A classic gluten-free cream puff recipe made with an easy gluten-free choux pastry baked into crisp and airy puffs and filled with vanilla cream. An impressive, but easy dessert for entertaining! Use the choux pastry to make gluten-free cream puffs, eclairs, or profiteroles!
What are you celebrating right now? Are there big transitions in your world? Whatever they are, you probably need gluten-free cream puffs to mark the occasion. For us, our life is changing in so many ways right now and they're all cause for celebration.
Zoella started preschool this week, which means we're all shifting to an earlier wake-up schedule (yet somehow us grown-ups haven't figured out how to also shift to an early BEDTIME schedule). Though, apparently Zo fell asleep at school in the middle of story time this afternoon, so she's also figuring it all out. After school dessert surprises help.
We're also just over a week away from breaking ground on our major home addition (first talked about here). To start, they'll be framing out the addition, but once they break into the house, we have to move out for 2 months. We'll be going full circle. We're moving back into the in-law unit that Lucas and I lived in when I first started Snixy Kitchen 7 years ago. This time with two kids in tow. Sounds like a reality TV show: A married couple with two cats and two kids under 3 in approximately 400 square feet for 60 days. Will they survive?
Perhaps more importantly, will Snixy Kitchen survive? (KIDDING, mostly). My blog tagline back then was "culinary stunts in a pint-sized kitchen." A 26-square-foot pint-sized kitchen. I'll spend this next month grappling with what must come with us. What essentials do I need to keep baking cream puffs, cookies, and cakes? I'll pay you good money to do this list-making and packing for me. Actually, scratch that, I'll bake you gluten-free cream puffs!
Since I first posted a picture of these gluten-free cream puffs on instagram, I've received several requests for the recipe. That first version was baked in my air fryer 360, but I've adapted the recipe to work in either the air fryer or your oven. They bake up identically either way, so use whatever you've got - both baking instructions are in the recipe card below!
Easy Gluten-Free Cream Puff Recipe or Gluten-Free Profiteroles
With this gluten-free cream puff recipe, you can now enjoy this classic French treat filled with clouds of sweetened vanilla whipped cream - except without the gluten. The result is an impressive, yet easy dessert perfect for entertaining or celebrations.
Cream puffs (or profiteroles) start with a choux pastry dough that's cooked on the stove and finished by baking in the oven where it puffs up.
How to Make Gluten-Free Choux Pastry
To get the classic cream puff crisp shell with an airy dough inside, this gluten-free choux pastry (pate a choux) recipe uses a combination of tapioca flour, almond flour, and cornstarch. Pulling inspiration from Brazilian cheese bread recipes, this choux pastry similarly relies on tapioca flour for the chewy stretchy structure. Almond flour adds protein and flavor and cornstarch ensures a crisp shell.
Making a gluten-free choux pastry is very easy. The important part is to focus on the texture during the egg addition step. First, make sure that the dough isn't too hot before adding the egg, or your eggs will start to cook, leaving a slightly eggy flavor. You also won't need all the whisked egg, instead, just add a little at a time just until the dough smooth and pipe-able, but not runny. When you drizzle some dough back onto itself with a spatula, it should mostly hold its shape for 10-15 seconds.
How much egg you have left will depend on a few factors: how long you cooked the dough on the stove, the humidity, and how heavy your specific eggs are. When I make them, I usually end up with about 20-26g of whisked egg leftover. However, rest assured, choux pastry is much less finicky than macarons! There's a pretty big range in textures that will still bake up into beautiful gluten-free cream puffs.
How to bake gluten-free cream puffs
As the cream puffs bake, they'll puff up and turn golden. Resist the urge to open the oven while they bake. To check if the cream puffs are finished baking, pull one cream puff out of the oven and slice it in half. If the dough inside seems very moist and eggy, continue baking it for another 3-5 minutes. Repeat. The inside should be mostly hallow, with some thin cooked dough around the edges.
When you pull the gluten-free profiterole out of the oven, slice a very small thin slit in the top to release any steam so they stay crispy. Once cool, slice them in half then pipe them full of sweetened vanilla whipped cream and dust with powdered sugar!
Use Choux Pastry to make gluten-free eclairs
To use the choux pastry recipe to make gluten-free eclairs - pipe 3 to 4-inch long strips onto your baking sheet instead and bake just the same, adding a bit more time on the end to dry out the centers.
Storing Gluten-Free Cream Puffs
Cream puffs are best made fresh, but, if you have extras or want to make them in advance, store them in the refrigerator for a day or two. While they'll still taste delicious, the shells will soften up after a few hours once filled.
You can also store the cream puff shells unfilled loosely covered at room temperature for up to two days. Pop them in the oven again at 350°F for 5 minutes to re-crisp the shell before cooling and filling.
What kind of filling to put in a cream puff?
The classic cream puff filling is simply sweetened whipped cream. That's what you see here. You could also use other fillings such as pastry cream, lemon curd, or even ice cream!
While I've left this cream puff with a classic vanilla, feel free to flavor your filling - get creative! You could add ground up freeze-dried strawberries or matcha powder to the whipped cream to mix it up!
Gluten-Free Cream Puffs
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- ½ cup (120ml) water
- ½ cup (120ml) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (72g) Bob's Red Mill tapioca flour/starch
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (44g) Bob's Red Mill superfine blanched almond flour
- 3 tablespoons (24g) corn starch
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
Vanilla Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the paper lightly with water. Whisk together tapioca flour, almond flour, and corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine butter, water, milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally.
- Once simmering, reduce heat to low and add flours, mixing well with a heat-proof rubber spatula. Cook, stirring and pressing the dough to combine for 3-4 minutes until it is very thick and a toothpick would stand upright in the dough. The dough will be very gummy almost like the texture of cooked mochi and a little oily. It's important to cook this long enough to thicken to cook off some of the moisture. The dough should also leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or medium bowl with a hand mixer and let sit to cool until it reaches 160°F. If some of the butter separates, this is okay!
- In 4 additions, slowly add SOME of the whisked eggs, mixing well on medium-high speed between additions. You will need about 142g-150g of whisked egg, depending on how long you cooked the dough. At first, it will seem like it won't incorporate, but rest assured if you keep mixing it on medium-high speed, it will. When it's done, your dough should be shiny, thick, and smooth. When you pull your spatula or paddle from the bowl, the dough should stretch and form a V shape without being runny. When you drizzle some dough back onto itself, it should mostly hold its shape for 10-15 seconds.
- Place a pastry bag (or large disposable plastic storage bag) fitted with a ⅜-inch round tip inside a glass and transfer the batter to the bag.
- Pipe heaping tablespoon rounds onto the prepared parchment paper about 1.5 inches apart, using your finger to cut off the stream of batter between dollops. Use a wet finger to help form the edges of the dollops into perfect rounds if any have gotten lopsided. The gluten-free choux batter mounds will be much smoother and glossier than the non gluten-free ones - this is OKAY. They will puff up.
- Unless your oven fits your baking sheets side by side, bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack for 20 minutes (See note below about cooking in an air fryer). Reduce to 350°F and bake for 6-10 additional minutes until the shell is browned and crisp and the inside is hollow and dry. Check if one is finished baking, pull one cream puff out of the oven, use a sharp knife to poke a thin hole in the top and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Slice it in half, if the dough inside seems very moist and eggy, continue baking it for another 3-5 minutes. Repeat. The inside should be mostly hallow, with some thin cooked dough around the edges.
- Remove from oven and use a sharp knife to poke a hole in the top of the cream puff shell to release the steam. Let cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, use a sharp or serrated knife to cut the cream puff shells in half lengthwise - they will be mostly hollow, with a film of cooked dough.
- Meanwhile prepare the vanilla whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, whisk the cream until it begins to thicken, but peaks have not formed yet. With the mixer running on medium low, add the sugar in a slow stream. Add the vanilla and continue whisking until pillowy soft peaks form. The cream should be thick enough to pipe, but not so thick that it looks lumpy (then it's over-whipped!).
- Pipe or dollop cream onto the bottom half of each cream puff shell, then place the top back on. Use a fine mesh sieve to dust them with powdered sugar and serve the same day.
Air Fryer: To cook these cream puffs in an air fryer, preheat the airfryer to 400°F. Use the same instructions as above, but dollop onto the included baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F for 5-8 minutes.