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What’s the Difference Between Crêpes and Pancakes?

A pile of delicious rolled up crepes on a cutting board.

Are pancakes fat crêpes, or are crêpes skinny pancakes? Learn what sets these two delicious morning meals apart.

You only have to look at the two griddle-flipped treats to see a clear difference in appearance. French crêpes are delicate and thin while pancakes are fluffy and thick; both are no doubt delicious.

So, What’s the Difference?

Both pancakes and crêpes contain ingredients like flour, milk, and eggs and are cooked in a pan or on a griddle until they’re ready to be flipped. Pancake batter uses a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda, which causes the batter to rise into a heavenly soft pancake.

Crêpe batter is made without any leavening agents, which is why the mixture cooks into a thin yet tenderly soft French specialty.

Pancakes, Flapjacks, or Hotcakes

Pancakes take on many forms and hold many names. You might be accustomed to traditional latkes (potato pancakes) around Hanukkah, or love a good johnnycake (made with cornmeal). Either way, these treats are beloved by many.

In America, most enjoy pancakes as a sweet breakfast topped with melted butter and doused with maple syrup. They’re also commonly topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips, or fresh fruit.

However, while not as common, you can also order or make savory pancakes as well. The pancake batter is no different than if you were to make sweet pancakes, but you’d add cheese, vegetables, meat—and the list goes on.

Crêpes, Ooh La La

Much like pancakes, crêpes can be served as a sweet or savory dish. When mixing your ingredients, it’s essential to ensure your batter is very smooth and, for the best results, sits in the fridge for a few hours.

When pouring batter into the center of your pan, you want to spread it throughout the entire skillet and create a large and very thin crêpe. Rather than adding ingredients to the batter, you roll or fold them in once both sides are fully cooked.

Whether you choose chocolate syrup, maple syrup, or fresh strawberries and crème, a satisfyingly sweet crêpe is always a sinfully-delicious choice. If you’re more into savory, try adding eggs, ham, or freshly sautéed veggies.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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