100 Techniques

Technique #98: Whip Up Light-as-Air Soufflés

Soufflés have an unfair reputation as fragile and finicky. We've broken them down to a replicable science so you can make perfectly lofty soufflés every time.

Published July 26, 2023.

This is Technique #98 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

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There’s a pervasive myth that soufflés are fragile and fraught with disaster, ready to collapse with the slightest disturbance.

But here’s the truth: They are neither complicated nor finicky. A soufflé will not collapse from loud noises or sudden movements.

The ideal soufflé has a dramatic rise above its dish, a crusty exterior cloaking an airy but substantial outer layer, and a rich, loose center that is not completely set. It also bursts with the pure flavor of the main ingredient in every bite.

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How to Make a More Flavorful Soufflé

To craft the perfect soufflé, we weren't afraid to play around with the traditional béchamel base. We chose to make some key modifications like dialing back on flour and butter (which can mute flavor) and adding more of the star ingredients (like chocolate or cheese).

Our Cheat for Medium Peaks

Convention insists that you whip egg whites to stiff peaks and incorporate them into the béchamel mixture with kid gloves in order to create maximum volume. But this makes a soufflé that’s too airy.

With soft peaks, though, a soufflé turns out dense and squat.

In a true Goldilocks moment, we realized that “medium” peaks are perfect. But unfortunately, there’s no good visual indicator for such a stage. So we found another way: beating the egg whites to stiff peaks and then combining them vigorously with the other ingredients, whipping out just enough air from the whites to break down some of their structure.

This results in a perfectly risen soufflé with ideal consistency.

A miniature chocolate soufflé in a ramekin.
An example of a perfectly risen, individual chocolate soufflé.

Easy Prep and Easy Check

To simplify soufflés even more, rather than deal with the typical but fussy step of greasing a parchment collar and securing it around the lip of the dish to prevent oven overflow, simply leave an inch of headspace between the top of the batter and the lip of the dish.

For a foolproof way to tell if your soufflé is done, take two large spoons, pull open the top of the soufflé, and peek inside.

The center should be barely set. If it still looks soupy, return it to the oven. This in no way harms the soufflé. After all, a soufflé is not a balloon; it’s a matrix of very fine bubbles. No tool can pop enough of them to cause it to fall.

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Step by Step: How to Make a Perfect Chocolate Soufflé

If you follow these simple steps, you'll produce a perfectly airy chocolate soufflé every time.

Step 1: Prepare the Dish

Grease soufflé dish and coat with dusting of sugar or grated Parmesan; this helps batter rise higher by not adhering to side of dish.

Step 2: Make Batter

Make sweet or savory soufflé batter.

Step 3: Whip Egg Whites

Using stand mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.

Step 4: Combine Whites and Batter

Vigorously combine whipped whites (all or a portion, as directed) with batter mixture. If directed, fold in remaining whites.

Step 5: Pour and Leave Room

Pour soufflé batter into prepared dish, leaving 1 inch headroom so batter can set before it rises above top of dish.

Step 6: Bake and Check for Doneness

Bake soufflé until fragrant, risen above top of dish, and exterior is set. To check for doneness (just set but not soupy), use two large spoons to pull open the top of the soufflé and check inside.

Prefer a more savory option? Watch as we make a cheese soufflé step-by-step.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Whether making full-size, individual, cheese, or chocolate, here are more recipes to take on with your new soufflé skills.


Chocolate Soufflé

The secret to a bold, intense chocolate soufflé is a high proportion of chocolate and the use of beaten egg yolks instead of the usual béchamel or pastry cream.
Get the Recipe

Make-Ahead Chocolate Soufflé

The secret to a bold, intense chocolate soufflé is a high proportion of chocolate and the use of beaten egg yolks instead of the usual béchamel or pastry cream.
Get the Recipe

Cheese Soufflé

The first thing to know about cheese soufflé is that while it should look dramatic, making it shouldn’t be. (Don’t worry: It won’t fall.)
Get the Recipe

Make-Ahead Cheese Soufflés

With a few smart tweaks, you really can make this ephemeral first course in advance.
Get the Recipe

Grand Marnier Souffle with Shaved Chocolate

Many soufflés are foamy, flavorless, and temperamental. Here is a creamier, richer, more stable dessert that takes only minutes to prepare.
Get the Recipe

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