Foolproof Cream Puffs
This easy recipe for foolproof cream puffs is straightforward and lifechanging! Homemade cream puffs have never been easier!
If cream puffs have ever seemed intimidating and out of reach to make at home, let today change your mind! I promise this foolproof cream puffs recipe will make you feel like a rock star in the kitchen – and in no time (cream puffs are pretty darn fast to make!).
There’s a how-to video below to make making them even easier, plus, I’m sharing a couple tricks that will make them turn out every single time!
The great thing about cream puffs is that their craggy tops mean you don’t have to fight for perfection. Rustic is good. Very, very good.
These tender tiny pastries are so amazingly delicious – what with the super charged layers of luscious homemade vanilla cream filling topped with sweetened whipped cream and all.
And like I mentioned above, it’s ok if they look like a miniature art form. Do some of mine look a little spiky and modern art-ish on top? Perhaps. But I can promise you this: no one is going to remember the architecture on the top of the shell after inhaling the ethereal goodness of these mini cream puffs.
Two Secrets for the Best Cream Puffs
1) Use a mini muffin tin or regular muffin tin to bake the cream puffs! This ensures the cream puffs will rise up (instead of flattening) and they will hold their shape beautifully! Also, scooping the sticky batter in with a cookie scoop is lifechangingly easy (my favorite cookie scoops here – aff. link).
2) Immediately out of the oven, pierce each cream puff with a thin wooden skewer or small paring knife to let the steam escape while they cool. This is KEY to making sure those cute little puffs don’t collapse!
(Also, pro tip: dipping your finger in cold water and smoothing out the top of each cream puff before they bake will help minimize the dangerous spikes.)
Watch the How-To Video Here!
You can see other Bake with Mel videos here on Instagram Live or over on this page.
One Year Ago: Spinach Strawberry Salad with Homemade Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing
Two Years Ago: Easter Dinner Make-a-Menu
Three Years Ago: Red Brie Pasta Sauce
Amazing and Foolproof Cream Puffs
Cream Puff Shells:
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup (113 g) salted butter
- 1 cup (142 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
Vanilla Cream Filling:
- 2 cups milk, I use 2%
- ¼ cup (29 g) powdered sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ⅓ cup (38 g) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling
- Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (decrease by 25 or 50 degrees if using a dark coated pan). Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin or a 12-cup regular muffin tin (you’ll bake in two batches).
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture forms a ball.
- Scrape the warm mixture into a mixing bowl (or into the bowl of an electric stand mixer) and beat with a handheld electric mixer until the dough has cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
- Scoop a heaping 1/2 tablespoon into each mini muffin tin (about 1/2 full) or a couple tablespoons into a regular muffin tin (again, about 1/2 full). A cookie scoop works great for this.
- Once the mini muffin cups are filled, wet your fingers with cold water and dab them on the top of the mounded dough to smooth out any rough spots and even out the dough (this will help them bake into a pretty rounded top).
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes for mini cream puffs and 25 minutes for regular cream puffs until the tops of the shells are lightly golden and they are baked all the way through (if there is any doughy moisture inside the shells add a few minutes so they don’t collapse).
- Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, use a thin wooden skewer to pierce the side of each cream puff; doing this will allow any steam to escape. I try to poke the cream puff shell right in the middle where I’ll be splitting it anyway to add the cream. Remove them from the tin and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
- Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough.
- For the vanilla cream filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk and 1/4 cup powdered sugar to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Slowly ladle or drizzle in the hot milk mixture to the bowl while whisking constantly (this tempers the eggs so they don’t curdle and cook into hard bits). Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and/or whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this part is optional but can help remove any lumps) into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the top and refrigerate until cold. The vanilla cream filling can be made up to a week in advance.
- For the sweetened whipped cream, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks (I like to use my Blendtec for whipping cream; super simple and takes just a minute or two).
- Split each cooled cream puff shell in half right at the seam where the puffy top meets the smooth bottom. Spoon vanilla cream into the bottom of each shell and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and place the top back on. Lightly dust all the cream puffs with powdered sugar.
- The cream puffs can be fully assembled up to a day in advance (they actually taste better if assembled ahead of time). I store them uncovered in the refrigerator up to a day before serving.
Recipe Source: cream puffs adapted from Sally’s tried-and-true recipe, which is very similar to this recipe I posted years ago, except made them into mini size, vanilla cream adapted slightly from allrecipes (used powdered sugar for a smoother, silkier pastry cream)
Recipe originally published March 2015; updated with new photos, commentary, video and recipe notes.
99 Comments on “Foolproof Cream Puffs”
My 13 yr old son made these. They are definately fool proof. Great recipe Mel. Thank you!
Wow! Your son is amazing!
I kind of want to pipe in the filling…whether I’m piping it or not, do you think it would work to prep both the vanilla filling and the whipped cream separately, like you have it, but then combine them before filling?
I’m not sure how that would affect the overall texture if the two were combined but certainly worth a try!
Amy, I’ve done that a few times. I found that if I mixed them together it is a little lumpy – you get chunks of the pudding in with the whipped cream. It’s yummy still but if you’re a texture person it might not be the best fit. It pipes great.
I’ve also tried whipping them together and that totally failed. The cream separated and it was a sad sloppy mess.
You said theyfreeze well. Freeze empty or filled? Can’t wait to make them.
Thanks for the video!
You can freeze them filled – they freeze great that way!
If I want to halve the recipe, how many eggs and yolks should I use in the vanilla cream?
Hi Shari, I would probably use one egg yolk and one egg.
YOUR RECIPE SHOWS 5 OUNCES OF FLOUR BUT SAY IT IS 1 CUP. WHICH IS THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF FLOUR.
5 ounces is the weight of the flour not the volume.
The Cream Puffs…….divine! But can I just say how beautiful this pastry cream is? I have used this pastry cream for several different desserts now! It is a staple <3 I regret not posting sooner! Thank you so much 🙂
Oh no! my first try making this didnt work out. My batter turned out too runny. I think I shouldnt have added the four egg because the consistency of the batter looked better at three eggs but it completely changed at the addition of the fourth egg. I tried a second time and it was better! this time I kept it on the stove longer when the flour was added so that i saw a film on the pot ( i read this elsewhere) before I took the dough ball out to cool down. That may have done the trick and i was able to use four eggs without causing the batter to turn runny. but im happy it worked, im def not a good baker so got to take a few tries before getting it right.
I’ve never had issues before – but today recipe turned out very runny?! No idea what went wrong – was fine on stove, thick ball, added eggs, and went runny.
I’m wondering if this recipe can be halved to yield 24 minis?
Yes, I think so!
Foolproof is right! Mel, you make me feel like a rockstar again!! All the directions and tips made these turn out like a professional’s. What’s more, my family gobbled them up in a flash. Thank you!
Have you doubled the dough recipe? Or would you recommend making 2 separate batches of the dough? I’ve made these before and they turned out great but I’m making them for a baby shower so needing more and I’ve heard others not have success with cream puffs so wanted to check beforehand so that they turn out great again
I’ve doubled before and it works great!
Truly, these are absolute perfection!!!! So easy and so good! And I’m not sure if you’d think i was a terrible person for using instant pudding, but even so, my kids gobbled them up in 5 seconds flat and i know anyone i share them with will love them too. Thanks for being so awesome and sharing your recipes.
Is the bake time the same for large cream puffs as with the mini cream puffs?
No, you’ll want to add a several minutes for the regular size cream puffs.
I have a question. I saw you make these on IG and you said they freeze really well. At what stage do you freeze them? Completely assembled? Not fillet yet? Without the whipped cream? Anyway, I am making them for my daughter’s bridal shower and wanted to make them a few weeks ahead. Thanks so much Mel!
I often freeze them completely assembled. Works great!
What is the recommended thawing process? Also have you ever left them out for a party when it’s warmer out? Would be in the shade, but will be warm out.
I just pop them out of the freezer and onto a tray and let them thaw. If it’s warm out the filling might melt a little and the cream puffs might get soggy
Hi Mel, you mention in the notes that these can be filled with the cream a day in advance and taste better that way. Do you mean they can be filled with both the pudding and the whipped cream or just the pudding? If both, does the whipped cream get weepy and make the puffs soggy?
That’s a good question! Yes, I just fill with the pastry cream/pudding as the whipped cream (unless it’s been stabilized with gelatin) will get a bit soggy/weepy after a day.
Mel, I am wanting to make these but don’t have time the day before the open house. Can I freeze them for up to a week? Filled or not filled?
Yes! They freeze great already filled and then I dust them with powdered sugar once they have thawed.
Hi Mel, I made these today and the dough didn’t rise in the oven like yours. Many were flat on top without many cracks, Some rose all around the edges and had a little dent in the middle. I baked until golden brown and they didn’t deflate when I took them out of the oven. They just don’t have peaks or very many cracks on top. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Hey Jill, what was the texture of the dough like as you mixed it?
The dough was pretty thick and smooth. I had to scrape it off the spoon with my finger to get it into the muffin tin. It was a bit sticky and I had to dampen my finger to smooth out the pointy spots, otherwise it stuck to my finger.
Hmmm, that sound about the right texture. Sorry for all the questions, but what type of pan do you have? Is it dark, nonstick or light colored?
Hi again. 🙂
My mini muffin pan is a light colored metal. It’s ok if you don’t immediately have suggestions. I can just try making them another time and see if they turn out differently. Thanks!
I LOVE your blog – it’s always my go-to for successful recipes! Thank you for all your hard work. You’ve made my life so much more enjoyable. I have fun cooking again for my family, when it used to be a drudgery.
Thanks, Jill! I don’t mind troubleshooting at all. Sometimes dark pans make a difference in recipes like this. I did some “research” online and a lot of people report that this happened and looking back, they think they didn’t let the flour mixture cool long enough before adding the eggs.
Ahhhh, thank you! I will let it cool longer next time! And I’ll pay attention to the kind of pan I use. I tried to do some research online as well but couldn’t find what I was looking for. Thanks for your help!
Looks really yummy!!
The cream puffs were so easy and turned out great but I made the vanilla cream twice and both times ended up with a lumpy mess. I gave up and used instant vanilla pudding but they were still delicious.
These were absolutely delicious and your presentation is superb!! 🙂
I took the advice from a previous comment and after the baking time, I turned off the oven and let the shells stay in there an extra 5 minutes… just in case. Perfection. And in case anyone else may be wondering, I made these completely dairy free using Earth Balance butter and coconut milk (from the carton) for the puffs and cream filling and used the So Delicious Coco Whip topping instead of the whipped cream. They were great!
Did you make the shells dairy free, too? If so, what did you use instead of eggs? I am vegan and am wondering how to make this vegan. Thank you
Ok,I have been commissioned to make cream puffs stuffed with chicken salad, and shrimp, enough for 30-40 people. Do you think it would work the day before? I suppose I could make them the day of, but I would like to enjoy this party myself. I am worried about them getting soggy.
I think you could definitely make the shells the day before and fill them the day of so they don’t get too soggy.
How would mini cream puffs bake in silicone pan?
Hey Debbie, a silicone mini muffin pan should work just fine (I haven’t tried it myself but don’t see why it would create issues). Good luck!
I’ve been making cream puffs for years and still have some flops. I made these in my mini pans and they came out wonderfully! I left them in the oven for 25 min. just to be sure they wouldn’t cave in. I mix the whipped cream with the pudding (sometimes do chocolate) and pipe it in with a wilton dessert decorator. It has a long tip that you can just poke in the puff, so easy! Then I pipe some melted chocolate in a baggy with the corner clipped on top. A little like an eclair. It’s what is always requested from the family!
Just wondering if anyone has tried making these in the dark non-stick muffin tins at the lower temperature yet? Curious to know if anyone has had success with that, as I plan to attempt that method for Easter dinner.
My mothers recipe is very similar to yours cooking time is the same but to avoid
collapse pinch puff with fork and return to oven off let set for 20 min.
I never lost a cream puff
I made these and they turned out so great! I was soooo worried during the whole process that they would collapse but they didn’t! and Eveeryone loved them!!
These sound yummy! Could you fill the pastries without cutting them?
I think so, especially if you have a thinner pastry/icing tip.
Yes, using a thinner icing cap does work. It works well, just be careful that you don’t accidentally overfill it. That gets messy…
I made these today for a party and they came out perfectly. Instead of using a sweet filling, I’m going to fill them with chicken salad. I like the idea of finger foods so that people can just get to them easier, ya know! Thanks for the recipe.
I just made 2 batches of these. One exactly as the recipe read and then another substituting the all purpose flour with Trader Joes gluten free flour. Both turned out great. The gluten free flour needed extra mixing though.
I made them on a cook sheet but a little bigger
I follow the recipe for cream puffs the outside is great the inside is always soggy I bake at 400 for15minutes then 25 at 350
Love this recipe. I printed it off and couldn’t stop thinking about them. Made them as a surprise addition for my nephew’s Baptism brunch. They were such a hit. I saw some guests adding blackberries and raspberries from the fruit bowl to their cream puffs. How fun is that! Thanks for another winner!
Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe these mini puffs!!! I couldn’t stop eating them!!! Super easy to make too!!!
made for Easter – perfect and delicious! half as is, other half with chocolate ganache. I think I overfilled as I only had custard for about 3/4 of them (using the shells for ice cream, so they won’t go to waste). Brilliant using the small muffin tins and my blender to make whipped cream!!! thanks!
I made these for Easter dinner with my in-laws. It was so nice to have a light tasting dessert after a big meal. While I love to cook and bake, I have never attempted cream puffs. They turned out great and I couldn’t stop eating them! I thought they would be great with a chocolate pudding filling as well. I did end up using only about half of the whipped cream. Should I have put on a bigger dollop? It seemed pretty full the way it was. Either way they were wonderful!
Hey Rebekah – glad you loved these. I probably am a little overabundant on the whipped cream. 🙂 So it sounds like you did it just right – and exactly what your preference is.
I made these and my kids changed the temp of my fridge so they froze and they were WAY better before. The texture of the filling and the cream were totally ruined, in my opinion. I would definitely not recommend freezing these. I liked them best after chilling for a few hours, but they were easy and so yummy!
I made this today for Easter. Everyone loved them. So easy. I made them on a cookie sheet because I didn’t have the silver muffin tins. Just used my large (muffin size) ice cream scoop. After they baked and cooled I split them halfway and filled them. I also put some ganache on half and powdered sugar on the other half. So Yummy.
I am making theses for a family gathering tomorrow, but need to double the batch so there are enough. Do you think I should also double the filling recipe, or do you think one batch is enough?
I’d probably double the filling just to be safe.
Thanks for getting this recipe out. Can’t wait to try them!
I made these this morning and I couldn’t stop eating them!! I tried freezing a few and although they tasted fine, I felt that the filling wasn’t quite as sweet after being frozen (if that’s even possible?!). Either way, I liked them the best after being chilled in the fridge. So yummy! Now to get in the mindset of going for an early morning run to run all the calories off from these bad boys!
Ah, you deserve an award for testing out the freezing idea, Tiff. Thanks!
Hi mel! I love cream puffs and yours look cuter than cute! I’d like to try this in my cake pop maker. I hope it gets hot enough to make them puff (fingers crossed). My only concern is that every time I make cream puffs, the shells always taste “eggy”. Do have any idea why this happens and maybe how to avoid this? Thanks so much!
Hey Tess, my cream puff shells have a slight eggy taste, too – I think that’s normal since the dough has a lot of eggs.
Hello, just a quick question….when making the vanilla cream filling…..the last step is to add the butter and the vanilla…..is the butter melted butter, or are you adding it in as softened butter? Thanks for your response.
Hey Tyler – I just throw butter in straight from the fridge – the custard is warm enough to melt it perfectly.
Thanks for the reply Mel. Another question….have you ever used granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar? And if I wanted to use whole vanilla bean, probably add it into the simmering milk when it’s heating up, yea? Gonna try these this weekend. Thanks for another drool inducing recipe.
I haven’t Tyler but I think it would work just fine (the original recipe from allrecipes calls for granulated sugar). And yes, lovely idea for the vanilla bean – I’d scrape out the seeds and add them to the milk mixture.
Everything IS better in miniature form, and these cream puffs are completely adorable! I always have requests for that tub of cream puffs at Costco too, and I don’t really get it – they’re not even that good! Not bad I suppose, but not great. These are a thousand times better I’m sure! And so cute!
This is the one dessert that my husband has hinted that I NEED to learn how to make. And they look so cute in mini form! I’m wondering also, if you think these would freeze well? They would be right up there with keeping cookies stored in the freezer for a quick/late night treat.
I haven’t tried freezing but I think they stand an ok chance of freezing decently – my only concern would be the whipping cream layer and how it would thaw (might be a little grainy).
Tell me, just how are you keep from not eating all of them, if you make them a day ahead? My mouth is watering!!
Mel! Would love to try these! I haven’t made cream puffs since I attempted a croquembouche a million years ago! The cream puffs were great, albeit a two day process, but clearly I needed (ALOT) more practice on how to spin sugar lol! What a mess! Everyone loves those little mini puffs from the freezer aisle. I love that yours are filled with pastry cream AND whipped cream. What a perfect bite of yum!
How do you think these would freeze? I’m loving the idea of making my own home-made Costco cream puffs handy in the freezer!
Great question, Emmy! My guess is they probably freeze pretty well but I haven’t tried it myself and I don’t know if the storebought ones add certain stabilizers to the filling and cream so they freeze better. I’m thinking someone ought to try freezing these little babies and let us know how it goes, though. 🙂
I have some lemon curd left over from a recipe I made yesterday. I think that might make a nice alternative filling for the cream puffs (along with the whip cream). I might whip up a small batch tonight.
What is the best way to split them open to fill them? I feel like they would crush easily. Thanks!
I take a small serrated knife and just cut around the very center. The little shells are slightly crispy on the outside so they stay pretty stable while cutting open.
I love mini desserts. Makes me feel like I can eat less. Unless of course I eat them over and over again.
My favorite recipe made from Pate a Choux is an Eclair. Love chocolate and the cream filling together.
I LOVE cream puffs but have never tried to make them. I must try soon, but I also might have to take up running! Ha!
I don’t see vanilla listed in the “vanilla cream filling” ingredients. Is that correct?
Ah, thanks, Alisha – I actually left out the vanilla and butter (to create a silky pastry cream). I added it back in and double checked the recipe – all’s good now!
Mmm cream puffs. Yum. Lemon curd instead of vanilla cream is my favorite way to devour these beauties. I actually have some lemon left over from your lemon rolls, so Devine by the way. I think a batch of these is in order. You are right, everything is better in mini.
Laurel, you stole my question/suggestion! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my homemade lemon curd and am not a huge fan of vanilla cream puffs, BUT you put lemon curd in the middle and yes Divine would be the word I would use too!
I’ve never made cream puffs. You make it look very doable! I’m putting these on my “to-do” list!
I’m hosting a bridal shower for my niece next month. These look like a perfect addition to my food lineup. Of course I’ll have to make a trial batch ahead of time because I can’t wait till next month to taste them. Yum!
I know the tub that your husband eyes and it is tempting and Sam’s Club too. I am more concerned with your sentence about being complete and not posting again. That would be tragic to my cooking life.
I have always wanted to try making cream puffs. These look so adorable and amazing, Mel!
I do not know if I can get over my intimidation of making cream puffs after all the horror stories I have heard. But you always seem to know how to make me a believer after I have read your post and carefully wrote instructions. I’ll re-read this post a couple times for courage before I take the plunge. One question: I have never heard of a wooden skewer. I have a much thinner metal cake tester tool. Will this work? Where do you get the wooden skewer? I’m sticking to your bundt carrot cake for Easter to ensure success.
You can do it, Sheila! These thin wooden skewers are, I believe, from the baking aisle at Hobby Lobby and to be honest, I can’t remember why I picked them up originally but any type of bamboo skewer (for kebabs) would work. I think your really thin metal cake tester could work pretty well, too.
Thanks bunches, Mel!
I have always been able to find them in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Near foil pans and kitchen utensils.