Nothing beats a classic crêpe sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice, served warm from the pan. Elevate the humble pancake with our expert tips and mouth-watering recipe suggestions. Try a sweet stack topped with caramelised fruit for a showstopping dessert or a cheesy, savoury version for a quick dinner.
Are crêpes and pancakes the same?
Crêpes and pancakes are to some degree interchangeable – crêpe is the French word for a British pancake (not an American or Scotch pancake, both of which use raising agents for a thicker, fluffier outcome). Crêpe batter tends to be slightly richer than pancake, using whole milk or sometimes cream, plus melted butter and a little sugar. Crêpes and pancakes are made with plain flour, but there are also French crêpes made with buckwheat flour – these are larger, cooked on flat griddles and are classically served with savoury fillings. If you are looking for gluten- or egg-free crêpes, try our alternative pancake recipes.
Crêpes can be flipped just like pancakes, but flipping is associated with particular days in the year, such as Shrove Tuesday in the UK or la Chandeleur – 'Crêpe Day' – on 2 February in France. Flipping isn’t necessary, but if you'd like to, watch our tutorial to learn how to flip a pancake.
The pan you use to cook your crêpes is crucial. You can buy a classic crêpe pan or use a non-stick frying pan (see our selection of the top five non-stick frying pans). The size of the pan you use depends on the size of the crêpe you want to make; a 20cm pan is a good size to start with, as the crêpes will be easier to handle and turn.
The first crêpe you make may well stick to the pan as you might not have found just the right temperature yet, but don't worry – eating this is a cook’s perk! As you cook the crêpes, stack them on a board or plate with a strip of baking parchment between each if you are worried about them sticking. If you need to reheat them, microwave them in a stack rather than individually. Once cooked and completely cooled, they can be wrapped and frozen.
What to serve with crêpes
The flavour of crêpes can be varied by adding citrus zest, grated cinnamon or nutmeg or even brown butter. What you serve on the crêpes is up to you – fresh fruit, chocolate spread, jam and syrups are all popular, or you can stick with classic lemon and sugar. Try our savoury crêpe recipes for a speedy midweek meal the whole family will love.
How to make crêpes
Easy classic crêpes
- 140g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 200ml whole milk
- 25g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the pan
- Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the middle. Mix the milk with 100ml cold water.
- Pour in about 50ml of the milk mixture and the butter, then start whisking in the centre, gradually drawing the flour into the wet ingredients. Once all the flour is incorporated, beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Add a little more of the milk mixture if it is too stiff to beat.
- Add a good splash of the milk mixture and whisk into a thick batter. While still whisking, pour in a steady stream of the remaining milk mixture. Don’t use all the milk if you don’t need it – flour can vary in absorbency, but what you are looking for is a batter that is the consistency of slightly thick single cream. Set the batter aside to rest for 30 mins.
- Heat a 20cm crêpe pan or flattish non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat, then brush it with a little melted butter. Ladle some batter (about 3 tbsp for this size of pan) into the pan, tilting the pan to move the mixture around for a thin, even layer. Quickly return any excess batter to the bowl, then return the pan to the heat. As you continue to make the crêpes, you’ll be able to estimate how much batter you need and won’t need to pour any back.
- Leave to cook, undisturbed, for about 30-40 seconds. If the pan is the right temperature, the crêpe should turn golden underneath, start to brown at the edges and be just set on top – don’t cook it any further.
- Ease a palette knife under the crêpe, then quickly lift and flip it over. Make sure the crêpe is lying flat against the base of the pan with no folds, then cook for another 10-15 seconds before turning out onto a warm plate.
- Continue with the rest of the batter, serving the crêpes as you cook, or stack onto a plate. The crêpes will keep, tightly wrapped, in the freezer for up to one month, or make them up to a day ahead.
Top 5 crêpe recipes
1. Quick crêpes suzette
This quick and easy crêpes suzette recipe is easily doubled if you're catering for a crowd. Light and creamy crème fraîche and a delicious syrupy sauce are truly a match made in heaven. Try a twist by substituting orange juice for tropical fruit juice and serve with sliced mango and fat-free Greek natural yogurt.
2. Lemon drizzle mille crêpe cake
Stack your crêpes to make a showstopping cake for tea or dessert. Our lemon drizzle mille crêpe cake is pure indulgence. Fuse the best of both worlds with a classic cake flavour, delicate pancakes and a creamy filling. It's the perfect sweet treat for a special occasion.
3. Cinnamon crêpes
Add a sprinkling of spice to create our cinnamon crêpes with nut butter, sliced banana & raspberries. Serve up a tasty brunch for two, complete with a dollop of almond butter and fresh fruit.
4. Asparagus coconut crêpes with sweet chilli sauce
Use coconut milk and fresh veg to make our eye-catching asparagus coconut crêpes with sweet chilli sauce. This colourful veggie main course is ideal for dinner parties. Although it looks impressive, it's simple to make and full of flavour.
5. Gravadlax crêpes
Take some flavour inspiration from Scandinavia and try our gravadlax with dill crêpes, chilli & chive cream and pickled onion. Swap blinis for a herby pancake piled high with classic toppings. This dish is perfect for a lazy weekend brunch or a simple dinner party starter.
Need more pancake inspiration? Check out our top recipes...
What's your favourite way to serve crêpes? Leave a comment below...