Indulge in these easy-to-make homemade eclairs. Light and airy pate a choux dough puffs perfectly to fill with silky smooth pastry cream. Top it off with a chocolate glaze and sit down for a decadent dessert your whole family will love.
If you have been following along lately you will notice we are on a bit of a French pastry kick. From light as air pâte à choux to velvety smooth crème pâtissière we just can’t get enough of it. Now we are taking on the elongated relative of cream puffs, eclairs.
An eclair is an oblong-shaped choux pastry shell filled with fresh pastry cream and glazed with a delicious chocolate topping. This traditional French pastry comes from the French word for “flash of lightning”. I am not sure if they wanted to describe the actual eclair as a flash of lighting but at my house, it’s definitely how quickly these disappear!
How to Make Them
Making eclairs might seem a bit daunting at first, but really they come down to three main steps:
- Making the pastry cream.
- Baking the eclair shells.
- Assembling the eclairs.
Grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s dive into how to make these delicious pastries!
Step #1: Make the Pastry Cream
We will start with the pastry cream for this recipe since it needs time to chill. You can even make this pastry cream up to 2 days in advance if you like.
This silky smooth pastry cream is similar to a pudding or custard and is made with a simple egg yolk and cornstarch base that pairs perfectly in these eclairs as well as cream puffs or in the base of a fruit tart.
🌟 If you are new to pastry cream and would like to see a step-by-step tutorial as well as troubleshooting tips, head on over to this post >> How to Make Pastry Cream
Step #2: Baking the Choux Pastry
The choux pastry is made in traditional fashion, mixing the water, butter, sugar, salt, and flour in a saucepan, letting it cool slightly, and then beating in the eggs. Once you’ve made pate a choux, you will be whipping up cream puffs, churros, and more like a classically trained pastry chef!
🌟 Not sure if your choux pastry is quite right? You can check out my Basic Pate A Choux Recipe for additional tips and troubleshooting.
Once you have made the choux pastry and you are ready to make the eclairs, follow the steps below.
- Pipe: Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch round or French star piping tip (I recommend Ateco #866). Hold the pastry bag at a 45-degree angle and lightly drag the tip along the surface of the parchment paper to create a 1-inch wide by 4-inch wide long line of pastry dough. Pipe 12 eclairs onto each baking sheet.
- Pat down: Dip a finger into cold water and gently pat down any bumps.
- Bake the sheets one at a time until the eclairs are puffed, golden brown, and feel light when picked up, about 28 to 32 minutes.
- Vent the pastry: Remove from the oven while the eclairs are still hot (you may need to use a paper towel to hold them), and using a paring knife, make two ¼-inch holes in the bottom of the eclair (one near each end) by inserting the tip and turning in a circular motion. You can add a third hole in the center if you’d like; it ensures filling gets all the way to the middle and if you are newer to making eclairs, I would recommend it!
- Dry the pastry shells: Once both baking sheets have been baked and holes poked in the bottom, return both pans to the still-warm oven. Prop the door open with a wooden spoon and allow the eclairs to set in there for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
Step #3: Assembling the Eclairs
Now that you have your vanilla pastry cream and your baked eclair shells, it’s time to put them together for a delicious dessert everyone will enjoy!
- Fill from the base: Place the chilled pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round piping tip (Ateco #802 is perfect for this). Insert into the holes created at the bottom of the pastry shell and gently squeeze until filled (the cream will start to come back out of the hole at the bottom). Wipe off excess cream from the bottom and continue until all are filled.
- Alternate Option – Cut and fill: Another option is to slice the eclairs horizontally and pipe the pastry cream onto the bottom half and then cover them with the top half. The presentation is lovely but it’s a bit messier to eat.
- Make the glaze: Melt chocolate, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl. Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring after each addition until completely melted and smooth.
- Dip the eclairs: Working one at a time, hold each eclair upside down and dip the top in the glaze, then return to the tray. Repeat with all eclairs.
- Allow the glaze to set at room temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Storing, Freezing, Making Ahead
- Storing: Filled eclairs are best eaten the same day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Freezing: For longer storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Transfer to the refrigerator to thaw before serving.
- Making Ahead: The pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance. Unfilled, baked eclair shells store well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
What is the difference between eclairs, profiteroles, and cream puffs?
Each of these pastries begins with the same basic pâte à choux before they turn into their own individual dessert. The main differences between the three include the shape and serving method.
- Eclairs: Oblong choux pastry filled with cream and topped with a glaze or icing.
- Cream Puffs: Round choux pastry puffs filled with pastry cream and topped with icing or dusted with powdered sugar.
- Profiteroles: Also a round pastry, but split in half and filled with ice cream then drizzled with a thick chocolate sauce.
Do you eat eclairs hot or cold?
I would suggest serving eclairs at room temperature or chilled, not hot.
How do you keep eclairs from getting soggy?
The best way to prevent your eclairs from getting soggy is to ensure that the shells are cooked through, are allowed to dry out in the turned-off oven, and cooled completely before filling.
Also, if you are not serving them immediately, store the baked pastry shell separate from the filling. Once filled, the shell retains moisture and will get soggy over time.
Choux Pastry Recipes to Try Next
Taking your pastry baking to the next level with these easy homemade eclairs. Light and airy pastry filled with delicious vanilla pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze; these eclairs will be gone quicker than a flash of lightning!
If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️
For the Pastry Cream:
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon (Pinch) kosher salt
- 4 (5 ) egg yolks
- 2 cups (473.18 ml) whole milk
- 2 tablespoons (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
For the Pâte à Choux:
- ½ cup (6 tablespoons) water
- ½ cup (2 tablespoons) whole milk
- 6 tablespoons (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 1 cup (62.5 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 (2 ) eggs
For the Chocolate Glaze:
- 4 ounces (56.7 g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon (2 teaspoons) light corn syrup
- Pinch (1 tablespoon) salt
- Make the Pastry Cream: Fill a large bowl with ice water, then set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Set both aside.
- In a 3 to 4-quart saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks until thoroughly combined and all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Then, whisk in the milk to combine.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream begins to noticeably thicken, about 4 to 8 minutes. When it reaches this point, look for large bubbles to break on the surface. Once they do, whisk constantly for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- Whisk in the butter and vanilla until melted and completely smooth.
- Strain the pastry cream through the fine-mesh sieve into the medium bowl. Immediately press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Place the bowl of pastry cream into the ice bath to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Make the Pate a Choux (Choux Pastry): Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Using a wooden spoon or stiff silicone spatula and stir until the flour is thoroughly mixed in and no lumps remain, pressing and smashing the dough against the sides of the pan.
- Return the pot to medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the dough comes together into one mass and there is a dry film on the bottom and sides of the pan. If you have an instant-read thermometer, it should register 175 degrees F.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes to cool the dough down. It should register 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
- Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Once all of the eggs have been added, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure everything is fully incorporated, an additional 5 to 10 seconds.
- Use immediately or keep at room temperature for up to 2 hours in a piping bag or with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface.
- Bake the Eclairs: Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch round piping tip (I recommend Ateco #866). Hold the pastry bag at a 45-degree angle and lightly drag the tip along the surface of the parchment paper to create 1-inch wide by 4-inch long lines of pastry dough. Pipe 12 eclairs onto each baking sheet. Dip a finger in cold water and gently pat down any bumps.
- Bake the sheets one at a time until the eclairs are puffed, golden brown, and feel light and hollow when picked up, 28 to 32 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and while the eclairs are still hot (you may need to use a paper towel to handle them), and using a paring knife, make two ¼-inch holes in the bottom of each eclair (one near each end) by inserting the tip and turning in a circular motion.
- Once both sheets have been baked and holes poked in the bottom, return both pans to the still-warm oven. Prop the door open with a wooden spoon and allow the eclairs to set in there for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
- Fill the Eclairs: Place the chilled pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round piping tip (Ateco #802 is perfect for this). Insert the tip of the bag into the holes you created on the bottom of the eclairs, and gently squeeze until filled (the cream will start to come back out of the hole on the bottom). Wipe off excess cream from the bottom and continue until all eclairs are filled.
- Alternative Filling Method: You can also slice the eclairs in half horizontally and pipe (I love a large closed star tip for this - Ateco #853) the pastry cream onto the bottom half, and then cover with the top half of the puff. This is a pretty presentation but a bit messier to eat!
- Make the Chocolate Glaze: Place the chopped chocolate, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl. Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. Working one at a time, hold each eclair upside down and dip the top in the glaze, then return to the tray. Repeat with all of the puffs. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Storing- Filled eclairs are best eaten the same day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Freezing- For longer storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Transfer to the refrigerator to thaw before serving.
- Making Ahead- The pastry cream can be made up to 5 days in advance. Unfilled, baked eclair shells store well in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Photography by Dee Frances