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Crepes – Once Upon a Chef

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Crepes – Once Upon a Chef


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Traditional French crepes are easier to make than you think. Serve them sweet or savory fillings any time of day.

I went to a French culinary school, but it wasn’t there that I learned to make traditional crepes. It was in Paris while working as an au pair for a family with three little boys, all of whom loved their crêpes au sucre (crepes smeared with butter and sprinkled with granulated sugar) and crêpes au Nutella. Crepes are thin, delicate pancakes made from a batter containing flour, eggs, melted butter, salt, milk, and sometimes sugar and flavorings. They’re a common street food in France, and they’re easy (and fun) to make at home, too. The batter comes together quickly in a blender, and then each crepe takes just over a minute to cook. The only tricky part is swirling the batter evenly around the pan evenly before it sets, but it’s simple once you get the hang of it. Don’t worry if your first crepe isn’t perfect – the French actually have a saying, “la première crêpe est pour le chien,” which translates to “the first crepe is for the dog.”

Crepes can be filled with sweet or savory fillings, from whipped cream and fresh berries to ham and cheese, and enjoyed for breakfast, dinner, brunch, dessert, or as a snack. You can even make crepes ahead of time for a party and set out lots of fillings to make a crepe bar. How’s that for versatility?

folded crepes on a stack

Common Crepe Fillings

For Sweet Crepes:

  • Fruit (i.e., berries, bananas, pineapple, pears, peaches) and sweetened whipped cream, sweetened cream cheese, sweetened ricotta, Nutella, lemon curd, or chocolate sauce
  • Butter and a sprinkling of sugar
  • Lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar
  • Sautéed apples and cinnamon
  • Butter and fruit jam or preserves
  • Peanut (or any other nut) butter and jam
  • For a bit of texture, you can top off crepes with something crunchy (i.e., sliced almonds, granola, toasted coconut)

For Savory Crepes:

  • Ham or prosciutto and cheese
  • Chicken or turkey and mushrooms
  • Spinach and cheese
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Ratatouille and goat cheese
  • Sautéed or roasted veggies (i.e., spinach, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions) and cheese
  • Eggs and cheese (with or without bacon)
  • Pesto with chicken and greens
  • Chicken or turkey with avocado

What You’ll Need To Make Crepes

ingredients for crepesThis crepe recipe calls for all-purpose flour, eggs, melted butter, salt, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. It is ideal for crepes with a sweet filling. For savory crepes, reduce the sugar in the recipe to one tablespoon and omit the vanilla extract. You can also add some fresh chives or other herbs and a bit of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, if you like.

Key Equipment

crepe pan

You can cook crepes in any 8 to 10-inch nonstick skillet (the base of the pan should have the same diameter that you want for your crepes), but the ideal pan is a traditional nonstick French crepe pan like the de Buyer blue steel crepe and tortilla pan pictured above.

For pouring the correct amount of batter into the pan each time, I recommend using a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup with a long handle.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Place the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a blender. Whiz for a few seconds to blend until smooth.
eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in blender

Remove the lid and add the flour. adding flour to the blender

Cover and blend again until completely smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and blend until combined, about 10 seconds more.

adding butter and blending crepe batterTransfer the batter to a separate container and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Resting provides time for the flour to absorb the liquid and for the gluten to “relax,” resulting in delicate crepes that aren’t rubbery.

crepe batter in large measuring cup

Heat a crepe pan or 8 to 10-inch nonstick skillet (see note) over medium heat. Grease the pan lightly and evenly with butter. Cooking the crepes in a little butter gives them a golden-brown, lacy surface.greasing the crepe pan with butter

Pour about ¼ cup of crepe batter into the center of the pan.

pouring the crepe batter into the pan

Immediately lift the pan off the heat and swirl the batter so that that it forms a thin, even circle on the bottom of the pan. swirling the crepe batter around the pan

Keep turning the pan until the batter is evenly spread.

continuing to swirl the batter in the pan

Cook for about 1 minute, until the top is set, the edges are dry, and the crepe is golden on the bottom.

lifting the edge of the crepe with an offset spatula

Lift the crepe with an offset spatula or butter knife, taking care not to scratch the pan with the utensil, and flip with your fingertips; cook the other side for about 20 seconds, or until slightly golden and spotted.

flipped crepe cooking on second side

Transfer the cooked crepe to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan with a bit of butter each time and adjusting the heat as necessary. Place the cooked crepes in a stack on the plate. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

stack of crepes

How To Store LEFTOVER Crepes

To refrigerate: Wrap the stacked crepes in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat before filling and serving.

To freeze: Separate each crepe with wax or parchment paper, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw the stack overnight in the refrigerator before using, or just remove the crepes one by one as needed and thaw at room temperature before reheating.

How to Reheat Crepes

The best way to reheat individual crepes is in a crepe pan or nonstick skillet. You can use a tiny bit of butter and heat over medium heat until warm and slightly crisp on the edges, about 30 seconds. To reheat a stack of crepes, wrap the crepes in aluminum foil and heat in a 350°F-oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

How To Assemble and Warm Savory Crepes

Spread fillings over half of a crepe. Fold the crepe over so you have a half-moon shape, then fold it over again into quarters. Repeat with more crepes and warm them in a buttered skillet until the filling is warmed through (and the cheese is melted, if using) and the crepes are a bit crisp.

What’s the Difference between Crepes and Pancakes?

The primary difference between French crepes and American pancakes is that crepe batter does not contain baking powder or baking soda, the leavening agents that make American pancakes puffy. Crepe batter is also made with a higher proportion of eggs and milk, which makes them a bit “eggier” and much thinner. Pancakes are typically only served with breakfast and brunch, whereas crêpes are enjoyed any time of day.

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Crepes

Traditional French crepes are easier to make than you think. Serve them sweet or savory fillings any time of day.

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups whole or 2% milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for cooking the crepes

Instructions

  1. Place the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a blender. Whiz for 5 to 10 seconds to blend until smooth. Remove the lid, add the flour, cover, and blend again until completely smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and blend until combined, about 10 seconds more. Transfer the batter to a bowl or separate container and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat a crepe pan or 8 to 10-inch nonstick skillet (see note) over medium heat. Grease the pan lightly and evenly with butter. Pour about ¼ cup of crepe batter into the center of the pan (you can use a ¼-cup dry measuring cup to “ladle” the batter into the pan). Immediately lift the pan off the heat and swirl the batter so that that it forms a thin, even circle on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, until the top is set, the edges are dry, and the crepe is golden on the bottom. Lift the crepe with an offset spatula or butter knife, taking care not to scratch the pan with the utensil, and flip with your fingertips; cook the other side for about 20 seconds, or until slightly golden and spotted. Transfer the cooked crepe to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan with a bit of butter each time and adjusting the heat as necessary. Place the cooked crepes in a stack on the plate. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve. (Note that the first crepe is rarely perfect; it “seasons” the pan so the remaining crepes are easy to cook, and it also tells you if the pan’s temperature is right.)
  3. To serve: Warm the crepes using one of the methods below and fill with your favorite fillings. Roll the crepes or fold in half or into quarters, and top with your favorite toppings.
  4. Note: This recipe contains sugar and vanilla for a sweet version of a crepe. If you’d like to make savory crepes, reduce the sugar to one tablespoon, omit the vanilla extract, and add some fresh chives or other herbs if you like. A bit of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano is good, too.
  5. Note: You can cook crepes in any 8 to 10-inch nonstick pan (the base of the pan should have the same diameter that you want for your crepes), but the ideal pan for making crepes is a traditional French crepe pan.
  6. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Wrap the stacked crepes in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to three days. To freeze, separate each crepe with wax or parchment paper, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw the stack overnight in the refrigerator before using, or just remove the crepes one by one as needed and thaw at room temperature before reheating.
  7. Reheating Instructions: The best way to reheat individual crepes is in a crepe pan or nonstick skillet. You can use a tiny bit of butter and heat over medium heat until warm and slightly crisp on the edges, about 30 seconds. To reheat a stack of crepes, wrap the crepes in aluminum foil and heat in a 350°F-oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 crepe
  • Calories: 127
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 106 mg
  • Cholesterol: 61 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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