Tutorial: Cream Puffs

CATEGORIES: Kate, Pies and Pastries

Don’t run away! Cream puffs are super easy! You, too can make pastries! The very best part (well, aside from eating them) is that you can totally customize how big your cream puffs are and you can even make giant shells and use them to hold chicken or tuna salad and totally win friends and influence people.

Mini Chocolate Cream Puffs

For the pastry, you’ll need:

½ c. water
¼ c. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
½ c. flour
2 eggs

For the chocolate mousse filling, you’ll need:

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. boiling water
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa
1 c. cold whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the topping, you can either sprinkle them with powdered sugar or dip them in chocolate; I actually think they’re so tiny and perfect and rich that they don’t need anything more than a little dusting of powdered sugar, and that’s just to make them pretty, but that’s just me. Also, you can fill these with whatever the heck you want, although I don’t believe that pudding belongs in cream puffs or eclairs. If you have a great vanilla cream recipe, go for it! This is just a jumping-off point.

Preheat your oven to 400. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once. Stir quickly with a spoon until dough forms a ball.

Add one egg at a time, combining completely after each addition. The mixture will be very smooth and velvety.

Either drop the dough by scant teaspoons or spoon dough into a pastry bag and pipe them directly onto an un-greased baking sheet. Yes, teaspoons; they’ll puff up, but you also want them to be bite-sized. If you want larger cream puffs, you could use a cookie scoop to get a tablespoon of dough.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl. Let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly. Stir together ½ c. sugar and ¼ c. cocoa in a medium bowl. Add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture and beat until well blended.

Refrigerate ½ hour and then spoon into icing bag.

Gently insert piping tip into the bottom of each pastry puff and squeeze filling into puff, being careful not to over-fill. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (or dip top in chocolate) and refrigerate until ready to serve. These are definitely better the next day, so it lightens your workload to be able to make these a day or two in advance if you’re throwing a party.

Makes about 40 bite-sized cream puffs.




  1. Wow – that is amazing! Really, I never knew you could make those delightful little puppies yourself.
    The last picture is deliciously stunning!

  2. That’s different than the ones I make. I put an indentation on the tops of mine and then fill them with pudding (usually banana cream, but sometimes vanilla). Then I top that with whipped cream. But these will definitely go on my list of things to try!

  3. You know, Robyn, I was just thinking about this very thing! I love Bavarian cream, but it’s pretty work intensive and involves either raw egg yolks or tempering eggs, which is basically pudding. My general complaint about straight pudding is that it’s just a little too thick and heavy for my taste, so these were my two major epiphanies this afternoon:

    –Use the chocolate mousse recipe, but omit the chocolate and add some finely-minced (or even pureed) strawberries instead and then dip THOSE cream puffs in chocolate

    –Use the filling recipe from the banana cream pie I posted for Easter (using vanilla pudding). While it has pudding in it, having the sweetened condensed milk and the whipped cream in there would fluff it up a little.

    So those are projects I foresee in my near future. If you try either one, let me know how it goes!

  4. Thanks for the ideas Kate! I’m going to make the chocolate mousse recipe for mother’s day. Later I’ll experiment with some of those ideas! Thanks!

  5. Oooh, Kate that is a good idea: to use the banana creme pie filling in the puffs. I have never actually made cream puffs but maybe, just maybe you have inspired me to try. I think that cream puffs are one of those things that really impress people, even though they aren’t that hard. I know I am impressed. But then, I am always impressed by your skills. (you too sara.)

  6. I just made these with the creme pie filling and they turned out great – this is for sure my new favorite recipe website 🙂

  7. The first batch following this recipe didn't turn out. The batter was too thin & soupy. The cream puffs were flat. I was bummed because I've never had cream puffs fail. I checked my usual recipe. It was basically identical to yours except my recipe called for a ten minute cooling time before adding the eggs to the dough. When I let the dough cool for the second batch, they turned out perfect. Just thought I'd pass that on in case someone else had a problem w/ the dough being too thin. Loved the chocolate filling! Thanks for the recipe. I'm really enjoying your site.

  8. We LOVE cream puffs. Once I made the big ones, cut them in half, filled them with peppermint ice cream and then drizzled them with chocolate. YUM! LOVE your site too. We are making your chocolate chip cookie pie bites right now. 🙂

  9. I'm making these puffs to fill with chicken salad; is the baking time/temperature going to be different if I do tbs- instead of tsp-sized puffs? And how far in advance can I make the puffs before I cut them in half and fill them up? Thanks again! And I LOVE your site!

  10. Hi, Maria! Sorry I'm just getting back to you–we took a little break for the holidays. As far as baking time, it might be just a bit longer, but I don't have an actual number for you. Just keep an eye on them. And as long as they're in an air-tight container, you can keep them for 3-4 days. Hope that helps!

  11. I love making cream puffs but it's been a while. I make vanilla pudding but add whipping cream, or just add some pudding as I'm beating the whipping cream instead of sugar and fill them with that. I know this post is super old, but thought I'd share anyway!

  12. I’ve discovered your website a few weeks ago, and love the bright, fresh, creative flavour, but that it’s totally accessable & do-able at the same time! I’ve been inspired to keep trying to create memories for our family

    I’ve played with a few of your recipes – altering them with the ingredients I’ve had, but last night for the first time, followed the above recipe for cream puffs with the chocolate filling – exactly as it’s written, and YUM!!!! My husband couldn’t believe I’d made the pastry myself, and I couldn’t believe how straightforward it was and how little fussiness was involved. Definately a winner 🙂

    Keep up the good work, ladies!

  13. I am making these right now for a BBQ tomorrow! I love “bite size” desserts! And these are turning out great so far!!! Thank you for posting such a fun recipe!

  14. How long before serving can I fill cream puffs? I’m wondering if I should fill and freeze them in order to pull them out for a morning event I need to take them to.

    1. You don’t have to freeze them. I’ve made them a couple of times and you can fill them right before and there really yummy! But they’re much better the next day.

  15. I have your first cookbook and love it! Every time I make one of the recipes my husband and kids say, “This is the best __________ I’ve ever tasted!” They’ll want the recipes when they’re older! Thanks to you two! QUESTION: Can I just use regular home made whipping cream for these puffs, and then eat them either fresh or frozen? … or would that make them soggy?

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