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How to Make Crepes

Although the American-classic fluffy pancake is hard to resist, its French counterpart is equally irresistible with its pastry-like texture and delicious fillings. Here’s everything you need to know to do as the French do.
Fresh Lemon Cream Crepes

Crepes may be a French delicacy but making them in your own kitchen is surprisingly easy— don’t worry, your family and guests will still think you went to a lot of trouble to whip up these pastry-like pancakes that look fancy. Whether you’re serving them for breakfast, for lunch or dinner, or as a sweet treat, the flavor and ingredient options are without end, which is why we love whipping up a big batch and changing the fillings to whatever we’re craving.

What Are Crepes

Crepe, prounounced “kreyp,” is the French word for “pancake,” but the two are actually quite different in taste, technique and texture. While the traditional pancake is thick and fluffy, the French crepe is thin and airy with a pastry-like texture. Crepes are usually served as breakfast or dessert with sweet fillings, but can also be made for lunch with savory fillings. They’re usually served rolled or folded.

Crepes vs. Pancakes

While pancakes will always have their place in our breakfast routine, crepes are an elegant-yet-easy recipe to spice up a special morning tradition or for a light lunch. Pancakes and crepes are different in both cooking technique and texture. Crepes are thin, delicate and almost transparent while our favorite hot cakes are thick and fluffy. The biggest difference in appearance and texture comes from the addition of baking soda/powder in pancake recipes. Crepes call for unleavened batter, leaving them light and airy. Another difference between the two is that crepes are usually rolled with a sweet or savory filling in the middle and pancakes are served flat with something sweet like maple syrup or blueberries on the top.

Different Types of Crepes

Even though crepes are technically French, the concept is universal. Blintzes are a Jewish take on French-style crepes. They are typically cooked on one side, filled and then baked or fried. In America, we enjoy our fluffy pancakes but the flapjack concept was originally introduced by Native Americans who were making pancakes using cornmeal long before the Europeans came to America. The common recipe later adapted leaving out the cornmeal.

Meanwhile, the Dutch make pannekoeken which is heavier than a crepe but lighter than a pancake. In Russia, they make them miniature, top them with caviar and call them blinis. In India, they use a savory fermented batter with rice and lentil flour to make crispy dosas. The Japanese make okonomiyaki with fillings like cabbage, shrimp and green onions.

Although there are several takes on the concept, crepes are one of our favorites because they are served with delicious toppings and fillings. Plus, they can take on the role of breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!

What to Put in Crepes

The common crepe is anything but ordinary thanks to the endless options of fillings and toppings. A basic crepes recipe can seamlessly change from sweet to savory simply by swapping out the filling. Brunch crepes can be filled with fruit like strawberries and bananas, or jams and creams like our Fresh Lemon Cream Crepes.

If you prefer something on the savory side, fresh herbs, vegetables or meats make for a dinner-worthy dish. Our Savory Shrimp Crepes are filled with fresh mushrooms, dill and shrimp. You can also top your crepes with a cream or cheese sauce.

Other sweet options include filling crepes with ice cream, chocolate, ricotta and Nutella™ or topping them with whipped cream or maple syrup. Some of our favorite savory ingredients include chicken, broccoli, ham and cheese and mushrooms.

Crepe Substitutes

Although crepe recipes can differ in both ingredients and techniques, the mainstream recipe requires ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen: eggs, flour, milk and butter or oil. Then you can add seasonings, toppings or fillings as you desire. You can substitute ingredients based on your preference or diet needs. You can make crepes without milk by using water and you can make them without butter by using oil if you want to make dairy-free crepes. Keep in mind that the taste and texture may be altered since milk introduces sugar and fat into the recipe.

Making crepes without eggs is also possible, but it will change the taste and appearance. Eggs are a key ingredient to the shape and form of crepes, so be sure to flip and handle your crepes extra carefully.

Looking for a way to make crepes without flour? We’ve got you covered with our Strawberries and Chocolate Sugar Cookie Crepes that use sugar cookies instead of flour.

How to Make Crepes

We’ve promised you so far that making crepes is ridiculously easy—so easy in fact, that you may find yourself making these delightful paper-thin pancakes on the regular. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If this is your first attempt at crepes, start with the basic recipe. Then you can take it from there with whatever fillings, toppings or seasonings you dream up.

What You Need:

  • Medium mixing bowl 
  • Crepe pan or 7- or 8-inch skillet 
  • Wire whisk 
  • Wide spatula

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 1/3 cups milk 
  • 2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter, or oil 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 

Step 1: Using a medium bowl, beat eggs just slightly. Then add the rest of the ingredients; beat until smooth.

Mix eggs, milk, melted butter, flour and salt.

Step 2: Heat your crepe pan or skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Grease the pan lightly with oil.

Heat your crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Grease the pan lightly with oil

Step 3: Pour ¼ cup of the thin batter into the hot pan and immediately tilt until the batter covers the bottom. Cook until the edges begin to dry and the center sets. You can brown the other side if you’d like.

Pour ¼ cup of the thin batter into the hot pan.

Step 4: Fill or top your crepes however you’d like!

Basic Crepes

How to Make Thin Crepes

The key to making light and airy crepes is in the consistency of the batter. Your batter should be thin—the thinner, the better! Mixing the batter in the blender helps create thin batter, but a whisk works, too. It’s important to let the batter rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator so the flour absorbs the liquid ingredients which will create tender crepes.

If the batter is still too thick and isn’t spreading in the pan smoothly, add in a few drops of water or milk and whisk.

How to Make Banana Crepes

If you’re going to learn how to make crepes, you’re going to have to learn how to make banana crepes. It is by far one of the most delicious ways to enjoy crepes, especially our Banana-Filled Chocolate-Caramel Crepes that feature a fudgy crepe, a sweet banana filling and a caramel topping. It’s so worth the effort and much easier than it sounds. Here’s how you do it:

Banana-Filled Caramel-Chocolate Crepes

How to Flip Crepes

Flipping crepes or even pancakes always looks challenging and like it requires a bit of finesse, but we’re here to tell you that most of the flipping success lies in the tools, not the technique!

To make and flip crepes successfully, you’ll need a traditional crepe pan, or at least, a seven- or eight-inch non-stick skillet. The quality of the pan is the difference between a mess and a mouthwatering French delight, so don’t overlook this part. A flexible metal spatula works best for flipping crepes. To flip a crepe, pour about ¼ cup of batter into the skillet and maneuver the skillet until the batter covers the bottom of the pan. Wait for about a minute until the bottom is lightly browned. Insert your spatula beneath the crepe and quickly flip it over and cook the other side for 30 seconds or so. Using your spatula again, insert it beneath your crepe and lift, transferring the cooked crepe onto a plate. It’s important to be confident and quick when flipping a crepe!

How to Fold Crepes

Crepes are almost always served rolled or folded—especially when the crepe is holding a delicious filling inside. You can serve crepes as you would serve a pizza laying it flat and adding toppings. To fold crepes, lay the crepe on a flat surface. Spread on the filling of your choice (we vote Nutella!) and fold twice to make it into a roll-up.

The other option is to serve the crepe in a triangular shape, like our Crepas de Cajeta recipe. For this style, lay the crepe flat, layer on the filling and then fold the crepe in half. Then fold it again in half to form the triangle.

Crepas de Cajeta

You can also stack crepes on top of each other to make a crepe cake. To do this, lay one crepe flat, top with filling and layer another crepe on top. Repeat the layering process until all of the crepes have been used. To serve, cut the crepe cake into wedges or squares like with our Pear-Havarti Crepe Squares recipe. 

Pear-Havarti Crepe Squares

How Long to Cook Crepes

The best part about crepes—besides the taste and how simple they are—is that if you mess up one, the batter makes a big batch so you can keep practicing until you’ve perfected the art of the crepe. The trick is knowing when to flip and when to remove the crepe from the pan. First, make sure that you have the stove set to medium heat. That’s step one. Once you’ve poured the batter and allowed it to spread, wait about a minute or until the top appears slightly dry. You can also carefully peek under the crepe using a spatula. It’s time to flip the crepe when the bottom is lightly browned. When you do flip the crepe, allow it to cook for about 30 seconds.

How to Serve Crepes

There a number of ways to serve crepes. For one, you can either roll, fold or stack them, offering a different presentation and experience each time you make them. For savory crepes, consider serving them with brushed butter on top or with dried herbs for extra seasoning. You could also top them with sour cream, cheese sauce or parmesan. For those of you with a sweet tooth, top with powdered sugar, a drizzle of honey, nuts, lemon juice or whipped cream.

How to Eat Crepes

Crepes are best eaten with a fork and knife. If you are eating a crepe that’s filled, expect it to be a bit messy. Using a fork and knife is your best bet to minimize the risk of spilling filling on your shirt or table.

How to Store Leftover Crepes

Don’t be afraid to whip up a large batch of crepes because storing leftover crepes is easy. You can stack crepes on top of each other and reheat later. If you choose to do this, stack them with a small piece of waxed paper in between each crepe so they don’t get stuck together. You can store leftover crepes in the refrigerator or in the freezer.

Here’s all our tips to get the most out of leftover crepes and to keep them fresh:

  1. To store them, place parchment paper in between each crepe. Cover the stack of crepes and keep them in the refrigerator for a few days. 
  2. You can also execute Step 2 and freeze the crepes for one to six months.  
  3. When you’re ready to eat your refrigerated crepes, remove the parchment and covering, and heat them up in the oven at 350° F or 10-15 minutes.  
  4. When it’s time to eat your frozen crepes, take them out of the freezer and allow them to thaw for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. 5. Need to satisfy a crepes craving real quick? Heat refrigerated crepes up in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Now that you know how easy crepes are and how many different flavors you can try, what are you waiting for? Do as the French do and try your hand at one of these crepe recipes.

Start your day the right way with these easy breakfast recipes.


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