Classic Cheese Souffle


Our cheese souffle has a bechamel -- a classic French sauce -- as its base. It makes a delectable brunch, lunch, or first course for dinner.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more, melted, for dish

  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for dusting

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cups milk

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

  • Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 6 large egg yolks plus 8 large egg whites, room temperature

  • Pinch cream of tartar (if not using a copper bowl)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in middle. Brush the outer lip of a 2-quart souffle dish with melted butter. Tie a sheet of parchment around dish with kitchen twine so it extends 3 inches above rim. Brush inside of dish and collar with melted butter. Dust with Parmesan cheese; tap out excess. Chill dish in freezer 15 minutes.

  2. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flour; cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk, herbs, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; whisk until thick, about 4 minutes. Add cheeses; whisk until melted. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl; stir in yolks.

  3. Using a balloon whisk, beat whites and a pinch of salt in a copper bowl to stiff peaks. (Or beat with an electric mixer in a stainless-steel bowl with cream of tartar.)

  4. Spoon one-third of whites onto base. Fold them in: Cut through center of mixture with a large rubber spatula; gently turn spatula over. Rotate bowl a quarter turn; continue folding whites and turning bowl until mostly combined. Fold in remaining whites, one-third at a time.

  5. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees;bake until set, 16 to 18 minutes. Remove collar, and serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

The classic technique for serving souffles: Holding a fork and spoon back-to-back, pierce the center of the souffle and part the utensils to let the steam escape. Then, using the fork and spoon as tongs, portion out the souffle, making sure everyone gets a little of the browned crust and soft middle.

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