Follow this classic French crepe recipe and learn how to make the best crepe batter ever to enjoy the original taste of crepes. They are perfect for breakfast, brunch, and even dinner. Just call friends and throw a crepe party with the French crepes on a table!
The crepes and I have a long story and a great relation. I do not even remember when I first started making crepes at home, but it was a long time ago.
I have been searching for the best French crêpes batter recipe and trying to perfect my skills in making crepes for years.
Once my Mom told me that "nobody could compete with me in the speed of making crepes." Surely, she was joking, but there is some truth in her words.
I also remember my first trip to Paris in 2013 when I tried authentic French crêpes at a little crêperie in Trocadéro. It was an experience worth repeating!
What are crepes?
Crepes (crêpes in French) are large and thin pancakes. The crepe batter is made with no leavening agent added.
So, the crepes are thinner than American pancakes or other kinds of pancakes.
Crepes are usually classified into two types: sweet crêpes and savory crêpes (galettes).
There is a unique video of making French crepes (crêpes Françaises in French) by legendary chef Raymond Oliver in 1954.
He was making crepes with lots of alcohol (rum, beer, pastis (anise-flavored spirit), and lichette (white wine). This video makes me laugh each time I watch it.
History of French crepes
Every year, on February 2, the French celebrate a holiday called Candlemas – La Chandeleur in French. This word comes from the word “candle,” translating from French.
The history of this French tradition goes back to 472, when a religious festival of presentation of Jesus in the temple took place in Rome.
Each believer of the Candlelight procession had to pick up a candle from the church and bring it home, keeping it lit as a purification symbol.
At that time, another tradition regarding French crepes emerged. According to a myth, if one did not make crepes on Candlemas, the wheat would be carious for the year.
The cook had to flip a crepe in the pan with the right hand while holding a gold coin in the other hand.
Then, the gold coin was rolled into the crepe, was carried in procession by the whole French family to the room where it was deposited at the top of the cabinet until the following year.
French people recovered the crepe's debris last year to give the gold coin to the first poor man.
Nowadays, “La Chandeleur” is a crepe day, a day of the crepes, or le jour des crêpes in France. French crepes are flipping all over the country on that day!
There is a tradition to eat them only in the evening, after 8 PM. Moreover, many people still respect a custom with a gold coin.
Classic crepes recipe
If you like math, you might appreciate a special calculator for making crepes, which considers the number of crepes, their thickness, and the diameter of your pan.
Resting the crepe batter for one hour is the key to making crepes at home.
As per Harold McGee, “an hour or more allow[s] the proteins and damaged starch to absorb water and air bubbles to rise and escape.”
Simply saying, this resting phase enables the flour to absorb the milk and the eggs. Without rest, crepes will be flatter and more brittle.
Here is a quick overview of what ingredients you will need. Follow the full recipe below for detailed amounts and instructions. I recommend making this recipe as written for the best results.
Since the flour contains gluten, resting the batter for up to one hour allows the flour to absorb the liquid and gives the gluten a chance to rest.
This step is considered to be the secret to making the perfect French crepes.
Whole eggs are essential ingredients of crepes, although Julia Child uses yolks only. Eggs provide structure and moisture in crepes.
The fewer the eggs, the more delicate crepes will be made; the more eggs, the thicker crepes will result.
To make crepes soft and fluffy, try to separate the egg whites from the yolks.
Add the yolks at the beginning and incorporate whipped egg whites just before baking. It makes the batter airy and light.
Whole milk is the most popular choice, although skim milk is also used to make the lighter version of crepes.
Julia Child calls for half of the milk and half of the water in her French crepe recipe.
Cold milk is usually added to a crepe batter recipe, but chef Philippe recommends boiling the milk and cooling it before use. It allows skipping the step of resting the batter for one hour.
To make the batter lighter, replace some part of the milk with beer or cider.
Adding melted butter to the crepe batter not only makes them tastier but also helps with cooking.
The pan doesn't need any greasing because enough butter will make easy peeling off once crepes are cooked up.
Also, try an interesting combination: half of the required alcohol is dark rum and half orange flower water.
Salt is added to enhance the flavors and sweetness of crepes. Sugar is optional.
If you make dessert crepes, either add some sugar or make unsweetened crepes with sweet fillings. If you make savory crepes, omit any sugar.
Cook crepes in a hot crepe pan, a nonstick skillet. Adding melted butter to the crepe batter before cooking prevents crepes from sticking to the pan.
It also gives tenderness to the texture of crepes (do not grease the pan at all).
Some recipes recommend brushing the pan with clarified butter or using oil as a medium.
Spreading the crepe batter
For the best results to make a uniformly thin crepe, the batter has to spread in a circular motion over the pan evenly. When you ladle the crepe batter, it sticks to the middle of the pan.
When you lift and tilt the pan, the batter covers the bottom of the pan and starts cooking from the center. It means that the spread is not uniform.
The last research calculated the method of cooking the perfect crepes. Nicole Sharp explains:
For optimal crêpe-making, add the batter to the center of the pan. Then immediately tilt the pan to one side to spread the batter to the edge. Keeping the pan inclined, rotate once to fill in the full circumference. Then continue the rotation at a slighter incline to fill in any holes until the pan is horizontal and the crêpe is cooked through.
Have a look at Crepe-Making Physics and watch the "animation, where the color map indicates the crêpe thickness and the arrows show the effective direction of gravity."
It looks like the motion of batter spreading is "kind of a figure-eight motion."
The aroma and color of crepes originate from the Maillard reaction, in which hot sugars and protein amino acids react to golden brown color.
How to make French crepes
To make the batter, using a flour sifter, sift all purpose flour with a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the middle, add eggs (photo 1) and mix with a hand whisk (photo 2).
Add half of the cold milk and whisk. Add the remaining milk and pass the batter through a fine-mesh sieve (photo 3).
Flavor the batter with dark rum, add water, and whisk (photo 4). Cover the batter with a plastic film and let rest one hour at room temperature.
Just before cooking crepes, melt unsalted butter in a crepe pan (a nonstick pan), and add to the batter, and whisk. Wipe the pan with a paper towel.
Place a crepe pan over medium high heat (do not grease the pan). Pour in the batter into a thin layer (adjust to fit the size of your pan) and tilt the pan to cover the bottom (photo 5).
Once the edge of the crepe turns brown, flip crêpe with a flexible turner (photo 6).
Cook the second side until golden. Continue the same way with the remaining batter.
How to fold crepes
How to fold crepes depends on the filling and time of the day you will eat them.
You can fold a crepe in half, in a double fold, in a roll, in a half roll, mini roll, in a pocket, or into a cone.
Crepe fillings variations
Whenever you run a crepe party or make French crepes for your family, offering different fillings, you are sure to please everyone.
Start with savory fillings, including ham and cheese, bacon and eggs, crème fraîche and grated Emmenthal, small grilled mushrooms, sauteed vegetables, and diced tomatoes.
Then serve sweet toppings including whipped cream and fresh fruit, Nutella and banana, chocolate and strawberries, lemon curd and whipped cream, ice cream, caramel sauce, and toasted nuts.
It is recommended not to mix more than three ingredients while creating your original topping.
To store crepes, place parchment paper between cooked, cooled crepes and refrigerate a stack of crepes in a zip-top plastic bag for up to 5 days.
Or freeze a stack of crepes with parchment in between for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours. To reheat, use a microwave at high for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Sugar is optional in this recipe: add one tablespoon of sugar if desired.
- To make crepes kids friendly, replace the rum with the same amount of water or another flavoring.
- If you serve crepes on the same day of making, do not use parchment paper to stack crepes.
Frequently asked questions
If you want to lighten crepe batter, reduce the amount of milk, and replace it with beer or cider. You can also replace half of the milk with water to make light crepes.
If you are short on time, slightly heat the milk before incorporating it into the principal preparation. Once you make crepe batter, you can start to cook crepes right away.
Make crepe batter and refrigerate it overnight, for up to two days before use.
To make dairy-free crepes, replace the whole milk with almond milk, resulting in crispier crepes.
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French Crepe Recipe
Follow this authentic French crepe recipe and learn how to make the best crepe batter ever to enjoy the original taste of crepes. They are perfect for breakfast, brunch, and even dinner! Just call friends and throw a crepe party with the French crepes on a table!
- Total Time: 60 minutes (plus resting time)
- Yield: 16 crepes 1x
- Category: Crepes
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: French
- 1 cup + 5 tablespoons (165 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 4 large eggs
- 13.5 fl oz (400 ml) whole milk
- 1.7 fl oz (50 ml) water
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dark rum
- 1.4 oz (40 g) unsalted butter, melted
Add half of the cold milk and whisk. Add the remaining milk and pass the batter through a fine-mesh sieve. Flavor the batter with dark rum, add water, and whisk. Cover the batter with plastic film and let rest one hour at room temperature.
Just before cooking crepes, melt unsalted butter in a crepe pan (a nonstick pan), add to the batter, and whisk. Wipe the pan with a paper towel. Place a crepe pan over medium-high heat (do not grease the pan). Pour the batter into a thin layer (adjust to fit the size of your pan) and tilt the pan to cover the bottom. Once the edge of the crepe turns brown, flip crêpe with a flexible turner. Cook the second side until golden. Continue the same way with the remaining batter.
- Serving Size: 1 crepe
- Calories: 86
- Sugar: 1.3 g
- Sodium: 54 mg
- Fat: 3.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.2 g
- Fiber: 0.3 g
- Protein: 3.3 g
- Cholesterol: 48 mg
Keywords: French crepes, French crepe recipe, authentic French crepes, crepe batter recipe, easy crepe recipe
The recipe was originally published on February 08, 2018. It has been revised to include improved content and photos. All posted pictures are mine.