Mastering Crêpes

Versatile, elegant, and inexpensive to make, crêpes embody a certain je ne sais quoi that the French do so well. Think of a simple scarf worn with a sport coat or little black dress. Like an accessory that completes the outfit, crêpes can make the meal ― whether that’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.

While crêpes are consumed year-round across Europe and beyond, the French eat mounds and mounds of crêpes every February 2 for the feast day of Candlemas or La Chandeleur. The midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, Candlemas emphasizes light in the darkness and hope for the onset of spring. (Sound familiar? Candlemas is the origin of Groundhog Day.) With their large, round shape, crêpes were thought to signify the sun and invoke longer days. It’s also thought that ancient Europeans made mountains of crêpes to clear out the prior year’s wheat in anticipation of another harvest.

Like the ancients, you probably have everything you need to make crêpes in your kitchen. Use the tutorial below to ensure your crêpes have that certain je ne sais quoi, every time.

Use the pan you have

With their large surface area and handy flared edge, cast-iron crêpe pans can be a great tool for cooks who make a lot of crêpes. But if you don’t have one, never fear: a nonstick 8-inch sauté pan produces a fairly uniform crêpe. If, for any reason, your shape becomes uneven or asymmetrical in the pan, it will likely be disguised when you roll or fold your crêpe, anyway. Just be sure to heat your pan slowly to avoid burning.

Blend, but not too much

Using a blender will ensure that your crêpe batter is silky and uniform, but don’t overdo it. Leaving the batter to blitz for more than 10 seconds can activate gluten in the flour and water and cause crêpes to be tough.

Give it a rest

Allowing the batter to rest for an hour in the fridge accomplishes two goals. First, it lets the gluten relax after being agitated by the blender. Second, it settles any bubbles that formed during blending, so that your crêpes don’t end up with holes that can tear.

Butter up

After you’ve heated your pan gradually, add a good amount of butter. (In the Fresh Strawberry or Blueberry Crêpes recipe, we call for 1 or 2 teaspoons, but suggest you err on the side of 2 teaspoons or even more.) This will likely be the only time you need to butter the pan. Your first crêpe will probably be a little crisper and more buttery than you’d like, but every following crêpe will look just right.

Stack and save

Our trick for stacking crêpes is 1) placing the first-cooked side of the first crêpe DOWN on a wire rack, and 2) placing crêpes in two different stacks, alternating between them. This method produces crêpes that don’t stick together (and that can even be stored easily in the refrigerator).

Fill and roll — or fold

When it comes to filing crêpes, the possibilities are endless. While fresh fruit, cream cheese and powdered sugar are classic choices, savory crêpes can be equally delicious. Try our Banana Crêpes for a sweet rolled treat, or the Curry Chicken Crêpes recipe to cross over into savory territory. For the Strawberry and Brie Crêpes recipe, a wedge of brie slides between the folds of crêpes that are warmed in the oven and served with fresh strawberries and honey butter.

Choose your finish

There are so many ways to prepare crêpes, and Challenge offers a library of great recipes.

For our Fresh Strawberry or Blueberry Crêpes recipe, each individual filled crêpe can be lightly sautéed in butter to add a nutty, caramelized flavor and finish. The crêpes for our Strawberry and Brie Crêpes are doused in honey butter and folded with crunchy toasted almonds, fresh strawberries, and tangy brie as filling. Savory recipes include crêpes filled and rolled, like the Chicken, Mushroom, and Spinach Crêpe Casserole, or a delicious vegetarian and plant-forward recipe like Spinach Artichoke Crêpes. You can take your crepe game to a whole new level by making a crepe cake — a towering stack of crêpes with sweet filling between each layer — like our recipe for Boston Cream Pie Crepe Cake or Red Velvet Crepe Cake with White Chocolate Pastry Cream.

Of course, there’s always the option to eat fresh crêpes straight from the pan, accompanied by blueberries and whipped cream (like our Blueberry Maple Butter Crêpes), chocolate-hazelnut spread, jam, powdered sugar ― or nothing at all.