These Homemade Flaky Croissants are 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 ol’ 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 – in professional baker’s terms, this is called ‘laminating’. And more than the rolling, the folding of the croissant dough is important. There is a math equation that tells you how many layers of dough you will get depending on the type of dough fold, and how many times you do this. But I don’t do math.
- But, to break this down for you – we are going to fold the dough in a tri-fold. Meaning the long dough rectangle is going to get folded up like a letter. And we are going to do this three times (which is another professional term called ‘turns’). Because I have not yet mastered action shots while making my recipes, you can find good photos of the tri-fold here.
All that said, the butter and dough folds give you lots of layers with butter in between. And when the dough bakes, the steam from the butter ‘poofs’ all those layers. Or in simpler terms – gives you one darn good flaky croissant!
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.
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.
Plan In Advance To Make Croissants
It can be hard to rush pastry perfection, which is why I can’t stress enough to plan in advance when making the Homemade Flaky Croissants. Specifically, the day before you want to serve them. Then the next morning there will be a little shaping and more proofing – then off to the oven!
And yes, I did say the day before because I strongly recommend you refrigerate the dough overnight after you have done all of your dough ‘turns’.
I did have some help when I made the croissants. Courtesy of COVID-19, I was able to take advantage of a virtual croissant making class on Coursehorse. No, I’m not being compensated for the plug – but wanted to mention because it was awesome.
What You Need To Make Homemade Croissants
There are not a lot of ingredients needed to make homemade croissants. In fact, you may already have everything you need in your pantry and fridge!
- Unsalted Butter – For this recipe, I would 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
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.
Tips for making Homemade Flaky Croissants
- Plan ahead. The croissant dough should be rested overnight in the refrigerator.
- 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!
- Proof the shaped croissants until pillowy. This is in the instructions, but to highlight when I say proof until pillowy – the little croissants will actually feel like fluffy pillows when proofed.
Now – if you read all of that, go make yourself some lovely croissants!
More carb-loving 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 butter from the refrigerator and cut into tablespoon cubes. Set aside.
- Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray and set aside. This will be the bowl used to proof the dough. I use a large round, clear Tupperware as my proofing bowl.
Making the Dough
- In the working bowl of the stand mixer, add 3 and 1/2 cups of flour. Add the salt and sugar on one side of the bowl; and the yeast on the other side of the bowl. Stir the dry ingredients with a whisk or the dough hook (before attaching) to combine. If using the 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. And the yeast mix when you add the milk (next step).
- 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.
- 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. Warm places to proof: 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.
- Scrape the butter onto the middle long piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, shape the butter into a flat square – approx. 6-in x 6-in wide x 1-in 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.
Placing the Butter Square on the Dough
- Pour the dough out onto a generously floured work surface, and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Roll the dough into a square, approximately 10-in x 10-in. Use a pastry brush to brush excess flour from the dough.
- 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 close. Sealing the center seams tightly.
- Place the dough packet on the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 60 minutes.
Rolling and Folding 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.
- 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.
Shaping the Croissants
- Roll into a Rectangle – 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-in wide x 10-in tall, and about 1/4" thick – with the long side facing you. Trim the edges to make them straight. We are going to make triangle shapes that are 4-in x 9-in. The shape of the rectangle and trimming straight edges will accommodate these shape sizes.
- Cutting the Croissant Triangles – I recommend using a pizza cutter, or a very sharp knife. 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.
- Rolling the Croissant Triangles – 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
Proofing the 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 (I use large turkey roasting bags), and set in a warm place to proof, until the croissants have doubled in size and are soft and pillowy – 60-90 minutes.
Baking the Croissants
- Towards the end of the proof time, preheat the oven to 375o degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. 350o 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!