How to make gougères (fancy cheese puffs) and more festive holiday appetizer recipes

Gougères, Gruyère, piment d’Espelette
Gougères, Gruyère, piment d’Espelette
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Whether you’re planning a big holiday dinner or a festive cocktail party, odds are you’ll want some nibbles handy to keep the guests sated and merry. We’ve collected some of our favorite appetizer recipes from our Recipe Database to help you plan your celebrations.

Gougères, the Gruyère cheese-flavored pastry puffs, are bound to be a hit at any party. This recipe pairs Gruyère with finely-grated Parmesan (two cheeses!), along with a touch of chile powder for a little heat. Serve the puffs warm, or make them ahead of time and serve at room temperature.


Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Makes about 2 dozen

Note: Adapted from Renee Erickson’s “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus.” She suggests making them just before serving or baking them early in the day and then recrisping them in a 400-degree oven just before serving.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or chile powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups plus (about 6 3/4 ounces) flour, sifted

5 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or Jacobsen, for finishing

1. In a large saucepan, heat the butter, milk, salt, piment d’Espelette and nutmeg together over low heat until the butter has melted completely. Add the flour, stirring vigorously until the mixture forms a paste, then cook, stirring and smearing the dough constantly, until the mixture starts to smell nutty and small beads of fat form on the surface of the dough that’s just come off the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes total. (I usually stop stirring when my arm hurts too much to continue. It will be thick, like sugar cookie dough.)

2. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set aside until the dough has almost reached room temperature, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

3. When the dough has cooled, with the machine on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the batter re-forms between each egg and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When you have added all the eggs, mix in the Gruyère and Parmesan on low speed.

4. Using two spoons, form the batter into golf ball-sized balls and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart, dipping the spoons into a bowl of warm water between each one to keep the dough from sticking. Sprinkle the gougères liberally with the sea salt.

5. Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 25 more minutes, or until the gougères are brown and crisp on the outside and half hollow in the center.

6. Serve immediately, or set aside to cool on racks no more than a few hours before serving.

Each gougères, without garnish salt: Calories 113; Protein 5 grams; Carbohydrates 7 grams; Fiber 0; Fat 7 grams; Saturated fat 4 grams; Cholesterol 57 mg; Sugar 1 gram; Sodium 220 mg

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