Delicate crêpes always look impressive, but making them is surprisingly easy. And because they play well with both sweet and savory fillings, these super-thin French pancakes are versatile enough to serve for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Here's how to make crêpes, plus favorite recipe ideas.
This traditional crepe recipe can be sweet or savory, depending on how you fill it.
How to Make Crêpes
Batter consistency is key when making crêpes, and like everything else, there are a few tricks to make it perfect.
Whip it Good
Though you can mix crêpe batter by hand, using a standing or immersion blender makes it perfectly smooth. The smoother the batter, the thinner and more delicate the crêpes.
Crêpes are close cousins to pancakes, but the batter is a lot thinner. It should be about the consistency of heavy cream and should coat the back of a spoon. If your batter is just right, you should be able to swirl it to cover the pan in a thin, delicate layer. If your batter is too thick to swirl, simply whisk in a few tablespoons of milk or water to thin it out.
It's important that you allow the crêpe batter to rest, to make lacy crepes. This can be as little as 30 minutes on the counter top, or as long as overnight in the fridge.
The Heat is On
Cooking crêpes is about finding the perfect balance of heat and time.
• Oil Up
Lightly grease your pan with a small amount of neutral-flavored oil (butter has a tendency to burn). As you cook, you may find you have to re-oil your pan occasionally or not at all.
• Warm Up
Heat the pan slowly over medium heat. As the pan continues to heat up while cooking, you may need to increase or decrease the heat, for perfectly golden crêpes. And don't worry: the first crêpe or two always count as "testers" until you get the heat just right.
• Pour In
The size of your pan determines how much batter to pour in. You want enough to just coat the bottom when you swirl the pan. Make a couple of practice crêpes until you figure out how much is just right.
• Flip It
When the edges of your crêpe start to lightly brown (two to three minutes), and the top of the crêpe starts looking dry, then it's ready to flip over. Carefully lift the edge of the crêpe with a thin spatula, turn the crêpe over, and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute. (Some cooks like to lift the edge of the crêpe with a spatula and turn it over with their fingers.)
No Crêpe Pan? No Problem
Many folks are under the impression that you must have a professional crêpe pan to make the perfect crêpe. Not so! The most important thing is to use a nonstick pan (whether it is has a commercial nonstick coating or is just naturally well-seasoned is up to you), low sides (to make flipping easy), and is relatively heavy so it heats evenly.
To Eat Now or Later?
If you're eating the crêpes right away, fill them with your favorite sweet or savory fillings and dig in. But you can also make a batch of crêpes ahead of time so they'll be ready when you are. This is especially helpful if you're making crêpes for a crowd.
Cool your crêpes on a wire rack, then stack with a small square of parchment, waxed paper, or plastic wrap between each layer. Wrap them well in plastic and store in your fridge for a few days or your freezer for a few months.
Sweet or Savory
Match the flavor of your crêpe batter to the flavor of the filling. Making a breakfast or dessert crêpe? Add sugar, vanilla extract, or a splash of liqueur.
Try this recipe for Vanilla Crêpes.
• Find more sweet crêpe recipes.
To make savory crêpes, omit the sugar and vanilla. If you want, add a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh herbs or spinach to the batter.
Try this recipe for Savory French Crêpes.
• Find more savory crêpe recipes.
Gluten-Free and Vegan Crêpe
Need to make a crêpe without gluten? No problem! It's as easy as replacing the all-purpose flour with your favorite gluten-free blend or alternative flour (like these Quinoa Crêpes).
Have a vegan coming over for brunch? We've got you covered! Though it's traditional to use milk, butter, and eggs in crêpes, there's no steadfast rule that you have to. Lose the eggs and use dairy alternatives, like in this Vegan Crêpe recipe.
Dive into our entire collection of delicious brunch recipes.