French Cheese Puffs aka Gougères aka Pâte à Choux

Like little bite-size popovers, these light and cheesy snacks are just fun to eat!

Gougères make a warm and comforting appetizer or snack, but I also like to serve them with something creamy like Squash BisqueCatalan Chickpea & Spinach Soup, or Roasted Cauliflower Soup.  Your family and friends don’t need to know how easy they are to make.  Just sit back and enjoy the ooohs and aaaahs.

The dough used to create gougères is also called pâte à choux or choux pastry.  It is the basis for several French pastries including éclairs.  While it bakes, the dough puffs up creating a pocket of air with a lovely crisp exterior and a tender interior.  Yummm!

If these look good to you, and they should because they are, then I urge you to give this recipe a whirl.  Here is all that you will need.

Cheese Gougères
Adapted from a recipe by David Leibovitz

Print-Friendly Recipe

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 24 chives, finely-minced (don’t have chives, try scallions)
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces, 180g) grated cheese like Gruyère (See Note)

NOTE:  You can use all sorts of cheese in this recipe.  I think that the more sharp or distinctive cheeses work best.  You can also use a cheese blend.  For instance, a little parmesan cheese in place of some of the gruyère would also be very yummy.  Sharp cheddar, aged gouda or any number of other intensely flavored hard cheeses would work really well.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat the water, butter, salt, and cayenne in a saucepan until the butter is melted, don’t let it simmer or boil because you will lose too much water.

Dump in the flour all at once and continue to cook, stirring vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball.  Remove from heat and let rest two minutes.

Transfer the flour and butter ball to the bowl of a standing mixer.  Turn it on and add the eggs, one at a time.  The batter will first appear lumpy, but after a minute or so, it will smooth out and become glossy and gorgeous.

Add all the chives and about 75% of the gruyère and stir until well-mixed.

The dough will be kind of gooey at this point, so piping it onto your baking sheet is the best option. Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner cut out (that’s what I use).  Pipe the dough into mounds, evenly-spaced apart about the size of a rounded tablespoon.  Top each puff with a bit of the remaining cheese.

At this point, you could refrigerate the dough on the sheet for several hours before baking.  You could also freeze the dough on the sheet and then transfer the frozen mounds to a ziplock bag to store for up to three months.

About half an hour before you want to serve these.  Pop them into a hot oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes (12 if you are baking from frozen), then turn the oven down to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

Print-Friendly Recipe

31 Comments

  1. Can they be eaten at room temp or cold?
    Do they need to be served warm for best taste?
    Thanks!

    Annie

    Reply
    • They really should be warm for best taste. However, if you would like to cook them in advance, they can be reheated right before serving. They won’t be quite as crisp on the outside or airy on the inside, but they will still taste delicious. — H

      Reply
  2. I just had these as an appetizer at a restaurant the other week and my boyfriend totally loved them. Now I can surprise him with this recipe. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Hello! Thanks for the recipe and pictures! I`ve found cheese puff recipe from Julia Child`s book and been meaning to make it since. Now I`m just getting more and more tempted looking at your nice instruction. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Looks delicious. However, I don’t have a stand mixer. I am always stumped by recipes that call for this. Can I make them anyway? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Linda, You can absolutely make this without a stand mixer! In fact, you can make this entire recipe in the saucepan. After you rest the dough ball for 2 minutes, begin adding the eggs directly to the pan one at a time while stirring vigorously. Take care not to “cook” the eggs. After each egg is incorporated, add the next one. Then proceed with the recipe as usual. — H

      Reply
  5. I just made these and they turned out great! Next time I want to try adding sugar and filling them with whipped cream once they are cooled… if you’ve tried anything like that do you have any advice? Thanks for this great recipe!

    Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, I’m thrilled that you made these! Really, you made my day. What you are describing for your second attempt sounds just like a classic cream puff. I have yet to make this, but one of these days I’m going to tackle the intimidating croquembouche. The “puffs” portion of this recipe from Epicurious is a really good basic choux dough that you could try. The technique is essentially the same, but the proportion of flour and water to butter is a little different.

      Reply
      • I’ve made the cream puff version before and they came out really grand! I drizzled a little melted milk chocolate over the tops…YUUUUMMMMMY! Good luck! Pretty much a no fail recipe, ez but everyone will think you are a genious!

        Reply
  6. These look so delicious with all that chives and cheese! and not to mention very poppin cute!

    Reply
  7. WOW! My mouth is watering I can’t wait to try this!

    Reply
  8. I was looking for the perfect homemade little thing to go with a pre-Christmas gathering( I am pretty sure they will go great with a rib roast) I was thinking about having…and now I found it! These sound great,easy and convenient(and how cute are they??) since I can make them ahead of time and even freeze them, Thank you :o))

    Reply
  9. these are on my list for this holiday season. looks delish!

    Reply
  10. I’m making these for a potluck appetizer party tonight. I’m making them tiny (maybe the size of a dime?) with extra sharp cheddar. The test batch was gobbled up by my family, so I know they’re good. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

    Reply
  11. Goodness that looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  12. I’m going to make these this weekend and freeze them for an easy Christmas Day appetizer. Very excited.

    Reply
  13. check your measurements because they are wrong.
    It’s too much water and it makes it gooey (not hard as in the pictures).

    Mine were a total failure!

    Reply
    • Hi Kev,
      First, I’m very sorry that your recipe didn’t work. I know the disappointment of investing time and ingredients and ending up with nothing but a messy kitchen. Second, your comment made me doubt. I double-checked against the original recipe from David Leibovitz and the proportions appeared to be correct (4 parts flour, 4 parts water, 3 parts unsalted butter plus an egg for every 1/4 cup of flour used). However, it had been a long time since I made these, so I went ahead and made a batch to serve with the soup I’m making for dinner. I used the measurements as written, and the gougeres came out perfectly. I’m not sure why yours didn’t work. Perhaps it is a conversion issue. I encourage you to try again, perhaps halve the recipe this time (that is the amount David Leibovitz makes on his blog). Good luck.
      Best,
      Heather

      Reply
      • I figured out Kev’s problem because I was amazed to find I had the same issue. I actually added more flour (up to 1/4 cup) initially thinking maybe I goofed on the milk measurement, but it was no better. After following the link to DL’s site and rereading both recipes, I finally realized that after adding the flour you are supposed to **leave it on the heat, continuing to cook it** as you stir to get to the proper consistency. Then take it off the heat and continue with eggs and cheese. Since I had already used all those ingredients and not wanting to be wasteful or start over, I added more milk and butter in proportion to the added flour. Maybe because of this goof-up, mine didn’t puff up as nicely. They were actually pretty flat but they were delicious and a huge hit. (Do you have any other ideas as to why they didn’t puff up well? Unbaked, they looked just like your photo) I baked some off right away to try them and froze the rest for baking right before serving. I will most definitely be making these again! Oh, and I scooped the batter onto baking sheets with a small cookie scoop and it was easy and they were perfectly sized. Thanks for another delicious recipe, Heather! :)

        Reply
  14. I just made these and they tasted great. It was a test run for my sister’s bridal shower which is french themed….I did have a few issues though. They tasted great but mine didnt get quite as golden brown on the outside as yours and the cheese on top started to burn….any suggestions on things I can do to fix these problems?

    Reply
    • Hmmmm. Different ovens can sometimes produce different results. You may want to double-check the heat of your oven with a simple hanging thermometer available everywhere or you could go fancy and get one of these laser thermometer guns which I use. In the meantime, you might try cooking them without the cheese at 425 for 10 minutes. Then add the cheese to the tops and put them back in the oven at 375 for the remaining cooking time (20 minutes according to the recipe). If they aren’t as brown as you like after those 20 minutes, you can cook them a few minutes longer. Let me know how they turn out and have a wonderful shower!

      Reply
  15. Can you use regular salt, I cant seem to find kosher salt in the supermarket near us?

    Reply
    • You can, but if you do, use a little less. Regular table salt is saltier and heavier per teaspoon then kosher salt. Good luck. – Heather

      Reply
      • Thanks Heather I am going to try my luck tomorrow in making these, I will keep you posted. Best regards for sharing your recipe.

        Reply
  16. How many does this recipe make?

    Reply
    • A lot! But it depends on how big you make them. I usually make 40-50.

      Reply
  17. Thank you. made it and we all loved it.

    Reply
  18. I love pate a choux – so versatile! Tried this variation with some Queijo da Serra, a soft cheese from Portugal. It was starting to turn into a blue cheese, so I cut off all those bits, chopped the remainder, and they came out fabulous!

    A question to you, Heather… I tested two puffs in my ancient toaster oven – baked them for 15 minutes at 425 (forgot to turn the oven down.) They rose to giant puffballs, completely hollow inside – light and dreamy.
    I put the rest inside the ziplock, brought them to my sister’s, and about 90 minutes later baked them there. (Again forgetting to turn the oven down!!)
    They rose only about half as much, though they were still awesome.

    Any theories as to why? Would the 90 minutes in a cooler have taken some of the oomph out of their rising capability? Or could it have been not turning the oven down?

    BTW – the Portuguese deep fry this dough – dropping by the spoonful – if you’ve had a beignet in New Orleans, it’s the same thing. (minus the cheese, of course!) We would roll them in regular cane sugar, and for a special treat, drizzle a little maple syrup over them while still warm. Yum!

    Reply
    • He Tereza,
      That all sounds so delicious! My guess on the puff question is that it is temperature related. I’m thinking that perhaps the oven at your sister’s house wasn’t as hot as you thought it was. A really hot oven is essential to the puffing because it sears the outside of the pate giving it structure while, at the same time creating steam inside that creates the puffing. Some ovens, however, run cold (mine for instance) and all ovens lose a lot of heat when the door is opened. My own is particularly awful and loses between 40 and 75 degrees depending on how long the door is open…seriously. To compensate for this sudden drop in heat, I turn the heat way up to preheat and back down when the food is inside. A small oven, like a toaster oven, heats and reheats quickly. Your sister’s oven might take a lot longer. Your message made me hungry, so I need to go eat now.
      Best,
      Heather

      Reply

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