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How to Make Vegan Croissants – Classic, Cheese, and Chocolate Croissants

Delicious, flaky and buttery vegan croissants at home! Dairy-free classic French croissants, cheese croissants or pain au chocolate (chocolate croissants) are all within your reach. While proper croissants are not the easiest or quickest pastries to make, the steps are simple and the results are so satisfying. The whole process takes 2 to 3 days so get your ingredients and start now!

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Video tutorial for Vegan Croissants 3 Ways

I highly recommend watching the video before you start. To follow along easily, here are the video timestamps:

  1. Make the dough 3:15
  2. Make the “butter” square 6:35
  3. Make your dough + butter package 8:12
  4. Lamination stage (3 turns) 9:44
  5. Cut out, shape & prep croissants 14:24
  6. Bake & finish croissants 21:55

How to Make Vegan Croissants from Start to Finish

Whether you want to make classic plain buttery vegan croissants, vegan cheese croissants, vegan pain au chocolat or fill them with rich, creamy vegan hazelnut spread, start by making the same croissant dough. I know this fancy French baking can be intimidating, especially for beginner bakers, but the process is actually simple. Anyone can make croissants with some patience. 

It is a multi-day process taking place over a minimum of 2 days, ideally 3 but up to 6 if you want to make the dough ahead. On the first day, we’re going to make the dough and a square of butter. Then on the second day, wrap the vegan butter in dough, roll out and fold up three different times. This process is called lamination and will create the flaky texture of the finished croissants. Finally, on the third day, we’ll roll it out once more, shape the croissants and bake them. So for brunch on Sunday, start the dough on Friday evening or earlier (up to 3 days ahead).

Vegan Croissant-making Timeline

Day 1 – Make dough square 10.25″ (26 cm) & butter square 7.5″ (19 cm) and chill overnight

Day 2 – Wrap butter square with dough and laminate (roll out to 24″x 8″ or 60 cm x 20 cm, make a series of folds 3 times, chilling at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours between each “turn”) resulting in 64 layers.

Day 3 – Shape dough ( 43″ x 8″ or 110 cm x 20 cm), cut & roll, let rise (2 hours), and bake about 30 minutes total

Read on for the process in more detail.

Vegan Croissant Ingredients

Most of the ingredients for making vegan croissant dough will be easy to find in any supermarket baking aisle: flour, instant yeast (traditional will also work), salt, and sugar. Also, most grocery stores these days carry some kind of vegan plant-based milk. I prefer soy but any vegan milk that you like will do. In a pinch, you can also go for water instead of milk for a slightly less rich dough. See the printable recipe for exact amounts.

The more challenging ingredient in traditional French croissant recipes to replace is butter. Butter is not just solid fat. Otherwise we could just replace it with one of the many butter-flavoured coconut oils on the market. Dairy butter is actually an emulsion of fat, protein and water. When raw croissant dough is baked, the fat melts and the water turns to steam, lifting the layers apart and creating that classic croissant flaky texture. That’s why I turn to using vegan butter alternatives that are similar to dairy butter in composition.

Depending on where you live, vegan butter may be a little more difficult to find. Check to see if your local supermarkets have a “natural foods” aisle or health food section. Some stores will even stock the vegan butter near the regular butter (as they do at my local Calgary Co-op store). Depending on where you live, you may even order vegan butter online. But which one to buy?

Types of Vegan Butter

For a pastry that is well known for being full of butter, croissant dough is fairly easy to veganize. That is, it’s easy thanks to the myriad of dairy-free butter alternatives on the market today. There are two readily available in my local grocery stores: Earth Balance and Melt plus softer ones like Becel’s vegan variety. Unfortunately, the soft styles are very hard to work with. The laminating process gets messy and the fat leaks out everywhere! Melt Butter Sticks do work but I find, like their name unfortunately suggests, the product melts fairly quickly, requiring me to stop during the lamination stage more frequently to chill the dough. Plus, it has a coconut flavour.

For the best flavour and for the vegan butter that makes croissant making as easy as it can be, I prefer Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. To me, Earth Balance tastes the most like dairy butter. The Sticks are a little harder to find than the Buttery Spread but they will make life easier. If you can only find the tubs, you can still use it. Just do the best you can when it comes to measuring out and forming your vegan butter square.

butter square in parchment for croissants

Vegan butter square to go into the croissant dough.

Finishing Ingredients for Classic, Cheese, and Chocolate Croissants

For all the croissants, I like to brush the unbaked tops with diluted maple syrup to help achieve a beautiful golden brown colour during baking.

For cheese croissants, you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of vegan cheese shreds for each vegan cheese croissants you are making. Vegan parmesan is optional.

For Chocolate Croissants (AKA Pain Au Chocolat), you’ll need two thin sticks of vegan chocolate for each vegan pain au chocolate. Fortunately, vegan chocolate isn’t hard to find since dark chocolate doesn’t require dairy. Just check the ingredients. Swiss chocolate bars are often formed so you can break off squares easily so just break along a row to create a thin stick about three squares wide.

For decoration, I also like to melt down some of the dark chocolate to drizzle over the tops after the chocolate croissants are baked. I was also able to find some vegan white chocolate for contrast. For my fellow Canadians, check out London Drugs (an unexpectedly good source for vegan snacks!)

Equipment for Making Croissants

Making vegan croissants require no special equipment; just the regular baking stuff and items you probably have in your kitchen already.

You’ll need:

  • a kitchen scale for measuring flour & measuring spoons
  • a mixing bowl (you may use a stand mixer)
  • a rolling pin
  • a ruler
  • a sharp knife or pizza slicer
  • a parchment or wax paper
  • Optional 1 – 2 large resealable bags such as freezer bags
  • Optional cooling rack (especially good if you’re drizzling chocolate after baking)

I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure flour rather than using measuring cups to be more accurate. A good kitchen scale that can measure to the gram is really invaluable in my kitchen and you can buy one for under $20. However for this bread recipe, if you only have measuring cups, it’s okay. A little extra flour won’t kill this recipe. It’s more important if you’re making something with a very wet dough or when you’re making something like cake.

Day 1 Make Croissant Dough and Butter Square

Making the Croissant Dough

Start with the flour. Measure out 500 grams of all-purpose flour (regular, NOT gluten-free). 500 grams should measure out to be 4 US cups and 3 tablespoons but as I mentioned before, it’s more accurate to use a kitchen scale that can measure to the gram. Combine the flour with instant yeast, sugar and salt. Again, for the exact measurements, skip to the printable recipe.

If all you have in your cupboards is Traditional yeast (AKA Dry Active Yeast), you’ll have to bloom it in warm water first. Instead of using cold water, use warm water and mix it with a teaspoon of the sugar. Stir in the traditional yeast and wait about ten minutes. The yeast will dissolve in the water and start bubbling and foaming. If it does not, this means the yeast may be dead and you’ll need to get a new batch.

On that note, if you’re using instant yeast as I recommend in the recipe, but your yeast has been sitting in the cupboards for a while, you might want to test that it’s alive by blooming it as well. As with the traditional yeast, you’d simply mix it with warm water and sugar and wait for it to bloom. 

Add the water (with bloomed yeast or not), cold plant-based milk, and softened room temperature vegan butter to the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough. You can use a stand mixer on low speed for about 5 minutes for the dough to come together. Knead it a few times out of the bowl, then roll it into a square shape about 10.25″ (26 cm) on each side. You don’t have to be exact at this point but it’ll make tomorrow easier. Wrap it up in parchment or wax paper so it doesn’t dry out. Optionally put it in a freezer bag to make sure all the moisture stays in. By the way, unlike other bread recipes, you don’t want the yeast to start working right away so get it in the fridge as soon as you can. Chill for 12 to 24 hours.

Making the vegan butter square

Prepare a large piece of parchment or wax paper that will help you form the sticks of butter into a perfect square shape. Fold the sides of the paper in so that 4 creases form a 7.5″ (19 cm) square. You want enough extra paper around the sides to completely envelop the butter in the middle.

Then, cut your 2 vegan buttery sticks along the lengths to make 4 to 6 slabs. Place them in the middle of your parchment square. Fold over the edges of the paper and flip the package so the ends are tucked on the bottom. Then flatten the butter with a rolling pin. Start from the middle and roll outwards so the butter spreads to the edges of the package but stays even in thickness. Don’t press too hard or the paper will break but don’t be afraid to use a little force. Optionally wrap this square in a freezer bag to keep things tidy. And chill in the fridge until the next day.

Day 2 Lamination

Dust the dough lightly with flour and roll it out into a 10.25″ (26 cm) square. You want it to be as close to a perfect square as possible, flat and even. Since it has been resting in the fridge so long, the gluten – which is the protein in wheat which makes dough bouncy – will be relaxed. The dough should be pretty easy to roll out.

Unwrap your vegan butter square and place it with the angles pointed to the halfway points of each edge of the dough. Then fold the corners of the dough snugly over the edges of the butter, bringing the points to meet over the center of the butter. The edges of the dough should be able to meet and slightly overlap. Press and seal the edges together so that the vegan butter is completely enveloped. Now you can roll it out for the first round of lamination.

To flatten the dough square and the vegan butter within evenly, press down with your floured rolling pin across the center of the dough and repeat up and down that length pushing straight down. Continue slowly to flatten and lengthen the dough but try to keep the sides straight and even at the same time.

Slowly roll up and down the length, pushing in only one direction at a time; aiming for 60 centimetres or 24 inches long and about 20 centimetres or 8 inches wide. You can pat the sides in if they are getting wild and too wide.

From time to time, add flour underneath and to your rolling pin to prevent sticking and tearing the dough.

The dough should flatten out fairly easily. If it springs back that means the gluten has tightened and you should wrap it back up and send it to the fridge to relax for a half hour or so before continuing.

When it’s long enough, dust off any excess flour. Then fold one end about 2/3 of the way to the other side and fold the other end in so that the two ends meet. Now we have two layers of butter in there.

Nudge the edges together without pulling or pressing too much. We don’t want to create weak spots which will tear the dough and reveal the butter inside.

Then fold the top down again, this time all the way to the new bottom edge. Just in half like a book. Now there are four layers of butter.

Time to wrap things up again so this dough can relax and the butter can chill in the fridge for at least a half hour. If you have things to do – your life is busy, you can get back to it at any time – even up to an entire day.

When you’re ready, it’s time for turn two. Place the dough down so a short end is facing you. Flatten the dough like before, pressing straight down across the width, up and down the length. Then roll the dough out to 24″ x 8″ (60 cm x 20 cm). Fold again 2/3 of the way to the other side and fold the other end in so that the two ends meet. Then in half like a book. This will give you 16 layers of butter. Return the dough to the fridge for another 30 minutes before repeating this process one more time for a total of 64 layers. After this, put the dough away in the fridge for the day; you can bake the next day or up to 3 days later.

Day 3 Shape and Bake (and Eat!)

It’s our last time rolling out so by now you’re a pro right? Flatten the same way as before. However this time, we’re going to roll the dough even longer: 43″ (110 cm) long and 8″ (20 cm) wide. Also, go ahead with that flour if you need it. At this stage, after all this time, you want to continue to be careful so the dough doesn’t tear. You can always brush off excess flour.

Finally, we have our super long sheet of finished croissant dough. Time to cut. If you’re making classic crescent shaped croissants, you will cut out triangles. On one side, make a mark at every 5″ (12.5 cm). Along the other length, make a mark at 2.5″ (6.25 cm), then mark at every 5″ (12.5 cm) after that. Now use the ruler’s edge and a sharp knife or pizza slicer to cut, joining the cut marks on either side to make triangles. One batch can make 12 crescent shaped croissants.

For the classic croissant shape, gently stretch the bottom edge of the triangle making it a bit wider. Gently stretch along the length as well.

rolling up one crescent shaped croissant

And roll up as tightly as you can while handling the dough, you guessed it, gently. You can use your palm to push it along to prevent finger marks. The more tightly you roll the dough, the better final texture of the croissant. If you don’t roll tightly enough, the layers will get air pockets where you’ll see some separation.  Finally, make sure the tip of the tail ends up on the bottom so it stays tucked during baking.

For cheese croissants, place the vegan cheese shreds in a triangle shape about 1 cm in from the edge of the dough. Roll up as tightly as you can, finishing with the tip of the triangle under so the rolls stays secure during baking. 

 

For hazelnut croissants, after stretching the dough out, add a heaping teaspoon of vegan chocolate hazelnut spread near the base of the triangle. Fold over and tuck in a little so the hazelnut spread is well enclosed. Then gentle roll up as tightly as you can, finishing with the tip of the triangle under so the rolls stays secure during baking.

Chocolate croissants are usually square shaped. For those, cut straight across the width of the dough to make long rectangles. Then you can lay two chocolate sticks on either end and roll up to the middle.

The Final Rise

The croissants need to rise one final time but stay covered so they don’t form a dry skin on the surface. I use a couple of tall glasses to act as tent stands, then drape plastic wrap over top. The dough will double in size so make sure there’s room for expansion without contact with the plastic. You can also flour the inside of the plastic so if there is contact, it won’t tear the surface of the dough.

Plastic wrap tenting over rising croissants

Let them rise in a warm location. In case it’s a cold day where you are, place them in your cold oven with just the oven light on. The oven light will make it a bit warm in there so the dough will rise nicely protected from drafts.

This will take about 2 hours. I know 2 hours is a long time but with all the work you’ve put into these croissants, a little more patience will really pay off.

During the last 20 minutes, take the dough out and start preheating your oven to 400°F.

Baking Croissants

The croissants should be twice as large as before. You’ll see the layers defined more clearly.

To give them a nicer colour, make a wash of one part maple syrup and two parts water. Brush on this syrup wash carefully, and again, gently. 

For the cheese croissants, you can add some extra cheese shreds at this point.

And they are ready!

When the oven is totally preheated, bake them for ten minutes at 400°F.

Then, without moving them at all, lower the oven’s heat to 350°F and continue baking for 20 minutes.  They should be nice and crispy looking deep golden brown on top when they come out.

Troubleshooting

If you took out your croissants early (or maybe your oven runs a little cool) and found they were not cooked all the way through after baking, not all is lost! Just put them back in the hot oven at 350°F for another 15 minutes or so. Watch so they don’t burn.

When I moved here to Calgary, I found that dough tended to rise faster and bake up nicer than when I lived in Vancouver. I suspect it has to do with humidity and/or altitude but in any case, I’ve gotten some feedback that it has taken some people longer to bake these. When in doubt, just bake for longer but watch so they don’t burn.

Freshly baked vegan croissants

Because of the light coming in from behind these croissants, they look lighter than they are. You want them to be quite browned (not burnt though!)

Finishing the Croissants

You can let them rest for five to ten minutes. Then let them cool on a cooling rack. If you’re taking pictures and want them to look shiny, you can add a bit of that syrup wash from before. However, this shine doesn’t last so take those pictures fast!

The wash is also nice if you want to sprinkle on some vegan parm or finishing salt too. As for me, I finished the hazelnut and chocolate croissants with vegan dark and white chocolate drizzle.

 

Which flavour of croissant would you make first? Or all of them at once? 

Let me know what other flavours or variations you would make in the comments below. Or want to make. Or want to make someone else make. Is your birthday coming up? An anniversary? Someone owe you a favour? Send this recipe to your spouse, family or friends for a little hint hint.

Thank you so much for reading! I really really hope you enjoyed this recipe and somehow enjoy some vegan croissants!

Printable recipe for Vegan Croissants – Classic, Cheese and Chocolate

Vegan Croissants 3 ways (Classic, Cheese and Chocolate)
Yields 12
Delicious, flaky and buttery vegan croissants at home!! Crispy on the outside, tender and delectable on the inside, the dairy-free version of the classic French pastry is easier to make than one might believe. This recipe includes Ibasic methods of how to make croissant dough, how to prepare the vegan butter square, how to laminate the dough to create the layers within the croissant pastry, and how to cut and shape the dough.

From there, you can make classic, plain buttery croissants, cheese croissants, chocolate hazelnut croissants, and the magnificent chocolate croissant AKA pain au chocolat.

--Making Croissants Timing--
Start 3 days before you plan to serve your croissants
(2 days possible, 3 recommended, up to 6 days in advance)

Day 1 - Make dough & butter square
Day 2 - Laminate (roll out and fold 3 times, waiting at least 30 minutes between each "turn")
Day 3 - Shape dough, let rise (2 hours), and bake (about 30 minutes total)

For example, make dough and butter square on Friday night; laminate during the day on Saturday, then wake up early to shape the dough about 3 - 4 hours before brunch starts on Sunday.
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For croissant dough
  1. 500g all purpose flour
  2. 7g instant yeast (1 envelope or 2 1/4 tsp)
  3. 55g sugar (1/4 cup + 1 tsp)
  4. 12g salt (2 tsp)
  5. 140ml water (cold) (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp + 1tsp)
  6. 140ml plant-based milk (cold) (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp + 1tsp)
  7. 40g vegan butter (room temperature, softened) (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp)
For "butter" square
  1. 227g vegan butter (2 sticks) very cold
Syrup wash (for all croissants)
  1. 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  2. 4 tablespoons water
For cheese croissants
  1. 2 tablespoons vegan cheese shreds for EACH croissant
For chocolate croissants
  1. 6 squares from a vegan chocolate bar (broken into two thin sticks) for EACH croissant
For chocolate hazelnut croissants
  1. 1 heaping teaspoon of vegan chocolate hazelnut spread for EACH croissant
Optional
  1. Additional chocolate for drizzling
Day 1 -Make the Croissant Dough and Butter Square
  1. Combine flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt in a large mixing bowl. You may use your stand mixer.
  2. Mix in the cold plant-based milk, water, and 40g softened vegan butter. Keep stirring until the dough comes together. Remove from the bowl, knead it just a few times. Roll it into a square shape about 10.25" (26 cm) on each side. Wrap and refrigerate.
  3. For the butter square, prepare a piece of parchment paper or wax paper by folding the edges in so that the creases form a 7.5" (19 cm) square in the middle. Make sure there is enough material around the sides to completely envelop the middle.
  4. Slice up the sticks of vegan butter lengthwise to make 4 to 6 slabs. Unfold the paper and place the butter in the middle. Fold up the sides and flip so the ends are tucked under. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter. Press the butter down with the rolling pin so that the butter spreads to the edges of the paper. Use enough force to spread the butter but not so much that you rip the paper. When the butter is evenly spread to form a square, refrigerate.
  5. Refrigerate both the dough and butter squares for 12 to 24 hours.
Day 2 - Laminate
  1. Unwrap your vegan butter square and place it with the angles pointed to the halfway points of each edge of the dough. Then fold the corners of the dough snugly over the edges of the butter, bringing the points to meet over the center of the butter. Press and seal the edges together so that the vegan butter is completely enveloped by dough.
  2. First Turn Flatten the dough square and the vegan butter within evenly by straight press down with your floured rolling pin across the center of the dough and repeat up and down to lengthen the square into a rectangle. Note that the dough should flatten out fairly easily. If it springs back that means the gluten has tightened and you should wrap it back up and send it to the fridge to relax for a half hour or so before continuing.
  3. Roll in one direction to gently lengthen the dough without breaking through to the vegan butter layer. Pat the sides in to keep them straight. Aim for dimensions of 8" x 34" (24 cm x 60 cm) . Sprinkle flour as needed to prevent sticking.
  4. Dust off excess flour before folding. Fold one end about 2/3 of the way to the other side and fold the other end in so that the two ends meet. Nudge the edges together without pulling or pressing too much. We don't want to create weak spots which will tear the dough and reveal the butter inside.
  5. Fold the top down again, this time all the way to the new bottom edge. Just in half like a book. Now there are four layers of butter. Wrap dough in parchment (optionally in a freezer bag) so it can relax and the butter can firm up again in the fridge for at least a half hour.
  6. Second + Third Turns Place the dough down so a short end is facing you. Flatten the dough like before, pressing straight down across the width, up and down the length. Then roll the dough out to 24" x 8" (60 cm x 20 cm). Fold again 2/3 of the way to the other side and fold the other end in so that the two ends meet. Then in half like a book. This will give you 16 layers of butter. Return the dough to the fridge for another 30 minutes before repeating this process one more time for a total of 64 layers. After this, put the dough away in the fridge for the day; you can bake the next day or up to 3 days later.
Day 3 - Shape and Bake (and Eat!)
  1. Flatten the same way as before but roll the dough even longer than before: 43" (110 cm) long and 8" (20 cm) wide. Flour liberally to prevent any breakage; you can brush off any excess before cutting.
  2. For crescent-shaped croissants, on one long side, make a mark at every 5" (12.5 cm). Along the other side, make a mark at 2.5" (6.25 cm), then mark at every 5" (12.5 cm) after that. Now use a ruler's edge and a sharp knife or pizza slicer to cut, joining the cut marks on either side to make triangles. One batch can make 12 crescent shaped croissants.
  3. For the classic croissant shape, gently stretch the bottom edge of the triangle making it a bit wider. Gently stretch along the length as well. Roll up as tightly as you can while handling the dough gently. Make sure the tip of the tail ends up on the bottom so it stays tucked during baking.
  4. For cheese croissants, place the vegan cheese shreds in a triangle shape about 1 cm in from the edge of the dough. Roll up as tightly as you can, finishing with the tip of the triangle under so the rolls stays secure during baking.
  5. For hazelnut croissants, after stretching the dough out, add a heaping teaspoon of vegan chocolate hazelnut spread near the base of the triangle. Fold over and tuck in a little so the hazelnut spread is well enclosed. Then gentle roll up as tightly as you can, finishing with the tip of the triangle under so the rolls stays secure during baking.
  6. Chocolate croissants are usually square shaped. For those, cut straight across the width of the dough to make long rectangles. Then lay two chocolate sticks on either end and roll up to the middle.
  7. Place the croissants on parchment-lined baking sheets with about 2 - 3 inches of space between them. Keep in mind they will double in size during this final rising plus more as they bake. Tent them with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on them as they rise. Use tall glasses (or similar) to act as stands so the wrap doesn't touch the croissants.
  8. Let rise in a warm location protected from drafts for 2 hours or until doubled in size. During the last 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
  9. After rising, uncover the croissants. Mix maple syrup wash and gently brush on each croissant. For cheese croissants, now you can add additional vegan cheese shreds.
  10. Bake at 400°F (205°C) for ten minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue baking for 20 - 25 minutes or until they are deep golden brown on top.
Finishing Croissants
  1. Rest croissants on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack.
  2. Brush on a little bit more syrup wash if before sprinkling any finishing salt/herbs. For chocolate/ hazelnut croissants, drizzle on melted chocolate and let set.
Notes
  1. Vegan Butter I recommend Earth Balance Buttery Sticks for this recipe. If you can only get the one in the tub, that's okay too. Melt Plant-Based Butter is OK but melts more easily and has a coconut flavour to it. Other hard vegan butters may work as well but have not been tested.
  2. Troubleshooting BakingIf you took out your croissants early (or maybe your oven runs a little cool) and found they were not cooked all the way through after baking, not all is lost! Just put them back in the hot oven at 350°F for another 15 minutes or so. Watch so they don't burn.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/

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