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Cream Puffs, with their crispy golden brown exterior and sweet whipped cream filling, add a glamorous French touch to any meal. This cream puff recipe uses basic pantry ingredients, such as flour, water, butter, and eggs to make a dessert that is anything but basic. Your family and friends are sure to say “Merci!”

Homemade cream puffs on white stand.

I am a sucker for French desserts. This cream puff recipe uses a fancy-sounding but easy pate a choux (pronounced “shoo”) for the pastry shells, and standard whipped cream for the filling.

Pate a choux is the foundation for cream puffs, profiteroles (which have ice cream or pastry cream as the cream puff filling), and chocolate eclairs (elongated cream puff shells with a pastry cream filling).

There is a delicious savory direction you can take also – yummy appetizers like gougères (cheese puffs) will wow at your next cocktail party. If you have never had gougères, try my bacon garlic ones – so much amazing flavor.

Why This Recipe Works

  • This cream puff recipe is made made by first piping choux pastry dough on a baking sheet and cooking it to a golden brown. Once cooled, the shells are filled with a sweetened whipped cream. You can use my stabilized whipped cream if making in advance.
  • The traditional way of making these uses only water. There are other recipes which use half milk and half water, which gives the final pastry a rich golden color. But we’re sticking with water.
  • Instead of using a rising agent, the dough uses steam released during cooking to cause the pastry to puff up.

They are truly an incredible treat that’s light and perfect for special occasions. Or you could make them for yourself.

Cream Puffs on marble stand.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make this classic cream puff recipe and cream puff filling recipe. Nothing special, just simple pantry ingredients.

  • Water: Water is traditional.
    • You can use half water and half whole milk. The milk will give the final pastry a richer color, but don’t use only milk. Water creates the steam which makes the pastry rise.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter is best. I recommend cutting it into small pieces so it will melt quickly once heated.
    • You can make this cream puff recipe dairy-free by replacing the regular butter with vegan butter. I haven’t used this method or tested it so I can’t guarantee it.
  • Salt: Add small amount of salt is for flavor.
  • Flour: Make sure to use unbleached all-purpose flour and sift it well. Sifting will remove any large clumps making it easier to mix thoroughly.
  • Eggs: Make sure the eggs are at room temperature. This will make them easier to mix into the dough.
  • Heavy Cream: For the whipped cream.
  • Vanilla Paste: To add flavor to the whipped cream. You can substitute with vanilla extract if you prefer.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: I always use confectioners’ sugar to sweetened whipped cream as it blends in smoothly and won’t leave any crunch, as granulated sugar might.

Recommended tools

  • Heavy bottom saucepan: I prefer to use a nonstick pan for easy cleanup but stainless steel is best for beginners
  • Wooden spoon: All you need for mixing is a wooden spoon.
  • Piping bag with tip: You need a large pastry bag to pipe the pastry and a Wilton 1A piping tip.  If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a gallon-sized plastic bag, with about ¾ inch of the corner cut off.
  • Scoop: I prefer to scoop my dough for cream puffs, but you can use a large spoon. For this, you need a 1.5 tablespoon scoop.
Cream puffs dusted with powderd sugar.

How to Make Cream Puffs

  1. Put water (or milk/water mix if using), butter, and salt in the sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring constantly until the paste forms a ball. The dough will easily pull away from the sides of the pot. A film will be visible on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Stir in the eggs in three additions, mixing fully after each addition. It is important that you mix eggs before, and do not add the eggs one at a time. Cool completely – for 30 minutes – before using it.
  5. Transfer dough to the pastry bag or plastic bag, if using, and pipe or scoop into 2 inch mounds, then bake until golden brown and firm.
  1. Mix the heavy cream, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar in a metal mixing bowl and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. When chilled, whip the cream with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  3. Split the pastry shells in half and pipe whipped cream into the bottom half, then place the top half of shell on the cream.
  4. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, serve, and wait for the compliments.

Tips for Success

  • Make cream in advance. Mix the heavy cream, vanilla and sugar while the pastry shells are cooking. Allow the mix to chill in fridge so it is ready to whip while the shells are cooling. My stabilized whipped cream recipe can also be used if you want to make the whipped cream in advance.
  • Pastry bag. If you don’t have a pasty bag, you can still make this cream puff recipe! Use a gallon plastic bag with the corner cut off as an alternative. It’s best to have a pastry tip, but it will work even if you don’t have one. Check out this video for details.

Recipe FAQs

How Do You Fix Runny Dough?

Runny cream puff dough happens when you don’t cook the dough long enough, or you add too much egg.

Make sure to cook the dough after adding the flour until a film forms at the bottom of the saucepan. This can take up to 5 minutes. If you’re new to making choux, use a stainless steel pot because the film won’t form on a nonstick pot.

You may not need to add all the eggs. The eggs are added in 3 additions and you only use as much as you need to get a shiny dough that is the right consistency. The batter should fall off the spoon in a v-shaped ribbon.

Why Did My Cream Puffs Not Rise?

First, allow the water/flour mixture to cool before adding the eggs. If it’s too warm, it will cook the eggs and the dough won’t rise in the oven.

Next, make sure not to add too much egg. You only need enough to get the dough the correct consistency.

Finally, DO NOT open the oven as the shells bake. This will release the steam and cause them to deflate.

How Do You Keep Cream Puff Shells From Getting Soggy

Immediately upon removing the pastries from the oven, use a skewer to poke a hole all the way through. This will allow steam to escape and help prevent the pastries from becoming soggy.

You can also place the skewered pastries back into a warm (but off) oven, and let them dry out for 5-10 minutes. This will keep them crisp.


Storage & Freezing

Store prepared cream puff dough for later use. Allow the dough to cool to room temperature. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap touching the surface and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Baked and unfilled shells can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 2 months.

Store the filled shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days – but they really do taste best when filled shortly before serving.

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Homemade cream puffs on white stand.

Cream Puffs

Yield: 20 small cream puffs
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Classic cream puffs made with choux pastry dough, filled with sweetened whipped cream, and dusted with powdered sugar. You won't believe how easy this elegant dessert is.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (130 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 4 (200 g) large eggs, room temperature & lightly beaten

For the filling

  • 2 cups (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste
  • 3 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting

Instructions

Make the pastry

  1. Measure out all the ingredients and have them set out on your work surface. Use weight measurements for best results.
  2. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium stainless steel pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts completely and the mixture comes to a full boil.
  3. Add all of the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until no traces of dry flour are visible. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, until the paste pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a smooth ball. You will notice a skin has formed on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low and mix until the paste feels slightly warm to the touch. If it's too hot it will cook the eggs and ruin the pastries.
  5. Add about ⅓ of the eggs and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. The dough will break but it will slowly become creamy. Once the dough is smooth and creamy, add another ⅓ of the eggs. Mix until the dough become smooth and creamy again, then mix in the final ⅓ eggs. Stir until the mixture becomes smooth, stiff, and shiny.
  6. Let cool to room temperature before using. Meanwhile, set the rack in the middle of the oven and heat at 400°F for 30 minutes before baking.
  7. Fit a large piping bag with a Wilton 1A piping tip. Fill the bag with the dough and push the dough to the tip.
  8. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Use a little of the dough in the corners to secure the parchment paper in place.
  9. Pipe mounds 2-inches in diameter and space them about 3-inches apart. (You can also use a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop and drop mounds of dough on the prepared baking sheet. This technique yields uniform pastries.) Use a moistened fingertip to gently press down any pointed tips on the mounds.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until they are brown and completely hard on the outside. Do not open the oven during baking or they might collapse.
  11. Transfer the pastries to a wire rack and immediately poke a skewer all the way through to release the steam trapped inside.

Make the filling

  1. Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and sugar to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  2. When chilled, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the cream puffs

  1. Split the pastry shells in half and pipe whipped cream into the bottom half. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the whipped cream and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Notes

See all my helpful tips with choux pastry.

Vanilla paste: If you don't have vanilla paste you may use an equal amount of vanilla extract instead.

Make-ahead tips

  1. Cream puffs will keep for up to 2 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 cream puff
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 164Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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