This easy cream puffs recipe doesn't require an apprenticeship in a French bakery, though it certainly tastes like it. Learn everything you need to know to make this classic French dessert for light and airy pastry puffs filled with sweet pastry cream. You are going to LOVE it!
Growing up, I remember being excited every time my grandmother, from Denmark, made her old-fashioned cream puffs or Vandbakkelser, she used to say. I couldn't get enough of them.
Today I am sharing my own version with you. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE her old-fashioned cream puff!! But I find this easy homemade cream puff dessert recipe is much more versatile than the one my grandma used to make.
This recipe has been adapted from a 1988 Kraft Foods cookbook called Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cookbook. I made my first version of this cream puff recipe about 25 years ago and my family still loves it.
This recipe requires a few more ingredients than my grandma's old-fashioned cream puffs, but it's still very easy to make. Measurements are available in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Butter: The amount of salt varies by brand in salted butter, so I prefer to use unsalted butter to have more control over the sodium.
- Flour: All-purpose flour works best for making cream puffs.
- Eggs: Always use large eggs for baking, unless specified otherwise.
- Cream Cheese: This gives the cream puff filling a great flavor and lots of creaminess.
- Powdered Sugar: Perfect for making the creamy filling.
- Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract if you can for the best flavor.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Be sure you get heavy whipping cream or heavy cream.
- Bananas: Add natural sweetness and banana flavor to the filling.
- Unsweetened Chocolate: Use a high quality chocolate that melts well.
- Milk: I prefer whole milk for more richness, but you can use 2% milk.
Easy Substitutions and Additions
Baking is a science, especially when it comes to delicate pastries so you can't change much for the cream puff.
However, the cream puff filling is where you can really change things up. Here are simple swaps and changes!
- Skip the homemade cream cheese filing. Use a store bought or homemade whipped cream filling. It's super easy and always delicious.
- Use a frozen filling instead. Pick your favorite ice cream and use it instead.
- Use a few drops of food coloring to alter color of creamy filling. This works great to make fun colors for parties and themes!
- Add a couple drops of an extract to give the filling a different flavor . You might try almond, cherry, maple, orange, coffee peppermint, lemon, or coconut.
- Swap the banana for other fruits like blueberries, raspberries, or peaches.
Cream Puff Filling Variations
Want to ditch the bananas? Here are some of my favorite ways to completely change up the fillings to create different flavor combinations.
- Orange Cream Filling: Add finely chopped orange zest instead of banana along with a tablespoon or two of orange liqueur to the cream cheese filling.
- Strawberry Cream Filling: Swap the bananas for fresh strawberries. Or you can go for a combination to make strawberry cream puffs with banana by adding them both the filling.
- Chocolate Cream Filling: Make a homemade chocolate whipped cream with one cup of heavy whipping cream, scant cup of powdered sugar, a quarter cup of cocoa powder, and one quarter teaspoon of vanilla. Beat the ingredients in a chilled bowl with a handheld or stand mixer on high until stiff peaks form. Pipe or squeeze into the cream puff shells.
How to Make Cream Puffs
As you will see, this homemade pastry recipe is rather easy to make. Let's get started making homemade cream puffs!
First off, cream puffs have two main components. The first is the choux pastry which is what makes the cream puff shells and the second is the cream puff filling.
Step One: Make the Choux Pastry Shells
- Bring the water and butter to a boil.
- Add the flour and salt to the boiling water and butter.
- Stir the mixture vigorously over low heat until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in well after each addition.
- Use a half cup measure to drop ten scoops of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet to form a 9-inch ring.
- Bake the pastry at 400 degrees F for 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown.
PRO TIP: Once cream puff shells are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and leave them open or in two parts. This will allow the middle to dry out a little before you need to fill them up.
Step Two: Make the Cream Puff Filling and Topping
- Combine the cream cheese, with the sugar, and vanilla. Mix until it's well blended. Reserve a half cup of this cream cheese mixture.
- Fold the whipped cream and bananas into the remaining mixture with a wooden spoon and chill.
- Add the sugar, melted chocolate, and milk to the reserved cream cheese mixture and mix well.
Step 3: Assemble the Cream Puffs
- Carefully cut the top from each cream puff shell and fill each with the whipped cream mixture.
- Place the top over the cream to make a little cream puff sandwich.
- Top each banana cream puff with the chocolate cream cheese and dust with powdered sugar and top with the thick chocolate ganache.
Refrigerator: After filling, cream puffs should be served the same day. They will turn soggy the longer they sit. Unfilled pastry shells can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
Freezer: The empty pastry shells (cut or uncut) freeze well for up to two months in an airtight container. Filled pastry shells do not freeze well.
Leftover pastry cups: Before filling, lightly reheat in the oven to crisp them back up. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F and heat them until crisp about 7-10 minutes. Let them cool slightly before adding the filling. If they're frozen let them thaw on the counter prior to heating.
- Use a small spatula to push the dough off the spoon and onto the baking tray so the puffs stay round.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the puffs in half.
- Do not fill cream puffs until they are completely cooled.
Do you have questions about making homemade cream puffs? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about this cream puff recipe.
They are all made from the same choux pastry dough and filled with a creamy filling. Cream puffs are generally round and small in size while profiteroles are similar but slightly larger. Eclairs are the same as cream puffs but are shaped into a small rectangle and topped with chocolate.
A cream puff is an incredibly light and airy round sweet golden pastry traditionally prepared with a few eggs, flour, water, and butter. Each pastry is filled with cream or a creamy filling of some sort, everything from ice cream to custard for example.
The steam trapped in the pastry can cause your puffs to go soft. To prevent this, when you remove it from the oven poke a small hole in the pastry shell to release the trapped steam.
More Creamy Dessert Recipes To Try
All are creamy and delicious!
Easy Cream Puff Dessert Recipe Video
Easy Cream Puff Recipe
Cream Cheese Filling
Cream Puff Pastry
- Bring water and butter to boil in saucepan.
- Add flour and salt; stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms ball.
- Remove from heat.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Drop ten ½ cupfuls of dough on lightly greased cookie sheet to form 9-inch ring.
- Bake at 400 degrees, 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from cookie sheet immediately with spatula and place on rack.
Banana Cream Cheese Filling
- Combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla, mixing until well blended.
- Reserve ½ cup cream cheese mixture; fold whipped cream and bananas into remaining mixture. Chill.
- Carefully cut top from each puff; fill with whipped cream mixture. Replace top.
Chocolate Ganache Topping
- Add remaining sugar, melted chocolate and milk to cream cheese mixture; mix well.
- Spread over the top of each puff.
This post was originally published March 2021. It has been updated with new images and content.