How to Make Croissants

Flaky, buttery and a true labor of love: Learn how to make croissants with our foolproof guide!

Walk into any French bakery and you’ll find rows of flaky, buttery, delicious croissants—and maybe one of these other treats. Filled with chocolate, covered in jam or eaten on their own, croissants are a perfect treat any time of day. Making them at home doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Follow our guide for how to make croissants and you’ll be enjoying homemade pastries in no time.

Before You Begin:

About Lamination

Croissants are made with a laminated dough, which involves folding butter into the dough multiple times to create alternating layers. This is different from other baked goods that cream the butter with the sugar and flour. When baked, the butter melts and creates steam, which causes the glorious layers to spring up.

How Many Folds are in a Croissant?

Our favorite recipe calls for three folds of the laminated dough into thirds, creating a whopping 27 layers. It’s a common mistake to think that additional folds mean flakier layers. Resist folding further as the layers can become too thin causing the butter to melt and escape.

Try another French bakery staple with our guide to making macarons.

Check Your Yeast

For best results, make sure your yeast is fresh. If it’s been sitting in your cupboard for a while, be sure to check the expiration date. Since yeast is a living organism, over time it’ll lose activity. We’ll want fresh yeast to ensure your croissants rise properly.

New to bread and pastry baking? Learn about the different types of yeast.

How to Make Croissants

Ingredients

For the Butter Layer:

For the Dough:

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

Step 1: Prep the Butter Layer

Before we start the dough, we need to prepare the butter for the laminating process. In a small bowl, beat the butter and flour until combined. Spread the mixture into a 12×6-inch rectangle on a piece of waxed paper. Cover with another piece of waxed paper and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Pro tip: Use a clean ruler or measuring tape when rolling out the butter and dough. We want to be precise!

Step 2: Make the Dough

While the butter chills, start your dough. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, egg, salt and two cups flour and beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Pro tip: Make sure the water and milk aren’t too hot. If they are, they could kill the yeast, which would prevent your dough from rising. The water and milk should be between 110° and 115°. If you’re serious about your pastries, we suggest investing in a good quality thermometer like this one from ThermoWorks.

Step 3: Roll It Out

Roll your dough into a 14-inch square. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper from the butter layer and invert it onto half of the dough. Remove the other piece of waxed paper, fold the dough over the butter and seal the edges.

Step 4: Keep Rolling

Time for some elbow grease. Roll the dough into a 20×12-inch rectangle, and then fold it into thirds. Repeat the rolling and folding twice. This is the lamination process and will give you all those delicious layers! If you find any air bubbles while rolling, pop them with your fingers or a toothpick. Once you’re done rolling and folding, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Pro tip: If at any point during the rolling and folding process your butter softens, stop and put the dough back into the refrigerator. You want to keep the butter cold!

Step 5: Cut It Out

The next day, unwrap your dough. Lightly flour your work surface, hands, dough and rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking. Roll your dough into a 25×20-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut the dough into 5-inch squares. Cut each square diagonally in half, forming two triangles.

Step 6: Roll It Up

Roll up the triangles from the wide end. Place them two inches apart with the point down on ungreased baking sheets. Curve the ends down to form a crescent shape. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Pro tip: Be gentle as you work with the dough. You don’t want to squash the layers you worked so hard to create!

Step 7: Bake

It’s finally time to pop them into the oven. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm.

Pair with jam, fill them with chocolate, or top with Nutella and fresh fruit. Or go savory by making a sandwich with ham and cheese or trying this chicken salad. Our preference? Straight out of the oven. We won’t judge if you do the same.

Want more ideas? Here are our favorite recipes that use croissants.

Ways to Upgrade Croissants
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Alexa Hackfort
Alexa is a writer who believes there’s always room for ice cream. Based in Milwaukee, she enjoys exploring the city, tackling new recipes and planning her next trip.