An effective cellular therapy for diabetes is dependent on the production of sufficient quantities of functional β-cells. Recent studies have enabled the production of pancreatic precursors but efforts to expand these cells and differentiate them into insulin-producing β-cells have proved a challenge. Now, Anne Grapin-Botton and colleagues establish a three-dimensional culture method that enables the efficient expansion of mouse embryonic pancreatic progenitors (p. 4452). They show that, when cultured at low density in Matrigel, dissociated epithelial cells from E10.5 mouse pancreata proliferate and form branched pancreatic organoids. These organoids, they report, consist of polarised epithelial cells lining a lumen, with some cells expressing endocrine markers. The authors further show that organoid formation is dependent on a community effect; a minimum of four pancreatic cells in the initial cluster is required for subsequent organoid development. Using the culture system, the authors also dissect several other aspects of pancreas development, highlighting that this culture method offers huge long-term potential in uncovering important aspects of β-cell development.