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Best Italian Cream Puff Cake Recipe

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Are you looking for a show-stopping dessert to impress your friends and family? This Italian Cream Puff Cake recipe is a giant light and airy cream puff and creamy, delicious filling; this cake is the perfect end to any meal!

This Italian Cream Puff Cake recipe is my version of delicious cream puffs in cake form — a delightful dessert. No need to fuss with a piping bag, just one big ol’ cream puff loaded up with a silky-smooth, yet light-as-air cream filling, then topped off with a generous layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream. It’s like a party in your mouth!

Italian cream puff cake recipe.

I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, feel free to click “Jump to Recipe” right under the title of this post, and you’ll head straight there!

My BFF is a great baker and she was the one who first turned me on to this amazing recipe, oh and she also happens to be 100% Italian!

Why You Will Love this Recipe

  • Simple Ingredients | Easily found ingredients at your local grocery store.
  • Easy to follow | No complicated techniques or equipment.
  • Show-Stopping Dessert | The result is a delicious cake that will impress your friends and family.
Cream Puff cake slice on plate with the top drizzled with chocolate syrup and chocolate shavings!

Simple Ingredients for Cream Puff Cake

Ingredients, directions and nutritional information in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Water | You are making a classic choux pastry; you need boiling water to do this.
  • Butter | I used salted butter, but feel free to use unsalted butter, be sure it’s real butter, it should not be soft coming out of the fridge!
  • All-Purpose Flour | I used unbleached all-purpose flour; you may also use pastry flour for a more tender cream puff if desired.
  • Eggs | I use large eggs in all my baking; room temperature is optimal; if you forget, 5 minutes in a bowl of warm water will take care of that for you!
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix | Use your favorite flavors; I used French vanilla and White Chocolate.
  • Milk | I use Whole milk, I haven’t tested with other percentages, but they should work.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream | Making our own whipped topping, replacing Cool Whip
  • Powdered Sugar | Also called icing sugar and confectioners sugar.
  • Vanilla Extract | Used in the filling as well as the whipped cream
  • Toppings | Provide options for your guests, chocolate syrup or chocolate ganache, fresh berries, or caramel sauce.
Labeled ingredients for Italian cream puff cake.
USA Bakeware pans, set.

How to Make Italian Cream Puff Cake

Step 1 | Preheat and Prep Choux Dough

Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) and spray a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt—heat the butter mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.

Step 2 | Finish Choux Pastry

Add dough to a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric mixer and beat eggs in for about 30 seconds before adding another egg. Then beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes until smooth and glossy. Alternatively, you can do this by hand, making sure that you stir well between each egg addition.

Step 3 | Bake Puff Pastry Cake

Spread dough into the prepared baking dish, and bake at 400°F (204°C), baking for 20-30 minutes until puffed and golden brown. The dough will rise dramatically up around the sides of the pan. Remove and cool completely.

Baked cream puff in pan.

Step 4 | Make Pastry Cream Filling

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine instant pudding, milk, and vanilla until smooth; mix the pudding with the cream cheese mixture, beating until smooth, about 3-4 minutes.

Step 5 | Make Whipped Topping

Whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form; check out my recipe for a Cool Whip substitute. If you prefer, you may use thawed Cool Whip or other whipped topping, but I encourage you to try and make your own; so much better!

Step 6 | Assemble Cream Puff Dessert

Spoon the pudding mixture into the cream puff crust, using an offset spatula, and smooth evenly into the pastry shell. Next, smooth the whipping cream over the Italian pastry cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, preferably overnight.

How to Serve this Easy Cream Puff Cake

Using a sharp knife, slice through the cream puff, pulling the knife towards you rather than up, to keep the cream mixture intact. Use a small spatula to pull out pieces. Top it with your favorite toppings. You might even have a little Italian cream puff topping bar; here are some ideas:

  1. Berries | Top with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries; a bowl of mixed berries would be perfect. You might also enjoy a drizzle of blueberry syrup or fresh strawberry lime syrup.
  2. Chocolate Toppings | Add a chocolate station, chips, shavings, jimmies, and syrup or ganache.
  3. Naked | Just a simple sprinkle of powdered sugar should do it!

Fresh Tips

  • Don’t open the oven door while the puff is baking, as this can cause it to collapse.
  • It’s essential to let the puff cool completely before filling it to avoid any melting or sogginess.
Italian Cream Puff Cake ready to chill.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Use your favorite instant pudding flavor, or mix and match to your heart’s content. Chocolate, white chocolate, lemon, white chocolate, pistachio, and butterscotch. Vanilla is the traditional flavor of Italian cream puffs.
  • Use chocolate pudding mix instead of vanilla for a chocolatey twist.
  • Add fresh berries to the filling for a fruity touch.
  • Top the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar and a little extra whipped cream if desired.
  • Add a little lemon zest to the vanilla cream cheese mixture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make individual Italian cream puffs?

You bet! Spoon the choux pastry into a pastry bag and pipe little balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; bake at 400°F (204°C) for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling. Add pastry cream to a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch round or decorative tip and pipe cream into the centers, or serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or your favorite filling.

Can I make the cream puff cake in advance?

Yes, you can make the cream puff cake two days in advance. Store it at room temperature, covered tightly with plastic wrap until ready to fill with the cream cheese filling.

Can I use a different type of filling?

Yes, you can customize the filling to your liking. Some popular options include chocolate or lemon fillings or whipped cream instead of cream cheese filling.

Can I freeze Italian Cream Puff Cake?

Freezing the assembled cake is not recommended, as the cream puff and filling may become soggy and lose their texture. However, you can freeze the unfilled cream puff and thaw them when you’re ready to fill them.

Cream puff cake with slice removed.

Storage

The assembled cake should be stored in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, lasting up to 3 days. Though eating for up to 5 days is still safe, it just might be a bit soggy; I haven’t had anyone in my house complain!

If you make the puff pastry ahead of time, store, covered on the counter for up to 2 days, and the filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator 1-2 days in advance.

Gluten-free Cream Puff Cake

You can still enjoy this Italian cream puff cake using gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour. The recipe will still turn out just as delicious.

Use a quality cup-for-cup all-purpose gluten-free flour; my favorites are King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill. Watch while it’s baking, without opening the oven door, and turn the light on to see if it’s puffing and browning quicker, as sometimes gluten-free flours will cook faster.

Italian cream puff cake slice on plates with whole cake in background.

High Altitude Cream Puff Cake Adjustments

  • No ingredient adjustments to this giant cream puff were required.
  • Make sure your eggs are room temperature.
  • Depending on your altitude you may need to bake for a little less time, watch closely without opening the door.
  • Pate a choux will actually rise puffier and lighter at altitude!
  • Check the accuracy of your oven temperature using an oven thermometer.

A Little History of Italian Cream Puff Cake Recipe

Called a profiterole in Italy, a cream puff in the US, or a chou à la crème in France, this light and fluffy pastry is typically filled with cream or pastry cream. The essential component of profiteroles, choux pastry, is believed to have been created by the head chef of Catherine de’ Medici, who moved from Florence to France to wed Henry II.

In the nineteenth century, Antoine Carême perfected the recipe, the same recipe for choux pastry as is used today.

Traditionally, Italian Cream Puff pastries are served on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th), honoring Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. The traditional pastry is a cream puff filled with Italian pastry creme.

Italian cream puff cake slice on a plate topped with a drizzle of chocolate and chocolate curls.

More no-bake dessert recipes you’ll love

Pro Tip

While your masterpiece is baking in the oven, resist the urge to peek! Trust us, opening that door can cause your pastry to take a nosedive, leaving you with a dense and chewy mess instead of a fluffy cloud of deliciousness. So keep that oven door shut tight and let the magic happen!

Best Drinks to Serve with Cream Puff Cake

Personally, I believe this cake is best with a warm drink – try my Irish Coffee for an international flare or check out all of my hot drinks, with two of my favorites below.

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

Using everyday ingredients, save money by creating your own all natural Chai Tea Latte, superior to a fancy coffee shop.

Starbucks Copycat White Hot Chocolate square image in clear glass teacup mug with whipped cream, white chocolate chips, chocolate curls and mimi marshmallows.

Starbucks White Hot Chocolate Recipe

A quick and easy recipe on how to make a Starbucks White Hot Chocolate recipe at home. Save time and money, by making this fast copycat white hot chocolate recipe in the comfort of your own home. 

What to serve with Italian Cream Puff Cake recipe?

Because one should not live on cream puffs alone? Right? Here are some of my favorite recipes to compliment this decadent dessert.

Copycat Honeybaked Ham spiral sliced ham with sugar crusted glaze in roasting pan.

Honeybaked Ham Recipe (Copycat)

Learn how to cook spiral Ham without drying it out, it is easier than you might think. My copycat Honeybaked Ham Recipe is a perfectly moist spiral ham. With a honey sugar crust and most of the work is done in your crock pot.

Italian Pizza Rustica Easter Pie Recipe with slice on place with fresh basil.

Italian Pizza Rustica Recipe (Easter Pie)

A traditional Italian Pizza Rustica is like a pastry, pie, and pizza all baked into one flaky, flavorful, tender dish. And it’s amazing! Stuffed with cheese, eggs, meats, and vegetables. A traditional Italian Easter pie.

Check out these Easter recipes along with these main dish recipes for some meal inspo!

Make Ahead Italian Cream puff cake, with slice topped with berries and full cake topped with fluffy whipped cream.

I hope you loved this Cream Puff Cake — if you did, would you share your creation on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest? And be sure to comment below!

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Slice of cream puff cake topped with fresh berries and a sprig of mint.

Best Italian Cream Puff Cake Recipe

Author: Kathleen Pope
5 from 6 votes
This Italian Cream Puff Cake recipe is a giant light and airy cream puff and creamy, delicious filling; this cake is the perfect end to any meal!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chill 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 12 -15 servings
Calories 455 kcal

Equipment

  • Rectangular Baking Dish, 13×9-inch, White
  • Mason Cash Mixing Bowl – 4.25 Quart

Ingredients
 
 

Puff Pastry Dough

  • 1 cup water, I used filtered
  • 1/2 cup butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, I used organic, unbleached AP flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temp, let sit in warm bowl of water for 5-7 minutes
  • pinch kosher salt

Cream Filling

  • 2 packages cream cheese, 8 ounce each, I used full-fat
  • 3 3.4 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding, or your favorite flavor of instant pudding
  • 4 cups milk, I used whole milk, other % may be used

Whipped Topping

Optional Toppings

  • mixed berries
  • chocolate syrup
  • chocolate ganache

Instructions
 

Make Puff Pastry (Choux Pastry)

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) and spray a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt—heat the butter mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add dough to a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric mixer and beat eggs in for about 30 seconds before adding another egg. Then beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes until smooth and glossy. Alternatively, you can do this by hand, make sure that you stir well between each egg addition.
  • Spread dough into the prepared baking dish, and bake at 400°F (204°C), baking for 20-30 minutes until puffed and golden brown. The dough will rise dramatically up around the sides of the pan. Remove and cool completely.

Cream Filling

  • Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine instant pudding, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the pudding with the cream cheese mixture, beating until smooth, about 3-4 minutes.

Whipped Topping

  • Whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form; check out my recipe for Cool Whip substitute.
  • Spoon the pudding mixture into the cooled cream puff crust, using an offset spatula, smooth evenly into the pastry shell. Next, smooth the whipping cream over the pastry cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Top with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries; a bowl of mixed berries would be perfect. You might also enjoy a drizzle of blueberry syrup or fresh strawberry lime syrup.
    Or add a chocolate station, chips, shavings, jimmies, and syrup or ganache. Maybe a sprinkle of powdered sugar?

✱ Kathleen’s Tips

  • Don’t open the oven door while the puffs are baking, as this can cause it to collapse.
  • It’s essential to let the puffs cool completely before filling them to avoid any melting or sogginess.
  • Giant cream puff may be made in advance, be sure to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to 2 days before assembling. 
Variations and Substitutions
  • Use your favorite instant pudding flavor, or mix and match to your heart’s content. Chocolate, white chocolate, lemon, white chocolate, and butterscotch. Vanilla is the traditional flavor of Italian cream puffs.
  • Use chocolate pudding mix instead of vanilla for a chocolatey twist.
  • Add fresh berries to the filling for a fruity touch.
  • Top the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar and a little extra whipped cream if desired.
  • Add a little lemon zest to the vanilla cream cheese mixture. Storage
  • The assembled cake should be stored in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, lasting up to 3 days. Though eating for up to 5 days is still safe, it just might be a bit soggy; I haven’t had anyone in my house complain!
  • If you make the puff pastry ahead of time, store, covered on the counter for up to 2 days, and the filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator 1-2 days in advance.
High Altitude Cream Puff Cake Adjustments
  • No ingredient adjustments to this giant cream puff were required.
  • Make sure your eggs are room temperature.
  • Depending on your altitude you may need to bake for a little less time, watch closely without opening the door.
  • Pate a choux will actually rise puffier and lighter at altitude!
  • Check the accuracy of your oven temperature using an oven thermometer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 455 kcal Carbohydrates: 17 g Protein: 9 g Fat: 39 g Saturated Fat: 24 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g Monounsaturated Fat: 10 g Trans Fat: 0.3 g Cholesterol: 175 mg Sodium: 247 mg Potassium: 246 mg Fiber: 0.3 g Sugar: 9 g Vitamin A: 1547 IU Vitamin C: 0.2 mg Calcium: 177 mg Iron: 1 mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is such a fantastic idea, I’ve never seen cream puffs served in this format before! Hard to go wrong with a cream filling. Very excited to try this out, thanks for the recipe!

  2. The Italian Cream Puff Cake recipe sounds amazing! I’ve always loved cream puffs, so combining them into a cake sounds like the ultimate dessert. Plus, it looks impressive and elegant, making it a great dessert to serve at a dinner party or family gathering. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    This is the cream puff cake of my dreams! This delectable Italian dessert is sooo creamy and delicious, and my son and I couldn’t resist seconds after devouring our first (generous) helping. This easy recipe is a treasure!