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Get in my belly! Gougères (also known as cheese puffs) are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and full of white cheddar flavor. Quite literally, they're amazeballs!
Don't be intimidated by these little airy pockets of cheese. They may have a French name you aren't sure how to pronounce and they use the French pastry pâte à choux – but! – this gougerès recipe breaks everything down into simple steps. So if your heart is set on cheese puffs, then you shall have yourself some delicious cheese puffs in no time!
What are gougères?
Gougères are French cheese puffs. Gougères are made with a dough called pâte à choux (pronounced: pat-a-shoe), which is the same dough used to make profiteroles (aka cream puffs) and éclairs. Choux dough is made from only 4 ingredients:
- Butter (or another kind of fat)
- Water (or milk)
Once you've made the dough and incorporated the cheese you will bake them. The choux dough creates a cheesy hollow pocket. You may be tempted to fill them like profiteroles, however, the cheese delivers a rich flavor without overdoing it. They make excellent snacks, appetizers, or accompaniments to a cocktail or glass of wine.
How to pronounce Gougères
Gougères is a French word since these cheesy bites of heaven are made using French pastry. Once you can confidently say gougères, you're sure to approach the recipe with confidence too!
The best way to break down the sounds in the word are: “goo-zsh-air”
To hear it said aloud, give “gougères pronunciation” a quick online search and you will find an audible resource, so you can practice and nail it!
How to make gougères
Choux dough can be a bit finicky (you'll know this if you've watched any cooking show lately), however, if you're paying close attention to these simple steps, you will get this!
- Prep the dough: Bring the butter, water, sea salt, and cayenne pepper (if using) to a boil over medium-high heat. Then add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the dough comes together into a ball.
- Let the dough cool: This is important. Spread the dough around the bottom of the pot to help it cool slightly. Let the dough cool for about 1 minute (this will make sure you don't end up scrambling the eggs you're about to add).
- Add the eggs: Add the large eggs one at a time, stirring until each is incorporated before adding another.
- Cheese time: Just before all the eggs are incorporated, add the cheese and thyme and stir the batter until everything is evenly mixed in.
- Oven ready: Scoop tablespoons of the batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of sea salt.
- Bake: Put the gougères in the oven for 25 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom after 15 minutes. When they have finished cooking, turn off the oven and open the door a crack but leave them in the oven to cool for 10 minutes.
Making gougères ahead of time
Gougères can be baked a day ahead of time and then gently rewarmed just before serving. Make sure they are completely cool before storing them in an airtight container.
You can also freeze uncooked gougères and then bake them straight from frozen. All you have to do is make them up to step 5 in the recipe card and then freeze them on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Once they are frozen you can take them off the baking sheet and store them in a freezer bag. When you're ready to bake them, simply add a couple of minutes to the baking time.
Variations to try
There are lots of ways to play with this recipe to get different variations, depending on the flavor you're after. Here are some options to try:
- Spices and herbs: You can try playing with the spice profile by substituting the cayenne pepper and fresh thyme leaves with ground black pepper and nutmeg, for instance.
- Cheese: You can play with the cheese you incorporate in this recipe by substituting the aged cheddar for shredded Gruyère cheese, Comté, or Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you're looking for a super cheesy version, try a cheese blend and use more than one type of cheese.
- Sweet: if you're looking for a sweet alternative to gougères, make the pastry dough and bake without the cheese, thyme, or spices. In this case, you'd be making profiteroles.
How to serve gougères
The wonderful thing about this gougères recipe is that these cheese clouds make the perfect appetizer or accompaniment to any special occasion meal. Send them out for a little amuse bouche before holiday meals, at a baby shower, garden party, or cocktail hour at your place. Gougères and champagne could be a whole meal, right?
Here are some ideas on how to serve these beauties:
Can you freeze gougères?
If you've already baked them, you can freeze them and reheat them when ready.
How to reheat gougères
Pop them in the oven at 350° Fahrenheit for just a few minutes.
Do I need to use white cheddar?
Nope! Regular cheddar will work, too. Or you can substitute the cheddar for another cheese that can be grated.
- ¼ cup salted butter
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups aged white cheddar (finely grated)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Flaky sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium-sized pot, bring the butter, water, sea salt, and cayenne pepper to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the dough comes together into a ball, about 1 minute.¼ cup salted butter, 1 cup water, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Remove the pot from the heat and spread the dough around the bottom of the pot to help it cool slightly. Let the dough cool for about 1 minute.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until each is incorporated before adding another. If you find this difficult try moving the pot to a lower surface like your dining table and stirring it on there. A lower surface makes it easier as can you use your whole body and not just your arms.4 large eggs
- Once all the eggs are nearly incorporated, add the grated white cheddar and thyme and stir the batter until everything is evenly mixed in.1 ½ cups aged white cheddar, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Scoop tablespoons of the batter and drop them onto the prepared baking sheets. You will need to slide the batter off with a finger as it is very sticky. Sprinkle the tops with a tiny pinch of sea salt.Flaky sea salt
- Bake the gougères in the oven for 25 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom after 15 minutes. The gougères are done when they are lightly browned, completely puffed up, and firm on their tops. When they have finished cooking turn off the oven and open the door a crack but leave them in the oven to cool for 10 minutes.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.