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Make irresistible French Pain au Chocolat, also known as Chocolate Croissants, from scratch! Let me show you how to make them at home – it’s doable, trust me! Bring that tempting smell of a French boulangerie to your home!

french pain au chocolat
Table of Contents

Anyone who has ever been to France knows that a fresh French Pain au Chocolat from a traditional Boulangerie is an unforgettable experience! Such a delicious French pastry with a flaky crust and a rich chocolate center.

Almost like a crispy, buttery, airy, and simply irresistibly delicious French Croissant, but filled with chocolate! Even though the dough for both French pastries is the same, Pain au Chocolat are shaped in a cuboid piece rather than a croissant.

three pain au chocolat on a wooden board

The good news is that you don’t have to travel to France every time you are longing for that mouthwatering taste! Make them at home! I will help you!

To be fair, making this kind of laminated dough comes with some obstacles and is easier to handle if you have some baking experience. Yet, I still think it’s doable!

Learn how to make it with my visual step-by-step guide with lots of pictures and tips!

The most critical part is to laminate the dough. Meaning, you have to incorporate a thick layer of butter into the yeast dough without leaking. Therefore, the dough has to be rolled out and folded 3 times, each time with a 30-minute break in the fridge. Working with cold dough is essential and should keep the butter from leaking!

I have made this kind of dough a dozen times, and I can tell that it gets easier to handle each time. Please don’t give up if they don’t turn out perfect the first time. It is a complex recipe that takes some practice. And the worst that can happen is that the butter is leaking during baking (more on this in the Recipe FAQ section).

homemade stabled chocoalt croissants

Vegan Pain au Chocolat or Regular Ones

You can see in the recipe that I used dairy-free butter and a vegan-friendly “egg-wash” before baking the chocolate croissants. It’s up to you if you prefer to make vegan chocolate croissants or regular vegetarian ones. The recipe remains the same for both variations.

For regular chocolate croissants, swap dairy-free butter with regular butter and feel free to use the vegan “egg-wash” or brush them with one egg yolk before baking. The vegan “egg-wash” has the advantage that you don’t need to waste a whole egg white next to that it’s vegan. The difference is unnoticeable.

Step-by-Step Instructions

This visual guide with step-by-step pictures should help you along the way- definitely recommended if you are preparing homemade pain au chocolat recipe for the first time. 

If you are a pro, skip right to the recipe card at the end of the post, where you will also find the exact quantities and everything else you need to know to make this recipe.

Late Afternoon/Early Evening → Preparing The Dough

  • Mix all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • Add lukewarm milk (warmed in the microwave or over the stove – if you can stick a finger into the milk and the temperature feels good, the milk has the right temperature) and knead for 10 minutes at low speed until you have a smooth dough.
  • Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.
Pain au Chocolat Recipe Step 1-3

Laminating the Dough

  • Aline’s Laminating Cheat Step: Cut the cold vegan butter into equal thin pieces. → This saves you the tedious step of forming a butter square.
vegan croissant recipe step 5
  • Place the dough on a floured surface.
  • Roll it into a long rectangle (approx. 14×6 inches | 35x15cm) using a rolling pin. The rectangle should be as straight as possible, use your hands to help stretching/forming it.
  • Place the butter slices evenly in the middle of the dough, leaving approx. 1inch/2cm space on each side. → This prevents the butter from leaking during laminating and baking.
  • Then fold both ends of the dough over the butter layer and seal the dough edges as best you can with your fingers.
Pain au Chocolat Recipe Step 5-8
  • 1st Round Laminating: Roll the dough into a long rectangle (there should be no cracks/no butter leaking out).
  • Fold the top third into the middle, then fold the bottom third into the middle over the first fold.
  • Wrap with plastic wrap and place it for 30 minutes in the fridge to chill.
Pain au Chocolat Recipe Step 9-11
  • 2nd Round: Turn the dough 90° (so the short end is facing you) and repeat the steps from the 1st round (↑). Place the dough for a further 30 minutes in the fridge.
  • 3rd Round: Repeat the steps from the 2nd round (↑). Wrap loosely with plastic wrap and leave overnight in the refrigerator. → The dough will rise again overnight, don’t wrap it too tight.

→ Laminating gives this kind of dough the buttery and airy layers

Next Morning → Shaping the Dough

  • Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out into a long rectangle. → The dough is hard, but be gentle, take your time, and don’t roll with too much pressure.
  • Cut into 12 equally sized rectangles using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Take one rectangle, roll it out again into a long rectangle, place one chocolate stick (or 1/12 of the chopped chocolate) on one end, then roll it up tightly.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough!
Pain au Chocolat Recipe Step 12-16
  • Divide them between two with parchment paper lined baking sheets, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let the chocolate croissants rest for 2 hours at room temperature. → It’s important that they prove long enough. Otherwise, the butter can leak during baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C) 30 minutes before baking.
Pain au Chocolat Recipe Step 17-18
  • Brush each chocolate croissant with the vegan egg wash.→ Do you see how the chocolate croissants have noticeably increased in volume again? Don’t bake them until they have risen properly. Otherwise, the butter may leak out!
  • Bake the first sheet for 15 minutes until golden brown, then place on a rack to cool. Repeat with the second sheet.

Hint: You must always refrigerate the chocolate croissant dough as indicated in the recipe. Otherwise, the butter becomes too soft and leaks faster. You can also let the dough rest for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes during the lamination process, especially on warmer days.

a freshly baked chocolate croissant

Recipe FAQ

  • Can I keep leftovers? Eat the chocolate croissants within one day and freeze any leftovers.
  • Can I freeze chocolate croissants? Absolutely! It’s best to transfer them into a freezer bag once cold, then freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat? Place them frozen in the cold oven and bake for 15 minutes at 355°F (180°C).
  • Is butter leaking during baking? It can happen that the butter is leaking during baking. If it’s only a little, don’t worry too much. Making perfect Pain au Chocolat needs a little practice. It can be that the butter was leaking during laminating, that you have tiny cracks in the dough, or that you under-proofed the chocolate croissants. 
  • Which vegan butter is the best to make this recipe? Make sure you use dairy-free butter, which is hard when cold (same consistency as regular butter), and not the one which is soft like margarine. If you are unsure what to buy, go with Earth Balance Vegetable Oil Buttery Sticks!
  • Not vegan or no vegan butter at hand? It’s totally ok if you prefer to make this recipe using regular butter if you don’t follow a vegan diet. The measurements listed in the recipes card are the same if using regular or plant-based butter.

More French Recipes You’ll Love

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📖 Recipe

french pain au chocolat

Pain au Chocolat – Chocolate Croissant

Make irresistible French Pain au Chocolat, also known as Chocolate Croissants, from scratch! Let me show you how to make them at home – it's doable, trust me!
Author : Aline Cueni
4.88 from 8 votes

Click on the stars to leave a vote!

Prep Time :1 hour
Cook Time :30 minutes
Resting Time :12 hours
Total Time :13 hours 30 minutes
Servings : 12
Calories : 356kcal

Ingredients
 

Chocolate Croissant Dough

"Butter" Layer

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) (250 g) vegan butter cold, → VEGETARIAN: use regular butter (Note 1)

Chocolate

Vegan "Egg" Wash

Instructions
 

Late Afternoon/Early Evening

  • Mix all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add lukewarm milk (warmed in the microwave or over the stove – if you can stick a finger into the milk and the temperature feels good, the milk has the right temperature) and knead for 10 minutes at low speed until you have a smooth dough.
  • Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  • Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it into a long rectangle (approx. 14×6 inches | 35x15cm) using a rolling pin. The rectangle should be as straight as possible, use your hands to help stretching/forming it.
  • Aline's Laminating Cheat Step: Cut the cold vegan butter into equal thin pieces and place them in the middle of the dough, leaving approx. 1 inch/2 cm space on each side. → This prevents the butter from leaking during laminating and baking.
  • Then fold both ends of the dough over the butter layer and seal the dough edges as best you can with your fingers.
  • 1st Round: Roll the dough into a long rectangle. Fold the top third into the middle, then fold the bottom third into the middle over the first fold. Wrap with plastic wrap and place it for 30 minutes in the fridge to chill.
  • 2nd Round: Turn the dough 90°, so the short end is facing you, and repeat the steps from the 1st round (↑). Place the dough for a further 30 minutes in the fridge.
  • 3rd Round: Repeat the steps from the 2nd round (↑). Wrap loosely with plastic wrap and leave overnight in the fridge. → The dough will rise again overnight, don't wrap it too tight.

Next Morning

  • Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out into a long rectangle. → The dough is hard, but be gentle, take your time, and don't roll with too much pressure.
  • Cut into 12 equally sized rectangles. Take one rectangle, roll it out again into a long rectangle, place one chocolate stick (or 1/12 of the chopped chocolate) on one end, then roll it up tightly. Repeat with the remaining dough!
  • Divide them between two with parchment paper lined baking sheets, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let the chocolate croissant rest for 2 hours at room temperature. → It's important that they prove long enough. Otherwise, the butter can leak during baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C) 30 minutes before baking.
  • Mix ingredients for the vegan "egg" wash in a small bowl and brush each chocolate croissant with it.
  • Bake the first baking sheet for 15 minutes until golden brown, then place on a rack to cool. Repeat with the second baking sheet.

Notes

  1. Vegan Butter: Make sure you use dairy-free butter, which is hard when cold (same consistency as regular butter), and not the one which is soft like margarine. If you are unsure, go with Earth Balance Vegetable Oil Buttery Sticks!
  2. Not vegan or no vegan butter at hand? Swap the vegan butter with regular butter for regular vegetarian Pain au Chocolat.
  3. Chocolate: It’s best to use chocolate croissant sticks. However,  since they are only available in large quantities, I only recommend buying them if you really bake chocolate croissants on a regular basis. Sometimes you can get a bar of dark chocolate which can be conveniently broken into 10g sticks. Otherwise, use a chopped dark (or bittersweet) chocolate bar.
  4. Eat the chocolate croissants within one day and freeze any leftovers.
  5. Freeze Chocolate Croissants: It’s best to transfer them into a freezer bag once cold, then freeze them for up to 3 months. Reheat: Place frozen in the cold oven and bake for 15 minutes at 355°F (180°C).
  6. Is butter leaking during baking? It can happen that the butter is leaking during baking. If it’s only a little, don’t worry too much. Making perfect Pain au Chocolat needs a little practice. It can be that the butter was leaking during laminating, that you have tiny cracks in the dough, or that you under-proofed the chocolate croissants. 

Nutrition

Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 331mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 779IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 3mg

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4.88 from 8 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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7 Comments

  1. I’ve been making “cheater croissants” (croissants rolled out of vegan prebought puff pastry) because of how hard making vegan croissants seemed, but this one seems really doable. Can I ask, do you think it would work to freeze rolled and proofed but unbaked rolls and bake them as-needed? I’d love to make up a batch, freeze most of them, and then have a fresh-baked croissant every morning for a week.

    1. Hi Nonnie, glad you found my recipe! 💕 I would bake them (maybe minus a few minutes), let them cool, freeze them, and then re-bake in the morning. That’s how I do it. You can add a little water in a small bowl (make sure it’s heat resistant) in the oven when reheating.

  2. Yess…I just tried 💐🤩👍very delicious recipe and very well explained. Thank you 💕 so much.

  3. Hello Aline🌹
    Thank you so much for the chocolate croissant recipe, I just tried it and it comes out delicious. Finally I found a recipe that’s works perfectly and you explained it very well. I can’t wait to try yours other recipes.