I first shared a tutorial for homemade vegan croissants in a YouTube video in early 2017. It’s one of my most popular recipes, and over the years so many people have followed it with great success!
However, I also field a fair number of messages asking for help troubleshooting the recipe. This is totally understandable, since croissants are time-consuming and sometimes a bit finicky to make.
I created this step-by-step guide to give you the best chance at success with this classic French pastry made vegan. I’ve spared no detail and I’ve included plenty of images so that you can follow along if this is your first foray into homemade vegan croissants.
These croissants may be vegan, but they are still so fluffy, flaky, buttery and delicious! They taste amazing lightly toasted and spread with fruit preserves, but I have to admit my favorite way to eat them is to make breakfast sandwiches with Just Egg, vegan sausage and cheddar.
Please don’t be intimidated! The recipe is a bit time-consuming but when broken down into steps, it’s completely manageable. I promise the time and effort will be well worth it when your entire house smells like a bakery.
Timeline for Making Vegan Croissants
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you see all the instructions in a recipe for croissants! Don’t worry; it may be a long process, but the individual steps are actually quite simple! Here’s a brief, simplified timeline so you have a better idea of what to expect.
- Mix croissant dough.
- Rise until doubled at room temperature.
- Transfer to fridge for overnight cold fermentation.
- Prepare butter slab and refrigerate overnight.
- Roll out dough and encase slab of butter.
- Perform several turns (folds) to create layers. Dough rests in the fridge between each turn. Laminated dough rests in the fridge until chilled.
- Roll out dough, cut into triangles, and shape into croissants.
- Shaped croissants rise one last time at room temp.
- Bake and enjoy!
Ingredients for Vegan Croissants
Bread Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour
The recipe as I’ve written it calls for bread flour, which has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour. This provides more strength, elasticity and structure to the dough, contributing to a better rise and better oven spring. Most regular grocery stores stock bread flour, so I’d recommend using it if at all possible.
If you have all-purpose flour and vital wheat gluten in your pantry, you can also make your own high-protein flour that works great in bread recipes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten per every cup of flour. Whisk together and use like bread flour.
If you absolutely have to use all-purpose flour, you will probably need to add extra to achieve the right texture for the dough. You can reference the video or instructional photos below to see what that is. Add the extra flour one tablespoon at a time and incorporate fully before adding more.
Vegan Butter vs. Margarine
When I originally shared this recipe in 2017, pickings were slim in the realm of dairy-free butter. Luckily there are a few more options on the market now. I’ve found they all will lend slightly different results. My favorites are the Earth Balance Baking Sticks and the Country Crock Plant Butter with Avocado Oil, which many popular grocery chains stock.
I find the texture of the Earth Balance sticks to be easier to work with (it won’t melt as rapidly while you are handling the dough), so it’s a more forgiving option if this is your first time laminating dough. However, I find it to taste a bit more like vegetable oil.
The Country Crock has a more convincing flavor when baked, but you’ll need to make sure the dough stays very well-chilled as it melts faster. The same goes for vegan-friendly margarine and the cultured vegan butter by Miyoko’s Creamery (which costs a bit more but tastes absolutely fantastic in this recipe).
In all cases, get the sticks of vegan butter or margarine whenever possible. The spreads that come in a tub usually contain extra water to make them more easily spreadable, which can throw off the consistency of the croissants!
For a more detailed comparison of vegan butter options on the market currently, you can check out my guide: Best Vegan Butter for Baking and More.
Active Dry vs. Instant Yeast
The recipe as I’ve written it calls for active dry yeast, which is slightly less potent than instant yeast. Either variety can be used in this recipe as long as you adjust the measurement accordingly: every 1 teaspoon of instant yeast is roughly equivalent to 1 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast.
How to Make Vegan Croissants (with Photos)
Mixing & Kneading the Dough
I make all my bread recipes, including croissants, using a stand mixer. They can be made by hand as well; you’ll just need to apply a little extra elbow grease during the kneading process.
After proofing the yeast and combining all the ingredients, I like to mix with the paddle attachment until everything comes together (this takes under a minute). At this point, I switch to the dough hook and allow it to knead the dough for between 8-10 minutes. The dough starts out shaggy and becomes a smooth, elastic ball.
In recipes for pie crust or pancake batter, you may have heard not to “overwork” or “over-mix.” No need to worry about that here; you want to knead for at least 8-10 minutes to strengthen the gluten strands, forming a supple dough. This structure is necessary for a strong rise and the fluffiest croissants.
To know you’re done kneading, you can use the windowpane test: take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers until you can see light through it. If it tears before you can stretch it into a thin membrane, knead it for a few more minutes to develop your gluten further.
Rising and Cold Fermentation
Vegan croissants are not difficult to make, but they do require some planning ahead, since they require a significant time rising. This allows the dough to develop strength and more complex flavor.
After mixing and kneading your dough, transfer it to an oiled bowl and let it rise on the counter until at least doubled in size. This will usually take between 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Tip: If you’re working in an especially chilly kitchen, you can create a warm proofing environment for your dough by preheating your oven on the lowest setting for one minute, then turning it off. Place your dough inside to rise.
Once the dough has risen, you’ll punch it down and fold it into a rectangle (to make it easier to roll out tomorrow). Transfer it to the refrigerator overnight. The lengthy cold fermentation delays the action of the yeast, resulting in a more complex flavor. It also allows more time for the development of the gluten structure and the full hydration of the flour.
It is possible to skip the overnight fermentation if you’re in a hurry, although the dough will be less flavorful. To do so, knock the dough down after the first rise. Fold the dough into a rectangle, cover and chill for just 30 minutes. Then proceed to the steps after the overnight fermentation.
Laminating the Dough for Flaky Layers
Lamination is the process of folding butter into dough several times to result in many thin alternating layers of dough and butter. This process is what gives the croissants their characteristic flaky, airy texture.
This is the point at which some people struggle, because the butter has to be at the right temperature and consistency. It has to be pliable enough that it can be rolled into thin layers and folded with the dough, but if it’s too soft it might melt into the other ingredients or ooze through dough and make a mess. (This has happened to me on a few occasions on particularly warm days.)
You will shape softened vegan butter into a slab (about 6″x6″) and chill it overnight while the dough cold ferments. You can use parchment as shown in the photos. Alternatively, you can add the softened butter to a sandwich-sized ziploc baggy, press out the air, seal it, and run a rolling pin over it to spread the butter and form a perfect square. Chill overnight and cut the butter out of the baggy the following day.
The following day, you will encase your butter slab in your dough. Roll the dough out to just slightly larger than twice the length of the slab, fold it over, and pinch the edges to seal thoroughly.
Next comes the first double turn: you will fold the edges of the dough into the center (like two doors), and then once more along the center (like a book), thereby creating 4 butter layers. After one more double turn, the dough is chilled and relaxed in the fridge briefly before it’s ready to be cut and shaped.
Shaping Your Vegan Croissants
Because you want to keep the butter cold, I recommend dividing the dough and working with only half at a time when you begin to cut and shape your croissants. Keep the other half in the fridge. You can see the layers of butter when you cut the laminated dough! Pretty cool, right?
Working with half the dough, roll it out to 18″ x 9″ and at long last, we’re in the home stretch! You can decide whether you want 10 jumbo vegan croissants (like the kind you might buy in a bakery), 12 medium-sized ones (this is what I usually do; this size works great for breakfast sandwiches), or 16 smaller ones (like the size of store-bought crescent rolls).
Once the triangles are rolled into the signature crescent shape, they must rise one final time until doubled. If you want to achieve the glossy finish you’d see in a bakery, you can brush your vegan croissants with a mixture of agave nectar and soy milk, although this is optional.
Baking Your Croissants
I like to bake vegan croissants in two phases. As with pie crust or many hearth breads, we start at a higher temperature for the best oven spring. The high heat causes the butter layers in the dough to rapidly melt and produce steam, which in turn expands and creates the signature flaky texture and big air bubbles we love to see in croissants. We then lower the temperature to ensure that the croissants cook fully without burning or browning excessively.
I hope this guide will help you make your first batch of vegan croissants, or to troubleshoot any issues if you’ve attempted to make them before. Stay tuned for separate posts about different croissant varieties: pains au chocolat, almond croissants (my absolute favorite), and vegan ham and cheese croissants!
If you make these, I’d love nothing more than to see how they turn out for you! Upload a picture to Instagram and tag me, and I will do my best to re-share on my stories! Happy baking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use coconut oil instead of butter?
Unfortunately not. Coconut oil doesn’t have the same consistency as butter so it will be difficult to work with the dough when performing the turns.
You can potentially use coconut oil instead of butter *only* in the recipe for the dough, but I haven’t tested this out so I can’t guarantee results.
Can this Vegan Croissant recipe be made gluten-free?
Unfortunately not. The gluten structure is really important in this recipe. I will be testing a gluten-free, vegan-friendly croissant recipe in the future, however!
Can this recipe be sped up and made in one day?
Yes, technically! You would do this by shortening the overnight cold fermentation. You would probably want to get started as early as possible in the day, because the fastest this recipe can come together is probably no fewer than 4-5 hours. Here’s what an hypothetical timeline would look like, in theory, if you wanted to make them as quickly as possible:
- 7am: Mix dough and set out to rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until doubled. Prepare butter slab and refrigerate.
- 9am: Punch down dough, roll out and fold into a rectangle. Chill for ~30 minutes.
- around 9:45am: Roll out chilled dough and encase butter slab. Perform a double turn. Cover and chill for ~30 minutes.
- around 10:30am: Perform another double turn. Cover and chill for another ~30-45 minutes.
- around 11:30am: Work with half the dough at a time. Roll and cut dough. Shape into croissants. Allow them to rise until doubled (1-2 hours depending on ambient temperature.
- between 12:30pm – 1:30pm: Bake croissants.
These are just estimated times. It really depends on how quickly you work. That said, you’ll get the tastiest and most consistent results if you do plan ahead and allow the overnight cold fermentation!
For more information about this recipe, check out my video on YouTube!
Vegan Croissants Recipe
- stand mixer optional
- mixing bowl
- Rolling Pin
- large baking tray
- parchment or silicone baking mat
- pastry brush
For the Dough
- 2 (0.25 oz) packets active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 cup lukewarm water about 110°F
- 3 1/2 cups (420g) bread flour
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (11g) salt (reduce to 1 tsp if your butter is salted)
- 6 tablespoons vegan butter softened
- 1 cup (2 sticks) vegan butter slightly softened
Vegan Egg Wash
- 2 tablespoons nondairy milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
A Preliminary Note
- If you've never made croissants before, check out the instructional video and the step-by-step photos in the blog post to help you! You can also check out the troubleshooting section if you run into any snags.
Preparing the Dough
- Add the lukewarm water to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, and allow to proof until foamy (about 5-10 minutes).
- Once yeast is bubbly, add in the granulated sugar, bread flour, salt, and the softened vegan butter. Mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed until dough comes together in one large mass. At this point it will look very rough.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead on medium speed for 8-10 minutes until dough is completely smooth and elastic. Dough should bounce back when poked gently. You can use the windowpane test to see if the dough is sufficiently kneaded: rip off a small piece of dough and gently try to stretch it out thin enough to see light through. If it tears before you can stretch it, keep kneading to develop the gluten further.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours. Exact time will depend on the temperature in your home. It will normally take closer to 1 hour, but if it's particularly chilly, it may take longer. Go by the size of the dough; it's ready when it has slightly more than doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Fold it into a rectangular shape. Exact dimensions aren't important; this will just make it easier to roll it out in a rectangle later. Wrap the dough in plastic, or place it in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight to cold ferment.
Make the Butter Slab
- Shape the 1 cup of softened butter into a square about 6"x6". You can use either a sheet of parchment, or place the butter in a small sandwich bag, press out the air, and use your hands or a rolling pin to roll out the butter to the shape of the bag. Refrigerate the shaped butter overnight.
Laminating the Dough
- The following day, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle, roughly 8"x16". (It just needs to be slightly larger than twice the length of the butter slab.) Place the butter slab on one side, leaving a border, then the rest of the dough over to envelop the butter. Pinch around the edges to seal in the butter tightly.
- Roll dough out to roughly 24"x9" and perform a double turn: Fold both ends of the dough into the center, then fold in half again to create 4 layers. Chill dough for 15-20 minutes before proceeding. This will keep the butter firm and allow the gluten to relax a bit. If your kitchen is particularly warm, you may need to chill it a little extra. The key is that the butter should not look too soft or appear to be "oozing" from the dough as you work with it.
- Roll the dough out again to 24″x9″ and perform another double turn. Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the gluten to fully relax.
Shaping the Croissants
- Cut the dough in two and work with half at a time, leaving the rest in the refrigerator.
- Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll dough out to roughly 18″x9″ and use a sharp knife to cut into triangles (for classic croissants) or rectangles (for pains au chocolat). For medium-sized croissants, cut each sheet of dough into thirds (6″ x 9″ rectangles). Then cut each rectangle diagonally, corner-to-corner, to create 6 triangles. Repeat with the other half of the dough for 12 croissants total.
- Cut a small slit at the base of each triangle and roll your croissant, pushing outward gently with your palms while rolling to elongate the croissant.
- Place on a lined baking tray with the point or seam of the croissant on the bottom.
- Optionally, you can whisk together 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup with 2 tablespoons plant milk to make a vegan egg wash substitute. Lightly brush the croissants with this mixture to help them achieve a glossy finish. (Reserve the extra; you will brush them one more time before baking.)
- Allow croissants to rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until at least doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 400°F toward the end of the rising time. Brush your croissants once more with the egg wash mixture if you’re using it.
- Bake croissants for 10 minutes at 400°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 12-15 minutes. Croissants should be golden brown.
- Allow the croissants to cool on the baking tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- These are best served warm, whether fresh from the oven or reheated slightly in a microwave or toaster oven. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature. These also freeze and defrost well.