Cheddar Cheese Puffs

AppetizerCheese

Light and airy savory cheese puffs (gourgères) with cheddar cheese and thyme.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever made cheese puffs? To make them, first you make a pâte a choux dough (pronounced “pat ah shoo”), which, if you’ve never made it before, can seem a little weird.

Weird because most of us who bake are used to mixing dough ingredients together and then plopping them in the oven.

With a pâte a choux dough, you essentially half cook the dough first, by adding flour to boiling water and butter, and stirring like a madman until you have a ball of dough the consistency of play-dough.

Then you mix in eggs and then the dough goes in the oven, where it puffs up as the water in the dough turns to steam and expands into air pockets.

Cheese Puffs Gougeres

The dough is used for making cream puffs, eclairs, cheese puffs (gougères), beignets, and even churros. David Lebovitz has a recipe for making a French tart crust with what looks to me to be essentially a pâte a choux dough, that has been getting raves.

So, it’s a useful technique, and pretty easy, though the dough can be a little stiff to work by hand.

These cheese puffs are made with cheddar cheese and a little bit of thyme. You could add crumbled bacon to the mix, or use sage or rosemary. You could use goat cheese instead of cheddar, or Gruyere or Emmenthaler (more traditional for a gougère).

Feel free to experiment with the cheeses!

By the way, Michael Ruhlman has an excellent chapter on pâte a choux and gougères in his Ratio book.

These cheese puffs? Excellent as dumplings in split pea soup. Use instead of croutons. Or devour them as they were intended, as a savory, addictive appetizer.

Cheddar Cheese Puffs Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter (8 Tbsp or 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or rosemary)
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

1 Boil the water, butter, salt: In a medium sized saucepan, add the water, butter, and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

boil water butter salt to start the cheese puff dough

2 Add the flour and stir: Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Stir rapidly. The mixture will form a dough ball that will pull away from the sides of the pan.

It helps to use a wooden spoon to stir as the dough will be rather thick. Continue to cook for a couple minutes.

the cheese puff dough should pull away from the sides of the pan

3 Let cool a couple minutes, then add eggs, one at a time: Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes. Stir so that the dough cools more evenly. You want the dough to be warm, just not so hot that when you start adding eggs they cook as they hit the dough.

Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until the eggs are incorporated into the dough. (Do this part in a mixer if you want, or by hand with a wooden spoon.) The dough should become rather creamy.

4 Stir in the grated cheese, thyme, and a few grinds of pepper.

5 Scoop spoonfuls onto lined baking sheet: Heat oven to 425°F. Spoon out small balls (about a heaping tablespoon) of the dough onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet, with at least an inch separating the spoonfuls.

scoop cheese puff dough by spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet

6 Bake: Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes at 425°F. Lower heat to 350°F and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until puffed up and lightly golden.

bake cheddar cheese puffs until golden

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Links:

Pâte a Choux and explanation by Michael Ruhlman

Gougères by David Lebovitz

French tart dough made by using a pâte a choux method, by David Lebovitz

Sage and gorgonzola cheese puffs from Dara, the Cookin' Canuck

Wikipedia on choux pastry

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

73 Comments / Reviews

No ImageCheddar Cheese Puffs

Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Reata Bush

    Have not made these yet they sound wonderful but reading the recipe it call for 1 cup of cheddar cheese then says 4 oz which is half a cup so which would I use?

  • Denise

    I made this with dried thyme instead of fresh and it worked out fine. I put an extra grind or 2 of pepper and enjoyed the little extra bite that gave these. They are better warm, but still good cold too. I made this a day ahead of time and put the dough in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I rolled the dough into balls and baked them as the directions called for. I was impressed at how much they puffed up in the oven. I let them cool on the stovetop and put them in an airtight bowl for storage. These tasted pretty good but weren’t really a knock out, so I don’t know if I would make them again or not.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Hanna

    I have a bake sale at work today. Literally made this in the morning and it came out beautifully. I added more seasoning and herbs and i highly recommend it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • wendy

    do you have to use butter? can margarine be substituted?

  • Jessica

    First time making it today and it was a success! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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