Learn how to make croissants from scratch! This helpful recipe yields buttery, flaky homemade croissants.
Homemade croissants are buttery, flaky and hard to resist. Making croissants is intimidating, but after some practice you can master the French pastry. Croissants are a labor of love, but you don’t have to be an expert baker to learn how to make them! This recipe post will help you learn everything you need to know about croissants.
Why this recipe works: This croissant recipe spells out every step—from kneading the dough and letting it rise to laminating the dough and folding it 5 times. By learning the detailed steps, you will learn how to make croissants that are flaky and buttery.
Step by step instructions
- Make the dough: Whisk dry ingredients together, add milk and knead the dough for 7 minutes. Let the covered dough rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Prepare the butter: Spread room temperature butter into a 8×5 rectangle. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Laminate the dough: Roll dough into a 16×10 rectangle. Place butter in the center and fold the dough over the butter like an envelope. Turn the dough so the short edge faces you and roll again into a 16×10 rectangle. Fold into thirds again, wrap it and chill for 1 hour (this is the first turn). Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll it into another 16×10 rectangle, fold it in thirds and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat 3 more times for a total of 5 turns and 729 layers.
- Let the dough rest overnight: After the fifth turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight or for 8 hours.
- Shape the croissants: Cut the dough in half and roll one half into another 16-10 inch rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough in half length wise and into thirds horizontally to create 6 squares. Cut each square on a diagonal to form triangles. Roll/stretch each triangle to 8 inches long and starting from the long end roll into a crescent shape.
- Let croissants rest: Place croissants on a baking sheet and let them rest at room temperature for 30 minutes and then in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Bake the croissants: Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush croissants with egg wash if desired. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.
What is laminated dough?
Laminated dough is the process of folding butter in between layers of dough. The result is hundreds of alternating layers of butter and dough. When baked, the water in the butter evaporates into steam and puffs up the pastry making it light and flaky. This croissant recipe laminates the dough with 5 turns, which results in 729 layers. Other recipes that use laminated dough include puff pastry, morning buns, palmiers and baklava.
Be patient with yourself. It is unlikely that you will achieve perfect croissants the first time you make them. This is a skill that takes time and there will be a learning curve. Practice makes perfect! Watch the video and read the full recipe before making croissants. The timing is key when making croissants and reading the recipe beforehand will help you be prepared. Follow the photos while making croissants. These visual references help you along the way.
Aim for a soft, smooth dough. If your dough is sticky, add more flour one tablespoon at a time. I once made croissants on a humid summer day and needed close to 4 cups flour to achieve the proper texture. Use good quality unsalted butter. This makes all the difference! High quality butter has less water and yields a more flavorful and flakier croissant. Usually a European style butter will do the trick. WORK QUICKLY you want the butter and dough to stay cold between each turn. If the butter melts, the croissants will not be flaky and instead be bread-y like crescent rolls.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to reheat croissants: If reheating one or two croissants, place in a toaster oven until warm. If reheating a bigger batch, preheat oven to 350 F and bake croissants on baking sheet for 10 minutes. If you like a crispy croissant, wrap them in aluminum foil.
How to store croissants: Homemade croissants are best the day they are baked, however they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.
How to make chocolate croissants (aka pain au chocolate): Place a piece of chocolate at the long end of the triangle and roll it up inside the croissant. You can also add jam, nutella, cheese or pesto (about 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons).
How to freeze croissants
There are a few ways to freeze croissants. The first opportunity is after all the turns and the overnight rest. Keep the dough wrapped in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator and continue with step 6.
The second opportunity to freeze croissants is right before they are baked. After you shape the croissants and they rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, individually wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place in a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before continuing with step 9.
The final opportunity to freeze homemade croissants is the day they are baked. Once cooled, wrap the croissants in foil and place in a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months and defrost in the refrigerator before eating or reheating in the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes.
Do you love making breakfast pastries from scratch? Try your hand at homemade bagels. They are boiled and baked to taste like they’re from New York. Jelly filled donuts are another fan favorite that taste good as any donut you get at a bakery!
It’s a lot to process, but croissants require all the steps so you can get it right. Be sure to watch the recipe video and read the whole recipe before starting. When making the croissants, refer to the step by step photos for reference. Tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media when you master making croissants!
How to Make Croissants
- 3 1/4 cups (406 g) all purpose flour (you may need up to 4 cups)
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) cold milk (2% or whole milk)
- 1 1/2 cups (339 g or 3 sticks) good quality unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature for egg wash
- Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, instant yeast and salt. Attach dough hook and turn mixer on low speed. Pour in the cold milk with mixer running. Allow the mixer to knead the dough on low for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth, soft and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time (using up to 4 cups if you are in a humid climate). I used about 3 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons. Transfer dough to a slightly floured surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Prepare the butter (30 minutes before laminating dough): Place room temperature butter on a silpat. Use an off-set spatula to spread the butter into a 5-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.
- Laminate the dough: Remove dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll from the short end to lengthen the dough into a rectangle that is 16-inches by 10-inches. If necessary, use fingers to make the dough a rectangle (not an oval). Place chilled butter in the center of the dough rectangle. Fold the bottom of the dough up over the butter, then fold the top third down over the dough (like a letter).
- Turn the now folded dough so the short end is facing you. Roll it lengthwise into another 16-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Fold it in thirds like before. This is the first "turn." Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Repeat turns: Remove dough from refrigerator. Repeat rolling the dough into a 16-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Fold it in thirds, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for another hour. Repeat this process 3 more times (chilling for an hour after each turn) so there are a total of 5 turns. After the last turn, chill the dough for 8 hours or overnight.
- Shape the croissants: Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Place it on a lightly floured work surface and cut the dough in half. You can refrigerate the other half or freeze it for later. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is 1/4-inch thick. This will take some arm work! I suggest a heavy marble rolling pin. If necessary, use your hands to make the ends corners (not round like an oval). Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough in half lengthwise and into thirds horizontally to form 6 squares. Cut each square on a diagonal to form triangles.
- One triangle at a time, stretch the dough until it's about 8-inch long (either with a rolling pin or by hand). Cut a 1-inch slit on the long end and start rolling the dough from that end. Make sure the tip is rolled under the croissant. Turn the ends down to form a crescent shape.
- Let croissants rest: Place croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. Let them rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (they will rise slightly), then put them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake croissants: Preheat the oven to 400° F. If using an egg wash, lightly beat an egg with 1 tablespoon water. Use a pastry brush to coat croissants with egg wash. Bake the croissants for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Halfway through, rotate the baking pan and if the croissants are browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature to 375° F. Transfer croissants to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.
References: Baking Illustrated, King Arthur Flour, Jo Cooks blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction blog