Behold, the crepe: The whisper-thin delicacy of French origin that's a cinch to make at home (just make sure your nonstick skillet is up for the task!). They belong to the same culinary family as the pancake, but we find they are more versatile than everyone's favorite breakfast food. Crepes are a delicious vehicle for just about any kind of sweet or savory filling your imagination can come up with, and you can serve them for brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert. First, some general guidance on crepes and fillings for crepes, then our meal-specific ideas.
The Wonder of Crepes
Crepes are delicate and have no leavener, like the baking powder used in pancake recipes. Rather, they start out as a spoonful of batter made simply from eggs, flour, milk, and sometimes a little sugar. The batter is poured onto a moderately hot skillet and spread around to produce a very thin disc that is ideal for filling, wrapping, or topping with various ingredients. From strawberries and cream to sausage and mushrooms, crepes are a versatile vessel that will satisfy just about any mood at any time of day. You can roll them around a filling or fold them, or even layer them with filling to create a spectacular crepe cake (more on that below). If you need a stellar crepe recipe, make our Simple Crepes.
For Fillings, Think Small and Prep Ahead
Given the thin, delicate nature of a crepe, try and think small and thin for fillings. Something like finely crumbled bacon, or on the sweet side thin slices of strawberry or sautéed apples. The main thing you want to avoid are big pieces of meat, fruit, or vegetables that could poke through the delicate crepes you just made. And unless you are just melting cheese, heating up slices of turkey or ham, or warming fresh berries, you will need to cook the ingredients for your filling ahead of time, before sprinkling them on your crepe; similar to a quesadilla they won't have enough time to cook through during assembly. That doesn't always have to mean more work, though—crepes are also an opportunity to get creative with leftovers: have a handful of roasted vegetables from last night's dinner? Turn them into a plate of these mouthwatering Crepes with Vegetables and Goat Cheese.
Breakfast and Brunch
Why should pancakes get all the glory at breakfast and brunch? These Ham and Egg Crepes will be as delicious as they are lovely to look at, and if you can fry eggs, you've got this filling down pat.
The possibilities are endless. Fill your crepes with roasted vegetables with goat cheese, or sautéed mushrooms, or ratatouille. Make the Chicken Crepes shown here, they're a great option for a weeknight dinner if you use leftover roast chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken, along with béchamel sauce and Gruyère cheese. Or, make a crepe version of grilled cheese.
All kinds of fruit make an excellent filling for crepes, from sliced strawberries and cream to sautéed banana slices and nutella. But now that fall is in the air, try these warming Crepes with Sautéed Apples for dessert (we hear they also make an excellent breakfast). For a fun, interactive dessert feature at a dinner party, set up a Build-Your-Own-Crepe station with sauces and fillings like lemon curd, sautéed pineapple, and hot fudge sauce. And for a dessert sure to appeal to kids of all ages, try a Peanut Butter and Jam Crepe Roll (you could fold a crepe around this filling rather than roll it if you prefer!).
Once you've tried just about every filling combination you can think of for a crepe, consider expanding your repertoire to other crepe creations, like this towering Spinach-Gruyère Gateau, a savory play on a classic crepe cake (yet another impressive crepe-based dessert!).
Whichever way you choose to fill them, preparing a fresh batch of crepes is guaranteed to delight your grateful diners.