9 Tips for Perfect Crepes, Plus 10 Easy Ways to Fill Them
You don't have to be French to learn how to make crepes! Try these delicious brunch or dinner recipes for sweet crepes, savory crepes, and crepe fillings.
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I used to be afraid of making crepes. How could something so thin, so delicate-looking, be anything less than torture to make? Probably because they’re French, they always made me think of a phrase I learned at some point, Il faut souffrir pour être belle — basically, you must suffer to be beautiful. But then a friend cooked some for me and when I raved, she shrugged it off like it was nothing. No, she insisted, it was no big deal. Crepes are easy, she said.
She was right.
The ingredient list for basic crepe batter is brief, nothing but eggs, milk, butter, flour, and salt. You can whisk the mixture by hand or whir it in a blender. Seriously, that part takes zero brain cells. The trick, if there is one, comes during the cooking. You pour a little bit of that batter into a nice hot nonstick skillet or crepe pan, then tilt the pan until the batter covers the bottom. It cooks until golden brown, maybe another minute, then you give it a quick flip. Cook for another 30 seconds or so, and you’ve made your first crepe. See? My friend told us it was easy.
That said, there are a few crepe-related tricks I’ve accumulated over the years. If you do all of them, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be happy. Heck, even if you do only #1, #3, and #8, you’ll be happy.
9 tips for perfect crepes
Here are my top tips.
1. Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes, then stir before use. You can also leave it in the fridge overnight. When you go to cook your crepes, it should have the consistency of heavy cream. If it feels too thick, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until it pours easily.
2. Know where you’ll be stacking completed crepes before you start, since they’ll each take less than two minutes to cook. You do not want to be scrounging in your cabinet for a plate while a crepe is in the skillet.
3. Use the right pan. It should be 8 or 9 inches, nonstick, and shallow — if you have a crepe pan that’s fantastic, but it’s definitely not necessary.
4. Reach the right temperature. Preheat the pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles immediately when you sprinkle it on. You want the batter to start cooking within a few seconds of hitting the pan.
5. Swirl the batter. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, then lift it off the burner, tilting this way and that so gravity pulls the batter across the surface of the pan.
6. Know when to flip. After about a minute, you’ll see the edges start to pull away from the skillet. When that happens, take a peek underneath. Does it look golden in places? It’s ready to flip.
7. Use your fingers. I promise, you don’t need a spatula to flip your crepes. With your fingers, pull the crepe towards you, grab it quickly, and turn it upside down. You don’t need to touch the pan itself, and you’re less likely to tear the crepe than you would if you used a utensil. Once you flip it, the crepe will need less than 30 seconds to finish cooking.
8. Consider the first one a treat for the chef, since it’s likely to be pretty messy if you haven’t done this before. Honestly, even after making hundreds of crepes, my first one is still unsteady enough that I gobble it down, straight from the pan.
9. Stack the crepes as they come out of the skillet. Keeping them together like that will help them stay warm and pliable while you finish the batch.
Once you’ve cooked all your crepes, you’ve got options. Are you in the mood for something savory, or sweet? The simplest savory crepe, I think, has thinly sliced cheese and maybe some ham, warmed in the oven just until it gets melty. Or you could use leftovers like ratatouille or roasted vegetables plus some shredded rotisserie chicken. On the sweet side, nothing could be easier than powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, or your favorite jam.
If you don’t want to eat all the crepes right away, refrigerate them for 3 days max (they’ll start to dry out after that). Unfilled crepes also freeze well — layer them with waxed or parchment paper in between if you want to be able to use a few at a time, but otherwise you can just wrap the stack tightly, pop it in a zip-top bag, and freeze. Defrost in the fridge overnight, or in the microwave.
Now that you’re raring to get started on your first batch of crepes, let’s talk recipes. Not only do batter recipes offer numerous options, the fillings can go in limitless different directions. What follows are some recipes for each: The crepes themselves, savory fillings, and sweet fillings.
7 basic crepe recipes
You’d think there would be just one recipe for the crepe itself, right? Not so fast. Swapping the flour makes them suitable for a variety of uses and diets. Several of these recipes make enough crepes for more than one meal.
This is the crepe you picture when you hear the word “crepe,” mild in flavor and supremely versatile. The crepe itself feels delicate yet sturdy, and can stand up to virtually any kind of filling. All you need are milk (preferably whole milk), large eggs, salt, all-purpose flour, and melted butter. Plan on 30 minutes total time, or more if you want to let the batter rest longer.
Crepes made with buckwheat flour are traditional in Brittany, the region in France where the grain grows. Buckwheat may have the word “wheat” in its name, but it’s not related to the kind that makes all-purpose flour. It brings an earthy flavor and a grey-blue color to the pancake. Look for it at well-stocked grocery stores, natural foods stores, and online.
Whole Wheat Crepes
A slightly healthier version of the basic recipe, these easy crepes are virtually identical except they use white whole wheat flour.
Oat flour (or finely ground rolled oats) replaces some of the all-purpose here, adding a hint of nuttiness and a firmer texture. These have sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest in the batter, so they’re perfect for sweet fillings.
Chickpea flour plus a bit of rice flour combine to give these crepes their body, while also making them gluten-free. They’re just a little nuttier than crepes made with all-purpose.
Remember how I said crepes can be adapted for almost any diet? A combo of coconut flour plus arrowroot powder takes the place of grain-based flour, while coconut oil replaces the butter.
This recipe really leans into the idea that crepes are kinda like French tortillas. It adds cornmeal to a standard formula, then uses the crepes to make enchiladas!
Savory filled crepes recipes
Their similarities to tortillas, wraps, and other flatbreads make crepes well suited to a variety of savory fillings.
Monte Cristo Crepes
Picture a Monte Cristo, the love child of grilled ham and cheese and French toast. Now imagine the filling rolled up inside a crepe before it gets dipped in the batter. I know, right?
Chicken Florentine Crepes
Gluten-free crepes made with coconut flour are filled with a combo of chicken breast, spinach, cheese, and cream, then baked under a blanket of gooey mozzarella.
Ham, Swiss, and Asparagus Crepes
Basic crepes roll around the meat-cheese-veg combo, then the rolls go into a baking dish for a quick spin in the oven. While they’re in there, you make a creamy mustard sauce to go with them. Elegant, easy, and irresistible.
Spinach and Corn Crepes
Baby spinach, corn kernels, and sautéed mushrooms simmer in a velvety cheese sauce before getting folded inside crepes, topped with more cheese, and baked.
Tender sautéed mushrooms and shallots, enveloped in a mustard-sour cream sauce, wrapped inside a buckwheat crepe: Vegetarian dinners don’t get much better than this.
Sweet filled crepes recipes
Their similarities to pancakes make crepes a perfect wrapping for fresh fruit and other sweet things. (Nutella, caramel sauce, sweetened peanut butter? Give them a try!)
The crepes in the most famous French crepes dish in the world are not technically filled. Instead, you warm them in a syrup made from fresh orange juice, sugar, and butter. The pièce de résistance: Pour Grand Marnier over the pan and light it on fire! That’s right, you’re flambéing. If you don’t have Grand Marnier on hand you could go for Cointreau or Triple Sec.
Chocolate Crepes with Raspberries and Cream
Here, the twist comes in the crepe itself: A bit of cocoa powder and sugar in the batter make a chocolatey base for vanilla-scented whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
Apple Cinnamon Crepes
Think of these as a lighter version of apple pie: Tender pieces of apple, softened in butter and cinnamon, paired with cinnamon whipped cream, wrapped inside cinnamon-spiked crepes. You're going to use medium heat here (rather than medium-high) to make the crepes since the batter includes a little sugar.
Bananas Foster Crepes
Here, crepes enrobe sliced bananas coated in a glossy sauce made with butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. The whole thing gets topped with vanilla ice cream and any leftover sauce. Yes, please.
Low-Carb Lemon Crepes with Whipped Raspberry Cream Cheese
Since crepe batter can adapt to suit so many diets, why not make a dessert crepe that manages to be low-carb? Almond flour replaces all-purpose in the lemony crepe batter, and a low-carb sugar replacement sweetens the raspberry cream cheese.