For a dish that seems so fancy, crepes are surprisingly easy to make at home. After all, they are just thin pancakes – but oh, what pancakes!
The ancient origins of crepes are found in Brittany on the coast of France, where their popularity spread to make them one of today’s most beloved national dishes. Crepes can veer sweet or savory with plenty of filling options for either.
Forget about intimidating chef skills or fancy equipment. Crepes require only patience. Once you get the hang of making them, there is no stopping you.
For the best results when making crepes, use an 8- to 10-inch non-stick skillet or a seasoned crepe pan. A stainless steel pan may present sticking problems unless it is very well seasoned. A seasoned cast-iron pan may work, but it is heavy and hard to manipulate quickly.
Whip up the smooth batter of eggs, flour and milk in a blender for best results. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream when you begin cooking the crepes. If it thickens too much while it sits, just stir in a bit more milk. (The flour will thicken the batter the longer it sits, just like with regular pancake batter.)
The batter can also be prepared and kept refrigerated for up to three days.
The crepes I’m making with this recipe are sweetened with sugar, but if you’d like to make them savory, just omit the sugar. You could also experiment with adding other flours, such as a combination of white and whole wheat flour. Savory crepes from Brittany are traditionally made with buckwheat flour! You may need to adjust the quantity of milk when working with whole grain flours to get the right consistency.
Sweet or savory, the technique for making crepes is simple: Heat the pan over medium-high heat and rub it with butter from the end of a stick (to add flavor and color). Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan, then immediately pick up the pan and tilt it to spread the batter over the bottom of the pan.
Return the pan to the heat for one to two minutes, or just until the bottom of the crepe is browned and the top surface looks set. Slide a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the crepe and flip it to the other side using either your fingers or the spatula. Another 30 seconds and your crepe will be done.
As each crepe is cooked, stack it on a plate with the others. Keep cooking until the batter is used, then eat! Cooked and cooled crepes can also be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to a week. Reheat them in the oven or in a hot pan before filling and serving.
Now comes the fun part: the filling!
Hot from the pan, sweet crepes can be simply slathered with butter and sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice. Or you could spread them with your favorite jam and roll up for a quick snack or breakfast treat.
Some more decadent filling ideas include sweetened ricotta and peaches, mascarpone and berries, Nutella, peanut butter or nut butter, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and candied pecans with maple syrup.
Fill savory crepes with ham and cheese, cooked asparagus and cheese, mushrooms and shallots, bacon and eggs, brie and pear, smoked fish and potatoes—the list goes on. And on.
If you can’t get to Paris and stop at every corner for a crepe snack, you certainly can have your own little crêperie at home!
How To Make French Crêpes Recipe
Use whole milk for best flavor and color.
For savory crepes, skip the sugar and vanilla in the batter.
For the strawberry crepes pictured, blend 2 cups of hulled ripe strawberries with 3 tablespoons of strawberry jam to make a smooth sauce (add additional water as needed to thin). Serve crepes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some fresh sliced strawberries, and a few spoonfuls of sauce drizzled over top.
Other sweet fillings and toppings: homemade jam, sweetened ricotta and peaches, mascarpone and berries, Nutella, peanut butter or nut butter, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and candied pecans with maple syrup.
Other savory fillings and toppings: ham and cheese, cooked asparagus and cheese, mushrooms and shallots, bacon and eggs, brie and pear, smoked fish and potatoes
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 2 1/3 cups (290g) flour
- Butter for the pan
1 Make the crepe batter: In a blender, pulse the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and flour for 7 to 10 seconds, or until the batter is smooth. Pour into a bowl. (The batter can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days. If the batter thickens too much, add additional milk before cooking to thin it to the consistency of heavy cream.)
2 Heat and grease the pan: Heat an 8- or 10-inch non-stick skillet or well-seasoned crepe pan over medium heat until hot. Using one end of a stick of butter, coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of melted butter.
3 Start cooking the crepes: Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Immediately pick up the pan and tilt and swirl it to spread the batter evenly over the bottom.
Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the crepe is golden on the bottom.
4 Flip the crepe: Use a rubber spatula to loosen the edge of the crepe all around. Hold the edge with your fingertips and gently, but quickly, flip the crepe to the other side (or use a spatula if that feels more comfortable).
5 Cook for another 30 seconds, or until the crepe is golden on the bottom. Slide the finished crepe onto a plate.
6 Repeat until all the batter is used, stacking the crepes on top of each other on the plate.
7 Assemble the crepes: Place one crepe on a plate and fill it with your filling of choice. Either roll the crepe or fold it into quarters and top with additional toppings if desired. Serve warm.
If you're not eating them right away, let the crepes cool, then cover the stack with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a buttered skillet.
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