How to Make Choux Pastry at Home

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Learning how to make choux pastry may sound tricky, but trust us: it's simple! Once you get the hang of this easy dough, you'll be making eclairs and cream puffs nonstop.

Whether you realize it or not, choux pastry (or pâte à choux) is the foundation for so many delicious desserts like eclairs and cream puffs.

Yes, it is a major part of the French pastry arts—which typically means complex techniques—but know that making choux pastry at home is actually so simple to accomplish and doesn’t require any special ingredients. In fact, you can likely start whipping up a batch today.

What is Choux?

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Choux (pronounced like shoo), is a type of French pastry that is first cooked over the stove and then baked in the oven. There, the rich dough puffs up with a crispy exterior and light, almost hollow interior.

This pastry gets its name from the French word for cabbage—not for its flavor, but for its appearance. When baked in mounds, the finished pastry resembles a cabbage (sort of).

How to Make Choux Pastry

Recipes for pâte à choux may vary slightly, but all include the same basic components: liquid (water, milk or both), butter, flour and eggs. For a basic choux, try this from our top-rated eclair recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Go to Recipe

Tools for Making Choux

  • Saucepan: All choux starts on the stove. Make sure you have a medium-sized saucepan in your arsenal to combine the first several ingredients.
  • Wooden spoon: There’s nothing like a trusty wooden spoon to mix together the base of your choux dough. If your wooden spoon is beyond revival, invest in a few new ones. You’ll never regret it.
  • Piping bag: Whether you’re making eclairs or profiteroles, you’ll need a piping bag to get the right shape for your pastry.

Directions

Step 1: Boil and beat

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To start, add the water, butter and salt to a saucepan and bring the blend up to a boil. Then add the flour all in one go.

Use a wooden spoon to stir until the mixture comes together in one mass and keep stirring until a smooth, ball forms.

Then remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to stand for about 5 minutes, just enough time to cool a bit. If the mix is too hot, it could scramble the eggs in the next step.

Step 2: Add the eggs

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Next, transfer the base of your choux into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each. Keep stirring until the choux looks smooth and shiny.

A good way to tell if your choux is done is by running a spatula through the mix and lifting up. If the mix drops off in a nice V-shape, your choux is good to go.

Step 3: Shape

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There are lots of options with choux, but no matter what you make, you’ll want to add the dough to a pastry bag for easy piping. Snip off the end (no tip needed) and get to work.

For cream puffs or profiteroles, squeeze the bag in one spot to make domes. Use a damp fingertip to smooth out the top of each mound.

For eclairs, it can be more challenging to eyeball uniform lengths. To help, use a pencil and a ruler to mark lines on a sheet of parchment. Flip the parchment over onto your baking sheet and pipe the pastry along those lines.

Step 4: Bake

Pop your choux shapes into a 400ºF oven. For a standard eclair shape, 35 to 40 minutes should do the trick. If you’re making smaller profiteroles or mini cream puffs, aim for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 5: Cool

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When your choux, in whatever form it takes, comes out of the oven, prick the undersides of your bake with a skewer or toothpick and let cool on a wire rack. These small holes allow steam to escape so the inside doesn’t get soggy.

A good choux of any kind should be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

When fully cool, your pastries are ready to slice, fill or top.

Serving Choux

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Choux pastry is incredibly versatile. Besides piping it into different shapes, you can also fill and decorate so many delicious ways.

  • Fill with pastry cream: Pastry cream is the classic filling for desserts like eclairs. You can flavor this cream all sorts of ways with extracts and fruit. These contest-winning Chocolate-Glazed Raspberry Elcairs have vanilla and fresh berries in the cream.
  • Dollop on whipped cream: A good cream puff is so satisfying. Make the whipped cream from scratch for a truly decadent treat. You can always take it to the next level by flavoring your cream with hazelnut, coffee or even bourbon.
  • Serve with ice cream: In lieu of whipped cream, use ice cream, like with these Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Puffs.
  • Go savory: While we often associate this type of dough with sweet desserts filled with pastry cream, choux dough isn’t actually sweet at all. You can fill homemade choux puffs with tasty savory fillings for appetizers like these Party Crab Puffs. Homemade chicken salad is also a great filler.

Recipes That Start with Choux

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.