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Vol Au Vent

Homemade Party Vol au Vent Cases plus lots of vol au vent filling recipes



Jump to:-   What are vol au vent?  | What is a Bouchée? | Type of  pastry used  |  How to make vol au vent cases  |  Vol au Vent Fillings - Recipes and Ideas




What is a vol au vent?


A Vol au Vent is a pastry case made from puff pastry, the centre of which is hollow to accommodate a filling.  The French name translates to "fly with the wind" i.e. vol = Fly au = with + Vent =wind which obviously alludes to their light and airy nature.  


They can be any size or shape (although round is the best known)  and are traditionally  filled with a savoury cream sauce-based mixture, to which other ingredients are added such as chicken, fish, meat or vegetables. They can also have sweet fillings and non dairy based savoury fillings.


Once the pastry has been baked, the central part of the top is removed and often served as a lid, and any soft pastry underneath removed and discarded, leaving a shell. 


The finished dish can be served as a canapé,  starter,  main course or dessert depending on the size and filling.

What's the difference between a Vol au Vent and a Bouchée?

The name Bouchées is given to the very small versions of vol au vent which are served as canapés with cocktails or at parties. Believed to have been  invented by the wife of Louis XV, Marie Leczinska who liked to serve a variety as appetisers to her guests at court,  these are small enough to be eaten in one or two bites, so are generally no larger than 5cm/2" in diameter. In France they are still sometimes referred to as Bouchées à la reine - Queen's mouthfuls.

What type of pastry is used for vol au vent cases

Whatever the size of vol au vent, the pastry used is puff pastry.  Once baked, it rises considerably and has  a very light layered effect. Making puff pastry is a little time consuming but there are now some very good ready made chilled or frozen types available. In general, you need about 450g/1lb of pastry to make 12-16 small vol au vent cases (Bouchées).


How to make vol au vent


Forming the vol au vent cases

The method of making the cases depends on the size being made.

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For small Bouchées (party sized cases), the pastry is rolled out to a minimum 6mm/¼" but no thicker than 1cm/½"  and is then cut into shapes no larger than 5cm/2" in diameter.   A smaller  shape is then scored into the top of the cut pastry with the tip of a small sharp knife, without cutting all the way through and leaving a 6mm/¼ " border.

Once baked, the middle section which was scored is easily removed, and any soft pastry scooped out  or simply pressed down firmly leaving a cavity ready to be filled .


However when making larger sizes, it is often preferable to cut two shapes for every vol au vent then cut the central part out of one completely creating a ring, making sure to leave a larger border in proportion with the overall size.  The second piece of pastry which will form the base is scored as above and pricked with a fork several times to help it rise evenly and brushed with beaten egg.


The pastry ring is then placed on top of the scored piece, which in effect, doubles the height of the sides of the finished vol au vent. The middle part which was cut out can also be baked separately and used as a lid.



Cooking the vol au vent cases

It is very important to preheat the oven to very hot before putting the unbaked pastry cases into the oven. The temperature should be 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 4.  Place the cases on a flat baking tray and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown, well risen and firm.


Once baked, remove from the oven and immediately either cut around the central section and remove any excess soft pastry or, press the central section down firmly using the base of a wooden spoon or similar. Place on a wire tray and allow to cool completely before filling.

Assembly: Filling Vol au vent cases

Whether you are making hot or cold vol au vent, there are a few rules you should follow to ensure the finished articles are successful:-

  •  Always pre-bake the cases

  •  Never attempt to place the filling into uncooked (raw) pastry cases

  •  Always allow the cases to get cold before filling

  •  Avoid using very runny liquids e.g. gravy except as a moistener

  •  Do not over-fill - this is especially important with the smaller Bouchée types which will be eaten with the fingers

  •  When making hot vol au vent,  the cases can pre-filled and allowed to cool, then  re-heated in a hot oven (180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4) for 10 - 15 minutes or as the recipe directs

  •  When making cold vol au vent, the pastry tastes and eats better at room temperature, so if possible keep the unfilled cases at room temperature for half an hour before filling

Vol au Vent Filling Recipes and Ideas

Traditionally, fillings were savoury and made with a thick cream based sauce to which other ingredients such as poultry, fish, meat and vegetables are added. However there are many fillings which can be made without using a dairy based sauce - both sweet and savoury.


Below are a few filling ideas and recipes for party vol au vent to help you on your way,  but do experiment and use your favourite ingredients.


Basic Vol au Vent Savoury Sauce Filling    Veg  HT  ACC  15mins


Fish and Seafood Vol au Vent Fillings Recipes

Smoked Salmon and Egg Vol Au Vent     HT   15mins

Salmon and Cucumber Vol Au Vent      CD    20mins

Crayfish and Dill Vol Au Vent       HT   25mins

Creamy Prawn Vol au Vent      HT   25mins

Smoked Haddock Vol Au Vent     HT CD   25mins


Other Fish and Seafood vol au vent filling ideas

Prawn Cocktail

Crab Cocktail

Scallops in white wine sauce


Chicken and Meat Vol au Vent Fillings Recipes

Chicken and Mushroom Vol Au Vent     HT  20mins

Chicken and Asparagus Vol Au Vent      HT  30mins

Ham, Ricotta and Spinach Vol Au Vent     HT CD  20mins

Creamed Egg and Ham Vol au Vent        HT   15mins


Other meat and poultry vol au vent filling ideas

Chicken Tikka
Sautéed Spinach with Pancetta
Sautéed bacon and onions
Coronation Chicken

Vegetable and Vegetarian Vol au Vent Fillings Recipes

Goats Cheese and Pesto Vol au Vent     Veg  CD  10mins

Brie and Cranberry Vol au Vent     Veg  HT  15mins

Sweetcorn Vol au Vent      Veg  HT   25mins

Port and Mushroom Vol Au Vent     Veg  HT   25mins



Other vegetarian vol au vent filling ideas

Spinach, Feta & Pine nut

Spinach and Camembert or Brie
Sautéed Wild Porcini Mushrooms
Caramelised Red Onion
Stilton & Onion


Sweet Vol au Vent Fillings Ideas

Fromage Frais or whipped double cream with berries such as raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries and blueberries
Mincemeat - serve warm but not too hot
Stewed fruit such as apples, plums, peaches  - cold topped with crème fraîche, whipped cream  of warm with very thick custard
Lemon curd
Jam with whipped Cream



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