What is Cheese Soufflé?

Have you ever wanted to impress your dinner guests with a fancy, delicious entree but felt intimidated to make it? Look no further than the cheese soufflé!

Cheese soufflé has a reputation for being quite temperamental and difficult to prepare properly. However, with some tips and tricks, even novice cooks can make restaurant-quality cheese soufflés at home.

What is Cheese Soufflé

Cheese soufflés have a light, airy texture and an intensely creamy, cheesy flavor. When done right, the puffed top will have a beautifully browned crust that gives way to a soft, molten center.

Cheese soufflés make elegant starters or main courses for special occasions and holidays but are easy enough for a weeknight meal.

What Is a Cheese Soufflé?

A cheese soufflé is an egg-based baked dish that puffs dramatically as it bakes due to beaten egg whites in the batter. It has a rich, cheese-flavored base made of béchamel sauce (a white sauce of milk thickened with a butter and flour roux) and grated cheese.

When you mix air into egg whites via whisking, tiny air bubbles get trapped in the protein network. As the soufflé bakes, the bubbles expand, thanks to water converting to steam and gases from the baking soda. This makes the soufflé rise up high over the rim of the dish.

Meanwhile, the béchamel base firms up to create structure and the egg proteins set to help maintain the rise. The result is a billowing, golden top over a rich, molten center that gently collapses as it cools.

Base IngredientsRising AgentsBindersFlavorings
ButterEgg whitesEgg yolksCheese
FlourBaking sodaMilk proteinsHerbs, spices
MilkFlour proteinsWine, liquor

While intimidating in reputation, properly made cheese soufflés are delightfully simple. When you understand the science behind them, follow precise ingredient ratios, and fold gently, your soufflé is guaranteed to rise with impressive stature and flavor.

Key Takeaway: A cheese soufflé is made by folding airy, whipped egg whites into a thick cheese-flavored base until just combined. It puffs in the oven thanks to expanding air bubbles in the egg foam.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Making Cheese Soufflé

Follow these straightforward steps to make perfect cheese soufflés:

1. Prepare the Soufflé Dish

Choose an oven-safe ceramic or metal soufflé dish with straight sides. Butter the entire interior generously, including just up the sides. For extra insurance against sticking and collapsing, finely grate Parmesan or Gruyère cheese and coat the bottom and sides of the buttered dish.

Tip: Wipe the rim of the prepared dish clean before pouring in the batter. Any dried cheese or butter crumbs can inhibit rising.

2. Make the Cheese Base

First, prepare a rich béchamel sauce by melting butter in a saucepan and whisking in an equal amount of flour. Cook 1-2 minutes before adding cold milk while whisking constantly. Simmer, stirring often, until very thickened, about 10 minutes.

Remove the béchamel from heat and let cool slightly. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until fully blended. Stir in grated cheese of choice until fully melted and combined. Season to taste.

3. Beat the Egg Whites

While the base cools, whip the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they hold stiff, glossy peaks when you lift the beater. Take care not to overbeat or they will break down. Adding cream of tartar helps stabilize them.

Key Takeaway: Beating egg whites properly is vital for soufflé success. Their air bubbles expand in the oven to make the soufflé rise high. Overbeating causes collapse.

4. Fold the Egg Whites into the Base

Add one-third of the whipped whites to the cheese base and stir well to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining whites just until no streaks remain. The ideal texture is thick and uniform with visible pieces of egg white foam.

5. Bake Immediately

Quickly pour the soufflé batter into the prepared dish, filling to about 1 inch from the rim. Smooth the top if desired. Bake on the center rack at 375°F until puffed and nicely browned, 25-40 minutes depending on size. Do not open the oven door during baking.

6. Serve Immediately

A just-baked soufflé will stay risen for up to 10 minutes. But it's best to serve immediately before it starts sinking in the center. Use two forks back-to-back to tear the crispy top and scoop out portions. Enjoy its unique texture of crusty exterior and oozing center!

Tip: Cheese, chicken, vegetables, or other mix-in ingredients should be fully cooked beforehand so the short baking time doesn't leave them underdone.

And that's it! As long as you precisely follow recipe instructions, including properly beating and folding the egg whites, your soufflé is practically guaranteed to turn out tall with great flavor. Now that you know the basics, you can start experimenting with flavor additions.

Choosing the Best Cheese for Soufflé

The best cheeses for soufflé have high meltability and low moisture content so they incorporate smoothly without breaking or weeping liquid during baking. Classic choices include:

  • Gruyère - Nutty, rich Swiss cheese with superb meltability
  • Cheddar - Aged for bold, tangy flavor
  • Parmesan - Dry Italian cheese that lends nuttiness
  • Comté - French cheese with fruity, buttery notes
  • Gouda - Smooth, creamy Dutch cheese

Keep in mind that stronger blues, goat cheeses, and fresh mozzarella have high moisture. Limited amounts can be mixed into the base if fully melted, but know that too much can make textures grainy or cause collapse.

For best results, pick one main cheese and use it alone or mix with a little Parmesan. Two cups grated weighs around 6 ounces. Grate just before mixing it into the warm base so it incorporates smoothly while still chilled.


How do I know when the soufflé is done baking?

Test doneness by inserting a skewer into the center after 25 minutes. It should come out clean, with just a tiny bit of wet batter clinging to it. The top will be nicely browned.

Can I prepare the soufflé base (béchamel mixture) in advance?

Yes! The base can be made 1-2 days ahead. Just cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Let it come completely to room temperature before folding in the whites.

Do I need a special soufflé dish?

No, you can use any oven-safe vessel at least 2 inches taller than it is wide, like ramekins or deep pie dishes. Butter and cheese-coat the entire interior so the soufflé can climb straight up without sticking.

What ingredients make the soufflé rise high?

Properly beaten egg whites are vital. Their air bubbles expand and lift the soufflé. A thicker base provides more structure. Baking soda also helps increase rise through gas production.

Can I make individual soufflés instead of one large one?

Yes! Divide the batter among 4-6 buttered ramekins. Decrease oven temperature by 25°F and check doneness starting at 12 minutes. The sides may climb higher but don't brown as easily.

What are good mix-in ideas for cheese soufflé?

Get creative with cooked vegetables, wilted greens, chopped deli meat, crumbled bacon, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and more. Limit to 1 cup total volume per 6-8 egg soufflé.

Can I turn this into a dessert soufflé?

Absolutely! Omit savory ingredients and cheese. Sweeten the base with sugar instead of salt. Flavor with extracts, cocoa powder, or fruit purée. Dust the coated dish with sugar rather than cheese before baking.


A properly made cheese soufflé is a unique dining experience with its dramatic presentation and ethereal texture.

What’s even better is that spectacular results are easily achievable for cooks of every skill level.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions