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Profiteroles are an elegant classic dessert, and they're surprisingly easy to make! Bite-size French choux pastry balls are filled with delicate chantilly cream and topped with powdered sugar or chocolate sauce. It's a relatively simple recipe for bakers of all skill levels, and it takes only an hour!
For more tasty French-inspired treats, also try our vegan pots de creme or dark chocolate skillet soufflé with tonka bean cream.
Profiteroles are one of those desserts, along with many other classic French or Italian pastries, that we used to feel intimidated to make. The funny thing is, they're not complicated or time-consuming at all, which means that there is no reason not to make homemade profiteroles!
There are just two components to making them: the choux pastry and the chantilly cream (a sweetened whipped cream). There's no fancy equipment required. All you need is a stand mixer or electric hand mixer and a pastry bag for piping the choux pastry balls.
It's a great recipe for practicing baking techniques and building confidence in the kitchen, and your family and friends will love you for making them. Serve as a special treat for any occasion, or as part of a French or Italian-themed dinner menu.
What are profiteroles?
A profiterole, also known as a cream puff, is a puffed choux pastry ball filled with whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or a scoop of ice cream. They can be left plain, or decorated with chocolate or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Profiterole vs. éclair
Apart from their shape, there are a few minor differences between a profiterole and an éclair. While éclairs are always filled with cream, a profiterole can also be filled with ice cream. Éclairs are also usually finished with a chocolate glaze and profiteroles with a chocolate sauce.
What is choux pastry?
Choux pastry is a delicate french pastry dough used in many pastries from eclairs to profiteroles. It's made from a few simple ingredients: butter, water, flour, and eggs. Instead of a rising agent, the high moisture content creates steam as the dough is baked, puffing the pastry.
Ingredients you'll need to make profiteroles
Here's everything you'll need to make choux pastry at home:
- Water – boiled water is the start of making traditional French choux pastry.
- Unsalted butter – using unsalted butter gives you more control over the amount of salt you include. If salted is all you've got on hand you can use it, but omit the added salt.
- Flour – a regular all-purpose flour is traditional for choux pastry.
- Eggs – when it comes to baking, it's best to use eggs at room temperature because they rise more easily. This can make a difference in the loftiness of your pastry puffs (and other desserts).
Here's what you'll need for the chantilly cream:
- Heavy cream – heavy cream is whipping cream with no less than 36% milk fat.
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar – powdered sugar is light and easily dissolves into the cream for a silky smooth texture.
How to make profiteroles
Who knew that making a fancy-looking dessert like profiteroles could be so easy? No stand mixer is required, just a little bit of elbow grease.
Here's how to make this profiterole recipe in a few simple steps:
- To begin making the choux pastry dough, bring a pot of water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil.
- Then, add some flour and stir it like crazy until it forms a ball. Once the dough cools for a couple of minutes, you'll stir in the eggs.
- Now it's time to transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe it into balls on a baking sheet.
- Before the profiteroles go into the oven, spray them with a little water. When they come out of the oven, prick the tops with a knife. The water helps them puff up and pricking them helps them keep their shape.
- To make the whipping cream (you can call it chantilly cream to be fancy), simply beat cream and vanilla for a few minutes then sweeten it with powdered sugar and beat it a few minutes more.
- Now, take that cream you just made and use it to fill the profiteroles. We like to serve these guys with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Yum!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
How long do filled profiteroles keep?
Filled profiteroles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two hours (any longer could cause the pastry to go soggy).
Can I freeze profiteroles?
Yes! The unfilled pastry balls can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for up to a month. When you're ready to use them, thaw them at room temperature, prepare the chantilly cream, and fill them right before serving.
How do I make profiteroles with ice cream?
Prepare the choux pastry puffs in the same way, but don't make the chantilly cream. Instead, scoop in some vanilla ice cream (or your favorite flavor). Top with chocolate sauce and serve right away!
How do I prevent my choux pastry puffs from collapsing?
It's important to prick your baked choux pastry puffs with a skewer or sharp knife. This allows the moisture to escape and prevents them from collapsing. You can also prick them during the last few minutes of baking time for dryer, more sturdy shells.
When to serve profiteroles
Profiteroles are a special treat, making them perfect for serving at special occasions like baby or wedding showers, and birthday parties. They're also a delicious way to cap off a dinner party, especially if it has a French or Italian menu.
And while we can't tell you not to eat a profiterole for breakfast, we can say from experience that they taste especially great with coffee or espresso.
Special dessert recipes
- Amaretto Poached Pears
- Homemade Bacon Turtles
- Homemade Oreo Cookies
- Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse
- Orange Blossom Panna Cotta with Candied Mandarins
This recipe has been shared with us by the publisher of Grace Massa Langlois's cookbook Grace's Sweet Life. There are many other tasty recipes in her cookbook that we recommend you check out!
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup unsalted butter (cut into 16 pieces)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature )
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Begin by making the choux pastry. In a medium-sized pot, bring the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon.1 cup water, ½ cup unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt
- When the mixture begins to boil, add the flour and stir vigorously for about 1 minute, or until the paste begins to pull away from the side of the pan and forms a ball. Let the paste cool for 2 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next, stirring vigorously until well combined and the paste is smooth.1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip (like Wilton 1A). Pipe the paste into 1-inch rounds, about 1 inch in diameter, spacing 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. To prevent the tops from burning, level the peaks with a wet fingertip. Using a small spray bottle filled with water, lightly spritz the profiteroles with water and immediately place them in the oven. The water will help to create steam, which helps give the profiteroles volume.
- Bake until the tops and sides are golden, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow them to rest in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven then pierce each profiterole in the side with a small paring knife to allow steam to escape. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- When the profiteroles are cool, make the chantilly cream (recipe below). With a serrated knife, cut each profiterole in half crosswise. Transfer the chantilly cream to a large piping bag then pipe the cream into the bottom half of each profiterole then replace the tops. To serve, dust the profiteroles with a little powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
- Combine the cream and the vanilla in a large bowl.2 cups heavy cream, 2 tablespoons vanilla
- Add the cream and vanilla to a large bowl and beat at high speed (to immediately incorporate air) until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to high and continue beating to stiff peaks, about 2 minutes longer. If not using it immediately, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerator until ready to use, no longer than 3 hours.¼ cup powdered sugar
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.