Black Pepper Savory Cream Puffs with Egg Salad
June 2, 2022
Filled with creamy egg salad and freshly cracked black pepper, these savory cream puffs are little bite-sized treats that are perfect for piling up on your brunch table or serving as an appetizer when hosting.
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I’m back at it with another savory twist on something that you might think of as traditionally sweet. But cream puffs, which are made from pate a choux dough, don’t contain any sugar unless you fill them with something sweet. That means these cute little bite-sized treats are the perfect starting point for a savory hor d’oeuvres or side dish.
When it came to the filling, I’ve been loving a basic egg salad lately. As the weather starts to heat up, cold picnic salads like mac, potato, and egg tend to become some of my go-to easy lunches. In this version, I keep the salad itself classic, but add a little bit of pepper to spice up the cream puff shells, and a sprinkle of paprika for a little something extra.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these egg salad and black pepper savory cream puffs at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Flour
- Spice Rack: Salt, Pepper, Dill weed, Onion powder, Celery seed, Paprika or Smoked paprika (optional)
- Fridge: Butter, Eggs, Mayonnaise
- Equipment: Baking sheet, Parchment, Wooden spoon, Cooling rack, Piping set (optional), Pastry blender or Potato masher, Serrated knife
Let’s Make Savory Cream Puffs
Cream puffs, or profiteroles, are super easy, but they look extra impressive to your guests. Seriously, show up anywhere with a pile of these little pate a choux treats, and people will forget to leave the food table. This version is no exception, but you’re more likely to find these with the apps than on a dessert spread.
Before getting started, be sure you have everything prepared: your oven preheated and a baking sheet or two lined with parchment paper. These will need some space to puff up in the oven, so two baking sheets can save you some time, but you can switch off if needed.
Begin the Pate a Choux Dough
Begin by mixing together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. The pepper here is what separates these from a typical pate a choux dough recipe, and having it freshly cracked really makes a difference in the flavor. Whisk these all together until thoroughly combined, then set aside.
The next two ingredients help give these puffs all those wonderful air pockets, making them super light and fluffy: butter and water. Use a medium saucepan to bring the water just to a boil. Don’t let it sit there and cook off.
Instead, immediately add in the butter, and stir gently until it has fully melted into the liquid. Again, to keep the water from boiling off, be sure to reduce the heat to low as soon as the butter is melted.
Add the whisked flour mixture all at once into the pot. Stir vigorously using a sturdy spoon, like a wooden or silicone one, while cooking it over medium heat. As you mix, the dough will begin to form a ball and pull away from the edges. At this point, remove it from the heat and set the pot aside to cool for about ten minutes.
The cooling is an important step, so be careful not to rush it. Waiting those ten minutes allows the dough to lose enough heat that your eggs won’t immediately scramble when you add them in.
Add the Eggs and Shape the Dough
Crack and add the eggs to the pot one at a time. Fully stir to completely incorporate each one before adding the next. This will be easy at first, but get progressively harder with eggs three and four. Double check the mixture is smooth, and again, use that sturdy spoon. I have definitely broken weak spatulas mixing this kind of dough!
If you would like to pipe for puffs, transfer the batter to a piping bag. I used one with a large star tip, which makes them look like little seashells. However, if you decide to scoop the dough, they will still be delicious. Pipe or spoon the batter into about one-inch dollops, leaving two inches of space between them for puffing up.
Bake the profiteroles for twenty or so minutes. Mine generally take right around twenty-two. When they are done, they will be a dark golden brown. Undercooked cream puffs can easily collapse, so if you’re not sure, give them the extra two minutes to bake.
Immediately move the baked shells to a cooling rack, and then let them be. These cream puff shells need to cool completely to room temperature before you are able to cut and fill them, or else they might collapse.
You will need to eat or freeze the cream puff shells within one day of baking them. To freeze the uncut and empty shells, place them on a baking sheet, just not touching, and freeze them overnight. Then transfer them all to a zip-top bag and store for up to three months.
How to Make Egg Salad Filling for Cream Puffs
While the cream puff shells are cooling, it’s the perfect time to make your egg salad. You can make this with eggs that are already hard boiled, or boil your own. To do that, add the eggs to a large pot, and cover them with lukewarm water, with about an inch to spare.
Hard Boil the Eggs
Over high heat, bring the pot to a full rolling boil. At that point, remove from the heat, cover the pot, and leave the eggs alone to cook for twelve minutes. If you have a preferred method of boiling eggs you’d rather use, go ahead and do that.
Carefully drain the eggs and run them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. If you are making these in advance, hard boiled eggs with the shells on can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. I like to use a standard egg holder that is clearly marked.
Next, you’ll need to peel the shell off each hard boiled egg. My trick is to use running cool water to help easily remove the shells. But if you know another trick that works for you, feel free to do that.
Peeled hard-boiled eggs can also be stored in the fridge for a few days. They should be in a sealed container, and be sure they are kept moist by gently placing the eggs between layers of damp paper towels.
Prepare and Season the Egg Salad
Once you are ready to make the egg salad, add the peeled eggs into a medium bowl, and smash them up. I like to use my pastry blender for this, as it easily cuts through the solid egg whites. You can also use a large serving fork with wide-set tines, or even a potato masher to smash the eggs into small pieces.
Add in the mayonnaise, dill weed, salt, pepper, onion powder, and celery seed, starting with the lower amounts listed. When it comes to spices like these, everyone’s tastes are different, but also eggs are not perfectly uniform. You may find that you need more or less.
Stir everything together with a spoon to thoroughly combine it. Then be sure to try a taste and add more of anything as needed. If the salad feels dry and crumbly, instead of creamy, add more mayo a spoonful at a time, and stir to incorporate it.
The egg salad can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Fresh egg salad should stay at room temperature for no more than an hour before storing it, and you should eat it within an hour of removing it from the fridge.
Put it All Together
Now let’s build some savory cream puffs! By now, your shells should be fully cooled to room temperature, but double check before you cut them open. These are light and full of air pockets, so you’ll want to use a serrated knife to cut them without squishing them.
The easiest way (and my favorite method) to cut cream puffs is to simply cut straight across to remove the top third of each cream puff. Then, you can add about a teaspoon or so of egg salad onto the bottom piece, nestling it into those air pockets. Replace the top at a slight angle so the egg salad shows through a little.
A more traditional way to fill these is to cut an x-shape into the side or bottom of each puff. Then use a piping bag full of the egg salad to fill up the shells. If you choose to use this method, be sure you are using a piping tip wider than the largest piece of egg left uncut in the salad.
Just for appearances, and a little subtle extra flavor, you can sprinkle these with some paprika, regular or smoked. I like to use the smoked paprika when it complements other items being served with these puffs. Otherwise, regular paprika has a subtle flavor, but mostly adds color.
You could also sprinkle these with additional cracked black pepper or some flake sea salt. A little bit of spice could be fun too, like cayenne or a hot paprika.
Once filled, be sure to serve and eat the finished cream puffs within an hour, due to the eggs. I do not recommend storing these, but if you need to transport them or leave them sitting out on a buffet, use ice packs to keep them cool.
These savory cream puffs include black pepper in the pate a choux dough, and are filled with egg salad. Perfect for brunch or as hors d’oeuvres!
How to Serve Egg Salad Savory Cream Puffs
These cute little bites are perfect for brunch, served as an hor d’oeuvre, or just popped as a quick and fun snack. To make a quick breakfast-for-lunch type meal, add some smoky old bay breakfast potatoes and a vanilla spice cold brew.
As for brunch, I would make these cream puffs a first course, or a side along with a sweet main. The black pepper flavor will play well with berries and dark fruits, so try a blueberry cornbread cobbler or peach and plum walnut crumble. I wouldn’t serve these with other egg dishes, but something like savory caramelized onion and sun dried tomato crepes would be delicious!
You can also make these part of an appetizer spread or happy hour. Try serving alongside vegan carrot ‘bacon’ wrapped water chestnuts and apricot ricotta toasts. Don’t forget the cocktails, like a strawberry kentucky mule or key lime vodka sour.
More Savory Brunch and Appetizers
- Kiwi and Curry Deviled Eggs with Cinnamon-Chile
- Beet & Goat Cheese Latkes
- Savory Cheesecake with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic
- Sun-Dried Tomato Caprese Scones with Chocolate Balsamic Drizzle
- Butternut Squash Cornbread with Cinnamon and Curry
- Breakfast Flatbread with Chorizo-Spiced Veggies
- Vegan Lentil-Pecan Breakfast Sausage
Black Pepper Savory Cream Puffs with Egg Salad
- 1 Cup All-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- ½ Cup Unsalted butter one stick
- 4 Eggs
- 6 Eggs
- 4-6 Tbsp Mayonnaise
- ½-¾ tsp Dill Weed
- ¼-½ tsp Salt
- ¼-½ tsp Black Pepper
- ¼-½ tsp Onion Powder
- pinch Celery Seed
- Paprika or Smoked Paprika optional, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or lightly greasing. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and black pepper until combined.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and then add in the butter and stir gently until it melts. Do not let the water boil off, but as soon as the butter is melted, reduce the heat to low.
- Add the flour mixture all at once into the pot, and stir vigorously, with a wooden or silicone spoon, over medium heat, until the dough begins to form a ball and pull away from the edges. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring each one in completely until the mixture is smooth, using a wooden or silicone spoon.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag, if you desire. Pipe or spoon the batter into 1-inch dollops, about 2-inches apart. These will puff up and spread while they bake.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until fluffy and dark golden brown. Immediately move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely to room temperature before filling.
Egg Salad Filling
- Add the eggs to a large pot, and cover them with lukewarm water, with about an inch to spare. Over high heat, bring it to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, remove from the heat. Cover the pot, and leave to cook for 12 minutes.
- Carefully drain the eggs and run them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Peel each one, using running cool water to help you easily remove the shells.
- Add the peeled eggs into a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender, large serving fork, or potato masher to smash the eggs into small pieces.
- Add in the mayo, dill weed, salt, pepper, onion powder, and celery seed, starting with the lower amounts listed. Stir to thoroughly combine. Then taste and add more of anything as needed. If the salad feels dry, add more mayo a spoonful at a time.
- Use a serrated knife to cut of the top ⅓ of each cream puff. Add about 1 teaspoon egg salad onto the bottom piece, and place the top on at slight angle so the egg salad shows through. Sprinkle with paprika as desired.
- Hard boiled eggs can be made in advance and stored with the shells on in the fridge for up to a week. I like to use a standard egg holder that is clearly marked. Peeled eggs can also be stored in a sealed container, and should be kept moist with a damp paper towel underneath and on top.
- The egg salad can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. Fresh egg salad should stay at room temperature for no more than an hour before storing. Eat within an hour of removing them from the fridge.
- You will need to eat or freeze the cream puff shells within one day of baking. To freeze the uncut and empty shells, place them on a baking sheet, and freeze overnight. Then transfer to a zip-top bag to store for up to three months. To reheat, let the shells thaw on a baking sheet, and then bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
- Once filled, serve and eat the finished cream puffs within an hour. I do not recommend storing these. If transporting or leaving on a buffet, use ice packs to keep them cool.