Pâte à choux is a really cool dough. The water and milk create steam in the oven that puffs up the pastry. The puffing leaves a hole in the middle for delicious fillings. It cooks first at a high temperature to create the steam and then at a moderate temperature to dry out and become crunchy. The dough itself is not very sweet (and not sweet at all for savory recipes), but can be filled with whipped cream, ice cream, pastry cream, and really whatever you want.
Pâte à choux has a reputation for being difficult to make. In truth, it takes minutes to make, stores well, and makes really fancy–looking desserts. It can be made without fancy equipment and with only basic ingredients. No one expects a home baker to whip out homemade profiteroles or eclairs, which is why mastering this dough is so great. With this base recipe, you can make cream puffs, profiteroles, eclairs, gougères, and more.
Tips and Reminders
- Let the dough cool 5 minutes before adding the eggs so they don’t scramble
- Do not open the oven while they are baking (when you reduce the temperature, just change the setting on the oven, without opening)
- When they come out of the oven, prick them with a knife immediately so the steam can escape. Otherwise, they can deflate.
- If your oven does not have convection, increase the temperatures by 25° F. For example, start at 425° F and lower to 350° F.
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk (you can use all water if desired)
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- 2 tbsp sugar (omit for savory recipes)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick/half cup (113g) Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup (150g) All Purpose Flour* SEE NOTE ON MEASURING
- 5 large eggs at room temperature, (might only use 4)
- Read the whole recipe all the way through and visualize each step, (or watch the video). You do not want to get confused or stuck in the middle.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F Convection bake. *
- Measure the flour into a small bowl - so it is ready right when you need it.
- Pour the milk, water, salt, sugar, and butter into a medium saucepan.
- Bring the milk, water, and butter mixture to a boil. Immediately remove from heat once it reaches a boil.
- Pour in the flour all at once and mix with a wooden spoon until it looks homogeneous.
- Return to medium heat and cook the dough (it should look like a thick paste) for 2 minutes while stirring constantly.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, crack 4 eggs into a large measuring cup or small bowl. Beat them lightly with a fork.
- After 5 mins, add the beaten eggs in four additions, mixing vigorously with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk after each incorporation. After each incorporation it may look like the eggs are not mixing in but use a little elbow grease and they will.
- After adding your 4 beaten eggs, you may need to add part or all of the fifth egg. This really depends on the humidity, the size of your eggs, and how much flour you add (this is why weighing is so much better). If your dough still looks stiff, you may need more eggs. The finished dough should be slightly sticky, paste-like, but firm enough to hold after being piped. Use your judgment in deciding whether you need more egg. Err on the side not adding egg or adding only a little bit more. Use your instincts. To add a partial egg, beat the egg with a fork and add as much as you think is necessary. Mix into the dough well.
- I use a piping bag to form my pâte à choux, but you don't have one you can use a small cookie scooper or even spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet. I fill my piping bag (I like a french star tip) and I pipe straight lines for eclairs or little circles (like for on top of a cupcake) for cream puffs or profiteroles. Leave at least an inch in between your sections of dough. If you pipe your dough it may have a point on top. Dip your finger in water and gently press the points down.
- Use a spray bottle or pastry brush to lightly dampen each dough piece before baking. (Optional)
- Bake at 400° F convection for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325° F convection bake for 15-20 more minutes. Bake one tray at a time. Do not open the oven while baking. If you have multiple batches, don't forget to bring the temperature back up to 400°. Note - Every oven is different - if after 10 minutes at 400°, they are already super brown and totally puffed, consider lowering the temperature sooner.
- Right after baking, use a paring knife to make a small slit in the bottom of your baked choux to let steam escape. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Fill with whipped cream, pastry cream, or something savory. If you go sweet, top with powdered sugar or chocolate ganache.
You can store leftover dough in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze the dough and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight whenever you need it.
Jeremy is a student at Cornell University double majoring in Spanish and Italian with significant coursework in classes such as nutrition, food science and culinary science. He has years of experience as a home cook, working at a local bakery, and teaching cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. After starting a TikTok account in March 2020 while quarantined in his childhood home, Jeremy’s presence grew to over 1.5 million followers in the first 6 months. During that time, he was featured in People Magazine, Fox News, BBC Radio, BuzzFeed, Tasty, Spoon University, and USA Today, among other media outlets.