Choux Pastry requires just 5 ingredients and is perfect for eclairs or cream puffs. Today I’m sharing lots of tips so yours turns out every time! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Easy Choux Pastry
Choux pastry has a reputation for being a bit fussy and temperamental, but I don’t think it deserves these labels. Instead, I’d like to think of choux as a really approachable, airy French pastry that is quick to make (certainly faster than puff pastry or croissants) and highly customizable.
Choux has a very light texture with a golden, crisp exterior. It doesn’t have much flavor, since it’s meant to be filled with pastry cream or other fillings and topped with something sweet, like powdered sugar or ganache.
You may notice this recipe has some slight variations from the choux used in my cream puffs. I make the puffs a bit smaller in that recipe, and I am assuming that if you’re making that recipe you’ll follow my instructions for removing the puffs, poking a hole, returning to the oven, etc.
This is a general recipe though, and not all recipes will necessitate that (many recipes simply cut the choux in half). Also, you can still fill this just like you would in my cream puff recipe.
What You Need
You only need 5 ingredients to make today’s choux recipe! These include:
- Eggs. It’s best to use room temperature eggs. You can whisk them up with a fork before adding them to the dough, if you’d like (this makes incorporating them a bit easier!).
- Flour. Make sure you measure your flour properly! I highly recommend using a kitchen scale for this, as it is the most precise way to measure. If your flour is especially lumpy, you may want to sift it before adding it.
- Butter. Use unsalted butter (or don’t add salt, if using salted butter) and cut it into tablespoon-sized pieces before adding it (this helps it melt faster).
- Water. This will bind everything together and create steam in the dough while it bakes, forcing the choux to rise and become hollow.
- Salt. For flavor, of course! You can always leave this out if you use salted butter.
SAM’S TIP: Some people like to dress up their choux with craquelin to make choux au craquelin. Craquelin is a sweet dough that is rolled thin, cut into small circles, and placed on top of the choux before baking. Once in the oven, the craquelin melts onto the choux and creates a crackly, sweet exterior. If you’d be interested in a recipe for this, let me know!
Remember, 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 Choux Pastry
- Bring the water, butter, and salt to a rolling boil over medium/high heat.
- Reduce the heat and add the flour. Stir constantly until the mixture forms a ball and begins to pull away from the sides of the pot. If you see any flour lumps while you’re stirring, use your spatula to mash them against the side to break them.
- Remove from the heat and continue stirring to cool the mixture slightly. Do this for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until the mixture is smooth and velvety before adding the next. The photo in the bottom right corner above shows how your dough will look after all eggs have been added, it will be velvety and smooth.
SAM’S TIP: Your dough will look like it doesn’t want to come together after you add each egg, it will be a bit separated. Don’t panic. Just keep stirring with your spatula, and it will eventually come together nicely into a smooth batter.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag and pipe whichever shape you like (mounds for cream puffs, longer shapes for eclairs, etc.) onto parchment paper lined sheets. I detail how large and far apart I make mine here in the recipe below.
- Press down any peaks in the dough with damp fingers, then bake for 30-35 minutes at 400F.
- Once the pastry looks dry and light golden brown, turn off the oven. You can pierce the choux with a sharp knife at this point (do this in the center or lower center on the side) and then return the choux to the oven with the door cracked. Let the choux sit in the oven this way for 10 more minutes, this will help ensure it is cooked all the way through and that the interior won’t be soggy and the pastry won’t collapse.
- Remove the choux from the oven and let them cool completely on the baking sheet.
SAM’S TIP: You can pipe or form the choux into any shape you’d like (like oblong hot-dog shape for eclairs), but just know that the baking time will vary depending on the size. If you are piping them like I did in these photos, do your best to pipe straight down (don’t swirl as if you were piping frosting on a cupcake) for the best shape after baking.
Troubleshooting Choux Pastry
- Butter split from the dough: This can happen from having your dough on the heat too long or from handling it too much.
- Dough is too runny or too thick: Choux dough that is too runny means you may have over-measured your liquid ingredients (or didn’t cook the water out of the dough enough), or you under-measured your flour. Consequently, dough that is too thick is caused by the opposite.
- Choux pastry collapsed after baking: Either your dough was too runny (see above) or the choux was underbaked. If this is an issue you’ve faced, it can also be extra security to poke a hole in your choux during the last ten minutes in the oven, like I do with my cream puffs; this allows the steam to escape and the choux to dry out.
- Choux doesn’t have a hollow center: Your dough was likely too thick from too much flour or cooking out too much of the water while it was on the stove.
- Choux pastry tastes eggy: This is normal, for the most part! Choux pastry is mostly eggs, so you’re definitely going to taste them here. If you’re really tasting the eggs, then you may have added them in the while the dough is too warm.
Don’t let this section intimidate you! As long as you measure your ingredients properly and follow my instructions, your choux should come out perfectly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pastry cream, whipped cream, ice cream (for profiteroles), lemon curd, custard, raspberry frosting, chocolate whipped cream, and even cheese (like my cheese puffs!) are all great options. Keep in mind the choux pastry itself is not sweet at all, so you can get as creative as you’d like with the filling/toppings.
You can also skip the filling altogether and just sprinkle your choux pastry with pearl sugar before baking to make chouquettes.
No! Puff pastry is a flaky, buttery pastry dough that has many folded layers. It also contains no egg, which is quite different from egg-heavy choux pastry. Puff pastry is often used for danish, turnovers, and palmiers.
It probably can be done, but I haven’t figured out the right formula for making perfect choux with gluten free flour just yet. During testing, we often had issues with the dough becoming too thick, possibly from the thickening agents in gluten free flour blends. As a result, the choux didn’t rise as nicely or have the classic hollow center. I’d have to test it more (probably with more liquid/eggs) to get the gluten free recipe just right.
If this is something you’d be interested in, let me know in the comments!
See that hollow center? That’s exactly how choux pastry should look!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)
- 1 cup (236 ml) water
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet or two smaller baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt over medium/high heat. Bring to a rolling boil.1 cup (236 ml) water, ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon table salt
- Reduce heat to medium/low and add flour, stirring continuously with a spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pot.1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir for another minute or two to cool it down a bit (it will still be hot).
- Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well/until egg is incorporated after each addition until the mixture is smooth and velvety. Mixture will look like it’s separating at first – just keep mixing.4 large eggs
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag (or a large Ziploc bag with one corner snipped) and pipe onto prepared baking sheets by mounds about 2.5” (6cm) wide by 1” (2.5cm) tall. Pipe straight down when piping, don’t swirl the pastry onto the baking sheet as if you were piping icing on a cupcake. Space each mound at least 1 ½ inches apart (note: this is the size I typically use for large cream puffs or profiteroles, feel free to make yours different size/shape but keep an eye on the pastry as bake time will vary).
- Lightly dampen your fingers with cool water and gently press down any peaks on the pastry mounds.
- Bake in center rack of 400F (200C) preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cream puffs appear dry and light golden brown. Turn off the oven and remove the pastry, pierce each with a sharp knife and then return to the oven. Let the pastry sit in the oven with the door cracked for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before using as desired.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Lee Ann Dewitt
Love all your recipes! Thank you for sharing
You’re welcome, Lee Ann! Enjoy! 🙂
Excellent recipe!! Turned out exactly as pictured
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Kiona! 🙂