1. Home
  2. What is a Croissant?

What is a Croissant?

Croissants are a popular type of pastry that originates from France, known for their buttery, flaky texture, and unique crescent shape.

They are traditionally made from a yeast-leavened dough that is layered with butter through a meticulous process called lamination. This process involves folding and rolling the dough multiple times, creating alternating layers of dough and butter.

Croissants are commonly enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack, often served with coffee or tea.

In contrast to typical French bread, such as baguettes or pain de campagne, there is ongoing debate about whether or not a croissant should be classified as bread. The distinction arises due to the unique composition and preparation method of croissant dough.

One key difference between croissants and other types of bread is the high fat-to-flour ratio in croissant dough.

The generous amount of butter incorporated through the lamination process gives croissants their rich, tender, and flaky texture, setting them apart from the more substantial and chewy texture of traditional bread.

Another factor that distinguishes croissants from other bread varieties is the use of yeast as a leavening agent.

While many breads also utilize yeast, the fermentation process in croissant dough is generally slower, allowing for a more complex flavor development that contributes to the pastry's distinct taste.

Although croissants may not fit the conventional definition of bread, they are undoubtedly a delicious and indulgent treat that has earned its place as a beloved staple in French cuisine and beyond.

The History of croissants

The history of the croissant is an interesting blend of legend and fact, tracing its roots back to the Ottoman Empire and Austria before becoming the iconic French pastry it is today.

The croissant is believed to have been inspired by the Austrian pastry called kipferl, which has been documented as far back as the 13th century.

The kipferl was a crescent-shaped pastry made with a simple dough, often flavored with nuts or seeds.

The most popular story about the croissant's origin dates back to 1683 during the Siege of Vienna. As the story goes, the Ottoman Empire was trying to invade Vienna, and their troops were digging tunnels under the city walls.

Viennese bakers working late at night heard the sounds of digging and alerted the city's defenders, who were then able to thwart the invasion. To celebrate the victory, the bakers created a pastry in the shape of the Ottoman's crescent moon emblem – the kipferl.

However, the croissant as we know it today was further developed in France. It's said that in 1839, an Austrian artillery officer named August Zang opened a bakery called Boulangerie Viennoise in Paris.

He introduced the French to Viennese pastries, including a puff pastry version of the kipferl, which was then called "croissant" due to its crescent shape. The French bakers adopted the technique of laminating the dough with butter, creating the flaky, layered texture that is now characteristic of the modern croissant.

The croissant continued to gain popularity in France throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. French bakers experimented with different fillings, such as almond paste and chocolate, and variations like the pain au chocolat and almond croissant were developed.

Today, the croissant is a symbol of French cuisine and is enjoyed all over the world.

Ingredients in croissants

The typical ingredients in a traditional croissant are:

  • Flour: All-purpose flour or bread flour is commonly used to create the dough. The choice of flour affects the final texture and structure of the croissant.
  • Butter: High-quality, unsalted butter is a crucial ingredient in croissants. The butter is layered between the dough through a process called lamination, resulting in the distinct flaky layers.
  • Water: Cold water is added to the dough to help bring the ingredients together and hydrate the flour.
  • Milk: Some recipes may include milk or a combination of milk and water, which can contribute to a softer, richer dough.
  • Sugar: A small amount of granulated sugar is typically added to the dough for a hint of sweetness.
  • Salt: Salt is essential for flavor enhancement and to help regulate yeast activity.
  • Yeast: Instant or active dry yeast is used to leaven the dough, providing the rise and airy texture in the finished croissant. Traditional recipes use smaller amounts of yeast and longer fermentation times to develop the flavor.
  • Egg wash: Beaten eggs, sometimes mixed with a bit of water or milk, are brushed onto the croissants before baking to create a glossy, golden-brown finish.

These ingredients come together through a process of mixing, laminating, folding, and proofing to create the rich, flaky, and buttery texture characteristic of croissants.

Croissant Nutritional Information

The nutritional information for a croissant can vary depending on its size and specific ingredients used, but here is an approximate breakdown for a standard, plain croissant:

  • Serving size: 1 medium-sized croissant (about 50 grams)
  • Calories: 230-260 calories
  • Total Fat: 12-15 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 7-9 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 gram
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2-3 grams
  • Cholesterol: 30-40 milligrams
  • Sodium: 200-300 milligrams
  • Total Carbohydrate: 25-30 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1-2 grams
  • Sugars: 3-6 grams
  • Protein: 4-6 grams

Keep in mind that filled or flavored croissants, such as those with chocolate, almond paste, or ham and cheese, will have different nutritional profiles due to the added ingredients.

Also, note that these values are approximate and can vary depending on factors like portion size, the type of flour and butter used, and the specific recipe.

Croissants are high in calories, fat (particularly saturated fat), and refined carbohydrates, making them less suitable for those following a low-calorie, low-fat, or low-carb diet. However, they can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced and varied diet.

Croissants Recipes

Croissants can be eaten plain or filled with a variety of ingredients such as chocolate, jams, or cream cheese. They can also be used in savory dishes such as croque monsieurs (a type of sandwich made with ham and cheese).


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter pieces and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can use a pastry cutter or your fingertips to do this.
  1. Dissolve the instant yeast in the warm milk and set aside for a few minutes until it becomes frothy.
  1. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture and cold water. Stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together. Do not overmix.
  1. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for a minute or two, just until it forms a rough ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for better results.
  1. After the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and roll it out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, rotate 90 degrees, and repeat the rolling and folding process two more times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap again and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out into a large rectangle, about 1/8-inch (3mm) thick. Cut the dough into triangles using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
  1. Starting from the wider end of each triangle, roll the dough up towards the pointed end, slightly curving the ends inward to form a crescent shape.
  1. Place the rolled croissants onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between them for expansion. Brush the tops with the beaten egg wash.
  1. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the croissants are golden brown and flaky. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

This simple recipe should give you a taste of homemade croissants. However, for a more authentic croissant experience, you may want to explore traditional recipes that involve multiple layers of dough and butter, as well as a longer proofing process.

How to make croissants

To create the traditional croissant shape, follow these steps:

  1. Roll out the dough: After completing the laminating process (rolling and folding the dough with butter), roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, approximately 1/8-inch (3mm) thick. The longer the rectangle, the more croissants you can make.
  1. Cut the dough into triangles: Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into isosceles triangles (two equal sides, one longer base) with a base of around 4 to 5 inches and a height of about 8 to 10 inches. The exact dimensions can be adjusted depending on the desired size of the croissants. To ensure even triangles, you can cut the rectangle into equal-sized rectangles first, and then cut each rectangle diagonally in half.
  1. Make a small cut at the base: On the base (the wider side) of each triangle, make a small cut in the center, about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) long. This will help create the final curved croissant shape and make it easier to roll.
  1. Stretch the triangle: Gently hold the triangle by the base and stretch it slightly, both lengthwise and widthwise, to elongate the dough and make it a little thinner. This helps create the layers in the final croissant.
  1. Roll the croissant: Hold the base of the triangle with both hands, with your thumbs on top and your other fingers underneath. Start rolling the dough away from you, applying gentle pressure as you roll. As you roll, slightly pull the pointed end of the triangle towards you, which will elongate the dough and create the desired layers. The small cut you made in the base should open up and create a curved shape as you roll.
  1. Seal the tip: Once you've reached the pointed end of the triangle, gently press the tip into the dough to seal it. This will prevent the croissant from unrolling during baking.
  1. Create the crescent shape: To achieve the classic croissant shape, curve the two ends of the rolled dough towards each other, forming a crescent. The ends should almost touch, but not quite. Make sure the tip is tucked underneath the croissant to prevent it from opening during baking.
  1. Place on the baking sheet: Transfer the shaped croissant to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving enough space between each croissant for them to expand during baking.
  1. Proof and bake: Let the croissants proof at room temperature until they've almost doubled in size, which typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours. Then, brush the croissants with an egg wash, and bake them in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 20-25 minutes or until they're golden brown and flaky.

By following these detailed steps, you'll create the traditional croissant shape with its characteristic layers and curved form.

Croissants FAQ's

What are croissants?

Croissants are a French pastry. They're created from a dough that's been butter-based and rolled up, after which it's molded into a crescent form. Croissants are generally eaten for breakfast or as a snack.

Can you freeze croissants?

Croissants can be frozen either before or after they are baked. If freezing croissants before baking, make sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out. Croissants can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.

How long do croissants last?

Croissants are best eaten the day they are made but can typically last for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

What is the difference between a croissant and a pain au chocolate?

A pain au chocolat is simply a croissant that has chocolate inside of it. The dough and baking process is the same for both croissants and pain au chocolat.

How many calories are in a croissant?

One croissant can range from 200-300 calories.

Where do croissants come from?

Croissants originated from France and are named after the crescent-shaped symbol on the Ottoman flag.

What is a croissant made of?

Croissants are traditionally made with puff pastry dough, which contains layers of butter. The dough is rolled out, squares of butter are placed on top, and the dough is folded over several times. The dough is then rolled out again and cut into triangles. The triangles are then rolled up from the base to the tip and shaped into croissants.

How many carbs are in a croissant?

The number of carbs in a croissant varies depending on the recipe but typically ranges from 30-40 grams per croissant.

Are croissants healthy?

Croissants are generally high in calories and fat due to the large amount of butter that is used in the dough. They are also typically high in carbs. However, croissants can be made with healthier ingredients such as whole wheat flour or low-fat butter.

What does a croissant taste like?

Croissants have a flaky and layered texture with a slightly sweet flavor. The flavor of croissants also depends on what they are filled with. For example, croissants filled with chocolate or cream cheese will have a richer flavor than plain croissants.

How many types of croissants are there?

There are many different types of croissants including plain, chocolate, almond, and raspberry. croissants can also be filled with a variety of other ingredients such as jams, cream cheese, or nuts.

What is the best way to eat a croissant?

Croissants are typically eaten plain or with a cup of coffee or tea. However, they can also be filled with a variety of ingredients such as chocolate, jams, or cream cheese.

How do you pronounce croissant?

The word croissant is pronounced “kwä-sɑ̃”.

What country are croissants from?

Croissants originated from France and are named after the crescent-shaped symbol on the Ottoman flag.

How do you make croissants from scratch?

Making croissants from scratch requires puff pastry dough, which contains layers of butter. The dough is rolled out, squares of butter are placed on top, and the dough is folded over several times. The dough is then rolled out again and cut into triangles. The triangles are then rolled up from the base to the tip and shaped into croissants.

What is the difference between a croissant and a Danish?

The main difference between croissants and Danish pastries is that croissants are made with yeast-based dough while Danish pastries are made with dough that contains eggs and milk (known as Danish dough). Croissants are also typically rolled into a crescent shape while Danish pastries can be in a variety of shapes.

Are croissants vegan?

Most croissants are not vegan as they contain butter and sometimes milk. However, there are some recipes for vegan croissants that use vegan-friendly ingredients such as margarine or vegetable shortening.

How do you reheat croissants?

Croissants can be reheated in the oven, microwave, or toaster oven. For the oven, preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 5-10 minutes until warmed through. For the microwave, place the croissant on a plate and heat for 30-60 seconds until warmed through. For the toaster oven, preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the croissant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 3-5 minutes until warmed through.

What is the nutritional value of a croissant?

The nutritional value of a croissant depends on the ingredients used and whether it is plain or filled. A plain croissant made with wheat flour has approximately 220 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein. A croissant filled with cream cheese has approximately 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein.

How to store croissants?

Croissants are best eaten the day they are made but can last for up to 3 days if stored properly. Croissants should be placed in a container or bag and kept in the fridge.

How long are croissants good for?

Croissants are best eaten the day they are made but can last for up to 3 days if stored properly. Croissants should be placed in a container or bag and kept in the fridge.

Shane Jones

About Me

Hi, I'm Shane the person behind bakesomebread.com

I've been baking bread for about 10 years now and ever since mastering sourdough bread in 2020 I've decided to branch out into discovering every type of bread imaginable.

This website will document all of those bread types along with recipes as and when I've made them.

If you're a pizza fan check out my other site Make Some Pizza