may be too flexible and won’t mix and dry the dough as efficiently. Also, this is what French chefs recommend and I am not going to argue with a French chef. 

Why are my cream puffs soggy? 

If they did not bake long enough they can become soft as they cool because not enough moisture was baked out of them. Also, if the dough was not dried properly it will remain soft when baked. If you fill them too far in advance the shell will become soft from the moisture in the filling. 

What else can I fill cream puffs with?

In this recipe, we fill the cream puffs with chantilly cream, which is a sweet whipped cream. You can fill cream puffs with many different things, a simple vanilla pastry cream, bavarian cream, chocolate mousse, ice cream, or even lemon curd. You can drizzle the top with chocolate ganache or dust with cocoa powder as well.

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
photo of cream puffs filled with whipped cream

Cream Puff Recipe

Pâte à choux may sound intimidating, but cream puffs are surprisingly easy to make at home! Made with just 5 ingredients, this basic recipe is a perfect intro to choux pastry. Fill them with a smooth and sweet whipped cream for the perfect compliment to the crisp cream puff.
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Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Cooling time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Serves: 32 cream puffs
Calories: 72kcal

Ingredients

Cream Puff Ingredients

  • 160 grams whole milk
  • 160 grams water
  • 4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 6 grams granulated sugar
  • 140 grams unsalted butter European butter (Plugra)
  • 180 grams all-purpose flour sifted
  • 200 grams large eggs

Whipped Cream Ingredients

  • 1 whole vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 480 grams cold heavy whipping cream
  • 65 grams powdered sugar

Equipment

  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 Piping Bag
  • 1 Piping tip
  • 1 Silpain baking mat or parchment paper

Instructions

Making the Pâte à Choux

  • Add the milk, water, salt, sugar, and butter to a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. It is important to make sure that the butter is melting at the same rate the milk is heating so that the milk doesn't boil before the butter is melted. Slowly moving it around with a wooden spoon helps distribute the heat evenly. 
  • Once the mixture has come to a boil, turn off the heat and add the sifted flour. 
  • Begin stirring immediately with a wooden spoon, and continue to stir for 1 minute until the flour is fully incorporated, it will look a lot like mashed potatoes. 
  • Turn the heat back on to medium-high heat and continue to stir and keep it moving to dry out the dough.
  • Once you see a browning layer on the bottom of your saucepan the dough is dry enough and remove it from the heat. This is important, as it will help your cream puffs “puff” and ensure that they have a hollow center for the cream filling.
  • Put the dough immediately into the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and begin to mix to cool it down, this should take about 30 seconds. When you can place your hand on the side of the bowl without it feeling too hot, it’s done.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, letting each egg incorporate fully before the next. The dough should be fully combined with no spots of dry flour, and stiff enough to hold its shape, but pull to a soft peak when picking up the spoon. 
  • Prepare a piping bag with a large round tip, Christophe is using an Ateco 809 tip. Fill the piping bag with the dough.
  • Pipe the pâte à choux rounds slightly smaller than your desired final size (about 2-inches), as they will “puff” and expand in the oven.
  • Gently smooth the top of the cream puff with a damp fingertip.
  • Bake the cream puffs at 350°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. 
  • Cool the cream puffs completely to room temperature on a wire rack, for about 30 minutes. 

Making the Whipped Cream

  • Split the vanilla pod in half with a sharp knife and scrape the beans. Add the beans to the heavy cream and mix briefly so the beans distribute evenly. 
  • Place a strainer directly over your mixing bowl and strain the cream and vanilla beans to remove the larger fibers from the cream.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the cream in the mixer. 
  • Whip the cream on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment for about 5 minutes until medium to stiff peaks. Keep the whipped cream cold until you are ready to use it. 

Filling the Cream Puffs

  • Fill a pastry bag with the prepared whipped cream. Christophe chose a star tip, but any larger tip will do. 
  • Slice the fully cooled cream puff in half with a serrated knife, this will avoid crushing the hollow shell. You can also insert a piping tip into a small hole on the bottom of the cream puff and fill the cream puffs in the center.
  • Pipe a generous amount of whipped cream into the bottom half and gently place the top on, do not squish them down so you can still see the beautiful filling. 
  • Sift a light dusting of powdered sugar on top. 
  • Cream puffs are meant to be eaten the same day as they are made. The moisture of the filling will cause the cream puff to soften and lose its crunch. So the sooner you can serve the cream puffs, the better. If you don't eat them all, store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Notes

Storing Baked Cream Puff Shells: Cool them completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and store them at room temperature. They can also be frozen if you do not plan to use them in the next day or so. If your cream puffs have softened they can be crisped up in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.
Storing Cream Puff Dough: If you don’t plan to serve your puffs the same day, pipe and freeze the cream puff dough to be baked and filled as needed. Just place them on a baking sheet and let them thaw slightly and bake as directed. If you have leftover filled cream puffs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they will be soft, but still delicious. 
Chef Christophe is using a “silpain” baking mat on a cookie sheet to create the perfect golden cream puffs, but parchment paper will work as well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cream puff | Calories: 72kcal (4%) | Carbohydrates: 7g (2%) | Protein: 2g (4%) | Fat: 4g (6%) | Saturated Fat: 3g (15%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 33mg (11%) | Sodium: 60mg (3%) | Potassium: 23mg (1%) | Fiber: 0.2g (1%) | Sugar: 2g (2%) | Vitamin A: 151IU (3%) | Calcium: 12mg (1%) | Iron: 0.4mg (2%)
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