French Butter Croissants

four butter croissants on plate

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

  • Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 3 hrs
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Resting Time: 13 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings: 12 to 24 servings
  • Yields: 12 to 24 croissants
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
144 Calories
12g Fat
7g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 24
Amount per serving
Calories 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 275mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 1g
Calcium 32mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Freshly baked, buttery, flaky croissants are a real treat. With this recipe, you can create the famous French pastry at home. It's a rather simple process and a fun challenge for bakers. While it may take a few batches to learn all the tricks to working with the dough, the results are worth the effort!

Croissants are not fast and take longer than other yeasted bread. You will need at least two days to make them and you can stretch it out longer for better flavor and layer development. The actual hands-on time is mostly done in 20-minute intervals of rolling and folding. The rest of the time is waiting for the dough to slowly rise in the refrigerator while "laminating" the butter. Patience is required because it's the secret to all those flaky layers that make croissants irresistible.

This recipe makes 24 smaller croissants or 12 larger ones; cut both sizes in one batch if you like. The baked croissants will stay fresh at room temperature for up to two days. You can also freeze a portion of the dough to bake later. The smaller croissants are great for a light breakfast or brunch, enjoyed on their own or with a little butter or jam and a cup of coffee. The larger croissants with pinched ends are ideal for breakfast sandwiches with an egg, cheese, and bacon, ham, or sausage.

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 4 1/4 cups/525 g all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 5 tablespoons/62 g white granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons/7 g active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup/236 mL filtered or distilled water (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup/120 mL milk (room temperature)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature; divided)
  • For the Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 teaspoons water

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this croissant recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and assembly.

Prepare the Dough and Butter

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Croissants
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.

    Mixing Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. Add the water and milk. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until blended.

    Mixing Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Turn the mixer up one speed. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while kneading for about 4 minutes, until the dough cleans the bowl.

    Making Croissant Dough in a Stand Mixer
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll it out into a rectangle, about 9 by 12 inches.

    Rolling Out Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios 
  6. Place the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a lint-free towel and a loose piece of plastic wrap to prevent drying. Let rest at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator for 1 hour.

    Rising Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  7. Line an 8-by-8-inch square dish with plastic wrap. Add 1 cup of soft butter and top it with a second piece of plastic. Press the butter into a flat square. Keep cool in the refrigerator while the dough rests. When it’s needed, the butter should be cold but a little soft and pliable; you may need to take it out 15 minutes before the dough is ready.

    Preparing Butter for Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Laminate the Butter

  1. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll it into a square of about 14 inches.

    Rolling Out Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. Place the cold butter onto the square dough so it looks like a diamond in the middle.

    Working Butter Into Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. Fold the four corners of the dough into the center, enveloping the butter.

    Encasing Butter in Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s about 20 x 12 inches.

    Rolling Out Croissant Dough to Laminate Butter
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. Fold the dough into thirds, bringing the two short sides over the middle (like a letter).

    Folding Croissant Dough to Laminate the Butter
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  6. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with the towel and plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours to help layer development.

    Preparing Croissant Dough for a Slow, Cold Rise While Laminating the Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 to laminate the dough two more times. If the cold dough becomes too difficult to roll out, let it sit for a few minutes to warm slightly.

    During the third and final round, chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

    Risen Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Tips

  • While you can mix the dough by hand, it's a sticky dough so a stand mixer is best. Knead for about 10 minutes without the mixer and try to keep the extra flour to a minimum.
  • A large work surface of about 18 by 30 inches is required to roll out the dough. If you're limited on space, split the dough into halves and work on a smaller scale.
  • The croissant dough should always remain cool. When the kitchen's warm, work quickly so the dough doesn't get too sticky. A marble slab, stainless steel surface, or countertop may be cooler to work on than a wood board.
  • Keep the rolling pin and surface well-floured to prevent sticking.
  • Roll out the length first, then adjust the width.
  • Use parchment paper to help move the dough from the board to the baking sheet.
  • A pastry bench scraper is very helpful in lifting the dough from the board.

Make the Croissants

  1. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 24 x 14 inches. Use a pizza cutter to trim off the edges (the excess can be rolled out again to make more croissants).

    Rolling Out Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. Cut 6 equal pieces (about 4 inches across) along the width for smaller croissants, or 4 equal pieces (about 6 inches) for larger croissants. Cut each of the smaller rectangles along the diagonal to create two triangles.

    Cutting Croissant Dough
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. Gently pick up one triangle and place it on the board with the triangle’s point facing away from you. Gently stretch out the tips at the base to even out the triangle. Cut a 1/2-inch notch at the base of the triangle.

    Lift the two corners and use your thumbs to roll the base toward the point. The point should stick out a little from underneath the rolled croissant.

    Shaping Croissaints
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Keep the croissant straight or curve the two ends away from the point. Pinch the ends together for a closed croissant or leave them slightly open for a classic look. Place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue forming all of the croissants.

    Forming Three Common Croissant Shapes
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. Cover with a towel. Place the tray in a warm place (the oven with the light on is a good option) and let the croissants rise for 2 hours, or until double in size. 

    Rising Croissants
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  6. Heat the oven to 375 F.

  7. Beat an egg with 2 teaspoons of water to create an egg wash. Brush on top of the fully risen croissants. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

    After all these steps, it can be easy to forget the egg wash. Don't worry, all is not lost! Brush soft butter on top of the warm croissants; the crust won't be crisp or shiny, but it's better than leaving them plain.

    Brushing Egg Wash on Croissants
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Freshly Baked Croissants
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

How to Freeze Croissants

Freeze the dough rather than baked croissants; it will keep well for up to 6 months. There are two approaches that work well:

  • Shape the croissants and place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. Once completely frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag between layers of parchment paper or plastic wrap. When ready to bake, place the croissants on a baking sheet to thaw and rise (about 3 hours), then bake as normal.
  • Layer the cut rectangles of dough between layers of parchment paper, and place in a freezer-safe plastic bag. When ready to bake, lay the dough out on a board to thaw. Once pliable, cut into triangles and shape the croissants then let rise and bake according to the recipe.

To have freshly baked croissants ready for breakfast, remove the frozen croissants from the freezer and let them slowly rise overnight in the refrigerator. Let them finish rising at room temperature (a little over an hour, until double), then bake.