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A close up of the top of a tower of cream puffs that has one cream puff on top with a missing bite.

Cream Puffs

These easy-to-make cream puffs have light as air choux pastry filled with a rich and creamy vanilla pastry cream. Dusted with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate, you will learn how to make these better than the bakery cream puffs from the comfort of your home.

Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Prep 1 hour
Cook 25 minutes
Total 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 18 cream puffs
Calories 206 kcal
Author Michelle

Ingredients

For the Pastry Cream

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Pate a Choux

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour sifted
  • 4 eggs

For Sprinkling (Optional)

  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Chocolate Glaze (Optional)

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Make the Pastry Cream: Fill a large bowl with ice water, then set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Set both aside.

  2. 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.

  3. Place the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream begins to noticeably thicken, about 4 to 8 minutes.

  4. 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.

  5. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until melted and completely smooth.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Make the Pate a Choux (Choux Pastry): Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  9. Place the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil.

  10. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Using a wooden spoon or stiff silicone spatula, stir until the flour is thoroughly mixed in and no lumps remain, pressing and smashing the dough against the sides of the pan.

  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Bake the Puffs: Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch round piping tip (I recommend the Ateco #10). Hold the pastry bag at a 90-degree angle and apply downward pressure to pipe 2-inch wide puffs onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, ensuring that the puffs are 3 inches apart. Dip a finger in cold water and gently pat down any bumps or swirls sticking up on top.

  16. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the puffs are golden brown and feel like and hollow, about 22 to 27 minutes. Turn off the oven.

  17. Remove from the oven and while the puffs are still hot (you may need to use a paper towel to handle them), insert the tip of a paring knife into the bottom of each puff, turning gently to create a ¼-inch hole in the bottom.
  18. Return the puffs to the baking sheets and place in the turned-off oven. Prop the door open with a wooden spoon and allow the puffs to set in there for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
  19. Fill the Puffs: Place the chilled pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round piping tip (again, Ateco #10 is perfect for this). Insert the tip of the bag into the hole you created on the bottom of the puff, and gently squeeze until filled (the puff will fill heavy and 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 puffs are filled.

  20. Alternative Filling Method: You can also slice the puffs 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!

  21. Dust the puffs with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
  22. Optional Chocolate Glaze (if using): 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 cream puff 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.

Recipe Notes

  • Pate a Choux Dough: Can be made by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula, using a stand mixer, or a hand mixer. More detailed tutorial: Basic Pate a Choux Recipe
  • Vanilla Pastry Cream: See how to make pastry cream for additional flavor options and troubleshooting tips!
  • Pastry Tip Recommendations: Ateco #802 for filling the cream puffs / Ateco #823 for swirling the pastry cream between a split cream puff.
  • Storing: Filled cream puffs 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 cream puffs store well in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Nutritional value is for 1 cream puff filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate glaze.

Nutrition Facts
Cream Puffs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 206 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 103mg34%
Sodium 128mg6%
Potassium 109mg3%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 390IU8%
Calcium 50mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.