This recipe for Homemade Flaky Croissants makes perfectly light pastries with tons of buttery, flaky layers. Serve with your favorite jam or just a cup of coffee for a tasty breakfast treat!
What Makes Croissants So Flaky
Magic. Kidding … Seriously, there is an art to making flaky croissants.
The answer is: it is all about the butter, and rolling and folding the dough.
- First, the butter – You are going to put a big slab of butter on top of the dough. It is going to seem like way too much, but it is a necessity for a flaky dough. Butter has water in it. When the butter is heated, the water turns to steam. Then the steam creates pockets within the dough – which translate to flaky layers.
- Second, rolling and folding the dough – The folding technique of the croissant dough is important. The rolled dough is folded into a tri-fold, like a letter. We roll and fold the dough 3 times. With each fold, we create more and more layers.
- There is a math equation that tells you how many layers of dough you will get depending on how many times you do this. But I don’t do math. Just trust me that we are going to get many layers in these croissants. Because I have not yet mastered action shots while making my recipes, you can find good photos of the tri-fold here.
Is It Hard To Make Homemade Croissants
Absent the large dough sheeter’s that are in professional kitchen’s and bakeries, making flaky croissants at home is possible and can be easy.
In my humble opinion – as a self-taught home baker – patience is the key when making croissants. Or really any flaky pastry dough for that matter. I honestly don’t believe, and would not advocate, trying to rush this recipe.
So, if you are looking for a quick breakfast bread treat, you may want to try a different recipe. Perhaps some delicious Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits.
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How Do You Make Homemade Croissants
There are not a lot of fancy or hard to come by ingredients in this Homemade Croissant recipe. In fact, you probably already have everything you need in the pantry and refrigerator. What makes croissants so wonderful – and also intimidating – is the care, time, and patience it takes with developing the croissant dough.
- Plan Ahead – It can be hard to rush pastry perfection, which is why I can’t stress enough to plan in advance when making homemade croissants. I recommend making the dough the day before you want to serve croissants, because the dough is best when it has time to refrigerate overnight.
- Make Space In The Refrigerator – You will find in the instructions there is a lot of refrigerating the dough after it is rolled. And most likely, your baking sheet that you will be using to chill the dough will take up some room.
- Use Good Butter – Butter, along with patience, is key when making homemade croissants. And because croissants achieve their beautiful flaky layers from butter, I recommend using a good butter.
Make the Dough
- Prepare the Dough – Making the dough is the easy part of making homemade croissants. The dough comes together easily in a stand mixer, you don’t have to knead it forever by hand, and it just needs time to proof and rise.
- Make the Butter Square – The magic in this croissant recipe! The butter square is easily prepared by just mixing butter and flour. It is chilled, then placed on top of the dough after it has proofed and is rolled out.
- Wrap the Dough Around The Butter Square – The dough encases the butter. And once you start rolling and folding the dough, the butter is distributed into every layer.
- Roll, Fold, Chill, Repeat – The rolling, folding, and chilling process is critical for making croissants with tons of flaky layers. The rolling and folding part is often referred to as ‘turns’. We make 3 turns of the croissant dough. Then we chill the dough after each turn. We don’t want the butter to melt!
Refrigerate the Dough
- Refrigerate the Dough Overnight – After you final turn, I recommend refrigerating the dough overnight. This allows the dough to rest, the butter to chill, and develops flavor.
Shape and Final Proof the Croissants
- Roll Out the Chilled Dough – Roll the chilled dough into a large rectangle, then cut into triangles to make the croissants. There are some technical instructions in the recipe on how to cut the dough into the classic croissant shape.
- Final Proof the Croissants – Once you have your croissants, they need some more time to rest and proof. It is also at this time, if you want to freeze the croissants, do so before the final proof. If you do freeze the shaped croissants, the final proof will happen as the croissants are thawed and come to room temperature before baking.
Bake and Enjoy the Croissants
- Bake the Croissants – I have included instructions in the recipe if using a standard oven or convection oven. This may be the only recipe on the blog (so far) where I give this information. And that is because this is the only recipe where I have tested both!
- Enjoy! – As with any homemade baked treat, croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked!
What You Need To Make Homemade Croissants
- Unsalted Butter – For this recipe, I strongly encourage a good, quality butter for flavor, texture, and butterfat. I like to use a European unsalted butter. Though any unsalted butter you have will work.
- Yeast – Instant yeast or Active Dry yeast work. If using Active yeast, you will need to ‘bloom’ it in the water for about 5 – 10 minutes – until it gets foamy.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Granulated Sugar
- Milk – Whole or 2% work. We want the milk to have a little fat for this enriched dough.
- Stand Mixer – With the dough hook attachment.
- Baking Sheets
- Parchment Paper
- Rolling Pin
Tips for making Homemade Flaky Croissants
- Plan ahead – The croissant dough should be rested overnight in the refrigerator.
- Read the instructions thoroughly before starting – There are not a lot of ingredients, but I want you to be comfortable with the process of rolling, folding, and chilling the dough.
- Be patient – Because we are working with butter in a flaky dough recipe, we don’t want the butter to melt. Which is why I recommend refrigerating the dough after every ‘turn’.
- Make the dough in the morning – Why? Because it is cooler, and again, we don’t want the butter to melt.
- Use all-purpose flour – This makes the dough nice a light. Whereas bread flour – which has more gluten – would make the croissant more sturdy, and probably chewier.
- Invest in quality butter – Homemade Croissants may be one recipe which I strongly advocate a good, quality butter. I like to use a European cultured butter – like Challenge European Unsalted Butter.
- Refrigerate the dough after every turn – Yes, I said that above, but it is worth repeating.
- Don’t stress about the perfect croissant shape – If the dough is not a perfect triangle when you cut it, it will still taste good!
- Enjoy the day they are baked – Leftovers can be stored covered at room temperature. However, to achieve that freshly baked flavor and texture, croissants taste best they day they are baked!
Homemade Croissants FAQ’s
I don’t recommend doubling this croissant recipe for two reasons: 1.) I have not tested it, so I can’t say how it will turn out. And 2.) If you think about how large you need to roll the dough out, you would be working with a pretty large piece of dough. Which may be hard to handle. If you want more croissants, I would recommend just making them in two batches.
The key to all of the flaky layers in croissants is cold butter. Every time we handle and roll the dough, we are taking the chill of the butter. So, we want to make sure to put the chill back on the butter and refrigerate the dough as much as possible.
I can’t say that there is. To achieve a light and flaky croissant, it does take time. The dough needs to be rolled and folded. It also needs time to rest. And most importantly, the butter needs to be chilled. If you try to rush the process, you may end up with tough and dense croissants that resemble a roll more than a croissant.
The easy answer is quality ingredients have superior flavor. European cultured butter has a higher butter-fat content, and less water. Which results in a rich and flavorful croissant.
I recommend freezing croissants/dough after they are shaped, and before the final proof. And when you want to bake the, thaw them in the refrigerator the night before. Then, let them sit at room temp an hour before you want to bake them.
I like to store my croissants at room temp on a covered cake stand. I find they keep their flaky layers and textures this way. And they will keep for about 3 – 5 days.
More Breakfast Bread Recipes
- Homemade Bagels
- Maple Glazed Cinnamon Rolls
- Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls
- Homemade Pinwheel Danish Pastries
- Strawberry and Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade Flaky Croissants
- Stand Mixer with Dough Hook Attachment
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast - active dry yeast also works
- 1/2 cup water, room temperature
- 3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup whole milk - I have also used 2% milk
- 1 large egg, beaten - used to brush the croissants
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes - slightly cool, not completely at room temp
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Remove the milk and butter from the refrigerator. Cut the butter into tablespoon cubes and set aside.
- Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray and set aside. This will be the bowl used to proof the dough. Tip – I use a large round, clear Tupperware as my proofing bowl, so I can see how much the dough has risen.
- In the work bowl of the stand mixer, add 3 and 1/2 cups of flour. Add the salt and sugar on one side of the bowl. Stir the dry ingredients with a whisk or the dough hook (before attaching) to combine.
- If using Instant Yeast – Add the yeast on the other side of the bowl – away from the salt and stir to combine.
- If using active dry yeast – Sprinkle the yeast over the room temperature water in a liquid measuring cup. Allow the yeast to proof and get foamy – about 3-5 minutes. Add the yeast mix when you add the milk (next step).
- Mix the Dough – Pour the milk and water over the flour. Mix the dough on medium-high speed, until it is smooth, and no longer sticky – about 8-10 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If it is very dry, add more water, a teaspoon at a time.
- Proof the Dough – Remove the dough from the mixer and gently form into a smooth ball in your hands. Place in the prepared mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place to proof and relax, for at least 30 minutes. Tip – Warm places to proof dough include: in your oven if you have a 'proof' setting; on top of your refrigerator; on the counter at room temp if it is a warm day.
- Wipe out the bowl of the mixer (doesn't have to be totally clean), and attach the paddle attachment to the mixer. Add the cubed butter and 2 tablespoons of flour and beat until smooth and creamy. Do not overmix – we are not mixing or creaming as we would for cookie dough.
- Shape and Chill the Butter Square – Scrape the butter onto the middle long piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, shape the butter into a flat square – approx. 6-inch x 6-inch wide by 1-inch thick. We are using the plastic wrap to shape rather than our hands so we don't melt the butter. Wrap the butter completely in the wrap and chill in the refrigerator while the dough is proofing.
- Shape the Dough – Once the dough has proofed, pour it onto a generously floured work surface, and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Roll the dough into a square, approximately 10-inch x 10-inch. Use a pastry brush to brush excess flour off the dough.
- Place the Butter Square – Remove the chilled butter from the refrigerator, and place diagonally in the center of the dough (so the butter looks like a diamond in the center of the dough square). Fold the four corners of the dough over the butter, tightly pinching each of the seams closed tightly.
- Refrigerate the Dough – Place the dough packet on the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 60 minutes.
- Roll and Fold the Dough – Place the chilled dough packet, seams side up, onto a well-floured surface. 1. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll into a 16-in x 8-in rectangle, with the long side facing you. 2. Brush off the excess flour. 3. Working from the left and right sides, fold each side into the center of the dough – just like folding a letter into thirds. 4. Place the dough back onto the baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least 60 minutes.
- Repeat Roll and Fold the Dough – You are going to repeat the rolling, folding, and refrigerating process (steps 1-4 above) 2 more times (also called 'turns') – for a total of 3 turns. Each time, you start with the dough long side facing you. When you have completed all turns, brush excess flour off of the dough and wrap the folded in dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least overnight.
- Remove the chilled dough from the plastic wrap and place it on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle in half (to make rolling and shaping the dough more manageable), and place one half of the dough back in the fridge.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle – approx. 13-inch wide x 10-inch tall, and about 1/4 inch thick – with the long side facing you. Trim the edges to make them straight. We are going to make triangle shapes that are 4-inch x 9-inch. The shape of the rectangle and trimming straight edges will accommodate these shape sizes.
- Cut Croissant Triangles – I recommend using a pizza cutter, or a very sharp knife to cut the croissant triangles. Once you have your straight rectangle, make two notches in the bottom of the long side, every 4-inches. On the top of the rectangle, make a notch at 2-inches from each corner. Then, from either of those notches, make one more at 4-inches. You will have a total of 3 notches on the top of the rectangle. You are going to have scraps of dough – and there are recommendations on how to use in the notes.
- Start with the wide end of the triangle and roll up to the point. The roll does not need to be tight, and it does not need to be loose. Just a natural roll of the dough.
- Repeat the above steps for the other half of the dough you put in the refrigerator
- Proof Shaped Croissants – Place the croissants back on the baking sheets, with the point of the croissant down. Cover the baking sheet with a proofing bag or large piece of plastic wrap. Tip – I use a large turkey roasting as my proofing bag. Set the croissants in a warm place to proof, until the croissants have doubled in size and are soft and pillowy – about 60-90 minutes. Freezing Note – It is at this time, before the final proof, that you can freeze the croissants. Remove the frozen croissants from the freezer the night before you want to bake them, place them on a baking sheet, and thaw them in the refrigerator. Then, allow them to come to room temperature for at least an hour, then follow the baking instructions below.
- Preheat the Oven – Towards the end of the proof time, preheat the oven to 375F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. 350F degrees if you are using a convection fan oven.
- Brush the beaten egg on each croissant and bake for 20 minutes – rotating the pans halfway through – until the croissants are nice and golden. Immediately transfer the croissants to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!