Perfectly risen, light and airy Gluten Free Gougères (also known as French Cheese Puffs or Cheese Choux Pastry). To fill, or not. Ideal for parties, lunch boxes, as a canapé or appetizer.
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Originally posted 12th September 2015. Updated 26th September 2022
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Gluten Free Gougères – The BEST Cheese Puffs
You’re going to LOVE my Gluten Free Gougères. These crisp, perfectly airy Cheese Puffs are made from the lightest of gluten free cheese choux pastry. But with cheese both mixed into the choux batter and sprinkled on top, they really should come with a ‘warning’. Because, not only do they taste outrageously good, but they are also incredibly addictive. Will power or not… A batch of my Gluten Free Gougères can be eaten single-handed in one sitting. They are THAT good.
I’m not of course suggesting you SHOULD eat a batch in one sitting (because of course… that would be sheer piggery). But if you are planning on sharing, it may well be worth upping the quantities and making a Cheese Puffs double batch. And before you ask… No! You can’t possibly tell that my Gougères are gluten free. So have no fear of sharing widely!
Updating my recipe for Gluten Free Gougères
While I have a particular love for all things ‘Choux’, these Gluten Free Gougères have in fact, appeared previously on Gluten Free Alchemist. They were first published back in 2015. But it has been a while since I made them, so I figured it was time to update the post and photos too.
Actually, Choux Pastry in general has always had a star place on the blog. My recipe for basic Gluten Free Choux Pastry and Chocolate Eclairs is one of my most popular recipes of all time. And was one of the first gluten free recipes I set about developing after we became a Coeliac (Celiac) household. At that time, there were virtually no gluten free choux recipes out there at all (in books or on the internet).
While times have changed (and there are now an abundance of gluten free Choux and Gougère recipes to choose from), they are all (it appears) vastly different in ingredients and ratios used. I am proud to say, my recipes have held their own. And I am sure that this is because my gluten free Choux pastry is one of the BEST recipes out there… whether plain or made into Gluten Free Cheese Puffs!
What are Gougères?
Gougères are super-light, savoury Cheese Puffs made from choux pastry (pâte à choux) that originate in France. They typically contain Gruyère, Comté or Emmental cheese which is grated into the pastry dough before baking. When fresh-baked, they have a crisp outer shell and a soft, cheesy interior. And are usually eaten as appetizers or party canapés.
Although they are divine eaten ‘straight’ as simple cheese pastries, they can also be filled with anything from cream cheese or mushroom to meat and fish. Fillings can be piped directly into the airy interior (like you would with a profiterole). Or each Gougère can be cut in half and filled like a cheese puff sandwich.
Are Gougères the same as Pão de Queijo?
No. Gougères (gluten free or not) are not Pão de Queijo. While both are delectably cheesy and utterly delicious in their own right, Gougères are French and are made from Choux pastry… Pão de Queijo (which originate in Brazil) may use a similar method of cooking, but the ingredients are significantly different (specifically using tapioca starch and adding milk) so as to massively alter the texture of the batter and of the final bake. The result is nothing like pastry and very much gooey, cheesy bread rolls.
So while there are (particularly Portuguese) bloggers who use the terms interchangeably (based purely on method), the actual bakes are really not comparable. It’s like comparing porridge with custard! If you want cheese Choux pastry, stick to a recipe for Gougères. If you want South American cheese bread (of which there are many varieties)… Use a specific recipe for Pão de Queijo or a regional alternative.
Of course, I do have a rather divine Gluten Free Pandebonos (South American cheese bread) on the blog which is to be thoroughly recommended.
Are Gluten Free Gougères easy to make?
Yes. While I know that some of you dread the thought of making choux pastry, I promise that these gluten free Gougères are actually really easy to make. They don’t require any technical skill at all… So please try not to feel intimidated, and give them a go.
To make it as easy as possible for you, I’m sharing lots of tips and tricks in this blog post to help. So before you know it, you too will be enjoying the most perfect GLUTEN FREE Cheese Puffs… Fresh out of the oven… French and proud!
What ingredients are needed to make Gluten Free Gougères?
The process of making gluten free Gougères is exactly the same as making standard Gougères, with one obvious change… And that is to use gluten free flour. Here’s the full list of what you need…
- Plain gluten free flour blend – It’s fine to use a balanced shop-bought blend (such as Doves Freee Plain White Flour). Or you can mix your own blend using my Gluten Free Alchemist recipe for my white blend A (which you can find at the bottom of my What is Gluten Free Flour? Page.
- Xanthan Gum – Added to the flour blend, xanthan gum acts as a binder and provides flexibility and robustness to the choux pastry. Check whether the flour blend you use already contains xanthan gum. If it does, reduce the additional gum added to a ¼ teaspoon only.
- Salt – This will both enhance the flavour of the Gougères, and support a light airy structure to the choux pastry.
- Additional seasoning – such as nutmeg, cayenne pepper, paprika or herbs. While additional seasoning is entirely optional, it does offer the ability to change the character of the final cheese puffs.
- Unsalted Butter
- Water – creates steam to push up the choux pastry when it is baked.
- Eggs – are essential leavening for the Choux pastry. Eggs ensure the batter inflates and puffs when baked. They also offer structure via protein that will ensure the gluten free cheese puffs remain inflated and don’t collapse on cooling. Be sure to use large (UK sized) eggs. And remember that eggs around the world are sized differently. So, if unsure of how UK large compares to eggs where you are, check out my Egg Size and Weight International Comparison Chart.
- Cheese (grated) – See below under a separate heading. Cheese is essential to flavour the main batter and is sprinkled on top of the uncooked gougères for extra cheesiness.
What is the best cheese for making gluten free Cheese Puffs?
As mentioned above, Cheese Puffs are typically made using Gruyère, Comté or Emmental cheese (grated into the pastry dough before baking). I personally stick with tradition and tend to use Gruyère to make them. But here’s the thing…
Many years back, I went on a gluten free baking course with an eminent chef. And on that course, we made Gluten Free Gougères. They all failed miserably (and I hasten to add it is NOT the recipe I share here in any shape or form). Whether it was the ingredients, the multiple use of the oven by lots of people at the same time, or a problem with our method, I cannot be certain. But the teacher put it down to using Cheddar Cheese rather than Gruyère (which she had been unable to source for the day). I’m not convinced. But either way, I have not used Cheddar for making cheese puffs since.
Whether you choose to test it for yourself is up to you. But I would only recommend either the traditional options of Gruyère, Comté or Emmental… Or a similar alternative such as Manchego, Jarlsberg or Raclette. In my experience, these cheeses give a more robust gougère which is crisper on the outside and less likely to go flat when it cools. Do not use soft cheese. The texture and moisture levels will not work for gougères and will result in deflated pastry.
Do I need an electric beater to make Gluten Free Cheese Puffs?
No. I know that many bakers swear by beating choux batter with an electric mixer, but it honestly isn’t necessary. I’ve never ever done it, having learned as a child to make choux using good old-fashioned arm power. And I have never yet had a failed batch of plain or cheese puffs because of it.
So, unless you have a health reason that prevents you from beating the batter by hand or limits your strength significantly, Choux can (and should) be made using a traditional saucepan and wooden (or firm silicone) spoon.
Tips for making gluten free Gougères
While the making and baking process for gluten free Gougères varies from one recipe to another, the following advice supports the recipe given at the bottom of this post. All the tips offered give the best, airiest and most delicious cheese puffs possible (in my experience).
Mixing the batter for Cheese Puffs…
- Use the ingredients and method as stated in the recipe. The most common reason for recipe fails is because the recipe hasn’t been followed. Ingredients and the method used to combine and bake them are based on science. If you make random changes, the recipe is less likely to work.
- Boil the fat and water BEFORE adding the flour. An important part of Choux science is that the flour needs to be cooked before it is baked. This is achieved by thoroughly beating it into the very hot fat-water mixture. Thus it is essential to bring the liquid to a full rolling boil and then to add and beat in the flour without delay and before the liquid or pan have had any time to cool.
- Use a good-quality non-stick saucepan when mixing the batter. It should also be large enough to allow for vigorous stirring.
- Make sure the mixture in the pan has cooled enough before adding the egg. This is super-important as the eggs must NOT cook before the gougère batter hits the oven. And if the mixture or the pan are still too hot when the egg is added, you’re liable to end up with scrambled egg instead of delicious gluten free Cheese Puffs.
- Bake your Gougères on reliable non-stick baking paper or on a Silpat sheet. Failure to do so may result in them becoming stuck and breaking.
Baking and Cooling Gluten Free Gougères
- Make sure the oven is very hot. Again, while baking methods vary from one recipe to another, the method I use to bake my Choux (always!), is based on the wisdom passed down from my mother and grandmother. Start with a very hot oven (at 220 C/425 F). This ensures the moisture quickly turns to steam and pushes the batter upwards into Cheese Puffs before it has had time to ‘set’. After this, the oven is turned down low (150 C/300 F), allowing the pastry to dry out and crisp up. Logical and simple!
- During the initial (hot) baking stage, DO NOT open the oven door. Doing so will cause a sudden drop in temperature, and your gorgeous Gougères will collapse.
- (Equally, if you think the Cheese Puffs need a little longer to crisp fully, it’s fine to leave them in the oven for an extra couple of minutes at the end… at the lower temperature).
- Let the steam out of the just-baked Gougères. This is essential to avoid soggy buns! As soon as they are out of the oven, poke a small hole (or slit) in the side of each puff and then leave to cool completely. Some people recommend returning Choux pastry to the oven at this stage to dry. But I have never found it necessary.
- It’s fine (and totally delicious) to eat Gougères fresh baked and hot from the oven. However, IF you are planning on filling them, it is advisable to make sure they have cooled completely before doing so (especially if using a dairy-based stuffing).
To pipe or not to pipe?
Whether you pipe the cheesy choux pastry or simply spoon it into mounds on the baking sheet ready to bake, is up to you. While piping makes the final Gougères a little ‘neater’ and more uniform in shape, it has no impact on either their puff or texture.
If you do choose to pipe the batter, use a reliable piping bag (I love these Grippy Piping Bags from Lakeland) and a large plain round piping nozzle (like this one), so that the grated cheese doesn’t clog the hole!
And to remove any bumps that are left when detaching the batter from the bag… Simply use a finger dipped in water and gently smooth them down.
When and how to eat Gougères…
Personally, I’d eat a batch of Gougères on ANY occasion, given half a chance… They are THAT incredibly delicious! And are perfect for lunch boxes, picnics, afternoon tea, or as a Saturday night TV snack.
However, they are traditionally served as either a canapé or appetizer, so are also particularly fitting for parties, celebrations and buffet tables. I filled mine with whipped cream cheese and smoked salmon (as in my recipe for Puff Pastry Bites).
With Christmas and New Year on the horizon, they should definitely be on the ‘make’ list… I promise that all who eat them will be back for more and will be super-impressed by your efforts… So you better make a triple batch!
Ready to make Gluten Free Gougères?
Hopefully the wisdom I’ve shared will help you on your way to perfect Gluten Free Gougères. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. You can do this via the comments section at the bottom, by email or through social media. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
The recipe is just below (scroll an inch or two further…). And if you’re looking for other gluten free baking and cooking inspiration… Head over to our huge Gluten Free Recipe Index. It has hundreds of recipes available for FREE. And is my gift to the gluten free community.
Shared with my love
More incredible cheesy baking inspiration you’ll love…
Gluten Free Gougères – French Cheese Puffs (Cheese Choux)
- small bowl
- oven + hob
- piping bag and nozzle – optional
- skewer/small sharp knife
- 65 g plain gluten free flour mix eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Mix A see NOTES
- ¾ tsp xanthan gum
- pinch fine sea salt
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 200 g/ml water
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 90 g Grûyère cheese finely grated (or other similar drier hard cheese – see blog post)
- a pinch of cayenne/paprika/nutmeg seasoning optional
- 15 g additional Grûyère cheese finely grated (for topping)
- Weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. TIP: Weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously.
- In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter with the water and bring to a boil (full rolling boil).
- Remove from the heat and IMMEDIATELY add the flour mix, beating vigorously with a wooden/silicone spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. This requires some 'elbow-grease'. The mixture will start to look a little 'scrambled', but will then clump into a ball. Keep beating until even and smooth.
- Allow the mixture and pan to cool until about hand-warm. This is important to avoid cooking the egg when you add it.
- While cooling, pre-heat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7. Base line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
- While the mixture is cooling, break the eggs into a small bowl and beat well with a fork.
- Once the mixture has cooled, add the beaten egg a little at a time. Beat vigorously with a firm wooden/silicone spoon between each addition. The mixture will initially look like it won't amalgamate, but persevere until it thoroughly combines.
- Repeat this process until all the egg has been added and then beat for a couple of minutes more to ensure the paste is smooth and even. The texture should be silky and sticky so that it sticks to the sides of the pan. It almost wants to drop off the spoon, but is struggling to do so. (If it drops off easily, it is too dry and needs perhaps half a tablespoon more egg/egg white).
- Lastly add the grated cheese and additional seasoning (if using) and beat through with the wooden spoon.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag (if using) with a wide (1.5 cm) open round nozzle, or simply cut the end to about the same size.
- On a Silpat sheet or using a couple of baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper, either pipe or spoon small walnut-sized piles of the mixture, leaving a gap between each for expansion.
- Wet the tip of a finger and smooth the tops of the batter (if they have 'peaked' from piping).
- Sprinkle a small pinch of cheese on top of each dough pile.
- Bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven, until well-risen. Do NOT open the oven door during this stage.
- After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2 (open the oven door for a few seconds to allow a little heat to escape) and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown, very light in weight, crisp and firm on the outside. If not crisp and firm, leave in the oven for a couple more minutes.
- Remove from the oven and make a small hole or slit in the side of each Gougère (using a skewer or small sharp knife) to allow the steam to escape. Allow to cool on the trays.
- You can eat warm as they are or allow to go cold and fill with your chosen filling.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist