Light, airy traditional French crepes with just that perfect amount of crisp around the edge. Dress them up with some sweet fillings or play it cool with something savoury, this recipe gives you the tools, and then leaves the choice in your very capable hands.
What are crepes
Originally from Brittany, a region in the northwest of France, crepes are essentially a very thin French pancake. While the earliest versions of crepes were made using buckwheat, modern versions tend to use white flour (as is the case in my recipe).
My favourite thing about crepes is how easily you can dress them up (or down) – fillings can range from plain through to the fantastical. We’re keeping it simple in this recipe as the purpose is to introduce you to traditional French crepes with a basic recipe.
Fun Fact: Crepes are actually so popular in France that February 2nd is known as La Chandeleur (aka. Candlemas) or jour des crêpes (literally, ‘day of crepes’). If you’re one for fun traditions, hold a gold coin in your dominant hand, and try to flip a crepe (in its pan) using your other hand. If you succeed, tradition suggests you’ll have a prosperous year!
Sweet vs savoury
The two most popular varieties of crepes are sweet and savoury. Sweet varieties, as the name would suggest, tend to be sweeter with sugary or fruity fillings. While savoury varieties (sometimes still made with buckwheat flour) have fillings such as meats and cheese.
If you want to use this recipe with savoury fillings, I’d suggest omitting or reducing the sugar based on your needs.
Pancakes vs crepes
Similar in appearance, crepes are much thinner than pancakes (though pancakes can be fairly thin too). Traditional French crepes are made using many of the same ingredients (the notable exception being a rising agent such as baking powder), and can be served with various sweet and savoury fillings, whiles pancakes tend to be more associated with sweet breakfasts or brunches.
Tips & tricks
One the best things about crepes aside from their taste, and how pretty they are, and how good they smell…and okay, fine – – Another amazing thing about crepes is that they are super easy to make. Honestly, I think they’re much easier than pancakes (and only slightly more work than a Dutch Baby Pancake). That said, here are a few ways to make sure your crepes are as perfect as you are.
Room temperature ingredients
Making sure you are using room temperature means that the fats in your batter have a chance to distribute more evenly. You want this for two reasons:
- Your crepes will stick to the pan less.
In some cases (depending largely on the conditions in which they have been stored), this will mean leaving your ingredients out ahead of time, or very lightly warming your ingredients – milk, butter, eggs – before you start the actual cooking process.
Use a blender
This is technically in the instructions, but should you happen to have arm muscles, honed from years of whisking, you may be tempted to mix your crepe batter by hand. Resist. Go with the blender. (Your arms look great though.)
Strain the batter
If you’re going for perfect restaurant quality crepes, you can strain your batter through a fine mesh sieve to ensure there are no lumps. This is certainly an optional step (and one that I skip exactly 100% of the time).
Refrigerate your batter
Don’t skip the step where you refrigerate your batter. This allows the gluten in the crepe batter time to relax, and this allows for light, crispy crepes that don’t taste tough or rubbery.
Use the right type of pan
A heavy-bottomed crepe pan will allow your crepes to cook evenly, as well as allowing room for your batter to spread thin enough for it to be a crepe (and not some sort of malnourished pancake).
Perfecting the swirl
When you pour your crepe batter into your hot pan, you won’t have very long before it starts to cook. Make sure to swirl your pan so that the batter spreads quickly and evenly. Depending on one’s wrist flexibility and forearm strength, this may be more challenging for some than others. Don’t feel shy about holding the pan with both hands if you need to, bestie!
Nail that presentation
One thing everyone loves about crepes is how beautiful they are. It’s actually quite remarkable how many ways you can present crepes. And while it won’t really affect the flavour, I’d suggest taking a few minutes to plate your crepes for that added wow factor. Check out my guide on how to style and plate your food for everything you need to know to get started!
It bears mentioning that as is the case with any recipe, making a substitution is a fundamental change to the recipe i.e. the results will not be the same. There is usually no avoiding this. However, there are some changes that can be made that will only impact the recipe slightly so you can do so without worrying about getting horrible results!
This recipe uses whole/full-fat milk, and I’d recommend you do the same. If you prefer a richer crepe, you can switch for an equal quantity of half and half, or whipping cream (if you want something super rich). 2% milk will work okay, however I’d avoid anything with less fat.
A lot of crepe recipes utilise butter to bring fat to the batter but in this case, it’s coming from the milk, so substituting the milk can have a big impact on your final result.
If you’re looking for gluten-free crepes, rejoice! You can swap out the all-purpose flour with your favourite gluten-free/gum-free flour blend and have a tasty gluten-free crepe breakfast.
It surprised me to learn that eggs are not a necessary component to crepes. Based on a little Googling, I feel that you can omit the eggs should you want to try eggless crepes. However, I would stress that this recipe has been tested and balanced to include the eggs.
If you try it without eggs, let me know how it goes!
There are so many filling options that it would be near-impossible for me to include them all. Here are a few to help you get those creative crepe juices flowing!
Sweet Crepe Ideas
- Chocolate with sliced strawberries
- Whipped cream with fresh peach slices
- Mascarpone whipped with honey or maple syrup
Savoury Crepe Ideas
- Goats cheese with sautéed mushrooms
- Smoked salmon, dill, and cream cheese
- Roast chicken with sundried tomato spread
How to store French crepes
Crepe batter can be prepared one day in advance – make sure to cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate until you use it the next day.
Once cooked, crepes are definitely best enjoyed immediately. However, they will keep in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 2 days. If freezing, pack each crepe individually (you can use parchment paper to separate each crepe) – they can be stored for up to a month.
Other delicious brunch recipes
Once you’re done enjoying these traditional French crepes (i.e. French pancakes!), here are more pancake recipes for you to check out.
- Fluffy Pancakes
- Dutch Baby Pancake
- Lemon Mascarpone Pancakes
- Blackberry Pancakes with Brown Sugar Butter
- Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes
- Sour Cream Pancakes
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A great crepe pan can make all the difference; it allows for an even distribution of heat, and lets the better spread in that perfect crepe shape.
This Kitchen Aid blender is what I use most often at home. It’s perfect for most blending jobs, not as expensive as some super high-end blenders, but not as frail as some of the other more affordable options.
And now you know everything you need to make perfect French crepes. Enjoy the crepe out of brunch! (Sorry, I was holding on to that one the entire time I was writing this, bestie.)Buy me a coffee