Homemade croissants are at the pinnacle of baking goals, and these impossibly flaky almond croissants deliver!
Baked with European-style butter (the higher butterfat means maximum flavor), the classic croissants are filled with sweet almond paste and topped with almond syrup. Baked until flaky and golden, the croissants emerge from the oven with the most irresistible buttery aroma.
Homemade croissants typically take anywhere from two to three days, with plenty of rest time in-between steps. You’ll want to set aside a few days to tackle this baking project and bring a taste of the best French bakery to your kitchen!
Tips for the best-ever homemade croissants:
- Read the recipe completely before beginning. For some step-by-step photos to guide you with visual cues, visit this post.
- Divide the process over 2-3 days to keep the work manageable (see baking schedule in the recipe notes).
- Use a high-fat European-style butter (I splurged on Plugrá).
- Pay attention to temperature – you want your dough and butter to be chilled at all times. The chilling periods may seem excessive, but they give the dough time to develop flavor and make the somewhat soft and sticky dough much easier to work with (which leads to flaky layers!). Work in a cool kitchen and if your dough does start to warm up at any point, place the dough back in the freezer to rest for 10 minutes.
- Gather your tools: a tapered wooden rolling pin, metal bench scraper, ruler, sharp knife, and plenty of parchment paper are essentials.
- Bake croissants on light silver baking sheets for golden perfection.
- Bake one baking sheet at a time, placed in the center of the oven for even browning.
- Start with a hot blast of heat, then lower the oven temperature (without opening the door) for even baking.
- Bake croissants until almost fully baked, then brush generously with almond syrup and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Return to the oven for 1-2 minutes to lightly toast the almonds. If desired, brush with additional almond syrup while cooling.
Sprinkle croissants with powdered sugar, serve with Nutella or your favorite jam, and enjoy!
- 3 Tbsp (42 g) unsalted butter, cubed (recommended: Plugrá)
- 1 3/4 cups (430 g) low-fat milk
- 4 tsp (12 g) Red Star PLATINUM Yeast
- 4 1/4 cups (575 g) flour
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
- 2 tsp (12 g) salt
- 24 Tbsp (336 g) unsalted butter, cold (recommended: Plugrá)
- 7 oz (198 g) almond paste, cubed
- 1/8 tsp (0.75 g) salt
- 1 large (30 g) egg white
- 1 tsp (4 g) almond extract
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp (2 g) almond extract
- sliced almonds
- Make the dough: Combine butter and milk in a microwave-safe measuring cup and heat for about 1 1/2 minutes, until butter is melted and mixture is very warm (120-130°F). Transfer to a large mixer bowl and whisk in yeast. Add flour, sugar, and salt; mix on low speed until a soft dough forms. Scrape down mixer and switch out the flat beater for a dough hook. Increase speed to medium-low (3 on a KitchenAid) and knead for 1 minute. Cover bowl with plastic and let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer dough to baking sheet and use lightly floured hands or rolling pin to gently shape into a 12 by 8-inch rectangle, 1 inch thick. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Make the butter layer: While dough chills, prepare butter layer. Fold a 24-inch length of parchment paper in half to create a 12-inch rectangle. Fold over the 3 open sides to form an 8-inch square with enclosed sides; crease edges firmly with a metal bench scraper. Unfold parchment envelope and grate butter into the center of parchment square. Fold up parchment, refolding at creases. Turn packet over so that the flaps are underneath; use a rolling pin to beat and roll the butter into an even thickness. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Laminate the dough: Transfer chilled dough to the freezer for 30 minutes. Lightly flour a large board or counter; use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out dough to a 17 by 8-inch rectangle. Unwrap chilled butter and place in the center of the dough so that the edges of the butter and dough are flush at top and bottom. Fold sides of dough over butter layer so that they meet in the middle; press seam together with rolling pin. Use rolling pin to firmly seal each open end. Lightly dust dough with flour; roll dough out lengthwise to a 24 by 8-inch rectangle.
- Fold the dough like a letter: Start at the bottom of dough and fold bottom third up, then fold upper third of dough over it, folding into an 8-inch square. Turn dough 90 degrees counterclockwise, so the top flap faces right. Roll out dough again into a 24 by 8-inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on baking sheet, wrap with plastic, and transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.
- Return dough to lightly floured board, with the top flap facing right. Roll out dough a third time into a 24 by 8-inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on baking sheet, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
- Make the filling: Combine almond paste and salt in a food processor and pulse together. Add egg white and almond extract, and blend until combined. Transfer filling to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.
- Divide the dough: Transfer dough to the freezer for 30 minutes. Return dough to lightly floured board with the top flap facing right. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll from the center of the dough out, working the rolling pin clockwise around dough to form an 18 by 16-inch rectangle. If dough retracts, carefully drape it over rolling pin, return to baking sheet, and freeze another 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to trim edges; then divide dough into two 18 by 8-inch rectangles. Gently score the rectangles every 3 inches. Cut out 12 triangles of dough from each rectangle. If dough begins to soften at any point, return to freezer for 10 minutes.
- Shape and fill the croissants: Place 1 triangle on lightly floured board with point facing away from you (keep remaining triangles covered with plastic while shaping). Use a lightly floured rolling pin to gently elongate each triangle to about 8 inches. Pipe about a tablespoon of filling, 1/2 inch from the wide side of the triangle. Roll tightly toward the point, until pointed end of triangle is underneath croissant. Repeat with remaining triangles.
- Place shaped croissants seam-side down on parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 croissants per sheet. Continue to next step (proof the croissants), or cover baking sheets with plastic and refrigerate for up to 18 hours. To freeze unbaked croissants, place croissants 1-inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap with plastic and freeze for 2 hours, until solid. Transfer to freezer-safe bags and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, thaw overnight in fridge, then proof and bake as directed.
- Proof the croissants: Spray plastic with nonstick spray and lightly cover shaped croissants. Let rise at cool room temperature in a draft-free spot until distinctly larger, about 3 hours (if shaped croissants were refrigerated, rise time may be up to 4 hours).
- Make the almond syrup: Combine water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in almond extract, and let cool to room temperature.
- Bake the croissants: In the last 20 minutes of rising, position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place one baking sheet in oven and bake croissants for 5 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and brush croissants with almond syrup. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes to lightly toast almonds. Place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes (if desired, brush with additional almond syrup while cooling). Repeat baking process with remaining baking sheets.
- Store leftover croissants overnight in an airtight container; reheat for 10 minutes at 350°F before serving.
Croissant schedule: For 2-day croissants, follow steps 1-6 on Day 1, and steps 7-13 on Day 2. For 3-day croissants, follow steps 1-6 on Day 1, steps 7-10 on Day 2, and steps 11-13 on Day 3.
To freeze baked croissants, allow to fully cool on wire racks. Arrange cooled croissants on a baking sheet and freeze flat for 1 hour. Once croissants are firm, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a heavy-duty freezer bag up to 1 month. When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and bake (without thawing) at 325°F until heated through.
Adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
Keywords: Croissants, Pastry