This French Cheese Puff Is the Best App You’re Not Making

updated May 1, 2019
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Freshly baked cheese gougères are piled up on a white plate, while a piece on a peach-colored napkin is torn to pieces
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Do you love cheese and light, fluffy bread? That’s a silly question. Cheesy bread is one of the most satisfying combinations we know — especially when it’s paired with a tall glass of something crisp and bubbly. In which case, you should really meet gougères, the French cheese puff that you should be serving for any appetizer-fueled happy hour (“Appy Hour,” as we like to call it). It is hard to overstate how delicious and versatile gougères are, but in addition to their flavor appeal, these cheese puffs require only a few kitchen staples and they can be made ahead.

Need more convincing? Here are five reasons you should be serving gougères as appetizers at your next happy hour.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

First, what are gougères?

Gougères are made from the French pastry dough pâte à choux, which is also responsible for cream puffs and eclairs. Pâte à choux dough is made by cooking water and butter with flour to make a paste, then beating whole eggs into the paste. For gougères, shredded cheese is folded into the paste. The dough is piped or scooped onto parchment paper and then baked. In the oven it steams and cracks a bit, creating a little puff (literally) with a hollow interior.

Gougères are delicious.

Gougères are like next-level cheese puffs (think: all the glory of bread and cheese in a single bite that is both satisfying and light). Aromatic with cheese and oh-so-tender, gougères are perfect for eating with Champagne, but also familiar enough to feel homey paired with a weeknight beer.

Gougères are easy to make — and customizable.

If you can cook mashed potatoes, you can make gougères. You melt a little butter in water, beat in some flour, and cook until a paste forms. Then you beat the eggs into that paste. The dough can either be piped or scooped out onto a baking sheet and, once cooked, you’ve got hot and steamy cheese puffs.

You can add herbs or dry spices to the dough, but these are upgrades on an already delicious bite. You can swap out the cheese or swap the water for milk, but gougères are best with just five simple ingredients.

Gougères can be made ahead.

In under an hour you can fill your freezer with two-dozen or more ready-to-bake gougères on any given weekend. When unexpected guests arrive, heat the oven and bake off as many (or as few) as you need. Having these seemingly fancy cheese puffs stashed in the freezer will make you feel like a better host, even just knowing they are there.

Gougères are versatile.

Because gougères bake up hollow, they are a glorious vehicle for more cheese, dips, cream fillings, or even hearty options like chicken or egg salad. Cut them in half and they become sliders for ham, roast beef, or even salumi. You could even serve a tiny salad course inside a gougère. Now, go forth and make gougères.