A complete guide on How to make Classic French Crepes (Basic Crepes) – soft, buttery, delicious, and infinitely versatile as a sweet or savory option for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert!
A simple, foolproof recipe for sweet or savory, basic crepes!
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love French Crepes! Soft, buttery, versatile and maddeningly delicious, what’s not to love?
These crepes are just so popular in France, so much so that the French even have a day dedicated to them – la Chandeleur, or Crêpe day (February 2nd), a French holiday during which crepes are traditionally eaten for dinner. As the story goes, the tradition is to catch a crepe in the frying pan with your right hand after tossing it in the air, while holding a gold coin in your left! This symbolizes prosperity and riches in the year to come. So of course I’ve given it a few tries too in the past, but mostly ended up with wrinkled up crepes on the floor instead. I clearly need more practice.
What are crepes?
Crepes are the European cousin of American pancakes. They are larger, thinner and more delicate than pancakes, because the batter is also thinner with no leavening agent to give them any lift and make them fluffy like pancakes. They also taste very much like pancakes, but not fluffy.
Crepes often get a bad rap for being too delicate or difficult to make, but they are really very simple and a foolproof recipe to master. So today, I’m going to show you guys how easy it is to make classic French crepes, and share some tips on making perfect homemade crepes!
These Homemade French crepes come in two main flavors – sweet and savory.
Sweet crepes are made with regular wheat flour (all purpose flour), and are usually slightly sweetened with sugar. These are perfect for breakfast or dessert. These sweet crepes are typically served with sugar, syrup, fruits, chocolate (or Nutella), whipped cream, or even ice cream.
Savory crepes are traditionally made with buckwheat flour. These are naturally gluten free, and have a nutty flavor because of the buckwheat flour. They are typically served for lunch or dinner, but they also work just as well for breakfast/brunch too. Savory crepes can be filled with savory fillings like ham, cheese, bacon, eggs, vegetables (like mushrooms), herbs and other types of meat filling too.
Having said that, I grew up eating savory crepes that were often made with regular all purpose flour (wheat flour). So you can use either type of flour to make sweet or savory crepes. It’s all about flavor and what you prefer at the end of the day. 🙂 Personally, I prefer AP flour crepes over buckwheat flour crepes, and I also prefer unsweetened crepes over sweetened crepes (even for dessert).
So how to do you make perfect French crepes?
Homemade basic crepes are ridiculously easy to make, and difficult to mess up. The main ingredients for French crepes are flour, eggs and liquid (milk or water). According to Ruhlman, the ratio for these ingredients is 8 : 8: 4 (that is 8 oz of eggs or about 4 eggs, 8 fl oz of milk or 1 cup, and 4 oz of AP flour or scant 1 cup). However, I find that this ratio gives me crepes that are a bit too eggy for my taste, so I add more milk and less eggs to my crepe batter.
So my ingredient ratio for crepe better is 6 : 10 : 4 (that is 6 oz of eggs, 10 fl oz milk, and 4 oz of flour). The other difference in my French crepe batter is that I add just a little oil (or melted butter) to make the crepes even softer.
What if your crepes become rubbery?
There are two reasons for crepes turning out rubbery – too much gluten (flour), or cooking the crepes too slow. My French crepe recipe however eliminates these two problems.
With a liquid to flour ratio of 4:1 in this recipe, there’s no risk of the gluten in the flour being overworked. You can use a whisk to whisk the crepe batter, or you can use a blender too.
If you’re using a whisk, mix the flour with about half of the milk to create a smooth thick paste. Then add the rest of the liquid and mix it in, to make a smooth pancake batter.
However, I prefer using a stick blender, because I can add all the ingredients into a bowl or a jug and just blend it all until everything is smooth (this only takes a few seconds). And for perfect results, I recommend leaving the crepe batter to rest for a little while to allow the gluten to rest.
The crepes are then cooked on medium heat, allowing the crepes to be cooked in just over a minute. This quick cooking time allows the crepes to be soft and buttery, without drying out.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about making the crepe batter
Can I make crepes gluten free?
Yes, you can make these crepes gluten free. Buckwheat flour (gluten free) is also commonly used to make to crepes instead of AP flour. But you can also use AP gluten free flour as well. The crepes will be more delicate, but will taste the same.
If you’re looking to make crepes with almond flour, then I would highly recommend looking for a KETO crepe recipe on google, that has been tested with almond flour.
Can I make the crepes with self rising flour?
Yes, you can make these crepes with self rising flour, but keep in mind that the crepes will be thicker, because the baking powder in the flour will create lift in the crepes. While they won’t be classic crepes, they will still be delicious!
Can I use whole wheat flour to make crepes?
If you prefer wholewheat flour over AP flour, you’re welcome to make this substitution as well. But do note that the batter will taste nuttier and not as smooth as crepes made with AP flour. The finer the whole wheat flour, the better the crepes will be.
Can I substitute the milk in this crepe recipe?
Absolutely! You can use almond milk, or cashew milk, or soy milk, or any plant based milk to make these crepes. Some recipes even make crepes with just water, but I much prefer the added flavor of milk.
Can I make vegan crepes? Without eggs and milk?
Yes, this is possible. You can use a vegan egg replacement if you like. However, I prefer not to use flax seed egg because the crepe batter will have flecks of flax seed then.
I like to add some baking powder to my crepe batter that will make the batter lighter, and give it some strength as well. You can follow the crepe recipe in my vegan crepe cake recipe here. This recipe doesn’t use eggs, or milk (only a plant based milk).
How to cook perfect French crepes
While there are fancy crepe pans in the market, you don’t need an expensive crepe pan to make PERFECT basic crepes. A regular non-stick pan works just as well. You can just a French skillet pan to make the crepes as well, just make sure that the pan is buttered well so that the crepes don’t stick. If you’re new to making crepes, a regular non-stick pan is the best option.
Here I used a 10 inch pan to make 10 inch crepes. But you can just as well use an 8 inch or 12 inch pan as well, depending on what you have at hand.
As a rule of thumb, here are the measurements I use to make classic French crepes in different-sized pans.
- 8 inch pan – about 3 tbsp of batter (about 45 – 50 mL)
- 10 inch pan – about 1/4 cup of batter (about 60 mL)
- 12 inch pan – about 1/3 cup of batter (about 75 – 80 mL)
This is enough to create a thin layer of crepe batter on the bottom of each of these pans.
When the pan is hot, brush the surface with butter or oil. I prefer using butter.
Add the measured batter into the pan. Swirl the pan as you add the batter. Work quickly, to spread the batter evenly around the pan all way to the edges, so that you have a smooth edge. Continue to swirl the pan (and occasionally shake it gently), to move the batter around and fill the middle of the pan as evenly as possible.
Once the bottom of the pan is evenly coated with the batter, place it back on the heat and cook.
Wait for browning edges, before you flip over the crepe for classic French crepes
At this stage, you have TWO OPTIONS
- For extra soft crepes:
- Only cook the crepe until the surface of the crepe is set and there are no dry spots (only takes about 20 – 30 seconds). Then gently lift the crepe off of the pan (be careful as the crepe will be really soft), and flip it over for just a few seconds on the other side, if you like.
- However when I make crepes like this, I don’t cook the crepe on the second side at all.
- This crepe will have very little browning (if at all).
- This is how I cook crepes for Sri Lankan Fried Savory Rolls (Chinese rolls).
Extra soft crepes, with little to no browning. Only one side is cooked until the batter is set. DO NOT WAIT FOR THE EDGES TO BROWN.
- For more traditional crepes:
- Cook the crepes until the edges are starting to brown lightly, and they look a little crispy (about 40 – 50 seconds). Gently lift the crepe off of the pan, and flip it over for about 10 – 15 seconds on the second side, until you have caramelized brown spots.
- This crepe will definitely have caramelization on both sides.
- These are the kinds of crepes that are made at creperies and used in typical French crepe desserts.
When the crepes have been cooked, stack them up on a wire rack or plate.
When you’re ready to serve/eat the crepes, simply cover them with another plate on top and microwave for about 30 seconds. The top plate allows the crepes to heat through steam, so that they don’t dry out. Remove the top plate as soon as you’re done microwaving so that the crepes don’t become soggy. These basic crepes are best eaten warm.
The first crepe you cook is often the “tester”, mostly because this is the best way to tell if the pan is properly heated and buttered well. So you can just make a smaller crepe first up, without wasting too much batter.
I personally love eating crepes that are warm, as soon as they have been cooked (or heated up in the microwave). However, crepes can also be eaten while they are at room temperature or even when they are chilled! It’s all about personal preference.
CLASSIC LEMON AND SUGAR CREPES
Crepes with lemon and sugar is a really classic way to serve French crepes. And it’s easy too.
Simply sprinkle some sugar over one half of a warm crepe, then fold it into quarters. Top with lemon slices, some extra sugar and whipped cream, and serve! I prefer to use vanilla sugar over regular sugar, because the vanilla adds another subtle layer of flavor to this dessert. You can squeeze as much lemon juice over the crepes as you want. These lemon and sugar crepes are a delightfully sweet, tangy, refreshing and simple dessert! The salt also complements this dessert perfectly, and is also a reason why I don’t like to sweeten my crepes too much.
OTHER FILLING IDEAS for these classic French crepes
Sweet fillings for homemade crepes
- My personal favorite – Nutella and banana
- Strawberries (or any type of berry) and cream
- Banana and caramel/butterscotch
- Chocolate and strawberries
- Lemon curd, or passion fruit curd and whipped cream
- Ice cream, toasted nuts and chocolate sauce
Savory fillings for homemade crepes
- Chicken and mushroom filling
- Ham and cheese
- Bacon and eggs
- Ham and eggs
- Omelette with herbs
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Curried meat filling to make Sri Lankan fried savory rolls (Chinese rolls)
How to store extra crepes, or make them ahead of time.
I personally like to make the crepe batter the night before, and keep it covered in the fridge for next morning.
However, you can make the crepes ahead of time as well. Plus, if you make extra crepes, you can store leftover crepes for a later date too. Here’s how.
Can I make crepes ahead of time?
Making crepes is a bit time consuming, so it’s definitely good news that you CAN make it ahead of time.
To store these crepes, I like to layer each crepe between parchment paper, then wrap (or cover) the whole stack with plastic wrap, and store in an air-tight container.
If crepes are exposed to air, they will dry out. So it’s important to keep them covered with plastic wrap to prevent this.
Keep these crepes in the fridge for up to 3 days, and you can preheat the crepes in batches in the microwave (parchment paper is microwave-safe). Make sure to set the microwave cook time to between 15 – 20 seconds at a time, to prevent the crepes from over-heating and getting soggy.
Can I freeze crepes?
If you want to keep the crepes for longer than 3 days, then you can freeze them for later. When the crepes have cooled to room temperature, wrap them the same way as mentioned above, and place them in an air-tight container that is also freezer-friendly. This way, the crepes can be stored for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Let them defrost at room temperature or in the fridge, and warm them in the microwave as needed.
If you liked these classic French crepes, then you my also like these classic recipes,
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Classic French Crepes (Basic Crepes)
A complete guide on How to make Classic French Crepes (Basic Crepes). Soft, buttery, delicious, and infinitely versatile homemade crepes are great as a sweet or savory option for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.
Classic French Crepes
- 1 1/4 cup milk 10 fl oz
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp oil or melted butter
- 2 tsp sugar for savory crepes, OR
- 2 - 3 tbsp sugar for sweet dessert crepes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 oz all purpose flour scant 1 cup
- 1 - 2 tbsp softened butter
Lemon and Sugar Crepes
- 1 - 2 lemons sliced thick or cut into wedges
- 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
- Whipped cream
Mixing with a Whisk
Place the milk and eggs in a jug/bowl. Whisk to combine (you should have about 2 cups of liquid).
- Add the oil or butter and whisk it in.
Place the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
Add about 3/4 - 1 cup of the liquid and mix gently to form a smooth paste. This should not take more than a few seconds. Take care not to over-mix.
- Add the rest of the liquid and mix to form a smooth, watery batter.
- Cover the batter and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. The batter can be kept in the fridge overnight as well.
Mixing with a Blender
Add the ingredients into the blender. Add the flour last. Blend for a few seconds until you have a smooth batter. You can use a stick blender as well for this purpose.
- Cover the batter and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. The batter can be kept in the fridge overnight as well.
Cooking the Crepes
Preheat a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Brush a layer of butter on the heated pan. I used a silicone brush, but you can use a butter soaked paper towel or cloth as well.
Always mix the batter first, before you make each crepe. This is to make sure the batter is uniformly mixed.
Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the hot pan, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Swirl and spread the batter along the edge of the pan first and then fill the middle with the remaining crepe batter. Make sure the batter is as evenly spread as possible.
Place the pan back on the heat to let the crepe cook.
For extra soft crepes - cook the crepes only until they are just set at the surface (about 30 seconds) and there's no browning on the edges. You can flip over the crepe gently, and cook for a few seconds on the other side (optional), or remove the crepe from pan and place it on a plate.
For classic crepes - cook the crepes until the edges are starting to brown become a little crisp (about 40 seconds). Flip the crepes over and cook for a further 10 - 15 seconds on the other side until the crepes have caramelized spots.
Repeat until all the batter is used up (remember to mix the batter each time).
Stack the cooked crepes on a plate or wire rack.
If the crepes are no longer warm when you're ready to serve them, place another plate over your stack of crepes and microwave for about 30 seconds until the crepes are warm. Then remove the second plate quickly so that the crepes don't become soggy with steam/moisture.
Lemon and Sugar Crepes
- Place a crepe on a plate or flat surface.
Sprinkle about 1 tsp of sugar over one half of the crepe and fold over in half. Then fold over one more time into quarters. Repeat with all the crepes.
Serve the French crepes with fresh lemon slices (that can be squeezed over the crepes before eating), and whipped cream.