Tips for Making Perfect Popovers

In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I’d share the recipe for the most loved breakfast dish we make – popovers!  We make popovers on a regular basis here at our Inn as part of our three course candlelight farm-to-table breakfast. I used to worry about repeating breakfast items for return guests, but as it turns out popovers are also our most frequently requested breakfast item, especially by return guests.

What is a popover you ask? Similar to England’s famed Yorkshire pudding, but typically lighter and less dense. Although muffin pans can be used to make popovers, a popover pan is much deeper than a traditional muffin pan and creates a much more spectacular result. Bottom heat from your oven creates steam within the egg batter causing it to “pop” up and over the top of the pan creating a thin, hollow custardy “bread”. If you’ve never had a popover they really are worth seeking out and trying – piping hot, fresh from the oven, try them sweet as in slathered with sweet cream butter and homemade jam, maple syrup or honey or savory stuffed with herbed scrambled eggs and sausage (my favorite version of a breakfast sandwich).

History of our popover recipe: I did not grow up eating popovers, but many years ago before we opened our bed and breakfast some friends we were visiting made them for us for breakfast and I was immediately smitten. The recipe Amy shared with me came from a 1996 issue of Gourmet Magazine.  I’ve tried recipes too numerous to count since then, but have returned time and time again to this simple version and no longer bother to look for anything different.

Contrary to popular belief, popovers are truly easy to make they just happen to be susceptible to failure at certain points which popover recipes never seem to point out or explain. As you’ll see on Epicurious, this recipe does not get the highest reviews as written, but I’ve learned a few things in the hundreds of times I’ve made this recipe that I think make all the difference.

My slightly tweaked version of Classic Popovers:

  • 2 extra large (or 3 large) farm fresh eggs
  • ¾ cup 2% milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 cup minus 2Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt

This recipe makes 6 popovers.

My tweaks that make this recipe stand out: First of all, in my opinion, farm fresh pasture-raised eggs are a world apart from their supermarket cousins especially when it comes to taste. I feel very fortunate to live in a place where we can raise our own eggs so I have a steady supply on hand, but if you don’t they’re well worth seeking out.

I always choose the largest eggs I have available to make my popovers and if I don’t have any extra large eggs on hand I add an extra egg to each batch.

Make sure your oven rack is in the lower third of the oven – typically not the lowest rack but the next one up. This will give you the bottom heat the popovers need to create the steam to make them rise without so much heat that the bottom half of your popovers over cook.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a small amount of cooking oil (@ 1/2 tsp.) in each well of the popover pan and preheat in the oven while you prepare the batter. It’s nearly impossible to find a non-stick popover pan and the use of cooking spray will literally eat the non-stick coating off of your pan (trust me on this one).

Keep your oven temperature consistent. Many recipes I see tell you to preheat your oven and cook the popovers at a higher temperature for the first ½ of cooking time and then reduce the temperature for the second half. This really isn’t necessary and I strongly believe the simpler the recipe is the easier it will be for you to be successful. Do however keep your oven door closed to maintain temperature and increase the chances of high-rise popovers.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, and water then add melted butter. Add the flour and salt and mix until well combined. Small lumps are ok. Pour batter into hot pan dividing equally among wells. Bake 40 minutes or until tops are evenly golden brown. Enjoy immediately.

That’s all there is to it – no reason to ever buy a mix!

Some thoughts and reasons I made changes to the original recipe:
Most popover recipes call for whole milk. The highest rising popover I’ve made comes when using 2% milk. I’ve even used 1% and skim milk with better results than whole. My theory is that the fat in whole milk weighs the batter down and keeps the popover from rising to its full potential.

One of the big differences between this recipe and others I’ve found is that in this recipe for every cup of liquid you use ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup water instead of 1 cup milk (again lightening the batter for greater rise?).

Similarly, this recipe calls for removing 2 Tbsp. of flour from each cup when other recipes call for a full cup of flour. Popovers made with more flour will create a denser muffin-like popover without as much hollow space to fill with yummy goodness.

The last place I stray from the original recipe is when it instructs you to take the popovers out of the oven after 45 minutes, slit the tops and return to the oven to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Slitting the top will allow the steam to escape from the popover and the additional cook time in the oven will “dry” out the popover so it doesn’t collapse when it cools, but in my opinion this extra cook time also takes with it much of the flavor. I cook my popovers @ 40 minutes until the tops are evenly golden brown and then remove them from the oven, slit the tops and serve immediately. Yes, they’re more likely to collapse, but then again they usually aren’t around long enough to do so and taste infinitely better when not dried out.

We love the simplicity of this popover recipe and prefer adding our favorite flavors and additions to the finished popover rather than making “flavored” popovers. In my experience, popovers made with cheese in the batter never rise the same as plain popovers and my family loves popovers that rise super high so they have an extra large cavity for filling (a higher rising popover, in my opinion, also has a better crispy shell to eggy interior ratio as opposed to a denser popovers). Our one exception to this “plain is better” rule is when we add a handful of chocolate chips to the center of the batter just before placing in the oven (do not stir). This results in a version similar to a chocolate filled croissant as the popover rises as usual and the chocolate stays melted in the middle.

Popovers are never as good as when they first come out of the oven so go ahead and indulge while they’re steaming hot! The record of popovers eaten at one sitting (along with a full breakfast) here at the Inn is 5½! I dare you to try and break it! Should you have any leftover popovers they’re also good as a substitute for bread in your favorite sandwich, served filled with a stew or creamed chicken and on my list to try is a guests’ suggestion of filling them with ice cream and hot fudge sauce!

Of course, if you’d rather not try your hand at making your own you’re always welcome to request popovers when you visit our New Hampshire farm stay where we’re more than happy to take breakfast requests, especially for popovers! Enjoy!

Jackie, Innkeeper at the Inn at Valley Farms

22 thoughts on “Tips for Making Perfect Popovers

  1. Jackie, Thanks for posting this. We just had popovers at a friend's house, and they were delicious, which has led to some more comparisons. I looked up 'Jordan Pond House' popovers, which are 'supposed' to be the region's best, which were almost identical to our friend's, with the exception of 1/4 t baking soda added to the JPH ones. I'm going to 'copy/paste' your recipe and send it to her, with the hope that someday they will visit you!

    Happy almost-spring! Sap is running here!

    Best, Ann Williams

  2. My family LOVES popovers. I’ve made a lot and used many different recipes. While the taste of most have been delicious, I’ve always believed there had to be a recipe out there that 1) was easier and 2) produced popovers that “held up” if not eaten right out of the oven.

    THANK YOU for posting your recipe!!!! I made these popovers for the first time on Christmas, 2015 after stumbling upon your website. OH MY! Firstly…these were EASY, EASY, EASY. Secondly, they were sheer perfection in that they had incredible rise and a perfect interior. Most importantly they were DELICIOUS!

    But, thirdly and a pure bonus…these popovers stayed crisp through the next day. We have never had popovers that were just as yummy an hour after coming out of the oven let alone being fabulous the next day.
    I have given up my quest for finding the perfect popover because THIS IS IT!

    Thank you!

    • It makes me very happy to read about your popover success with our recipe and tips Maggie! I too tried many, many popover recipes over the years in search of one that was simple, delicious AND performed consistently and stopped searching after I found this recipe. Every once in a while I try another recipe just to be sure and always go back to this one. Popovers really aren’t as hard to make as people think if you have the right recipe and some helpful tips! So glad you like them. Jackie

  3. if I am having company and want to pour the batter in the pan before people get there and let it sit for a while before puting in oven will it ruin the popovers???

  4. Hi Maureen –
    I’ve personally never let the popover batter sit for an extended period of time before baking so I can’t say for sure, but there’s no leavening agent in the recipe so I don’t think it should make a difference. With that said, I would let the batter rest in the mixing bowl and NOT the popover pan, because I do think the popovers rise much higher when the pan is heated to temperature before adding the batter. I preheat the oven with the oiled pan in the oven, take out the pan to pour in the batter then pop it right back in the oven. I think it’s the perfect thing to make for guests as the batter is very easy and the popovers never fail to impress. I’d love to hear of your experience if you try resting the batter before baking. I hope this helps! Happy baking! Jackie

  5. My mother (a New England-er) made popovers for Sunday afternoon meals. When I eat them today it brings back the memory of her:) I’m trying your recipe this weekend with great anticipation! Thanks for sharing this.

    • That’s exactly why I love making popovers Suzi! Many of our guests (especially New Englanders :)) grew up eating popovers, but don’t take the time to make them for themselves or their families. When I place piping hot popovers on the breakfast table we always get comments referring to fond memories of childhood and loved ones! I hope this recipe is a great success for you!

  6. My daughter loves to make popovers; in a muffin tin, as we don’t have a popover tin, and she uses butter instead of oil in the cups. While they are delicious, they always drip butter on the bottom of the oven and smoke up the house! Do you ever have this problem? Do you think it may be only because of the shorter cup? Thank you in advance
    Your post is very encouraging, we’ll have to try your recipe!

  7. Perfection!

    I grew up enjoying Popovers. I always wanted to make them. Now retired, I finally started last week…oh, but my! That wasn’t right…that other recipe. Short. Thick. No room for jelly. A simple internet search ‘pops me over’ to your site…and…Bingo! Oh, so RIGHT!!! Thank you for sharing your experience and experimenting so that all of us could ‘get back’ to yesteryears.

  8. Thank you very much for this recipe!
    I love popovers and I have had very mixed results. While un-popped popovers are still tasty they are not impressive. I have had great success with your recipe and tips! I’m making my 4th batch now for sunday brunch with my son. Happy summer days. : )

  9. After several previous attempts to make the perfect popovers, I found this site & followed the directions exactly. The results were well beyond my expectations, and everybody loves these! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  10. I absolutely love this recipe!!
    Purchased a popover pan for my sister for Christmas this year … and plan to pass along this recipe to her with the pan. However with family of five I have purchased a 12 mini-popover pan for her … can you suggest how to modify the original recipe for 6 full size popovers for her new pan?
    Thank you,

  11. I made these for Christmas and they were a huge hit. Better than my old recipe and they were really great. Mahesh were a bit crispier on the outside and absolutely delicious. They popped up very nicely.
    thank you and I hope to visit your inn soon based on this recipe alone 🙂

  12. Over 40 years ago, I lived in Amherst ,Massachusetts and first tasted delicious popovers at a little restaurant named Judy’s and loved both the fast and the presentation of them! I enjoy thinking of delicious things to bake for my family and friends and a few months ago the memory of those popovers suddenly came back! and I began my search for a good popover recipe. I tried a few other recipes and then found yours. Love it! Perfect and scrumptious popovers every time! I also, purchased a popover baking pan and the results have been just right!
    I love to watch my grandchildren’s faces as they watch through the oven glass door the rising up as the popovers do their thing! They love the magic of it and so do I!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Oh, you just made my day Chrissie! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your memories about popovers. Creating an opportunity for reliving fond food/family related memories is the biggest reason I make popovers for our guests as most have similar stories. I too have tried many recipes and keep coming back to this one! So glad you enjoyed them! Happy baking, Jackie

  13. I made your popovers after trying many other recipes. Yours are by far the most flavorful, the brown color was even all round and beautiful. I was very precise in following your recipe. Use an oven thermometer to be sure temperature is perfect. Sifted flour. Can’t understand why they didn’t rise super high. Instead they were moderately high. What can be the reason? Please respond soon.

    • Good morning Priscilla, It sounds like you did everything needed to make a perfect popover so I’m sure it was upsetting for them to not rise as much as you expected. The only times I’ve had popovers not rise to their full potential was if I had multiple other items in the oven at the same time or on occasion if the weather was very wet and dreary. Are you placing your oven rack in the lower third of your oven? Bottom heat is best to get those beauties to rise their best. Best of luck to you on your next attempt! Jackie

  14. My rack is on the second lowest position in the oven. Should I use lowest position? I tested eggs to be sure they were fresh. My expectations are lthat I make popovers like I get in restaurants that are so high. I use relatively new popover pans. Are commercial pans for restaurants bigger? When I put 1/4t of vegetable oil on bottom it does not cover the entire bottom of popover cup. More oil? Oil sides of pan? Haven’t done that so far. Just reaching for possible solutions. Thanks for responding. They are the best tasting ever and beautiful even brown. Thanks!

    • I place our rack on the second lowest as well so I think that’s spot on. I don’t use commercial popover pans, I use this one from Nordicware: 1/4 tsp. of oil in the bottom of each cup is all I use. The oil does not need to cover the bottom of the cup and you do not need to oil the sides. Did you preheat the pan in the oven before putting the batter in? I’m at a loss for what other tips to give you. This recipe really isn’t fussy at all so I guess I would say take a break and try it again with a clean slate? I really do hope you find success as they’re one of our family’s and our guest’s very favorite things to eat! Best of luck and let me know if you have success! Jackie

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