Why It Works
- Using temperatures to determine choux stages of doneness is more reliable than the traditional method's guesswork.
- A 30-minute rest in the cooling oven after baking ensures crisp gougères that don't soften from the steam initially trapped within.
Gougères are small puffs made from choux pastry mixed with grated cheese, usually Gruyère or a similar French alpine cheese (though many other semi-firm cheeses, like cheddar, will work). They're baked until puffed and hollow, crisp and golden on the outside and tender within.
You can read more about the science and technique of choux in our guide to the basic paste. This recipe relies on all the same key steps: using an instant-read thermometer to gauge when the flour paste has been sufficiently heated, then cooling it just enough to safely beat the eggs in without risk of them scrambling. After that, we mix in grated cheese along with a pinch of nutmeg and black pepper, for extra layers of aromatic complexity. We also like to sprinkle a little extra cheese on top of each puff for an extra cheesy bite.
Gougères are a great snack either before a meal or alongside drinks—just make sure to serve them warm, as the addition of cheese means gougères are less enjoyable when they've fully cooled.
- 1 cup (235g) water or milk (see note)
- 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt use half as much by volume or the same weight
- 4 1/2 ounces (128g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 large eggs
- 4 ounces (115g) finely grated Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Egg wash made from 1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon (15ml) water; or nonstick cooking spray
In a 3-quart stainless-steel saucier or saucepan, combine water (or milk), butter, and salt.
Set over high and and cook until liquid comes to a rolling boil and butter has fully melted, about 2 minutes (the small butter cubes should be fully melted just about at the same time the liquid hits a strong boil).
Remove from heat and add flour. Using a wooden spoon or stiff silicone spatula, thoroughly mix in flour until no lumps remain (make sure to hunt down and smash out any stubborn ones).
Return saucepan to medium-high heat and cook, stirring very frequently, until dough registers 175°F (80°C) on an instant-read thermometer; if you don't have a thermometer, other signs the dough is ready include a thin starchy film forming all over the inside of the saucier and the dough pulling together into a cohesive mass.
To use a stand mixer: Transfer dough to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until dough registers 145°F (63°C) on an instant-read thermometer (you need the dough cool enough that it doesn't cook the eggs when they're added).
Add eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully beaten into the dough before adding the next; it can help to start the mixer at medium-low speed for the first egg and then increase the speed to medium once the choux batter begins to develop.
Scrape down sides of mixer bowl, then add cheese, nutmeg, and black pepper. Mix at medium speed just until cheese and seasonings are fully incorporated, about 10 seconds.
To finish dough by hand: Let dough cool in saucepan, stirring frequently, until it registers 145°F (63°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring well between additions until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next, until a smooth, shiny paste forms. Mix in cheese, nutmeg, and black pepper until well combined.
Scrape gougères batter into a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch pastry tip. At this point, the gougères batter can be held in the sealed pastry bag at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
To Bake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If desired, pipe a dab of gougères batter under each of the 4 corners of the parchment to secure it in place.
Pipe gougères batter onto parchment paper in 1 1/2-inch mounds. You should have enough batter to pipe 20 gougères.
Using a moistened finger, gently press down any pointy tips on the mounds to smooth them out.
Using a pastry brush, gently brush a light layer of egg wash on each mound, being careful not to let excess egg wash drip down onto the parchment. Alternatively, spray mounds lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Sprinkle a pinch of grated Gruyere on top of each mound, pushing down very gently to ensure it adheres to the surface.
Bake until gougères are puffed, deeply golden brown, and feel hollow when lifted, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn off oven, crack the door open, and let stand for 30 minutes to dry and fully set the crust.
Gougères are best served while still warm; if they cool down too much before serving, briefly reheat in a 350°F (177°C) oven before serving.
Water or milk work in this recipe. Because of the richness of the cheese in the choux pastry, water is more than sufficient here; milk, meanwhile, will lead to deeper browning during baking.
If you want to make sure that each puff is the right size, you can prepare a template ahead of time. Take one sheet of parchment paper and, using a 1 1/2-inch round cutter as a guide, trace circles, then flip paper upside down and set it on the baking sheet.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The baked gougères can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or, wrapped tightly in plastic and kept in an airtight container, they can be frozen for up to 1 month. To refresh refrigerated or frozen gougères, transfer to a baking sheet and reheat in a 350°F (177°C) oven until crisp, about 5 minutes.