A Paean to Popovers

When I was growing up in New England, Christmas dinner was often an eye of the round roast and Yorkshire pudding. To this day, I like that pudding a lot. Problem is, Yorkshire doesn’t lend itself to sudden inspiration – Doing it right requires several beating and chilling cycles, so it takes hours, not minutes. Thank the Gods of Batter Puddings that popovers are around – they deliver that crisp crust, delicate eggy body and buttery deliciousness, and you can whip them up in no time.

A glorious homemade popover

Baked batter puddings are mostly savory, with Yorkshire pudding arguably the most famous one. They came into their own in 17th century England, when cooks began to combine wheat flour with fat and milk. Initially more of a pancake-like thing, the advent of whipping air into a starchy matrix combined with the higher heat generated by coal fires gave rise to the Yorkshire version, (pun intended). The relatively cheap pudding became a mainstay first course, designed to fill folks up and thereby reduce the intake of the pricier meat course that followed.

Popovers are a New England invention, made from a crepe-like batter and fat, usually beef drippings back then. Typically roll sized, they’re baked in straight-walled muffin or popover pans – then and now, the best ones are made from cast iron.

Cast iron popover pans produce superior results

The popover name derives from their habit when baked – that delightful tendency to pop up well over the top of the pan. They can be savory or sweet, stuffed with cheese and herbs, or topped with fruit and whipped cream. Popovers are really easy to make, but there are some rules of order to assure great results –


1. Have all ingredients at room temperature before you incorporate them; this promotes better mixing and faster baking.


2. Scald the milk – gently heating the milk helps integrate it with the other batter constituents, promoting a faster rise and lighter final product.


3. Well blended batter – as with a quiche or frittata, thorough mixing generates a wealth of minute air bubbles into the glutinous batter matrix, delivering a lighter, taller popover. An immersion blender does the best job, though a hand blender will do fine too.


4. Preheat the pan and the fat – having everything as hot as possible when the batter goes in is critical to successful popovers. The fat coated hot pan causes the surface of the batter to set almost immediately, sealing off the air bubbles within. This allows those bubbles to coalesce and expand as baking commences, forming one large bubble that causes the namesake pop to occur.


5. Don’t open the oven door while they’re baking, period.

Here are our three favorite version, plain, cheese, and Portland.

Plain Popovers

Plain popovers


2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Whole Milk
4 Large Eggs
4 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon Salt

Have all ingredients at room temperature, (Butter doesn’t matter, since you’ll melt it shortly).

Preheat the oven to 450° F and set a rack in the center slot.

Add the milk to a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat.

Heat milk gently until it scalds – forms small bubbles along the top edge of the pan.

Remove milk from heat and set aside.

Crack eggs into a small mixing bowl; whisk until well blended.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt well.

Add eggs to dry mix and whisk to incorporate.

Slowly add the hot milk to the mix, whisking steadily.

When the ingredients are fully incorporated, use the stick blender to blend them thoroughly, until small air bubbles form and the batter looks frothy, about 2-4 minutes.

Divide butter, and add a pat to 8 cups of a muffin tin.

Slide the muffin tin into the hot oven for about 2-3 minutes.

Carefully remove tin from oven and swirl the browned butter around to coat the sides of the cups.

Fill each roughly half way with batter.

Bake for 15 minutes, then drop temp to 350° F and continue baking until popovers pop and are golden brown.

Cheese Popovers are great, offering whole lot of flavor options. Our preference is extra sharp cheddar, but anything from tangy jack or smoked gouda to brie or blue will rock.

Cheese Popovers

Cheese popovers


2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Whole Milk
4 large Eggs
1/4 Packed Cup Cheese
1 teaspoon Salt
5-6 twists fresh ground Pepper
3 Tablespoons Butter

Prep and bake as per directions above – add the cheese when you add the eggs.

The Portland Popover, or Portland Popover Pudding, is a garlic and herb version, often attributed online to Portland, Oregon. That would be a totally erroneous attribution, by the way. The Portland in question is Portland, Maine, where legend has it that the American popover originated.


While garlic is a mainstay of a Portland popover, what herbs you use are a matter of personal choice. Back in the colonial days, you’d be very likely to find parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, and lavender in the average herb garden, so those are great choices to play with.

When I was a kid, I went to summer camp near Acadia National Park, and had amazing popovers at the Jordan Pond House – they’ve been made there since the 1870’s and still are – they’ve even got their own section of the menu.

Portland Popovers

Portland Popovers


2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Whole Milk
4 large Eggs
2 fat cloves fresh Garlic
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon Lemon Thyme
1 teaspoon Salt
5-6 twists fresh ground Pepper


Smash, peel, end trim and mince garlic.

Add the milk, garlic and lemon thyme to a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat and scald.

The rest of the prep and baking is the same as plain popovers above.