French Crêpes Recipe

February 2 is La Chandeleur (Candlemas), a holiday that welcomes the first signs of spring. In France, it is traditionally celebrated by making crêpes, with a variety of superstitious little tricks to bring happiness and prosperity upon your household.

One of those tricks involves holding a coin in your left hand while you flip the crêpe pan with your right hand: if all goes smoothly and you haven’t dropped the crêpe or the coin or killed anyone, chances are you’re lying. But if you’re not, that is a very good omen. Another one is to throw the first crêpe of the batch (which is always a dud anyway) on top of a high cupboard, and leave it there for the rest of the year. Well, do you want good luck or no?

If you’re experiencing sudden pangs of anguish because you missed La Chandeleur, fret not: Mardi-Gras is coming soon (refer to this page to know this year’s date), and the French like their crêpes so much that they eat them to celebrate Mardi-Gras, too!

The recipe I use for crêpes was handed down to me by Maxence’s mother a few years ago. We had our own little crêpe party with our neighbors on Saturday night (the perfect equidistance from La Chandeleur and Mardi-Gras entirely fortuitous) and enthusiastically tested a variety of toppings — from nutella to crème de marron to maple syrup to lemon juice — only to conclude, as we unfailingly do, that beurre-sucre (salted butter and sugar) is really your best bet.

(Check my recipe for Savory Buckwheat Crêpes, , or galettes de sarrasin.)

Crêpe batter

French Crêpes Recipe

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

For about fifteen 24cm (9 1/2") crêpes.

French Crêpes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250 grams (2 cups) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 240 ml (1 cup) milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 240 ml (1 cup) purified water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
  • vegetable oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Pour the flour in a large mixing bowl, and form a well in the center. Add the salt, sugar, vanilla, and eggs into the well. Whisk gently in the center so the eggs will blend with part - not all - of the flour. Pour in the milk and water slowly, whisking as you pour. Keep whisking until all the flour is incorporated; the batter will be thin. Add the rum, if using, and whisk again. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Remove the batter from the fridge and whisk it again. Set a thick-bottomed, low-rimmed skillet over high heat. Wait until it is very hot, enough to make a drop of water sizzle. Spray the pan with good-quality vegetable oil, or dip a folded paper towel in a ramekin that contains a little vegetable oil, and wipe it over the pan to grease it lightly (watch your fingers).
  3. Ladle a little batter in the pan, just enough to cover the pan thinly, and swish the pan around in a slow circular motion so the batter forms a round disk. Cook for 40 seconds, or until the edges start to turn golden and pull slightly away from the sides. Run the tip of a hard spatula around the crêpe to loosen, peek underneath, and flip the crêpe when you see that it is nice and golden. Cook for 20 more seconds on the other side, or until golden as well, and slip out of the pan onto a plate. (Note that the first crêpe of the batch is usually a dud.) Grease the skillet again every two or three crêpes.
  4. Serve the crêpes from the skillet as you make them, or pile them on a heatproof plate set over a saucepan of simmering water, covering the crêpes with foil until ready to serve. The batter and crêpes will keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge, tightly covered.

Notes

This recipe can be used for savory crêpes also: just hold the sugar, vanilla and rum.

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  • Stephanie

    Hello Clotilde,

    Is the mineral water fizzy/sparkling or still? I’ve heard of using sparkling water to make pastry light, but have never tried this, and your recipe made me wonder if the same thing would work with crepes? :)

  • Sophie

    Stephanie, I heard that fuzzy water or even beer makes the crepes sort of crispier.

    Also, a good thing about this pate a crepes is that it had the same amount of ingredients as the Far Breton, which is a sort of flan. All you need to do is to bake it in the oven (175°c) for 45 minutes then let it cool completely. The original Far would also require some dried plums (rolled in flour beforehands, in order not to stick to the bottom of the baking pan) added into the cake.

  • http://www.overacuppa.com may

    oh yums… oh i’ve not tasted crème de marron for years (tasted it the first time while inter-railing across europe — simply divine)! i wonder if the little French cafe near the Botanical Gardens might have some for sale…

  • Alisa

    I completely agree, le beurre-sucre is the best way to go….unless you go one step further, and dip “that” into a little puddle of Gran Marnier. Way good!

  • http://www.himonkey.net monkey

    oh! a new holiday for me to celebrate. of course, the crepe flinging part of the tradition is just as appealing as the crepe eating.

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com/ Barbara

    I do so envy the Europeans with the various “days” you celebrate. Here in the New World we don’t have those traditions.

  • http://fingerineverypie.typepad.com Julie

    Clotilde,

    Your crepe photo is so artful…it’s a thing of beauty in and of itself, and it also makes me hungry…

    I wonder if crepes and/or all classifications of pancakes would be a fun theme for IMBB…it hasn’t been done, has it?

  • Joan

    ah, Pancake Tuesday..here in Australia…my husband’s filling is that beautiful thick European plum jam ..mine, lemon juice and sugar..

    happy mardi gras..be wild today!

  • http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~roy Alain Roy

    I have had many people tell me that it is hard to make crepes. They believe that their crepes don’t come out thin enough, or whatever. I think it’s hogwash, and that crepes are easy to make. Maybe that’s just because I grew up watching my mother make crepes all the time.

    So I wrote up very detailed directions on how to make crepes. They are probably more detailed than most readers of this blog will require.

    http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~roy/Crepes/

    Neither my web page design nore my photography are as good as what I see here on C&Z, but hopefully the directions are clear enough.

    -alain

  • http://www.littlefancies.blogspot.com/ Dreska

    Thank you very much for this recipe. Always wondered how to make the real French crepes and never found the time to look them up.
    You made it really easy for me!
    Thanks Clotilde.

  • http://mouthingthewords.blogspot.com Saffron

    Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday! I am making crepes too!

    I love your blog… it is very inspirational for good and healthy eating!

  • http://cucinatestarossa.blogs.com cucina testa rossa

    alisa ~ you’re talking my language girlfriend! grand marnier and ANYthing works for me. when we made crepes in cooking school we couldn’t use utensils so i always burned my fingers until i got the hang of it….10 blistered fingertips later…

  • http://www.carablack.com Cara Black

    thank you for this recipe…can’t wait to try it with fizzy water…we did crepes last year at Chandaleur and didn’t kill anyone. no animals were hurt in the process either.

  • Joan

    they’re scrumptious Clotilde!..I’ve made two..as practice goes…we will be 7 at table…should be just lovely..

  • fallenangel

    On peut tout essayer pour accompagner les crêpes, rien n’est aussi bon que le Nutella ! n’est-ce pas ?

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0004392/ Pickles

    This is so funny. I have had a craving the last couple of days for crêpes. I didn’t know it was a seasonal craving! I made stacks and stacks of them years ago in the restaurant I worked. I am especially fond of the savory ones, made with whole-wheat flour and beer. We did the nutelle-maroon filling, and served it flambéed (sp?) and with ice-cream.
    It is not hard to make them, but it is something you have to get the hang of. Once you have found the right pan and the right temperature stting you are ready to go.

  • Joan

    Clotilde ~ such a crepe party we had last night! They were delicious ~ my daughter making a batch, and Claudia (a friend from France) making the other…such fun…assorted toppings including peaches and macadamia nuts cooked in butter and brown sugar…a hit! Would you tell Maxence’s mother her recipe will be travelling far and wide in Australia :-)

  • Lyn

    Love the crepes idea, especially the creme de marron variation. I finally searched out some of that tasty chestnut spread (product of France, found at my Italian market in southern California) and appreciate ideas to use it in other dishes. I simply MUST NOT continue to eat it straight, by the spoonful!

  • Joan

    Lyn, is the “thou shalt not eat creme de marron straight, by the spoonful” a universal ban, or a Lyn Ban?

  • Zan

    lovely crepes, and such a sense of humor! I really enjoy your blog.

    The crepes on the high cupboard can join the spaghetti noodles on the wall-sort of a food sacrifice art thing…

  • yvette

    I was charmed by the idea of a mid-winter crepe festival, so we too fired up the skillet. The children’s crepes were filled with Nutella, which they had learned to love in Paris last year. My husband and I had a very restrained version with fresh strawberries and (unsweetened) whipped cream. Until the doorbell rang. While I was at the door my husband suddenly yelled for me to come into the kitchen at once. Expecting some sort of culinary or bodily disaster I ran in, only to find him swooning over the combination of crepes and “four fruit” preserves we had brought back from France last year. We’ve found a new favorite. Thanks for the inspiration … it was a lovely evening.

  • emily

    Beautiful site! Love the fun facts! After hearing it was La Chandeleur last Wednesday, I made baked cheese crepes for a birthday. They were delicious (would love to share the recipe if anyone so desires). Thanks for giving me inspiration!

  • kim sumerson

    i work in a french restaurant making crepes, coffees and paninis. i wondered if you could advise me as to how long i can store crepe mixture for, as they include raw eggs. also, we serve traditional espresso coffees, but i wanted to make some with a bit of variety…do u know of any interestingly different coffee recipes we could serve?

  • adelina

    Clotilde-

    Thank you for your wonderful crepe recipe. Do you happen to know of a good Madeleine cookie? Of all the Madeleine recipe I had tried, none has produced a soft, spongy, buttery and nice golden affect with the little lump. If you know of any good tips, please share! Thanks so much in advance.

  • Angela

    I made them this morning and they turned out great–not too sweet nor heavy with golden brown edges and lovely texture. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  • Ann

    I was just thinking of making crepes and trying to come up with a creative way to do it. Thank you for an intriguing recipe! Plus, your photo is beautiful.

  • http://teaandmargaritas.blogspot.com/ tea

    Thanks for posting this recipe. Years ago I had some real French Crepes cooked for me in France and they were delicious!
    Love your blog!

    tea
    xo

  • Kyle in Green Bay

    Clotilde,

    I haven’t made crepes in years but must make them again soon. Thanks for the reminder.

    The recipe in C&Z uses 1/2 milk and 1/2 water. Your Martha Stewart recipe uses all milk.

    Why the difference?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kyle – In the Martha Stewart Living article you’re referring to, I wrote the texts, but the recipes themselves were developed and tested by the in-house team.

  • http://firefliesofhope.com Gwendolyn

    Someone wrote about crêpes sticking to her stainless steel skillet (in this post or the galette post).

    If you are wondering what gift to get on your birthday, you could always get a cast iron or non-stick crêpe pan! My favorite is the cast iron one made in France by STAUB. It is the one with the wooden handle ~ kind of heavy though, if you want to learn how to flip crêpes. But if you don’t mind carpal tunnel, go for it! We purchased it from Amazon.com

  • Maglayas

    Hi Clotilde! I came across your blog recently because I was researching the history of crepes, but I love reading your posts, whether they are related to crepes or not! I had a quick question – a French friend who was visiting last week gave me a recipe for crepes that has beer in it, and I’d never seen that before in a crepe recipe! Is that pretty common? Is it a regional thing, because I know she is from Normandie. The recipe is here if you are interested.

    Keep up the great work!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Maglayas – Yes, using beer in crepe batter is a rather classic trick to make the crepes lighter in texture. It works very nicely, but I rarely have beer on hand, so I myself seldom make crepes that way.

  • http://www.riseandshine.com Aeriol

    A recipe for crepes that is gluten free would be very helpful. I am a Celiac and can’t make many of your great recipes. Some other options would be nice.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Aeriol – I sincerely sympathize with your dietary constraints, but this is a personal site that contains personal recipes, and therefore it reflects the way that I eat — which does include gluten from time to time.

    There are very many fantastic blogs out there that offer gluten-free recipes and advice on substitutions, and I’m sure some will be able to offer guidance in your quest for gluten-free crêpes. Good luck!

  • Hazel

    Thank you for this lovely recipe! I have used and enjoyed it, as well as many other recipes you’ve posted. I’m following with particular interest your sourdough journey, as I am also learning about and enjoying my own wild yeast starter. I wonder if you’ve tried this recipe for sourdough crepes?

    I made these with my 3 y/o daughter today (to celebrate la chandeleur a day late), and they were super yummy! I think this will be a go-to recipe for using up extra fresh starter from now on!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Hazel – I had experimented with adding starter to my crepe batter as well, though in different proportions from the recipe you link to, I’ll have to compare the results!

  • Thomas

    Hello Clotilde
    Just found your wonderfull food site. Thank you for sharing all these nice recipes and delicious personality.

    I am experimenting with crepes and have a few questions.

    I made the crepes as you instructed and they were really nice. But it took a while to mix the batter. Is there a reason why you don´t put all ingredients in a blender and mix it? and is there a particular reason for using half milk and half water?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You can definitely mix the batter in a blender if you prefer. I’ve occasionally made the batter with all milk rather than half milk half water, but they don’t cook as evenly then.

  • Diana

    Crepes are by far one of my favourite French Culinary wonders! Unlike most French pastries, they are can be enjoyed both sweet and savoury! As a Canadian, I must say that fruit crepes topped with Maple Syrup create an explosion of flavours- but perhaps I am biases!;)

  • Sonya

    Clotilde,

    How many crepes does the above recipe make?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      There is no yield because it depends on the size of the pan and the thickness of the crêpes, but I would say I normally get about a dozen 8-inch / 20-cm crêpes out of this.

  • Ena

    I made these yesterday (after leaving the batter in the fridge overnight) at my grandmother’s house. I still have to perfect the swishing part as my crepes for the most part didn’t turn out a nice round shape. But who cares, right? I slathered one half with Nutella and the other with my mom’s homemade plum jam (with cinnamon and rum) and we enjoyed them so much!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m glad your crêpes turned out well, Ena! If you found it difficult to swish the batter around the pan, it is possible that your batter was a tad too thick (the proper amount of liquids depends on the specific type of flour you use, so it will vary from cook to cook). Next time, try adding a touch more water or milk, and see if that makes it easier.

  • pauline

    to celebrate la chandeleur we have made some crepes with your book recipe…always a success ; hope Milan grows well
    Pauline

  • Southern Gal

    actually Mardi Gras is March 4th this year. http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/mardi-gras-2014.html

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Absolutely, thanks for noting that! The post is drawn from the archives so it refers to a Mardi Gras date from a few years ago, but I’ll insert a note for readers to check the most recent date.

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