Best Eclairs Recipe

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This is the best Homemade Eclairs Recipe! The pastry and frosting are made completely from scratch and the filling is irresistibly delicious. Eclairs are an elegant dessert, perfect special occasions! Make-ahead and freezer-friendly.

front view of homemade eclairs with chocolate frosting


This Best Eclairs Recipe is my husband’s favorite dessert of all time. His mom has been making these homemade Eclairs for over 45 years and when Ritch and I got married, she taught me how to make them too. 

These Eclairs are good, like knock-your-socks-off delicious. But they’re not necessarily an “easy” recipe.

This eclairs recipe is really three recipes: one for the Choux pastry, one for the chocolate frosting and one for the eclair filling. We have the process down to a science, and I will be sharing it with you step-by-step. 

I happily spend half a day making this eclairs recipe, or this tiramisu cake, for Ritch because they bring him so much joy (just like these brownies are my love language)! We always work as a team, which makes the process faster and more fun!  Plus, I love that this recipe is passed on from his mom. I always remind my kids that these are “Mema’s Eclairs” so that we always think of her when we make them, and will for the rest of our lives! 

front view of a homemade eclair cut in half so you can see the eclair filling inside

Homemade Eclairs Recipe: Ingredients

There are three components to this Eclairs Recipe, and I’ll show you the ingredients I use for each of them!

Choux Pastry

The choux pastry only has 4 ingredients, water, butter, eggs and salt! I do not recommend making any substitutions. The only change that can be made in using unsalted butter instead of salted butter! (Note: you only need ¾ cup butter for the recipe, although 1 cup is pictured below)!

overhead photo of the labeled choux pastry ingredients in this eclairs recipe

Eclair Filling

I do not deviate from these very specific ingredients because when I do, my husband notices (for example, I once tried to save $0.90 by buying generic pudding mix – and he tasted the difference).

However, you can try to make your own vanilla pudding instead of using the packaged pudding if you prefer.

overhead photo of the labeled filling ingredients in this eclairs recipe

Chocolate Frosting

This recipe calls for a frosting that uses melted chocolate. If you’d prefer an easier, cocoa-based frosting you can use this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting instead. It’s just as delicious!

overhead photo of the labeled chocolate frosting ingredients in this eclairs recipe
  • Chocolate:  I love Ghirardelli baking chocolate. This frosting is a little dark but still sweet! If you like a sweeter chocolate frosting, use semi-sweet or milk chocolate.
  • Milk: I use whole milk in this chocolate frosting, but you can use 2%, half and half or cream if you’d like.
  • Butter. Unsalted butter can be used in place of salted butter.
overhead view of two halves of a homemade eclair laying down so you can see the filling inside.

How to Make Homemade Eclairs Recipe

There are three separate components that make these homemade eclairs:

  1. Pastry Filling.
  2. Pastry Puffs (Choux Pastry)
  3. Chocolate Frosting.

Since each part requires the use of a standing mixer, I have the process of making of these mini eclairs down to a science! Don’t forget to watch the video.

Make the Eclair Filling 

This eclairs recipe begins with making the pastry filling. Since involves chilling and whipping, it’s important to start with the filling first.

Begin by whisking together the milk and pudding mix, then letting it thicken in the fridge for 5 minutes while you whip the whipping cream. Using a whisk ensures there are no lumps in the pudding.

overhead view of a whisk mixing pudding and milk together in a glass bowl showing how to make eclairs

Next, add all the ingredients for the whipping cream into the bowl of a standing mixer and whip for about 60 seconds on high until stiff peaks form. 

  • A helpful tip: when you whip the whipping cream in your standing mixer, start by placing the mixing bowl in the refrigerator. A cold bowl aids in the whipping process immensely!
two photos showing how to make eclairs - making the whipped cream

After the pudding is set up and the cream is whipped, gently fold them together or stir on low speed in the mixer.

Once they’re thoroughly combined, transfer the filling to a bowl (because we need to use the bowl of the mixer again),  cover it and place it in the fridge while you make the rest of the eclairs recipe – the puffs and frosting.

two overhead photos showing how to make eclair filling

Make the Choux Pastry

Once the eclair filling is chilling in the fridge, it’s time to make the pastry shells (or puffs as we call them)! This Choux pastry is pretty straightforward, but can be a little finicky!

Make the panade

The first step in making Choux pastry is making a panade, which is just a starchy thickener. To do this, start by melting butter, salt and water together. Then add flour all at once and whip it with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball.

Cool the panade 

Transfer it from the hot pan to the bowl of your standing mixer to cool.  The panade needs to cool before the eggs are added so they don’t cook when they hit the hot dough!   

two overhead photos showing how to make choux pastry for homemade eclairs

Once the dough is cooled, beat the eggs in one at a time. Then prepare to bake the pastry shells. 

Fixing runny batter

If the batter is not thick enough to hold its shape when piped, you will need to add more flour. I have had to adjust the amount of flour if my eggs are larger than normal and my batter comes out too thin! Add 1 Tablespoon at a time as needed. The dough should be slightly runny, but still hold its shape when piped onto the pan. 

two overhead photos of adding eggs to make choux pastry for eclairs

Bake

You get to choose what shape you’d like to make the eclairs. Sometimes we pipe the filling into mini, oblong eclair shapes using a pastry bag and a wilton 1M decorating tip. I find it easiest to use a small (1.5 Tablespoon) cookie scoop to dollop a small amount of dough onto the greased baking sheet to make round eclairs! It’s really up to you! 

Do NOT use parchment paper

Please do not use parchment paper to bake this eclair recipe. The eclair shells will stick to the parchment paper and they will be nearly impossible to remove.

two overhead photos showing how to make eclairs - scooping and placing choux pastry dough onto baking sheet

Bake the pastry shells until they are golden brown but not too dark (about 20-25 minutes). The yield in this recipe really depends on the size you make the shells. We get between 30 and 50. When we make larger (about 2 Tablespoons per shell) round eclairs we get about 30, when we make smaller mini eclairs (about 1 Tablespoon per pastry puff) we get about 50-60.

After they are finished baking, remove them to a wire rack to cool. The shells need to be completely cool before filling/frosting. However they are fairly thin and cool pretty quickly.

two overhead photos showing how to make eclairs - choux pastry shells cooling and filling & frosting in piping bags

Make the Chocolate Frosting 

While your shells are baking,  make the frosting. It’s a basic chocolate buttercream frosting that is a little on the dark side (insert Star Wars jokes here). Start by beating softened butter, melted chocolate and sea salt together until smooth. 

Next, add powdered sugar and milk and beat until the frosting is light and spreadable. 

two overhead photos showing the first two steps in making chocolate frosting

Add more milk if necessary to make the eclair frosting spreadable, but I have found that 3 Tablespoons is exactly the right amount every single time. The more you whip the frosting, the lighter in color it will become.

up close view of chocolate frosting on a wire whisk beater over a mixing bowl

Assemble the Eclairs

To assemble the homemade eclairs, begin by piping the filling into the shells using a small round tip. Using a tip is very helpful to ensure the homemade eclairs will be fully filled without making a mess.

Press the decorators bag full of filling into one side of the cooled pastry shell, then gently push the filling out until you see it start to ooze out a little bit.

front view showing a piping bag filling a pastry puff with eclair filling

Frost the Homemade Eclairs

Use your favorite decorators tip to frost the filled eclairs. For these photos I used the Wilton 2B tip (basket weave tip). I also like using the Wilton 1M decorators tip. You can frost them however you’d like.

I don’t recommend spreading the frosting onto the eclairs with a knife because the filled pastry shells are delicate. If you apply too much pressure you run the risk of crushing the eclair.

front view of an eclair being frosted with chocolate frosting

Chill

Place the finished eclairs in a single layer on a baking tray or in a container and store them in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (until the frosting hardens). Then serve cold after chilling.

Store/Freeze

Once the homemade eclairs are chilled and the frosting is hardened, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

overhead view of 7 Homemade Eclairs with chocolate frosting

Recipe Tools

Having the right tools aids in the process of making these eclairs immensely! These are the tools I use to make them, as well as many other baked goods! I especially use these things to decorate cakes using our favorite homemade frosting recipe (another 45-year-old Mema recipe).

front view of 8 Homemade Eclairs, some on a serving plate

Eclairs Recipe FAQS

How do you store eclairs?

Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!

Can you freeze eclairs?

Yes! Store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month (if they last that long)!

How long do filled eclairs last?

These eclairs will last for 5 days in the refrigerator or 1 month in the freezer. They keep longer than that, but for their optimal taste and texture that is the timeframe I recommend!

What happens if my pastry shells fall flat? 

As long as they puffed up in the oven this isn’t as big of a problem as it might seem. Obviously it’s not ideal, but the shells will puff up again as they are filled with the eclair filling. 
Making the choux pastry is the most “advanced” part of this recipe, and it does take practice. So if at first you don’t succeed, try again! 

Why did my pastry shells fall flat? 

When baked, the liquid in the choux pastry evaporates and creates steam, expanding the egg protein, causing the rise in the puffs. The eclair shells needs to be fully baked to ensure there is no moisture left on the inside. Even a small amount of moisture will cause the shells to deflate and go flat when they are removed from the oven. 
You want the shells to be a deep, golden brown all the way around the shell. I honestly could’ve baked the shells pictured below for longer and they would’ve held their shape better. 

overhead view of a half of a homemade eclair laying down so you can see the filling inside.

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Best Eclairs Recipe

Laura
This is the best Homemade Eclairs Recipe! The pastry and frosting are made completely from scratch and the filling is irresistibly delicious. Eclairs are an elegant dessert, perfect special occasions! Make-ahead and freezer-friendly.
4.95 from 19 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings 40 mini eclairs
Calories 183.8
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time30 minutes
Chilling1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Eclair Filling

Pastry Puffs

Chocolate Frosting

Instructions 

Make the Filling

  • Mix together the French vanilla pudding and milk. Set aside in the refrigerator until it becomes thick (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer and whip on high speed until firm peaks form and hold their shape.
  • Fold the pudding and whipped cream mixture together.
  • Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Make the Eclair Shells

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease three jelly roll pans and set aside.
  • Measure your water, salt and butter into a 4-quart saucepan. Heat water salt and butter to boiling. Continue to boil the mixture until the butter is melted.
  • Add the flour to the saucepan all at once and whip with wooden spoon. Mixture will form a ball in middle of the pan.
  • Cool for about 5 minutes stirring to cool faster.
  • Add eggs one at a time whipping with wooden spoon well after each. [Or transfer your mixture to a standing mixture and add eggs individually, beating well after each].
  • Check your batter, if it is not thick enough to hold a shape when piped, gradually add more flour until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Put mixture into pastry bag and pipe out eclair shapes about 1 ½ to 2 inches long and 2 inches apart on your prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool completely before assembling the eclairs.

Make the Frosting

  • Melt chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave (60 seconds, then 30 second intervals until smooth), set aside.
  • Place softened butter in the bowl of your standing mixer.
  • Add chocolate vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Add salt and powdered sugar and beat until well combined.
  • Add milk and beat until the mixture reaches spreading consistency, wiping down the sides as you go. You may need to add more milk.
  • Set aside (but keep at room temperature).

Assemble

  • Put filling in a large piping bag fitted with a small, round tip. Gently pipe the filling into one end of the pastry puff. Repeating for each puff until they are all filled.
  • Fill a large piping bag with your chocolate frosting and frost the eclairs in any way you’d like!
  • Refrigerate until serving.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions:
The puffs and filling should not be changed. If you would like to try a homemade vanilla pudding instead of the packages, that would work. 
If you would prefer a chocolate frosting that uses cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate, use this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe. 
  • Chocolate:  I love Ghirardelli baking chocolate. This frosting is a little dark but still sweet! If you like a sweeter chocolate frosting, use semi-sweet or milk chocolate.
  • Milk: I use whole milk in this chocolate frosting, but you can use 2%, half and half or cream if you’d like.
  • Butter. Unsalted butter can be used in place of salted butter.
Store/Freeze 
  • Store these eclairs in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 1 month in an airtight container. 
  • Simply remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving!

Nutrition

Serving: 1eclair | Calories: 183.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.5g | Protein: 2.6g | Fat: 12.6g | Saturated Fat: 7.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 75.7mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 11.6g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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43 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These look FABULOUS! I bet they are just as tasty! Thanks for sharing with Thursday Favorite Things – will feature your post tomorrow on my blog! Angelina @ Peonies & Orange Blossoms

  2. Oh wow! I love eclairs and these look AMAZING!

    Will definitely have to try!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

    1. LOL Vanessa!!!!! That’s the trouble with these guys…they’re so light and airy you can’t (like not even possible) just eat one!

  3. These look increeeeeeeedible! Gluten free eclairs are on my “must master” list, however, I always seem to experiment with other things as they’ve been on the list for a while!

    1. Woo Hoo! IF you try these with all purpose gluten free flour you HAVE to let me know if they turn out! 🙂

  4. WOW. These do look like a complete labor of love, and Laura, you just shine that love for your family. I’m so thankful God connected us, because I now have so many role models and sisters in Christ who are encouraging me by the way they serve their families through cooking with so much love.

    And I bookmarked this, because I think I would love to attempt it. I really have to set aside time to do it with care and compassion, because I’m often too ‘quick’ about cooking/baking (although I really like it), I tend to RUSH too much. This post was an encouragement to stop rushing and do more things in love.

    It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13. If I don’t do it in love, no matter how much I do, it’s nothing. <3

    1. Thank you so much Emily! I am so grateful our virtual paths crossed too! 🙂 I totally understand wanting to get in and out of the kitchen quickly…believe you me I feel that way VERY often! It is fun every once in a while to relax and spend the day baking food for the people you love…it’s SO worth it! My husband only has a few left in the fridge and I think he may cry after he eats the last Eclair and realizes they are gone!

  5. Oh my goodness, these look incredible! Do you think they’d work with gluten free flour?

    1. Hey Stefani….wow I do not know the answer to that question! Honestly my gut reaction is no. If you wanted to give it a try I recommend that you start with the puffs and make 1/2 or even 1/3 of the recipe to see how it turns out (in case it doesn’t)! And I would use a gluten-free flour that was made to be a 1:1 replacement for unbleached, all purpose flour. If you try it PLEASE report back!!!