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How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch

These fluffy homemade croissants are the lightest, butteriest breakfast treat. The detailed recipe includes clever tips, step-by-step photos, and helpful instructions, making the task approachable by any baker, even younger ones. {Skip to Recipe}

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

VIDEO: See me make croissants from scratch!

Croissants are a treat many of us buy at the pastry shop without a second thought. I mean, why would you even consider making them at home? But homemade croissants had been on my to-do list for some time because I love finicky pastry projects. My plan was to make them once out of curiosity, just to learn more about how they’re created. Then I’d resume buying them at the shop. I’d been thinking about this croissant project for years, but had yet to act on it.

A new book recently pushed the idea back to the top of my pastry priorities: In the French Kitchen with Kids, by Mardi Michels. A cookbook for busy families and kids with a croissant recipe…? Homemade croissants must be doable then, right? I read the recipe several times to get a good grasp of the task ahead, then dove right in.

Turns out there are shortcuts to making homemade croissants, and Mardi provides them in her recipe. Of course, you won’t go through the tricky laminating process that’s usually done by machine in pastry shops, but you will roll, fold, and turn the dough eight times. Through the process, the dough goes from sticky and super soft to beautifully smooth and elastic. I have to say: there’s something in this rhythmic task that makes you feel like a pastry pro.

This folding and rolling technique “produces a fluffy, rather than super flaky, croissant,” says Mardi. She’s got it exactly right: these homemade croissants are the airiest, butteriest breakfast treat ever. Enjoyed minutes after they come out of the oven, they’re magical—basking in the sweet aroma of freshly baked homemade croissants while you eat one is pretty close to paradise—and they’re just as delightful slightly reheated for days after. My family and I have enjoyed them plain, dipped in jam, even sliced open and filled with PB&J or ham and cheese.

This homemade croissant recipe is just one of the many delights in Mardi Michel’s book, In the French Kitchen with Kids. Mardi is a school teacher and she’s been offering cooking classes to both kids and adults for years. I’ve long been in awe of the beautiful dishes, desserts, and treats made by the kids in her class: there’s something completely enchanting about seeing little hands making tartlets or rolling croissants. This book is the result of the experience and expertise she accumulated through the years: if children can make delightful French treats such as Profiteroles, Madeleines, and Crème Brûlée, everyone can.

In the French Kitchen with Kids, a cookbook by Mardi Michels // FoodNouveau.com

Mardi is indeed a great teacher, and she writes in an empathetic, helpful voice. She provides timetables to help with planning more ambitious projects, mentions visual cues to make sure you stay on the right track, and dots her pages with fun anecdotes that teach you more about French cuisine. Mardi strives to “break down any preconceived notion that French cuisine is too fancy or too difficult for kids to master,” makes a plea about the importance of teaching kids how to cook, and provides extremely helpful, yet simple, tips for cooking with kids.

Mardi reminded me that I should cook and bake with my son more often. Because of what I do for a living, cooking usually occurs during daytime, when he’s away at school. For the sake of efficiency, I also prep family meals during the day and simply assemble or reheat come dinnertime. This means my son knows I cook all time, but also that he seldom gets to do it with me. Using Mardi’s book for inspiration, I’ve started scheduling small baking projects on weekends, and we’ve been having lots of fun making them together. So far, we’ve made Mardi’s delicious financiers and jam tarts and we plan to try many more recipes from her book. Projects will get more complex as my son gets older and more experienced in the kitchen; for now, I’m just happy In the French Kitchen with Kids reminded me to share my passion for cooking and baking with my son.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

Helpful Tips for Making Homemade Croissants

PLANNING

Your croissant-making schedule will look like this:

  • First mix of the dough: 15 minutes
  • 1st rest: 1 hour
  • Rolling, folding, and turning the dough: 30 to 45 minutes
  • 2nd rest: 3 hours (to overnight)
  • Rolling and shaping the croissants: 30 to 45 minutes
  • 3rd rest: 3 hours
  • Baking: 20 to 25 minutes

Altogether, making these homemade croissants is a 9-hour (mostly hands-off) process. While you could make this project in a single day, starting in the morning and baking the croissants in the late afternoon/early evening, I think it’s better to split the task over two days. You can either refrigerate the folded dough overnight for the 2nd rest, or shape the croissants and refrigerate them to do the 3rd rest overnight. My favorite option is the latter, because it’s the one that allows you to enjoy freshly baked croissants for breakfast!

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

EQUIPMENT

To make homemade croissants, you need the following equipment:

  • Thermometer (optional): This is useful to precisely monitor the temperature of the milk in the 1st step. The milk must be warm to allow the yeast to bloom. If the milk is too hot, it will “kill” the yeast, rendering it useless. If you don’t have a thermometer, try using the skin inside of your wrist as a guide—just as parents did to check the temperature of the milk they were giving to their baby, back in the old days. The milk should be slightly warmer than your skin. If you can feel the milk hot on your skin, it’s too hot for the yeast. You’ll know for sure whether the milk was at the right temperature after you let the milk and yeast mixture rest for 10 minutes: if the milk was just right, the top will be frothy. If the milk was too cold or too hot, you’ll still see the milk dotted with specks of unbloomed yeast. If it is the case, start over, or your croissants won’t rise at all.
  • Food processor: The food processor makes a super quick job of mixing the dough. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mix the dough using a pastry cutter.
  • Rolling pin: A rolling pin is necessary to roll the dough out to large rectangles with an even thickness. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use an empty wine bottle.
  • Pastry scraper or large icing spatula: When you first start rolling the dough for the folding and turning process, it will be super sticky and very difficult to manipulate without the help of a thin spatula to scrape it off your work surface. If you don’t have either of the tools, you could probably get away with using a turner.
  • Two baking sheets and parchment paper: You’ll need to rest the shaped croissants on two parchment paper-lined baking sheets. The best baking sheets to use are aluminum ones; dark baking sheets brown baked treats prematurely.
  • Ruler or tape measure, and pizza cutter: You’ll use these tools to precisely cut out rectangles. You can use a regular metal or plastic ruler, though make sure to wash it thoroughly with soap before setting it on the dough. If you don’t have a pizza cutter, you can use a very sharp knife.
  • Pastry brush: This tool is required to brush the croissants with the egg and cream mixture right before baking.

MAKING HOMEMADE CROISSANTS WITH KIDS

As Mardi herself says, this recipe for homemade croissants is one of the more advanced recipes in her book. It’s not especially technical or difficult, but the process takes a lot of time to complete, and you do need to be careful and patient, especially during the rolling, folding, and turning process. This is a recipe I’d recommend doing with older kids, especially ones with previous experience in the kitchen. Younger kids might be discouraged that the process takes so many hours—although it might be a good way for them to learn about delayed gratification!

In all honesty, croissants wouldn’t be so fun to make with a young kid repeatedly asking, “Are they done yet?” My son is only four years old, so here’s how I did it. On a Saturday afternoon, I started preparing the dough in the kitchen. As he often does, he got curious and joined me, asking what I was doing. I replied, “I’m making dough. Want to help me?” He added the ingredients to the food processor and then helped gather the dough into a ball. He went off to do his kid business, and after the dough had rested, I did the rolling, turning, and folding on my own because it’s a trickier part of the project that requires a bit of strength and precision.

I let the dough rest overnight, and the next morning, I rolled the dough out and cut it into triangles. I invited him back into the kitchen so he could help roll the croissants, which he loved doing. He was eager to taste the croissants, but I said they would ready after lunch. We enjoyed freshly baked croissants with jam for dessert—what a treat! My son was super impressed we’d baked croissants from scratch, and he was proud he participated in the process. I know what his experience and patience levels are, so I took him along for the fun parts. You can be sure he was a pro at eating the croissants, though!

You know your kids better than anyone. Divide the project into tasks and involve them in the ones you know they’ll enjoy doing. If they want to tag along for a while, let them. If they butterfly away, let them! Next time, they may stick around for longer, and fingers crossed, they’ll be making homemade croissants on their own before you know it!

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

GET A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THE RECIPE: I’ll first break down the recipe into detailed steps with helpful pictures, but you can also skip it and jump to a printable version of the recipe at the bottom of the post, if that’s what you’re looking for.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch

VIDEO: See me make croissants from scratch! 

YIELD: 10 croissants

Active time: 1h15 to 1h45
Resting time: 7 hours, divided into 3 rests
Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk (3.25 % m.f.) or partly skimmed milk (2% m.f.)
2 1/2 tsp (12 ml) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (375 ml / 225 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 ml / 50 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 ml / 226 g) cold salted butter or European-style butter, cut into cubes
All-purpose flour, for rolling and shaping
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp (15 ml) heavy (35% m.f.) cream

1. Heat the milk to between 110˚F and 113˚F (approx. 45˚C) in a medium saucepan set over medium heat (use a digital thermometer to check the temperature). Alternatively, you can heat the milk in the microwave. Start by heating the milk for 30 seconds at high, then stir and test the temperature. Keep heating by 10-second bursts if needed.

2. Pour the milk into a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It will be frothy on top after this time.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

3. Meanwhile, place the flour, sugar, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse eight to ten times—you should still be able to see large chunks of butter.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

4. Tip the flour and butter mixture over the warmed milk and use a wooden spoon to just incorporate the dry ingredients into the milk. The dough will be lumpy, shaggy, and quite dry at this point.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

5. Use your hands to gather the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 1 hour (don’t leave it much longer than this, because it will become too difficult to roll out).

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

6. Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly flour your countertop. Transfer the dough to the work surface. The dough will be very soft and sticky at this point, so you will likely need to sprinkle the top of the dough with flour as well. Shape it into a rough rectangle.

 

7. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough until you have a very large rectangle (8 x 17 inches/20 x 40 cm). You should be able to see butter pieces in the dough. If the edges of the rectangle crack a little as you are rolling, simply push them together with your fingers and continue to roll until you have the correct size of rectangle.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

8. With the largest side of the rectangle facing you, fold the dough about two-thirds of the way from left to right, then fold remaining third over the first fold. The dough will still be very soft and sticky at this point; use a pastry scraper or a large icing spatula to lift the dough more easily. The short side of the folded rectangle of dough should be facing you. Turn the dough clockwise so the long side of the rectangle now faces you. (You will most likely need to use the pastry scraper to help lift the folded dough.) This rolling and folding technique is known as a “turn.”

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

9. Lightly flour the working surface around the folded dough, and the top of the dough again, then lightly flour the rolling pin again. Repeat Steps 7 through 9 seven times for a total of eight “turns.” Sprinkle flour to prevent the dough from sticking, being careful to add only what you need. With each roll, fold, and turn, you will feel the dough become smoother and easier to handle.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

10. Once you’re done with the 8 turns, fold the dough one last time and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

11. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and place a large piece of parchment paper (at least 48 inches-/60 cm-long) on your working surface. Let the chilled dough sit for about 15 minutes so it’s not completely cold when you start working with it. Roll the dough until you have a rectangle that is a little over 8 x 24 inches (20 x 60 cm). This may take a bit of patience, but if you take it slowly, the dough will definitely roll out this large. Trim the edges of the rectangle so they are neat and straight—a clean ruler or a tape measure and a pizza cutter work well to do this. Save the dough trimmings to make tiny sugared escargots. See note at the end of the recipe for instructions.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

12. Working along the long sides of the rectangle, make a small cut in the dough on each side of the rectangle every 4 1/2 inches (12 cm). Place a ruler or a tape measure across the width of the dough at the first mark. Use a long sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut a rectangle across the width of the dough. Repeat at each mark until you have five rectangles.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

13. Cut each rectangle in two diagonally to make two triangles. Use a ruler or a tape measure (to make sure the triangles are even) and a pizza cutter to do this. You’ll have 10 triangles.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

14. Gently stretch one of the triangles by pulling on the right-angle side so that both long sides of the triangle are angled towards the tip. Working from the wide end, roll up the dough until you have reached the pointed end. Voilà, you have a croissant!

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

15. Repeat with the remaining triangles. Place five croissants on each tray and cover each tray with a clean tea towel. Leave to rest in a warm place (such as a turned off oven with the light on) for 3 hours. The croissants will puff up slightly during this time.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

16. When the croissants have been resting for 2 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C)—making sure to remove the raw croissants from the oven if that’s where you rested them. Whisk the egg and cream together and use a pastry brush to gently brush the tops of the croissants with this egg wash.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

17. Place one tray in the top third of your oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the croissants are golden brown on top. Switch the trays from top to bottom and turn them from front to back halfway through baking.

18. Remove the baking trays from the oven. Let the croissants sit on the baking trays for about 10 minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

STORAGE

These homemade croissants are at their very best enjoyed freshly baked. Store leftovers for 2 to 3 days in a resealable plastic bag. To reheat, place in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 8-10 minutes, or microwave for a few seconds.

NOTES

  • Make crunchy sugared escargots with croissant dough trimmings: Roughly shape the dough trimmings into straight rods, then loosely roll to create a flat “snail” shape. Let rest along with the croissants, then brush with the egg and cream mixture and generously sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the escargots. Let cool completely and enjoy.
  • Use croissant dough to make pains au chocolat: You can use this same dough to make pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants). You’ll find detailed instructions in Mardi’s cookbook, but here’s what you need to do, in a nutshell: instead of cutting the dough into triangles, cut it into 12 3 x 6 inches (8 x 15 cm) rectangles. Place one chocolate baking stick or some chocolate chips along the short side of one of the rectangles, then roll. Follow steps 15 to 18 above for the resting and baking process. Enjoy!

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

 

Homemade Croissants

Prep

Cook

Inactive

Total

Yield 10 croissants

These fluffy homemade croissants are the lightest, butteriest breakfast treat ever. The detailed recipe includes clever tips, step-by-step photos, and helpful instructions, making the task approachable by any baker, even younger ones.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk (3.25 % m.f.) or partly skimmed milk (2% m.f.)
  • 2 1/2 tsp (12 ml) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml / 225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml / 50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml / 226 g) cold salted butter or European-style butter, cut into cubes
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling and shaping
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) heavy (35% m.f.) cream

Instructions

  1. Heat the milk to between 110˚F and 113˚F (approx. 45˚C) in a medium saucepan set over medium heat (use a digital thermometer to check the temperature). Alternatively, you can heat the milk in the microwave. Start by heating the milk for 30 seconds at high, then stir and test the temperature. Keep heating by 10-second bursts if needed.
  2. Pour the milk into a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It will be frothy on top after this time.
  3. Meanwhile, place the flour, sugar, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse eight to ten times—you should still be able to see large chunks of butter.
  4. Tip the flour and butter mixture over the warmed milk and use a wooden spoon to just incorporate the dry ingredients into the milk. The dough will be lumpy, shaggy, and quite dry at this point.
  5. Use your hands to gather the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 1 hour (don’t leave it much longer than this, because it will become too difficult to roll out).
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly flour your countertop. Transfer the dough to the work surface. The dough will be very soft and sticky at this point, so you will likely need to sprinkle the top of the dough with flour as well. Shape it into a rough rectangle.
  7. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough until you have a very large rectangle (8 x 17 inches/20 x 40 cm). You should be able to see butter pieces in the dough. If the edges of the rectangle crack a little as you are rolling, simply push them together with your fingers and continue to roll until you have the correct size of rectangle.
  8. With the largest side of the rectangle facing you, fold the dough about two-thirds of the way from left to right, then fold remaining third over the first fold. The dough will still be very soft and sticky at this point; use a pastry scraper or a large icing spatula to lift the dough more easily. The short side of the folded rectangle of dough should be facing you. Turn the dough clockwise so the long side of the rectangle now faces you. (You will most likely need to use the pastry scraper to help lift the folded dough.) This rolling and folding is known as a “turn.”
  9. Lightly flour the working surface around the folded dough, and the top of the dough again, then lightly flour the rolling pin again. Repeat Steps 7 through 9 seven times for a total of eight “turns.” Sprinkle flour to prevent the dough from sticking, being careful to add only what you need. With each roll, fold, and turn, you will feel the dough become smoother and easier to handle.
  10. Once you’re done with the 8 turns, fold the dough one last time and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably overnight.
  11. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and place a large piece of parchment paper (at least 48 inches-/60 cm-long) on your working surface. Let the chilled dough sit for about 15 minutes so it’s not completely cold when you start working with it. Roll the dough until you have a rectangle that is a little over 8 x 24 inches (20 x 60 cm). This may take a bit of patience, but if you take it slowly, the dough will definitely roll out this large. Trim the edges of the rectangle so they are neat and straight—a clean ruler or a tape measure and a pizza cutter work well to do this. Save the dough trimmings to make tiny sugared escargots. See note at the end of the recipe for instructions.
  12. Working along the long sides of the rectangle, make a small cut in the dough on each side of the rectangle every 4 1/2 inches (12 cm). Place a ruler or a tape measure across the width of the dough at the first mark. Use a long sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut a rectangle across the width of the dough. Repeat at each mark until you have five rectangles.
  13. Cut each rectangle in two diagonally to make two triangles. Use a ruler or a tape measure (to make sure the triangles are even) and a pizza cutter to do this. You’ll have 10 triangles.
  14. Gently stretch one of the triangles by pulling on the right-angle side so that both long sides of the triangle are angled towards the tip. Working from the wide end, roll up the dough until you have reached the pointed end. Voilà, you have a croissant!
  15. Repeat with the remaining triangles. Place five croissants on each tray and cover each tray with a clean tea towel. Leave to rest in a warm place (such as a turned off oven with the light on) for 3 hours. The croissants will puff up slightly during this time.
  16. When the croissants have been resting for 2 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C)—making sure to remove the raw croissants from the oven if that’s where you rested them. Whisk the egg and cream together and use a pastry brush to gently brush the tops of the croissants with this egg wash.
  17. Place one tray in the top third of your oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the croissants are golden brown on top. Switch the trays from top to bottom and turn them from front to back halfway through baking.
  18. Remove the baking trays from the oven. Let the croissants sit on the baking trays for about 10 minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

STORAGE

These croissants are at their very best enjoyed freshly baked. Store leftovers for 2 to 3 days in a resealable plastic bag. To reheat, place in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 8-10 minutes, or microwave for a few seconds.

Notes

  • Make crunchy sugared escargots with croissant dough trimmings: Roughly shape the dough trimmings into straight rods, then loosely roll to create a flat “snail” shape. Let rest along with the croissants, then brush with the egg and cream mixture and generously sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the escargots. Let cool completely and enjoy.
  • Use croissant dough to make pains au chocolat: You can use this same dough to make pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants). You’ll find detailed instructions in Mardi’s cookbook, but here’s what you need to do, in a nutshell: instead of cutting the dough into triangles, cut it into 12 3 x 6 inches (8 x 15 cm) rectangles. Place one chocolate baking stick or some chocolate chips along the short side of one of the rectangles, then roll. Follow steps 15 to 18 above for the resting and baking process. Enjoy!

Courses Breakfast

Cuisine French

Recipe adapted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Photography © Kyla Zanardi. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Disclosure notice: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you order products using the links provided in this post, I earn a few cents, which helps me create new content for FoodNouveau.com. For more information, please read my Disclosure Policy

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