Basic Old Fashioned Cream Puffs Recipe

Old fashioned cream puffs seem like a difficult dessert to make, but they are quite simple and this recipe doesn’t require any fancy gadgets or a piping bag. All you need for this basic recipe is a few ingredients and some elbow grease to whip your choux pastry into shape.

old fashioned cream puffs and a cup of tea

I’m not sure I knew how amazing cream puffs were until this recipe. Cream puffs marry the airy puff with the rich cream and it is amazing, indeed!

So many recipes use a fancy mixer and piping bag, but this recipe uses basic kitchen tools, such as a saucepan, and some elbow grease to create the pastry.

If you are intimidated by pastries, this recipe is a perfect starting place. If you follow the simple steps, you will have a plate full of fluffy cream puffs in no time.

cream puffs with powdered sugar

Why you’ll love Old Fashioned Cream Puffs

You will love old fashioned cream puffs for so many reasons, the least of which is that they are simple to make. All you need to have is a little bit of elbow grease for the mixing of the choux pastry. Plus, this recipe doesn’t require a piping bag!

Cream puffs are like little, airy puffs of yummy goodness that are perfect for an afternoon tea time or a ladies brunch. They are easy to make, but look decadent and fancy with the whipped custard on the inside and the layer of powdered sugar on the outside.

This recipe makes 12 cream puffs, which allows you plenty of cream puffs for a platter or the perfect amount to stack on a plate for an impressive tea time treat.

How to make Cream Puff Recipe in 4 Easy Steps

  1. Make the Choux Pastry and bake the Puffs
  2. While the puffs bake, make the custard, cream filling
  3. Slice the puffs once cooled and fill with a spoonful of custard
  4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve
cream puffs being filled with custard

What is Choux Pastry

Choux pastry (pronounced “shoe”) is a light, airy dough that is made with butter, eggs, liquid, and flour. Choux pastry can be used to make cream puffs, eclairs, and other French pastries.

This pastry is cooked once on the stove while the dough is whipped and one egg is added at a time. Then, it is cooked a second time in the oven where the pastry will puff up and become very light and air filled.

unfilled cream puffs cooling in a cottage kitchen

Ingredients for Choux Pastry

  • Water– I use water, but some recipes call for milk. I like a fluffier choux pastry, so I use water. If you like a denser pastry use milk.
  • Butter- Always use real butter for pastry. Using alternatives can cause an inconsistent result. Plus, the flavor profile from the butter adds such a nice depth. Using something other than butter can create a bread-type of pastry. The butter gives a lovely structure to the dough.
  • Sugar- Choux pastry isn’t a super sweet dough. It is intended to be a fluffy bun for the sweet custard that will go inside of it. There is a need to sweeten the dough just a tad, so a tablespoon of sugar is added to the dough for this reason.
  • Salt- A pinch of salt helps to bring out the subtle sweetness of the dough.
  • Flour- You can use different flours, but an all-purpose flour will work fine.
  • Eggs- This recipe calls for three eggs. You will whip them into the dough one at a time, cooking off the liquid as you whip them in the sauce pan.
  • Powdered Sugar- You don’t have to use this, but I highly recommend a quick sprinkle of powdered sugar on the final product.

How to make Choux Pastry

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and place parchment paper on your baking sheet.
  2. Add the butter, water, and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a large saucepan. Heat on the stove to medium heat and allow it to come to a boil.
  3. Turn the heat on LOW, add the flour, stirring quickly until the dough comes together in a big ball. Cook the choux dough for a minute, stirring constantly, to remove any excess moisture from the dough.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and make a well on the inside of the choux dough. Add one egg at a time, stirring rapidly to incorporate the egg into the dough. Once one egg is fully mixed in and the dough has structure to it again, add another egg and repeat the process.
  5. Form the dough into 1-inch balls using greased hands (a drizzle of oil or butter creates hands the dough won’t stick to). Place the balls onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until light, fluffy, and golden.

Ingredients for Cream filling for Cream Puffs

  • Sugar- The cream filling is what gives the cream puff its sweet flavor. You can use coconut sugar, maple sugar, or cane sugar. I prefer cane sugar because it gives the best consistency and flavor to the cream.
  • Salt- A pinch of salt, again, brings out the sweetness of the custard.
  • Flour- All-purpose flour will help to create a thickness to the cream
  • Milk- I use full-fat milk for the custard so it will be thick, creamy, and rich.
  • Egg Yolks- The yolks will give the custard a deeper flavor profile, as well as a richer color. The yolks help give structure to the custard and bind the ingredients together.
  • Vanilla– Vanilla gives a depth of flavor and an underbelly to the custard.

How to make Cream filling for Cream Puffs

  1. Combine sugar, salt, flour, and milk in a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk the mixture and allow it to come to a boil.
  2. Simmer on the stove for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, stirring continuously for 5 more minutes. The mixture should become thicker as you get to the end of the 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool.
cream puffs and a cup of afternoon tea

Tips for making Old Fashioned Cream Puffs

  • Do not double the recipe. It will be tempting to double this recipe and make lots of cream puffs, but choux pastry doesn’t double easily. If you want to make more cream puffs, make an entire second batch in a different saucepan.
  • Cook off the moisture. Be sure to cook off the moisture of the pastry in the warm pan after each egg addition. If the dough is too wet, the puffs won’t puff up in the oven and the dough will be impossible to work with. Stir in between each egg addition until the dough comes together again. Then, add the next egg. The stirring is the hardest part of this recipe.
  • Store Puffs in the Refrigerator once Filled. Once the puffs have been filled with cream, they need to be stored in the refrigerator. The cream needs to be kept cold so it won’t spoil.
  • Storing Unfilled Puffs. You can store unfilled puffs in an airtight container on the counter for 2 days.
Can you double a choux pastry recipe for cream puffs?

Because of the way a choux pastry for cream puffs comes together, it is best to make two separate batches of pastry dough. It is difficult to get the dough to come together when doubled in the same pan.

Can you freeze unfilled Cream Puffs?

You can freeze unfilled cream puffs for 1 month. Make sure the puffs are completely cooled before freezing. To use, thaw the puffs, reheat them at 250°F for 5 minutes.

How do I know if the Choux Pastry dough is ready to use?

Once the choux pastry dough is cooked (the first time), you will know it is ready to be baked (cooked the second time) because the dough will be glossy on the outside and not too sticky.

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Basic Old Fashioned Cream Puff Recipe

Liz Quick
You will love old fashioned cream puffs for so many reasons, the least of which is that they are simple to make. All you need to have is a little bit of elbow grease for the mixing of the choux pastry. Plus, this recipe doesn’t require a piping bag!
This recipe pairs the fluffy, airy cream puff with a rich, decadent cream or custard on the inside.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 12 Puffs
Calories 100 kcal

Equipment

  • saucepan
  • baking sheet

Ingredients
  

Choux Pastry | Puffs

  • 1 cup water
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Cream Puff Cream | Custard

  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
 

Choux Pastry | Puffs

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and place parchment paper on your baking sheet.
  • Add the butter, water, and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a large saucepan. Heat on the stove to medium heat and allow it to come to a boil.
  • Turn the heat on LOW, add the flour, stirring quickly until the dough comes together in a big ball. Cook the choux dough for a minute, stirring constantly, to remove any excess moisture from the dough.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and make a well on the inside of the choux dough. Add one egg at a time, stirring rapidly to incorporate the egg into the dough. Once one egg is fully mixed in and the dough has structure to it again, add another egg and repeat the process.
  • Form the dough into 1-inch balls using greased hands (a drizzle of oil or butter creates hands the dough won’t stick to). Place the balls onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until light, fluffy, and golden.

Cream Puff Cream | Custard

  • Combine sugar, salt, flour, and milk in a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk the mixture and allow it to come to a boil.
  • Simmer on the stove for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Add the egg yolks and vanilla, stirring continuously for 5 more minutes. The mixture should become thicker as you get to the end of the 5 minutes.
  • Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool.

Notes

  • Do not double the recipe. It will be tempting to double this recipe and make lots of cream puffs, but choux pastry doesn’t double easily. If you want to make more cream puffs, make an entire second batch in a different saucepan.
  • Cook off the moisture. Be sure to cook off the moisture of the pastry in the warm pan after each egg addition. If the dough is too wet, the puffs won’t puff up in the oven and the dough will be impossible to work with. Stir in between each egg addition until the dough comes together again. Then, add the next egg. The stirring is the hardest part of this recipe.
  • Store Puffs in the Refrigerator once Filled. Once the puffs have been filled with cream, they need to be stored in the refrigerator. The cream needs to be kept cold so it won’t spoil.
  • Storing Unfilled Puffs. You can store unfilled puffs in an airtight container on the counter for 2 days.
Keyword cream puff custard, cream puffs

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