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Classic Gruyère Gougères: A make-ahead party snack for holiday entertaining

I’ve spent the past two weeks preparing myself for the upcoming holidays by stocking a sizeable portion of my deep freeze with an assortment of homemade chewy caramel candies, sugar and gingerbread cookie doughs, pie crusts, soups for quick and nourishing weeknight dinners, and no less than five different varieties of gougères ready for last-minute entertaining and party-going in the coming month.

Lest you think I’m hyper-organized (okay, maybe I am a little), most of it is due to the large amount of recipe testing I’ve been doing for my forthcoming book, and the fact that December is my busiest working month of the year, and there is simply no time to let myself fall behind when it comes to holiday preparations.

While all of the items I’ve stockpiled are essential sanity-savers, none are more important to me than the gougères I mentioned above. They are my secret weapon when it comes to holiday gatherings, and I always, always have a bag ready to be baked between December and January, when surprise visitors pop by or I’m in need of a last-minute party nibble.

Gougeres 2These golden, cheesy puffs just happen to be beloved by everyone (children included), can be made weeks in advance or an hour before you need them, transformed easily by using different cheeses, herbs and spices, and are made from everyday items you are certain to have on hand at all times.

Made from a simple French pastry known as pâte à choux, this lighter-than-air dough might sound complicated, but the method is far from difficult. With your ingredients measured and ready to go, the golden batter comes together effortlessly making this an ideal project for an afternoon when you have 20 minutes or so to spare.

I like to whip up a batch of dough whenever I have a little extra time, freezing the un-baked pastry pillows for future use. You can also bake, freeze and reheat just before serving, but I must confess I do prefer the former method when it comes to storing them.

While many recipes suggest using an electric mixer or food processor for incorporating the eggs, I prefer the method that uses the least amount of dishes so I make a one-pot version and stir vigorously with my hand and a large wooden spoon.

If you don’t mind the extra clean up feel free to gain some assistance from your favorite small appliance… the end result will be the same.

Gougeres 4

Classic Gruyère Gougères
5.0 from 1 reviews
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Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 2 1/2 doz
A do-ahead appetizer made from everyday ingredients and beloved by all.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup grated gruyere cheese
  • Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the water, milk, butter, salt, pepper and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and cook until the butter melts, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Immediately add in the flour and stir until a dough ball forms and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Continue stirring vigorously until the dough is no longer sticky and a film forms on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Stir enthusiastically for another minute or so, until the dough is smooth and glossy. This is an important step because if the batter is too loose when you begin incorporating the eggs, the dough will not puff properly come baking time.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and allow the dough to cool for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one a time, fully incorporating each one before adding another. Scrape down the bowl each time and check the consistency of the paste. It should be stiff enough to stand, but soft enough to spread. Add the cheese and nutmeg (if using) and stir to combine.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, two spoons, or piping bag fitted with a wide round tip, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of the paste onto prepared baking sheets. Using damp fingers, press down any irregularities in the shape and form a small ball.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes; rotate the pans from front-to-back and top-to-bottom, then reduce the heat to 375 and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the puffs are golden and crisp (ovens may vary, so begin checking them after 10 minutes).
  8. Turn off the heat and allow the pastry to stand in the closed oven for 15 minutes so the insides can thoroughly dry out.
Notes
Gougères can be or piped and frozen on a baking sheet before being stored in freezer bags for up to 2 months. Alternatively, you can bake them up to three hours in advance and then reheat in a 350 degrees oven for 3-5 minutes just before serving. Lastly, the dough can be piped, baked, cooled, frozen and stored in a freezer-friendly container. To reheat, warm gougères a 350 degree oven until hot.

Tell me, what is your favorite go-to party snack for the winter holidays?

About Jan

Jan Scott is a Canadian food writer, party planner, and mom of two active tween boys. She is the home cook and creative behind Family Bites, a blog inspired by the simple recipes and party ideas she’s put to the test on her family. Prior to making the transition to freelance writer, Jan spent five years as a party planner for a private catering company, but shifted to working from home in order to spend more time with her growing family.

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Comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of pâte à choux in general – both the sweet and savoury kind. It’s such a great (and much easier than people think!) recipe and these are a fab thing to keep on hand to wow your guests during the holidays!
    Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)’s last post: A KitchenAid Canada stand mixer giveaway

  2. I would love to try this recipe… when you add the grated cheese?

  3. These sound yummy but a few questions:

    Is the cheese added after the eggs?
    Can other cheeses be substituted?

    • Yes, sorry! I missed a step in the recipe but we’ll get it fixed right away. Sure, feel free to use similar cheeses like Parmesan, Asiago, Romano or Pecorino. I’m also a fan of using sharp cheddar and adding some fresh rosemary, thyme, or red pepper flakes to it before baking.

    • The recipe’s been updated. Sorry about that!

  4. What a lovely holiday treat! I’ve never heard of these, but now my mind is reeling thinking of all the possible variations – adding chives or other herbs? Or minced mushrooms? Or so many other things? Have you (or other commenters) tried any variations, or is this one where you shouldn’t mess with a good thing? ;)

    • I would recommend enjoying them with out TOO many variations…but they can be stuffed with delights, also, like mushrooms or brie – or both.

      Happy Baking!

    • I agree with Aimée. I like to use one type of cheese and one or two herbs/spices max. We also like them stuffed with ham – super popular with the kids.

  5. These sound delicious. Could you provide instructions for cooking from frozen? Does the temperature & time remain the same and whether you defrost (and how long) first.

    I love an impressive recipe that can be made ahead- thanks

    • Sure! Don’t defrost them. I pop them on a prepared baking sheet and cook them at the same temperature for the same amount of time and they work just fine. At my someone else’s house I’ve needed to add 2-3 minutes to the second bake at the lower temperature just to get a bit more colour on them. You’ll know they’re done when they are puffed, golden brown and dry to the touch. Hope this helps!

  6. I’m having people over on Friday. And oh, I feel so inadequate and just down right dumb in the kitchen. I’ve been the main cook in this house for almost 10 years now – and I still find myself floundering. So anytime I have guests….I’m especially nervous about the food.

    I just might try these for our evening, though. They seem simple enough – and they look amazing.

    Thanks for the post :)

    Blessings
    Kate :)
    Kate’s last post: Early

  7. Gorgeous!
    bridget {bake at 350}’s last post: Peanut Butter Cup Turkey Cookies

  8. WhenI worked pastry at a french restaurant I used to make these by the hundred, but it has been YEARS! These are so wonderful and I am inspired to make them this year!!

  9. This recipe will definitely be an appetizer for my holiday guests. Looks delicious!
    Jodee Weiland’s last post: Old Fashioned Banana Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

  10. Do you stay on the stove during adding flour and eggs? The recipe is unclear. Or do you only heat to melt butter then the rest of the ingredients are incorporated off the stove.

    • It’s been edited with full instructions (see Step 5). Please accept our apologies.

      We obviously need more coffee around here.

      • This question has NOT been answered by the change to Step 5.
        The heat question turns out to be pretty important.
        My first batch is runny, not puffy, and not very pretty. Also, this is not “20 minutes or so” for the first-time pastry chef. Allow an hour if you aren’t a cream puff pro.

        • I think I took it off the heat too early. I beat it in the mixer and then reheated it to try to compensate. That made it less runny. I got 2 of the eggs in there and then decided to try it with colby jack instead of wasting the precious gruyere on a likely fail. The result is very snackable. They only puffed up a little bit, like pillows.

          Maybe the butter mixture should come to a boil before adding the flour?

  11. I always eat too many of these:)
    Maria’s last post: Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts Pasta with Hazelnuts

  12. Love easy, make-ahead appetizers! These look fabulous! :)

  13. Jan, what do you mean by piped? I am thinking you meant to use pastry bag to fill each with piece with cheese etc.
    Thank you for this yummy looking appetizer.

    • Hi Cathy – Yep! When you place the dough on the baking sheet you can either do so by using an ice cream scoop, two teaspoons or a pastry bag filled with the dough. Most people use the latter, but to be honest, I’m too lazy to wash the bag so I use a small ice cream scoop or the spoons. Hope this helps!

  14. I’ve made a sweet version of these but never a savoury and these look lovely! Perfect addition to our Christmas party in a few weeks. Thanks, Jan!
    Breanne’s last post: Lookbook:: Take the Girls Outside Edition

  15. These look great, any chance you might be able to do a tutorial? Showing it step by step would be less scary and more doable!

    Thanks

  16. So pretty and elegant! I love gruyere!

  17. These are definitely the perfect party snack! YUM!
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar’s last post: Coconut Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Quinoa {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

  18. Jan, these look so yummy!
    Marian (Sweetopia)’s last post: Brown Sugar Cookie Recipe & {Baby Duck Cookie How-To}

  19. Stunning! These could honestly not be more perfect for the holidays! I love the idea of always having the ready to go for pop in guest!

  20. Thank you Amy for this recipe, I will definitely be making this for the Thanksgiving festivities next week. :) I absolutely love Gruyere cheese – your recipes make me happy! Have a wonderful day! -Iva

  21. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with anything described as golden, cheesy puffs. I like to have ingredients for creamy pesto dip on hand during the holidays. Great with bread or with vegetables.
    Melissa @ A Cozy Bee’s last post: how to restore a cast iron pan

  22. I can’t imagine how busy you are! But you are a rock star for thinking ahead and planning so well! These look totally droolworthy!
    stephchows’s last post: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

  23. OK OK OK… It’s been firmly established how much I love gougeres – but to pair them with rosé Champagne in swanky coupes? Be still my heart!
    Casey@Good. Food. Stories.’s last post: Smells Great, Tastes Even Better: Apple Cider Jelly

  24. I love things like this that can be made ahead of time! They sound just perfect too :)

  25. I tried these and they are too runny is there any fix?

    I’ve got a few in the oven, to test how they come out.

  26. Diane Thomas says:

    Followed exactly ended up with runny dough but they puffed alright. the taste is ho-hum so I will try with herbs and sharper cheese. I see several comments above with trouble with dough being to runny. Any suggestions on next try to correct this? Thanks

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