These French Pancakes, also known as French Crepes, are thin vanilla pancakes perfect as a comforting breakfast or dessert for any occasion. This recipe also includes a dairy-free and a gluten-free option!
I am a French mum, and I love to share with my kid my favorite childhood recipe. French crepes are definitely part of my culture, a fun snack, dessert, or breakfast I have been eating monthly as a kid.
Here’s my family’s French crepe recipe, the best crepes you will ever have, and the easiest crepes on earth ready in 20 minutes!
How to make French pancakes?
I know that most countries call these French pancakes, but I like to call them crepes! So don’t be too confused if you see crepes popping everywhere in this post.
French pancakes are French crepes. It’s basically the same thing! Crepe is the French name for pancakes, and in France, we don’t make thick fluffy pancakes for breakfast.
We love thin, large, round crepes that look more like egg wraps and are easy to roll or fold in a triangle shape.
All you need to make French crepes are 6 ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now.
- All-purpose flour – or white whole-wheat flour for a healthier twist.
- Large eggs
- Vanilla extract
- Sugar of choice – any granulated sugar works well. Unrefined cane sugar is our favorite option.
- Milk of choice – the authentic French recipe uses whole milk, but you can make French crepes with any milk. The less fat the milk contains, the crispier the crepes will be. So, for example, if you use almond milk, the crepes get lighter.
- Unsalted melted butter for a dairy-free option, you can swap the butter for melted coconut oil or any vegetable oil you have at home.
Nothing easier than making this crepe batter, actually even the kids can make crepes, and that’s the cool part.
First, whisk eggs until well beaten. Don’t sweat it. Use a hand whisk, and don’t use a stand mixer or electric beater for this.
Now, whisk in the remaining wet ingredients: milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
Finally, whisk in the flour and sugar. Whisk until you have a smooth batter with almost no lumps. There are always a few lumps left, but that’s ok!
Cooking The Crepes
That’s the tricky part about crepe. How to cook crepe to make thin crepes? That’s the most frequent question I get asked as a French passionate about making crepes.
#1 Crepe Pan Choice
You can’t make thin crepes in a regular frying pan. You must buy a non-stick crepe pan if you want to achieve ultra-thin crepes that crisp on the border. Crepe pans have lower borders and a thinner surface it means the crepes cook fast and evenly.
#2 Warming The Pan
Keep in mind that the first crepe is always a mess, and most of the time, it’s too thick and not the best. That’s because the pan needs some time to reach its best temperature.
The pan should be hot but not ultra-hot, or the batter splits in the pan when you tilt the pan to spread the batter.
The best is to use a Tefal pan. It has a red hot spot in the center of the crepe pan that tells you when the pan is hot and ready to add the batter.
#3 Tilting The Batter In The Pan
The technique to spread your crepe nice and thin is to first tilt the pan, add about 1/3 cup batter on top of the pan, and work by circular motion to gently spread batter everywhere on the pan surface.
If you miss batter, add more as you go. If you added too much batter, tilt the pan above the bowl with the crepe batter to remove excess. You should end up with just enough batter to cover the 10-inch pan surface.
#4 Don’t Over-oil The Pan
Now, warm up the crepe pan over medium heat, lightly oil surface. Crepes are not pancakes! They need only a tiny rub of oil on the pan to cook. Don’t add too much oil in the pan or the crepes fry like an omelette.
#5 Cooking And Flipping
Now, be patient and don’t flip the crepes too quick. Wait for the French pancakes to be almost dry in the center.
When the border of the crepe unstick from the border and get golden and crispy, it’s time to slide a flat tool under the crepe and flip it.
Cook an extra minute on the other side and store on a plate while cooking the remaining crepes.
There are two ways of folding the crepes:
- Rolling as a tube – perfect for on-the-go crepes, that’s how kids love to eat them the most, no knife and forks needed.
- Folding in a triangle shape – French-favorite way to serve breakfast or dessert on a plate.
Below I listed healthier crepes toppings for you to try, but if you want to make authentic French crepes, try some of the favorite French combinations below:
- Chocolate spread and desiccated coconut – add the chocolate spread inside the crepe. French people use Nutella and add the toasted coconut on top of the folded crepe.
- Apricot jam and desiccated coconut – add both fillings inside the crepe.
- Strawberry jam and whipped cream – spread jam in the crepe and top with whipped cream and fruits.
- Crystal sugar – the classic ‘crepe au sucre’ that most French kids eat, basically a crepe filled with white sugar.
Are French Crepes Healthy?
The crepe itself is not that bad for you! It’s actually very nourishing as it contains:
- Protein from eggs and milk.
- Low sugar – you can even make the batter sugar-free, skipping the sweetener.
- Calcium from milk.
Then, of course, the flour used in crepes is refined white flour that doesn’t contain as much fiber as oat flour or wholewheat flour. But, flour is still high in protein and a good source of quick carbs for kids’ breakfast.
The less healthy part of crepe is often their filling. Most French people fill their crepe with high-sugar ingredients like jam, chocolate spread, powder sugar, or whipped cream. But it doesn’t have to be!
Healthy Crepe Filling
You can absolutely make these French pancakes and fill them with healthier toppings, including:
- Chia Seed Jam – to up the fiber and protein content of the crepes.
- Nut Butter – this adds healthy fats, plant-based proteins that are fulfilling. The best choices are chocolate peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter.
- Sunflower Seed Butter
- Fruit Puree – like apple puree, strawberry puree.
- Fresh Fruits – banana slices, berries
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- 1 Non-stick 10-inch Crepe Pan (25cm)
- 3 large Eggs at room temperature
- 2 cups Milk of Choice can be soy milk, almond milk for dairy-free
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 2 tablespoons Melted Butter or vegetable oil for dairy-free
- 1 ¾ cup All-purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons Sugar we used coconut sugar
- In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs until well beaten, then whisk in milk, vanilla, and melted butter.
- Whisk in flour and sugar. Whisk until smooth, and almost no more lumps show - that's ok if you still have some small lumps in the batter, but avoid big lumps for a tasty thin crepe.
- Heat a non-stick 10 inch (25cm) crepe pan over medium-high heat.
- When the pan is hot, lightly oil it with coconut oil or avocado oil. You can use an oil spray or rub a piece of oiled absorbent paper on the pan. Don't overoil the pan, or you will fry the crepes.
- Pour about 1/3 cup of batter in the pan, tilting the pan into circular motion - see my pictures above in this post for visual help. This slowly covers the pan surface with the batter. If the pan is hot enough, the batter should stick well to the coating. If it splits in the pan, it means the pan is too hot.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side or until the sides dry up and you are able to slide a spatula under the crepe to flip it over.
- Flip the French crepe and cook for an extra minute on the other side.
- Store on a plate while you are cooking the remaining batter.
- Serve with chocolate spread, jam, or powdered sugar.
- Store the crepes in the fridge on a plate covered with plastic wrap to prevent the crepe from drying out.