When Choux Puffs Won’t Stay Puffed

Any time there’s a choux-based pastry on the blog, there are always a lot of calls for help with collapsing puffs. There are three fixes to the problem that I can think of. First, you can pipe higher. Which is to say, try to make your dough shapes a bit more vertical to begin with. You can achieve this in part by making sure you pipe your choux from a height of about half an inch above your surface. This way you “lay down” batter instead of spreading it.

Second, bake longer. Get a good brown on your puffs. This will make the walls of the pastry more rigid and less inclined to collapse. For larger shapes it’s a good idea to “vent” them by poking a hole in the bottom with a knife. This allows steam to escape and again helps the walls to dry out and remain rigid. Once you’ve done that you can return the puffs to the oven and turn the heat down to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for further drying. Keep the door propped open with the handle of a wooden spoon to prevent heat buildup and bake for a further half hour or so. If you like you can dry them out almost completely by turning the oven off at that point and letting the choux shapes sit as the oven cools, even overnight if you like.

Third, if after that you’re still having trouble you can increase the proportion of egg white. This is a time-tested Shirley Corriher trick (which reader Henry reminded me about this week) that helps give choux puff walls some rigidity. It works very well, though I find that if you make choux with craquelin you get all the rigidity without sacrificing moisture (egg whites tend to dry things out). However if craquelin isn’t in the plan, more white is a solid second choice.

Fourth, calibrate your oven. An oven that runs too hot can cause an overly aggressive rise at the outset of the bake. That creates a nice high rise, but as a consequence you get very thin walls that won’t support the weight of the puff once it starts to cool. Make sure you bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for only the first ten minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 for the remainder.

13 thoughts on “When Choux Puffs Won’t Stay Puffed”

  1. Hi Joe,

    Love your site. Some times, I come here just for leisure reading.
    Choux are one of my favorite desserts, but they have to be done right, both the shell and the cream inside. I’ve made this recipe so many times (my waistline can testify this). You’re right about the baking time. I’ve tested the time range several times because my oven is new and your suggested time is perfect. My choux haven’t collapsed in a long while.
    As for puffiness, I find on occassions they didn’t puff as much but I wonder if that had something to do with how I mixed the dough when adding eggs. See, I do this by hands with a flat wooden spoon. So, maybe there’s a bit of inconsistency from time to time.
    Lastly, shape does matter; the same batch, I piped both round (beehive like) and oblong shapes (as the way you’ve shown). I found the round ones came out puffier. To start with, they’re already higher in height but I think when I piped into beehive shape, there’s a pocket of air in the middle that helps the choux to puff. That’s just my 2 cents observations. Oh wait, we don’t have pennies in Canada anymore!

    1. Hi Maggie!

      So glad to hear that. I have fun writing here, and it does me good to know you enjoy reading my mad scribblings!

      Thanks for the comment about choux. Your experience jibes with my own to a large extent. As for the variation, I wonder if moisture might be an issue. I find that because my eggs vary in size, I sometimes get an overly wet batch which doesn’t puff as well. Try using the dip test if you haven’t before. I added to this post in October.


      Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

    1. Yeah, I do all the time. I can’t help thinking of “cracklin’s” which I love on toast!

      – Joe

  2. Hello,

    I have a question with regards to temperature. My oven is set to 350. If i bake the pastries at this temp, would i have to bake longer or must i reset to 425? I haven’t yet learnt how to set the temp – i know i just need to read the manual…… 🙂


    1. Hehe…read that thing, Melody! 😉

      Actually you’ll need a higher temperature to get the puffs to rise well. You need big heat to create lots of steam and fast expansion. 350 just won’t cut it I’m sorry to stay!

      – Joe

      1. ahhhhh…. oh well. I’m going to pull the manual out and learn. My mother has been bugging me about adjusting the temperature anyway. While we are at this, what’s the ideal temperature for just plain bread, please? She thinks the temp is too high. I have no thoughts on it cause the bread bakes well on the second shelf. But mother dear won’t let me rest. help 🙂

        1. Ha! It depends on what kind you’re making, Melody. A loaf of sandwich bread will bake up nicely at 350.

          So you’ve got that as a comfort!

          – Joe

          1. Melody, I do a lot of 100% whole wheat (white wheat flour), and I tend to go with 400 – for flour mixes (50% wheat or less), 350-375 is my rule of thumb. And, of course, per the Joe Pastry-approved method (I’m sure I saw it here), for the whole wheat bread I thump the bejeezus out of the dough between risings, to eliminate the ‘mouse holes’. That leaves me with a nice tight sandwich loaf.

  3. over the past decade pastry chefs have been abandoning the high oven baking method. the trend is to bake choux at lower temperatures than in the past. this creates a more even pocket and regular shape than the high baking temps we all learned.

    here you can see thomas keller of bouchon bakery recommending baking at 380. a lot of other pastry chefs are going as low as 350. this also shows the molds some professionals use for perfect uniformity. they’re also for homebakers who aren’t confident of their choux recipe or their piping skills.


    Pastry chef Eddy van Damme also bakes at 350 and has a good discussion. He’s talking about eclairs, but it applies equally (if not more so) to puffs.

    “For years I would bake the éclairs at a high temperature, (Above 400°F – 200°C) it was what I was taught and it made perfect sense to me at the time. It made the choux paste expand very well and consequently made a large enough inner space for any type of filling. However, the other consequence was the irregular surface, the cracks, which makes it difficult to glaze the éclairs or other choux paste attractively.

    “To control the cracking, it is important to use the right flour or flour blend. I have used bread flour, with lower gluten (protein) content with good results, but mixing part bread flour and part pastry flour is very good. Certainly many chefs use all purpose flour. The reasoning for using flour with slightly higher gluten content is to permit more eggs into the paste. More eggs allow good expansion in the oven at lower oven temperatures. Lower oven temperatures help in the reduction of cracking.

    “Another important factor is the baking process. When baking choux paste products, try to fill the oven quite full (A filled up oven creates more moisture in the oven) and leave the steam escape closed. The initial built up of steam will help with the expansion and reduce cracking as well. Once the products have reached their full size, slightly open the door for steam to escape and allow the choux paste products to dry properly.

    “Piping your products evenly spaced makes a difference as well and examine which oven temperatures work best for you. Smaller piped items need a lower oven temperature or you will end up with a cracked surface.”


    one of the reasons why the craquelin method is spreading is that, besides the crunchy surface, it eliminates many of these concerns about even appearance and open pocket.

    1. Great stuff as always, Ascanius!

      I shall enjoy experimenting with these!

      – Joe

  4. Joe, my choux puffs were the figurative canaries in the coalmine that was my brand new apartment-size oven of a few years ago. They did puff, but only in the oven. Once out and cool they were flat, flaccid and pale. So disappointing to look at, but still tasted wonderful with Pierre Herme almond pastry cream slathered on top (what wouldn’t?). The quick purchase of an oven thermometer revealed – bingo! – off by 50 degrees! They never had a chance…

    1. Aha!

      Good sleuthing, Sarah. I trust your puffs are staying puffed these days?

      – Joe

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