Basic Crêpes

I remember very clearly my first nutella banana crêpe in Paris 11 years ago almost exactly.  Crêpe stands are all over the city, mostly clustered in tourist areas, but the French definitely eat crêpes regularly as well.  Crêpes can be filled with both savory or sweet ingredients and could be served at a sit down restaurant or you can find crêpes to go.

How to make a French crepes - Eiffel Tower, Paris France

Crêpes are thinner, eggier versions of American pancakes, and unlike pancakes the thinner the crêpes the better the crêpes.  At crêpe stands in France, the crêpe makers use large wands to spread the batter over the pan as thinly as absolutely possible.  While at 18 years old I gravitated towards rich nutella banana filling, now I prefer a more subdued version with just butter and sugar.

Crêpes always felt very intimidating to make at home, so when I was with a French friend a few weeks ago and she suggested we make crêpes, I jumped at the opportunity to learn from a master.  And like most things that feel intimidating at first, after doing it a few times I had myself wondering why I’d waited so long to attempt the recipe.

Basic French Crepe Recipe

If you can make a pancake, you can make a crêpe!  You can make crêpes in a crêpe pan, but you can also make it in a normal non-stick skillet.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats Basic Crepes Batter

  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Basic French Crepe Recipe

My friend was clear on two things for successful crêpes – you have to use whole milk, and you have to let the batter set, preferably overnight.  So if you’re thinking about making crêpes, take care to make the batter the night before (something your morning self will likely thank you for anyway).

Start by beating the eggs and mixing them into the whole milk in a large mixing bowl.  Add the flour and salt and whisk until smooth.  The batter should be significantly thinner than regular pancake batter.

Basic French Crepe Recipe

Cover the bowl with the batter and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour and preferably overnight.  Allowing the batter to rest helps to prevent the crêpes from tearing, and also keeps the texture light & delicate instead of chewy since the gluten has had time to relax.

Once the batter has chilled and rested, it’s time to start making your crêpes.  Start by heating a nonstick skillet or crêpe pan over medium low to low heat.  Add a very small pat of butter and allow to melt.  Wipe the butter around the pan with a paper towel.  The pan should be glossy and coated, with no pools of melted butter visible.

Basic French Crepe Recipe

Lift the handle of the pan so that you can tilt it to direct the batter across the pan surface.  Ladle a small amount of batter (about a 1/4 cup at a time) in the middle of the pan slowly.  Tilt the pan as you ladle the batter so that the batter spreads equally and thinly around the pan.

The goal is to evenly coat the pan with a thin layer of batter.  My suggestion is to start with a small amount of batter.  You can ladle in more batter more easily than you remove excess batter.

Basic French Crepe Recipe

Set the pan down back on the burner and let cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side.  The edges will start to pull away from the pan, and the underside of the crêpe should turn golden.  Once you see both of those things, flip the crepe with a heat proof spatula.

Let cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side.  The second side won’t brown as evenly, so you’ll need to do more than just peak when checking the second side for doneness.

Basic French Crepe Recipe

Repeat the process with the rest of the crêpe batter.  If you’re using the crêpes in something like a crêpe cake, you can simply stack the crêpes after they’ve cooled.  If serving immediately, add your toppings after flipping while the second side of the crêpe cooks.

This batter recipe makes about 30 crêpes.

Basic Crepe Recipe - Crepes in Paris France
Crêpes sucrées at Breizh Cafe in Paris

Bon appétit!

Basic Crêpes

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 30 crêpes

Ingredients

  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp butter for coating the pan

Instructions

  1. Start by beating eggs and adding whole milk.  Mix to combine

  2. Add flour and salt and whisk until batter is smooth

  3. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight

  4. Remove from refrigerator and mix gently to reincorporate the batter.  The fat from the whole milk will likely have separated

  5. Heat a crêpe pan or medium nonstick skillet over medium low heat

  6. Add a small pat of butter and once melted, spread evenly on the pan using a paper towel

  7. Add 1/4 cup batter to the center of the pan and tilt the pan to spread the batter around evenly

  8. Cook 1-2 minutes on the first side or until golden on the bottom

  9. Flip using a heat proof spatula and cook the second side for 1-2 minutes more

  10. Add your favorite toppings after cooking or cool and stack for later use



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.