Cheese puffs with halloumi and zaatar

May 12, 2010  •  Category:


That’s another appetizer that will disappear in minutes and that you can prepare in advance; bake it 30 minutes before you start serving drinks so they will be piping hot or reheat if you like to do the job ahead; this is  a Lebanese version of the French gougères, those mini-choux puffs with gruyère or emmenthal cheese. (Keep in mind that they are best if baked on the spot).

INGREDIENTS: About 50 little cheese puffs

  • 1 cup of water
  • 6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 3/4 ounces of flour
  • 1 cup of eggs (I used 4 large eggs and 1 egg white to make one cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of zaatar
  • 1 cup of halloumi cheese, grated (can substitute swiss or Gouda or any of a similar type of cheese)
  • 1 egg yolk if desired to brush on the shells

What is zaatar? It is a spice mix sold at middle-eastern grocers or online ethnic food purveyors. In Lebanon, most people like to make their own mix, with the hand-picked wild oregano or zaatar, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. Click hereif you want to know how to make the mix and how to grow zaatar.


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the zaatar with the grated Halloumi cheese in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat to boiling; when boiling, drop all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to cook the flour, until the flour paste holds together and leaves the sides of the saucepan.
  4. Remove from the heat, and wait a couple of minutes; then plop the paste into a mixer or (my preference) a food processor. Get it going and start adding the eggs, one at a time, until mixed. Add the cheese and zaatar(previously mixed together).

  1. Plop the paste into a decorating bag or just use a small spoon and form little even-sized mounds on the parchment-paper lined cookie sheets; you should have around 50 mini-puffs. You can glaze them with a beaten egg yolk, to give them a more golden shine.
  2. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375F and bake 15 minutes or so longer until they are all puffed up and feel dry to the touch. Serve immediately, or cool, store in a tightly sealed plastic container and freeze.

NOTE: Doc has a great video on how to make gougères on his site. To check it out, click here.

Recipe for the  puffs from Julia Child The French Chef Cookbook, adapted.


51 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    They are beautiful! What a flavorful combo!



  2. Christine @ Fresh says:

    I just learned about zaatar about an hour ago at a Lebanese restaurant. The food was fabulous, although I really wish they had these cheese puff on their menu!

  3. FOODESSA says:

    Anything with cheese in it has my hubby’s stamp of approuval;o)
    These look wonderful! I’m very fortunate to have a great Ethnic store nearby.
    I’ll have to look into these ingredients. If my nose can handle the aromas of this herb which is new to me…I may just have to try your recipe ;o)
    Thanks for sharing…and flavourful wishes, Claudia

  4. Tara@whatwechow says:

    As if cheese could GET any better?! These look DEVINE!

  5. Erica says:

    If I go to the party…they will disappear very fast…..They look so delicious and sound better 🙂

  6. Anita says:

    I’d love to get my hands on that tray, you have combined three magic words together in my book: Halloumi, Cheese and Zaatar!! Now all I need is a large pot of tea. 🙂

  7. Kate says:

    These look wonderful. I have thought about making gougeres but have never done it. I think it is time. Thank you for sharing!!

  8. A Canadian Foodie says:

    Are these too hot to pick up with fingers? This looks like an excellent recipe for me to adapt for the Thermomix. Anything to make life more delicious, and easier. I love zaatar and halloumi. Both discovered rather later in my culinary life. What I was missing!
    I have copied this recipe to revise for the Thermomix. Hopefully I will do it soon. I find that lately I am so swamped with work it is difficult for me to get everything done that I would like. This is another of your recipes I find really appealing! (well, I find them all appealing – but this one I think I can make! 🙂 )

  9. Angie's Recipes says:

    I had neither zaatar nor halloumi before…these cheese puffs look and sound wonderful to serve before the dinner party with a couple of cocktails.

  10. SYLVIA says:

    combination of halumi, and pungent zaatar flavor is incredible and perfect lebanese classic.
    These mini puffs are delectable and perfect for a cocktail party, everybody will love these, guests will inhale them. Though egg yolks are high in cholesterol but are low in saturated fat they contain lutein which reduces the risk of age related macular degeneration. Who can resist a warm gougeres, not me, I will savior every bite with portion control. Joumana, I lift my glass to you in thanks.

  11. Sushma Mallya says:

    So beautiful…and so delicious too…wish i could have some..

  12. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Oh my goodness, how absolutely delicious! Do you mind if I take one of these (or five)?
    *kisses* HH

  13. Linda says:

    These look delicious! A great crowd pleasing recipe.

  14. alwayswinner786 says:

    They are gorgeous and lovely! I would love to have some right now!
    Thanks for introducing me with a new spice mix -Zaatar !

  15. Katerina says:

    I love halloumi. They look so full of flavor.

  16. tigerfish says:

    Cheese with spices – these cheese puffs are not to be underestimated for flavors 🙂

  17. Cherine says:

    Those puffs are so beautiful. I bet they taste really really good 🙂

  18. Priya says:

    Beautiful and cute puffs, definitely a crowd pleaser..

  19. Ivy says:

    What a wonderful recipe. Choux pastry with halloumi is such a brilliant idea. Love it Joumana.

  20. deana says:

    goodness how I love zatar! I have that in my for the halloumi!!Great recipe twist on a classic.. i can even see stuffing them with something wonderful!!

  21. Oui, Chef says:

    Wow, what a great looking treat. I love gougeres, and the halloumi and zatar must put these over the top! Will have to make some the next time the in-laws are over.

  22. Doc says:

    Oh close to my heart-I love all forms of pate a choux! Is there a difference in taste if you do not use (or can’t find zatar) and you substitute another thyme? For example, I can get Sicilian wild thyme but not zatar. You’ve got me on a sumac kick experimenting with the spice so I want to make some zatar, but want the taste to reflect the original.
    Thanks-you are wealth of ethnic cuisine information!!

  23. Karolina says:

    I’ll bet that these are really tricky – you cannot stop eating them. 😉

  24. Biscottine says:

    J’en mangerai volontiers!

  25. Sophie says:

    They look stunning, Joumana!!

    What an original idea too! I so love zaater & Haloumi too!

    What’s not to LOVE???

  26. lisa says:

    The cheese puffs sound similar to a tasty Brazilian appetizer. How delicious with zaatar! I can just imagine how popular these wold be! A nice idea.

  27. Suman says:

    WOW…that looks so cute n delicious..wonderful recipe.

  28. Koko says:

    I’ve made little choux pastries before, but never savoury ones. These look really yummy!

  29. T.W. Barritt says:

    Middle eastern spices in a cheese puff! This looks savory and delicious!

  30. radia says:

    magnifique cette apéritif,il faut bien le trouvé, j’aime beaucoup ta recette , merci joumana (j’adore ton prénom), bisou.

  31. elra says:

    Oh my gosh, can it be more delicious then this, then you add za’atar. My weakness!

  32. Cynthia says:

    Oh, these look addictive! Wish I could have some right now!

  33. grace says:

    if there’s one thing i enjoy more than puffy pastry, it’s cheese-stuffed puffy pastry. great little nosh, joumana!

  34. Patricia says:

    Magnifiques tes gougères fromages à la saveur d”origan. Ne je trouverai pas l’Halloumi, comme toi tu ne trouve pas la Pâte à Pistache…
    Mais le fromage est plus facile à remplacer que la pâte à pistache…..
    Je peux t’en envoyer si tu le désire. Ce sera un plaisir.
    Très bonne soirée,
    Patricia – La Table de Pénélope

  35. Brian says:

    I will definitely have to try this! I purchased some zaatar when I was in Israel and I haven’t used it yet.

  36. Faith says:

    Your addition of zaatar is brilliant! I’ve got a whole jar of zaatar in my cupboard that is only used rarely (we sometimes dip bread in oil and then zaatar, but that’s about all we use it for)…it’s just waiting to be used in this delicious dish!

  37. bakingaddict says:

    Wow, if I ever have a house party, I’ll definitely make these. I could probably eat the whole tray myself 🙂

  38. Sylva says:

    I tried this recipe today. It was yummy!! Thank you for posting it.

  39. shayma says:

    nooooooo…oh my god, i love this appetiser- it’s just the sort of thing i want to have with a glass of sherry- Joumana- this is an amazing appetiser- halloumi and zaatar-mmmmm. i love the innovative aspect of this ‘dish’. x shayma

  40. peter says:

    YES! I knew they were Gougeres when I saw them but Zaatar? What a wonderful surprise but no surprise that they vanished in minutes.

  41. Cara says:

    what a fabulous use for my new favorite cheese – and with zaatar too, wonderful!

  42. FOODESSA says:

    I just had to come back and say this. Imagine…here, I thought that the herb zaatar was foreign to me…NOT. I had this in my pantry all along without knowing what it was called. I actually ended up with buying some to make Armenian pizzas…yummy!
    On another note…my dear Hubby…being in the Cheese business…informed me that your arabic ‘Halloumi’ also is sold here in Quebec under the name ‘Do-Re-Mi’…not a joke! Hope this can help some of your readers in are neck of the woods ;o)
    Again thanks for illuminating my fire to continue enjoying arabic delicacies.
    Ciao for now, Claudia

  43. Laura says:

    These look so freakin’ awesome. I think I’ll make them for my next family gathering. We’re zaatar lovers! Thanks!

  44. TastyTrix says:

    We just made the most sickeningly sweet nonsense out of choux pastry in class, and I chucked them all – I SO wish we could have made gougeres, or better yet – these. I do have za’atar and I definitely plan to make these yummy bites!

  45. Foodycat says:

    What a great variation of gougeres! I love the idea of za’atar in them!

  46. Magdalena says:

    This kind of snack is something that I would like; I mentioned already, that I do not know this cheese; I have to make a research where I can get it in Paris (I believe it should not be a problem…).

  47. The Zaatar Empire says:

    Genius. I made them and there weren’t even any left to take a picture of! Fantastic.

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