I’ll never forget the year we all descended on the home of my sister Gina for Christmas.  She is a consummate planner, but a reluctant cook (more adventurous now than then).  In preparation for the holiday season, she and her work colleagues had arranged an “Hors d’Oeuvres” exchange instead of (or perhaps as well as) a cookie exchange.  At 5pm, every day, she took some kind of tasty treat out of her freezer, baked or warmed it in the oven, and opened a bottle of wine.  How elegant!

Everyone should have a recipe in their repertoire that makes them feel like a star.  Imagine being able to say, “I’ll just bring out a little soufflé to start…” People will think you can do anything.  You can have these little soufflés  waiting in the freezer, ready on short notice to present to a special guest you just happened to bring home, or dazzle the Bridge Club, or to enjoy as a pampering single serving just for you.

So many of my recipes start with eggs and cheese, you’re going to think I work for the Egg Board and/or the Dairy Farmers of Canada (which I don’t).  The fact is, you’re likely to have both of these ingredients in the fridge right now, so there’s nothing to stop you from trying this recipe today.  You can make a single batch just to try it out, and if you like the results, you can double or triple it to have a small supply of tasty soufflé “pucks” waiting in your freezer for the perfect moment to demonstrate what a wonderful, talented, accomplished person you are — especially in the kitchen.  They can be thrifty, or you can blow the budget and gussy them up with, say, lobster.  They’re a pretty good take-along when someone invites you to a party, and asks you to bring a starter — take them in their frozen state in a little cooler (they’ll thaw on the way), and bake them up when you get there.  If you really want to knock their socks off, have a thermos of sauce ready to go.

If you only have one party trick, let this be the one.  Shine like a diamond!

Twice-Baked Savory Soufflés

This is a make-ahead recipe.  While it is possible to do the second baking hot on the heels of the first one, that’s not the point – you might as well make “real” soufflés (which have a slightly different egg ratio). 


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour (gluten-free flour works just fine – be a little skimpy when you measure, though)
  • ½ cup milk or cream, warmed
  • ¼ cup grated cheese, just about any kind
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites, pinch of salt, 4 drops lemon juice or vinegar
  • ½ cup “signature” ingredient (like chopped smoked salmon, for example)


It’s really helpful to have everything ready before you begin – professional cooks call this “mise en place”, or “everything in its place”.  If you follow this procedure, you can make sure you don’t have to run to the store for anything, and you can do the actual cooking part smoothly, without interruptions to hunt for measuring spoons or dried herbs.  A very organized chef I met in Denmark said that 60% of cooking is preparing and cleaning up. I think he actually underestimated a bit.  So:

  • First of all, read the recipe – the WHOLE recipe, including the method.  (You know who I’m talking to.)
  • Take the eggs out of the fridge so they can come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Butter and line baking vessels (see notes below), and set out the hardware for the water bath.  Set out your cooling rack too.
  • Warm the milk in the microwave.
  • Separate the eggs.
  • Grate the cheese.
  • Measure out the other ingredients and have them ready to add.
  • Boil the kettle for the water bath.

Now you’re ready to cook.

Melt butter and flour in a small saucepan.  Cook over low to medium low heat for a minute, stirring.

Add the warm milk.  Cook and stir until really thick, at least a minute.

Remove from heat.  Stir in ¼ cup grated cheese until melted. This will cool the base slightly so you can safely proceed to the next step.

Add egg yolks.  Stir to fully combine.  Set aside.

In an absolutely clean, dry bowl, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt and 4 drops of lemon juice or vinegar until stiff, but not dry.  You can do this by hand, or you can use your electric mixer.

Fold half the egg whites into the base to lighten the mixture.  Be gentle, but thorough.

Fold in the remaining egg whites, being VERY gentle.  Try for minimal deflation of the mixture (meaning, break as few bubbles as possible).  No streaks, please.

You can be super efficient and fold in your seasonings along with the egg whites, ensuring even distribution.  Aren’t you clever?

Gently fold in your “signature” ingredient.

Divide the soufflé mixture evenly between your prepared baking dishes, filling them no more than ¾ full.  The dishes shown have a one-cup capacity.

Overfill = Overflow

I have baked soufflés in regular-sized silicone muffin liners in a muffin pan, but that’s the smallest I have gone.  There’s a note on that below.

And now, the water bath:  place your baking dishes on a dishcloth in a cake pan (it keeps them from skittering around).  Pour boiling water around the dishes to a depth of about 2cm, not quite an inch.

Bake in the preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden and not wibbley in the middle.

Remove the dishes from the water bath and place them on a rack to cool to room temperature.  Soufflés will fall – don’t worry.  Let them cool to room temperature.  They’re safe for at least half an hour.

Run a thin blade around the edges of the baking dishes, and turn the fallen soufflés out onto parchment paper.  They can be kept in the refrigerator, covered well with plastic wrap, for up to 36 hours, if you want to make them ahead of a dinner party.

Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to 2 months.

I like to turn each soufflé out onto its own square of parchment.  I leave the baking liner parchment in place to minimize moisture loss.  Then they’re pretty well ready to freeze in a bag or a small container.

They need to be defrosted before the second baking,  You can move them from the freezer to the fridge the night before, or the morning of the day you plan to serve them if you’re a good planner, or thaw them on their baking sheet on the counter if you’re not.

The second baking:

I’ll say it again:  if you froze your soufflés, thaw them before their second baking.  It doesn’t take long — half an hour or so at room temperature, if you put them on parchment on a metal baking sheet, depending of course on how big they are.  Set them out before you have your pre-party shower.

Place the soufflé(s) soft-bottom-up on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or in a heat-proof dish.  Sprinkle with cheese, dot with butter, or drizzle with a little whipping cream to keep the tops soft and puff-able.

Bake in a preheated 350°F (toaster) oven for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how thick or large they are), until they are once again puffed and golden. Transfer to a room-temperature serving plate if you’re adding a salad garnish, or a warmed plate if they’re standing alone.  Sauce and garnish as you will.

Oh, I know — it doesn’t look like a “real” soufflé, but it’s light and tasty and pretty darned impressive.

You can serve them just as they are, or you could whip up a little sauce while they’re baking by bringing ¼ cup whipping cream (or no-fat dairy creamer) to the boil, then melting in a tablespoon or so of spreadable cream cheese and whatever herbs and spices you think would be wonderful.  With smoked salmon, I use a little grating of lemon zest and a pinch each of dried dill, dried chives, salt and black pepper.

Things you need to know:

Room temperature eggs whip up better than cold ones.  You don’t have to fuss – just make sure they come out of the fridge before you start to prep anything else.  You can pop them into a bowl of warm water, if you really want to go to the trouble.

Fresh eggs will perform better than old ones – they whip up to a greater volume, and are easier to separate because the yolk sacks are stronger.  Save older eggs for hard boiling — they peel more easily.

Anything from 2% milk to whipping cream will work in this recipe.  I have seen sweet souffle recipes that use coconut milk or almond milk, but I think lactose-free dairy products would be the best choice for this application, if lactose is an issue.

Any cheese you like is a good cheese to use.  Parmesan is never wrong.  Cheddar is fine.  Soft goat cheese is excellent.  Feta works.  Gruyere or Swiss are great choices. Lactose intolerant folks can often tolerate parmesan or a long-aged gouda.

If cheese is going to be your only flavoring ingredient, melt some into the base, and then fold some into the soufflé mixture along with the egg whites. If you want to add the lusciousness of brie or camembert, remove the rind, freeze some of the cheese, then cube it quite small and fold it in just before the first baking,  After the second baking, lay an additional slice over the top just before serving.  Or you could crumble in blue cheese.  Serve that blue cheese soufflé on a salad featuring pears and walnuts – very stylish!

The only requirement for your “signature” ingredient is that it should be cooked, finely chopped, and quite dry.  Mushrooms, onions, leeks and asparagus need to be cooked, for example, and drained of any excess liquid.  Cooked spinach or other greens need to be squeezed dry and chopped.  Any smoked pork product (ham, bacon, salami) is wonderful with eggs, as is any smoked fish.  I could go on and on, but you have a palate and imagination of your own, and you know how to Google for inspiration.  Be sure to add seasoning that compliments your choice – herbs, spices, citrus zest.

The water bath part of this recipe is not an option.  The soufflés need to be soft and un-browned on their bottom surface, or they won’t puff properly during the second baking.  That’s why you give them a little extra love with butter, cheese or cream before you bake them the second time.  I tried making a batch in silicone liners in a muffin pan without a water bath – not my best idea.  Now, if I had put the muffin pan in a water bath, it might have been a different story.  I could have frozen the soufflé pucks right in the liners, and popped them out before I thawed them for their second baking.

You can bake your soufflés in ramekins or custard cups of any size. As you can see in the photos, I make three soufflés from this recipe.  You could go a little bigger and make just two, if you were looking for full-meal-deal-sized soufflés, or you could go smaller for appetizer-size.  If you don’t own any ramekins, flat-bottomed coffee mugs or cups will do in a pinch.

No matter what you use, butter the dishes well, and line them with circles of parchment paper to keep the bottoms soft.  Parchment also helps you turn them out once they have cooled to room temperature.

Spinach Soufflés with Feta Cheese aren’t particularly beautiful, but they sure are tasty!  I should have added a sauce and a garnish, don’t you think?

Saucing can be really simple.  Depending on your “signature” ingredient, you could use tzatziki, or salsa — even a dollop of that spinach dip you know you keep on hand.  A pretty garnish is also a good idea, like some sprouts, or a flourish of crispy pancetta if you really want to go uptown.

Let your creative juices flow, and get ready to impress your guests.  Be the star you know you are!