Gougères are a simple and savory way to enjoy choux pastry! Made with an easy pâte à choux base and loaded with shredded gruyere (or your favorite cheese!), these French cheese puffs are a great light & airy two-bite-sized addition to any meal. Recipe includes a how-to video!
French Cheese Puffs
On a roll with the French cuisine this week! First the French onion soup and now these two-bite savory gougères!
If you’ve never had gougères before, you might be a bit surprised by their unique texture. They’re very different from many other bready side-dishes you might have had and quite unlike my biscuits or garlic cheddar drop biscuits. While those are dense and full, “French cheese puffs” (as they’re often called) are light and airy with gigantic air pockets.
If you’ve ever made my cream puffs and sampled a shell before filling it, the texture will be quite familiar to you as both start with a choux pastry base, only rather than filling with pastry cream we’re loading the batter with lots of cheese. Different, but quite delicious. Let’s get to it!
What You Need for Gougères
Gougère dough (batter?) is a basic choux pastry, so you can expect the basic ingredients: water, milk, butter, flour, salt, and eggs in addition to cheese, pepper, and sugar (just a bit). Let’s talk for a second about a few of the ingredients:
- Sugar. This will not make the gougères sweet, it simply adds more flavor.
- Eggs. Large or extra-large eggs will work. It’s best if the eggs are at room temperature, this helps to avoid “shocking” the warm choux mixture and helps the ingredients to combine better.
- Pepper. A few grates of freshly ground black pepper add nice flavor to the pâte à choux. You can use pre-ground pepper, but the fresh stuff is just so much more robust!
- Cheese. I use gruyere, which is the classic choice, but I’ve also made this recipe with sharp cheddar and it’s turned out wonderfully.
SAM’S NOTE: Add some garlic! Stir in a clove or two of well-minced garlic with the cheese!
This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Gougères
You’re simply making a basic choux pastry and then adding cheese. If you haven’t done this before, don’t panic, it’s really a fairly simple kitchen basic that even the beginner baker can master with a little practice. Boost your confidence by making perfect gougères, then move on to eclairs for dessert!
- Bring water, milk, butter, and salt to a rolling boil.
- Add your flour and stir until it’s completely combined and the mixture is clinging to itself and pulling away from the sides (see photo above). Here the flour likes to try to cling together, simply eliminate any clumps of flour by using your spatula to press them against the side of the pan.
- Once gougèredough is clinging together, remove from heat and stir another minute or so to cool it down a bit.
- Stir in your eggs, one at a time. At first the mixture will look separated, but as you continue to mix the egg will combine smoothly. When the mixture is smooth and velvety, your choux pastry is nearly ready.
- Stir in shredded cheese and pepper, then pipe or dollop the batter onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown.
SAM’S NOTE: Make sure to give the gougères some breathing room on the baking sheet! Otherwise they won’t cook evenly and could collapse after baking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Asiago, parmesan, and cheddar are all great options!
While simple to make, choux pastry can be a bit tricky to cook. Here are things to look out for to make sure your cheese puffs do not go flat (and the most likely culprits if they do):
1) Make sure your oven is fully preheated before adding the gougères, then add them to the oven quickly (let out as little heat as possible). It’s best practice to keep an oven thermometer in your oven, as many ovens claim to be fully preheated long before they truly are, and baking the gougères on a high temperature is critical to keep them from deflating.
2) Make sure your oven isn’t running hot! As you might have gathered from the above note, many ovens are liars. They lie about their true temperature and many run too hot or too cool. If your oven runs hotter than it says, it may brown the outside of the puffs but leave undercooked interiors that collapse.
3) Don’t open the door! Use your oven light to check that they are a nice golden brown. Opening the oven door prematurely lets heat escape and makes them prone to collapsing.
4) Cook gougères thoroughly! Look for a golden brown color. If they are pale and not baked all the way through, they will collapse as they cool.
The dough/batter can be made up to 3 days in advance of cooking, store in an airtight container in the fridge.
I personally feel that gougères are best served fresh and warm, but leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and then reheated in a warm oven before enjoying.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
Gougères (Cheese Puffs)
- ½ cup water (118ml)
- ½ cup milk (118ml)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces (113g)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
- 4 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 6 oz grated gruyere cheese¹ (170g)
- ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- sea salt for sprinkling over baked gougères, optional
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.
- Once mixture comes to a boil, add flour and turn heat to medium-low. Stir constantly with a spatula until moisture is absorbed by the flour and the mixture clings together and pulls away from the sides of the pot. If you notice any flour lumps, smash them by pressing them against the side of the pan with the spatula.
- Remove mixture from heat and stir for several minutes to cool.
- Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. The mixture will seem to separate at first, but with consistent mixing it will become smooth and velvety.
- Stir in ground pepper and gruyere cheese.
- Drop batter by rounded dollops about 2” wide and 1” tall onto prepared baking sheet, spacing gougeres at least 2” apart. Transfer to the center rack of 400F (200C) oven and bake for 30 minutes or they are a deep golden brown. If desired, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over the gougeres while they're still warm.
- Allow to cool several minutes then serve warm and enjoy!