This simple crepe recipe yields super thin and pliable French-style pancakes. Make them by hand or even faster in a blender. They are perfect for filling or topping with sweet or savory ingredients.
Table of Contents
- What’s the difference between crepes and pancakes?
- Flour selection
- Dilute the milkfat
- Eggs and butter
- Sweet versus savory
- How to make crepe batter
- 1) Making the batter by hand
- 2) Making the batter in the blender
- Let the batter rest
- Pan selection
- Greasing the cooking surface
- Preheat the pan
- Crepe making technique
- Cook time
- Keeping warm in between batches
- Filling and topping ideas
- How to Make Crepes (2-ways) Recipe
Crepes are a delicate and buttery French-style wrap that’s easy to prepare. They may seem reserved for fancy cafes, but you can make the batter from common kitchen staples that you most likely already have on hand. The thin pancakes are ideal for customizing with your favorite toppings or fillings.
Learn how to make sweet or savory crepes with my simple step-by-step instructions. You can whip them up by hand, or I’ll show you an even quicker blender method. After practicing the technique, you’ll be a pro in no time!
What’s the difference between crepes and pancakes?
Both use a pourable, flour-based batter cooked in a skillet to create a round shape. Crepes use only eggs as a leavening agent, resulting in light and tender flat cakes that can be flavored sweet or savory. Pancakes use chemical leavening agents to help puff up the batter, creating taller, fluffier cakes that are lightly sweetened.
I use all-purpose flour for the base. It contains about 10 to 13% protein, depending on the brand. This type of flour has just the right amount of protein to create a flexible structure without being tough and rubbery.
You can use other varieties like buckwheat, cornmeal, chestnut, or almond to flavor the batter. The nut flours may be more delicate in texture since there is no starch or gluten for bonding.
Dilute the milkfat
This recipe uses whole milk and water to dilute the milkfat. The result is a flavorful crepe that’s light and tender—using all water lacks body, texture, and taste. You can use just milk, but the extra fat will make the texture heavier and denser. I recommended using 2% milkfat if going that route. Dairy-free alternatives include oat, almond, cashew, or coconut milk.
Eggs and butter
The lipids help to coat the flour proteins, preventing the texture from becoming tough. It also makes it easy to lift off of the pan. The fat allows them to stack nicely, stay separate when making a batch, or store in the refrigerator. Coconut oil or vegetable oil can replace butter but won’t be as flavorful.
Sweet versus savory
For sweet crepes, add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter. For savory crepes, omit the sugar and vanilla, and increase the salt to 1/4 teaspoon. You can also add freshly chopped herbs like chives, tarragon, green onions, parsley, and chervil.
How to make crepe batter
The crepe batter is composed of just six simple ingredients. However, it’s how you mix them that impacts the pliable texture. You can use simple tools like a bowl and whisk, or in a countertop blender.
1) Making the batter by hand
It’s crucial to incorporate the dry and wet ingredients together gradually to ensure a smooth batter. The flour, sugar (if using), and salt mix together first. This process evenly distributes the particles. Then add melted butter. Make sure it’s not above 140-degrees, or the eggs will curdle. A mixture of eggs, milk, water, and vanilla (used for sweet crepes) is then gradually whisked in.
The egg protein helps to bind the ingredients together, providing structure. The brief mixing develops gluten bonds by the flour proteins, making it flexible and easy to roll or fold. However, the high ratio of liquid dilutes the gluten, preventing a rubbery texture. Strain to remove any undissolved clumps of flour.
2) Making the batter in the blender
Using the high shear movement of the blades in the blender cup creates a smooth consistency in a minute or less. I add the liquid ingredients first, the eggs, milk, water, and vanilla extract, which prevents dry spots on the bottom of the cup.
Next, add the dry ingredients, and process at medium speed to hydrate the flour and activate the proteins to form gluten bonds. Straining helps to remove any flour clumps or big bubbles that form during processing. Large air pockets can weaken the batter, making it more susceptible to tearing.
Let the batter rest
After straining the batter, chill and rest it for at least 1-hour before cooking. This duration allows the gluten proteins to relax so that the texture doesn’t become rubbery. The starches in the flour absorb the liquid to thicken the batter slightly. This optimizes gelling once heated for a flexible yet delicate crepe.
Resting also gives the sugar and salt time to dissolve fully, which better seasons the crepe. The hydrated flour thickens over time, so I add a small amount of water to the batter right before cooking to thin out the consistency. It should be similar to whipping cream. The batter can be made one day in advance, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Crepes are so popular that special pans have been constructed to make them. They typically consist of steel or aluminum, with shallow sloped sides. Some even come with a spreader for the batter. However, I find that you can use a 10-inch nonstick pan and get round, thin crepes with even thickness. You can also use an 8 or 12-inch pan. I use 3 tablespoons for the smaller size and 5 tablespoons of batter for the larger one.
Greasing the cooking surface
I prefer to use unsalted butter for cooking the batter. Add about 1/2 teaspoon, let it coat the pan, then wipe most of it off, leaving a thin film. The butter has milk solids that lightly brown, creating a nutty, toffee-like flavor on the surface of the crepes. It also helps the edges slightly crisp for a nice contrast of textures.
Wipe down the pan between batches, adding more butter each time. If you reuse the butter, the solids will become burnt. You can brush clarified butter or ghee into the pan, free from milk solids. It won’t brown as quickly on the surface, but it will still add good flavor. Alternatively, use vegetable oil or another neutral-tasting oil like avocado or coconut.
Preheat the pan
Make sure to preheat the pan before adding the butter and batter. This process will provide a more even color. The first crepe tends to be more spotty and takes longer to cook, which helps to prep the pan for the next one. As the pan heats all the way through, each crepe will become more consistent in color and cook a little quicker.
Keep an eye on the process and look for the changes. To do a quick test, add 1 teaspoon of batter to the center of the pan and let it cook for 15 to 20 seconds. If it becomes golden brown, it’s ready. Adjust the heat level as needed, as each stove’s burner can differ in heat level.
Crepe making technique
For a 10-inch pan, use ¼ cup (60ml) of batter. The crepe-making technique is simple, but you have to work quickly once the batter is in the pan. Heat over medium heat, grease, then pour the batter at the 6 o’clock position.
Tilt the pan in a downward motion to coat, then swirl to the left or right, letting it stream across the surface to cover the bottom completely, then tilt back up. You can always pour a small amount of batter in any holes that don’t get filled.
The crepes will steam but should not smoke. Take the pan off the heat, and adjust the temperature if needed. Let it cook until the edges start to pull away from the sides, about 1 minute. You’ll notice the batter puffing up a little, that’s the eggs naturally leavening the dough, so it stays light but flat.
Once flipped, the crepe will only need an additional 10 to 30 seconds to cook thoroughly. The final product should be thin, flexible, and lightly brown on each side, with slightly crispy edges. Do not overcook, or it will get harsh and overly brittle. I’ve tested lower heat, and it took much longer, yielding bland, colorless, and chewy texture.
In between batches, don’t let the pan sit over the burner too long and smoke. It will brown the crepes too quickly. If needed, turn the heat down or off.
Keeping warm in between batches
The heat from each crepe being layered on a plate should keep them nice and warm. However, to rewarm, you can place a damp paper towel over the plate of crepes and microwave them for about 30 seconds before serving. Alternatively, reheat in a skillet over medium heat for about 30 seconds per side. You can serve crepes warm or cool, depending on the toppings and fillings.
Filling and topping ideas
- Crepe batter whisked with mixed herbs like chives, parsley, basil, or thyme
- Melted brie topped with warmed cherry tomatoes and yogurt herb dressing
- Crab with cheddar bechamel sauce
- Sauteed mushrooms, green onions, leeks, spinach, roasted vegetables
- Nutella and strawberries
- Peanut butter, caramel sauce, and banana
- Jam filled like strawberry, boysenberry, apricot
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice and granulated sugar
- Strawberry compote and homemade whipped cream
- Crepe Suzette
Don’t worry about over-mixing
The high ratio of liquid-to-flour in the crepe recipe keeps the texture tender instead of tough—the water and milk help to hydrate the flour proteins and then dilute the amount of gluten formation. The fat in the egg yolk and butter prevents the gluten from binding together so tightly. These French pancakes are thin, tender, flexible with some chew.
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How to Make Crepes (2-ways)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, or table salt
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup water, room temperature, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for cooking
Hand Mixing Method
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk, 1/2 cup water, and vanilla extract, whisk to combine.
- Microwave the 2 tablespoons of butter on high power in 30 seconds intervals until just melted, stirring to dissolve any pieces. It should not be above 140ºF (60ºC) when added to the batter, or the eggs will curdle.
- Make a well in the flour mixture. Add the melted butter. Gradually add the liquid egg mixture, constantly whisking until a smooth batter forms.
- Strain the batter into a medium bowl to remove any clumps. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Once the batter has chilled, whisk in about ¼ cup of water to thin out the consistency. It should be similar to cream in texture.
Blender Mixing Method
- Add the eggs, milk, ½ cup water, vanilla extract, flour, sugar, salt, and melted butter to the blender. Blend on medium speed until smooth, about 40 to 45 seconds.
- Strain the batter into a medium bowl to remove any large bubbles and flour clumps. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Whisk in about ¼ cup water to thin out the consistency.
Cooking the Crepes
- Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon butter, swirling to coat. When melted, wipe the excess off with a paper towel. There should be a thin film of butter left in the pan, coating the bottom and sides.
- Add a ¼ cup (60ml) of the batter to the 6 o’clock position of the skillet. Moving quickly, lift the skillet, tilt it slightly to coat the pan, and then swirl the skillet several times in a circular motion to create a thin layer that evenly covers the entire bottom. Fill in any holes with additional batter as needed.
- Place the pan back over the heat. Cook until the crepe’s edges pull away from the skillet and lightly brown underneath, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Use a spatula to loosen from the pan. Use either your fingers or spatula to flip the crepe over and cook until the bottom sets, about 10 to 30 seconds. Transfer onto a plate.
- Stack the crepes on top of each other to keep warm while making the next one. Loosely covered with foil.
- Cook the remaining batter, wiping the pan clean and adding a thin layer of butter between each batch. Serve warm or cool with desired toppings.
- Savory Crepes: Omit the sugar and vanilla extract. Increase salt to ¼ teaspoon.
- Sweet Crepe Alternatives: Instead of granulated sugar, other options are brown sugar or pure maple syrup for a caramel flavor, honey, coconut sugar, date sugar, or agave syrup.
- Measuring the Flour: If you don’t have a scale, use the dip and sweep method. Dip the measuring cup into the flour, then level the surface with the back of a knife.
- Pan Size: For an 8-inch nonstick pan, grease with ¼ teaspoon butter and 3 tablespoons of batter (about 13 crepes). For a 12-inch nonstick pan, grease with ¾ teaspoon butter and 5 tablespoons of batter (about 8 crepes).
- Greasing the Pan: Instead of butter, try vegetable oil, avocado oil, clarified butter, ghee, or coconut oil.
- Cooking Crepes: The crepes will steam but should not smoke. Take the pan off the burner and adjust the heat as needed. Do not overcook or they will be tough and too crisp.
- Making Batter in Advance: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 day. It may separate as it sits, mix before using. Whisk in about ¼ cup of water to dilute.
- Storing: Cool the crepes completely and stack on a plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Alternatively, place in a resealable plastic. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: Place parchment paper between each crepe. Cover tightly and place on a plate in the freezer or in a large resealable plastic bag, for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator the day before using.
- Reheating: In the microwave, place a damp paper towel over the plate of crepes and microwave for 30 seconds. In a skillet, reheat over medium-low heat until warmed through. In the oven, place on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil and warm at 275°F (135°C) for about 10 minutes.
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