homemade sourdough croissants
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Imagine eating a sourdough croissant so fresh that the outer crust crackles with each bite as your teeth sink in to the thin, buttery layers inside. These homemade croissants are akin to what you would find at a bakery but with all the benefits of sourdough with a long fermentation. They are flavorful, but not sour, and worth the time spent to laminate the dough.

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If you’ve been around here long, you know that I love making fermented foods like milk kefir, purple sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. I also love baking pastries with my sourdough starter!

Shortly after developing my Sourdough Danish Pastries, I was determined to work out a sourdough croissant recipe.

My goal was to end up with a pastry that was flavorful, but not actually sour at all. I achieve this by doing the majority of bulk fermentation over a long period of time in the refrigerator.

What is a croissant?

Croissant dough is laminated which means it is thinly layered with butter. This is done in a process of rolling and folding the dough after locking in a butter block.

I do this layering with only two folds: a book fold and a letter fold. I will show you step-by-step how this process works.

The dough is then cut and shaped. The croissants are brushed with an egg wash after proofing to make them deeply golden and shiny out of the oven. They are quite beautiful.

sourdough croissants up close on a cooling rack

This recipe yields 10 croissants. I like the size of these. They are big enough to use for a sandwich and will satisfy the croissant-sized hole in your heart.

You’ll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post, but I encourage you to read through the directions in the post for the best explanation of the process.

Does using sourdough starter make the process more difficult?

The process of mixing and laminating the dough is similar whether you use commercial yeast or sourdough starter. The only difference is a the long ferment time in between making and laminating the dough. This will be 12 hours, or longer, if you wish.

I don’t mind this extra time, though. I mix my dough on day one, allow it to ferment at room temperature for 4 hours, and then pop it in the fridge. The next day, I’m ready to continue the process when it fits in my schedule.

You can also hold the dough in the fridge for an extra day before or after lamination. The croissants will bake with a more open, airy interior with a longer ferment, but they will be delicious either way.

Do I have to use unsalted butter?

Definitely use unsalted butter. Salted butter will pull moisture from the dough, making the layers less defined. High quality butter with a higher fat content, like Kerry Gold, will give you the best result, but any unsalted butter will do the trick.

Tips for Making Sourdough Croissants

  • When laminating your croissant dough, make sure your butter is the same consistency as your dough. Your dough should be chilled. Your butter should be cold but still very pliable. Chill your dough when necessary during lamination if your butter and dough become too soft.
  • If your dough gets too cold in the fridge your butter will crack beneath the surface of the dough when you roll it. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before rolling to allow the butter to become pliable again.
  • Make sure you allow enough time for the croissants to proof before baking. They should “jiggle” if you scoot the baking tray.
sourdough croissants on a cooling rack
croissants up close on a cooling rack

Equipment Needed

How to Make Sourdough Croissants

Step 1 – Make and Ferment Sourdough Croissant Dough

Add your starter, sugar, kosher salt, melted butter, milk, and flour to a large bowl. I recommend you weigh your ingredients (especially the flour) for consistency.

croissant dough ingredients in a glass bowl

Stir until a shaggy dough forms. I like to use my Danish dough whisk whenever I’m mixing a dough.

stirring dough ingredients with a Danish dough whisk

Remove dough to a clean countertop. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth. It should be less sticky once you are done kneading.

Since the kneading goes quickly, I don’t use my mixer for this recipe.

beginning to knead dough on countertop
smooth dough in a ball after kneading

Form the dough into a ball. Place the ball in a lidded bowl and prop the lid on the top so air can escape without the dough drying out. You could also place a damp tea towel over your bowl if you don’t have a lid.

placing dough in a lidded bowl for fermentation

Leave the dough in a warm place to ferment for 4 hours. I usually use my oven with the light turned on for a warm place to ferment.

Then place the lid on tightly and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Leave it for an extra day if you want to.

Step 2 – Make Butter Block

When your dough is done fermenting, you are ready to laminate it. The first step is to make the butter block.

Place your cold butter on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with the flour.

cold butter and flour on a sheet of parchment paper

Loosely cover the butter with the edges of the parchment paper. Beat your butter with your rolling pin until it begins to flatten. If it won’t budge, let it sit for a few minutes to warm slightly and try again.

beating the butter with a rolling pin in the parchment paper

Next, make a rectangular pouch out of your parchment paper that measures 6 x 8 inches. I crease the the sides to 6 inches first.

making a parchment paper package around the butter in the dimensions I want the finished butter block

Then I fold the top down and the bottom up, adjusting it to 8 inches as I measure it.

making a parchment paper package around the butter in the dimensions I want the finished butter block

Now flip the whole pouch over so the folds stay closed.

the parchment paper butter package after flipping it over on the countertop

Use your rolling pin and your fingers to press the butter evenly into the pouch, making sure it fills the corners as well.

the finished butter block in the parchment paper

Now check your butter. If it’s melty on the edges, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to chill. If it’s still cold, but very pliable, you are ready for the next step.

Step 3 – Lock in Butter Block

Remove your chilled dough from the fridge. Place it on a lightly floured surface and press it into the shape of a rectangle. Pinch the corners to help shape them.

forming the chilled dough into a rectangle

Roll the dough to a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Unwrap your butter block and place it in the center of your dough with a short side facing you.

dough after rolling with butter block in the center

Fold the short ends of the rectangle over the butter until they meet in the middle.

folding one side of the dough over the butter block
folding the other side of the dough over the butter block to meet in the center with the first side

Use a pastry brush to brush away any loose flour. Pinch the center seam and the top and bottom edges closed so the butter is completely encased in dough.

pressing the seams closed to prevent the butter from escaping during rolling

Step 4 – First Lamination Fold (Book Fold)

Now we’re going to do our first lamination fold. This is called a book fold. Turn your dough so the center seam is parallel to you.

Turning the dough so the seam is facing me

Begin to lengthen the dough by gently pounding it with your rolling pin. Focus on keeping the corners and edges straight, and check often to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to your counter. Dust underneath with more flour when needed.

Pounding the dough with the rolling pin to begin to lengthen it while keeping the shape the same

Now finish rolling the dough to a 24 x 10-inch rectangle. Work gently, pushing the dough outward. I work on the length first, and then finish the width.

dough after rolling into a 12-inch x 10-inch rectangle

Continue to brush away loose flour as you go. Fold in both edges to meet in the middle.

folding the edges of the dough to meet in the middle, brushing away extra flour as I go
folding the edges of the dough to meet in the middle, brushing away extra flour as I go

Then close your new folded ends together like you’re closing a book.

folding the folded ends of the dough together as if closing a book to finish the first lamination fold

Here is a side view so you can see the layers:

side view of the dough after the book fold

Wrap your book in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. This will keep the butter and dough from getting too warm and will allow the dough to relax for easier rolling during the final fold.

Step 5 – Second Lamination Fold (Letter Fold)

Place your book on your counter with the folded side facing you. Roll to a 24 x 10-inch rectangle again, pounding the dough first, then rolling.

Still focus on keeping the edges and corners straight, and watch that your dough isn’t sticking to your counter underneath.

rolled dough ready for the second fold

Now fold your dough in thirds as if you’re folding a letter, brushing away loose flour as you go.

folding the dough in thirds as if folding a letter
folding the dough in thirds as if folding a letter, brushing away loose flour

Here is the side view after the letter fold:

side view of dough after letter fold

Wrap your dough in plastic and chill again. This time for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Step 6 – Cutting and Shaping Sourdough Croissants

When you’re ready to shape your croissants, pull your dough out of the fridge and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

Set your dough on your counter with the fold facing you. Roll to an 18 x 11.5-inch rectangle.

Use a pizza cutter to trim the edges of the rectangle. This will expose the layers so they rise properly during baking.

trimming the edges of the rectangle with a pizza cutter

Now use your pizza cutter to cut the dough into 5 even rectangles (measure for accuracy). Cut each rectangle in half crosswise to create 10 triangles.

dough cut into 10 triangles

Starting with the fat side of your first triangle, gently stretch the corners to make them wider. It’s even easier if you use both hands at once. Careful not to tear the dough.

gently stretching the bottom corners of the first triangle before rolling into a croissant

Then begin rolling the croissant tightly from the bottom.

rolling the triangle into a crescent shape
a shaped croissant, ready to go on a baking sheet

When you get to the end, gently pat the top of your croissant to help the bottom seal. Repeat with the remaining triangles.

Place your croissants on parchment-lined half sheet pans, five to a pan.

five croissants arranged on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan, ready to proof

Step 7 – Proofing and Baking Sourdough Croissants

Cover your sourdough croissants with plastic wrap (not too tightly), and place them in a warm spot to proof until they look “poofy.” They should be jiggly if you scoot the pan. This will take 1-2 hours.

It is important that they proof long enough so the butter doesn’t leak out of the layers during baking.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. (Don’t proof your croissants on top of your preheating oven, or the butter will melt out. I made this mistake once.)

Whisk together your egg and milk to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash gently on the entire surface of each proofed croissant with a pasty brush.

brushing croissants with egg wash

Bake one pan at a time for 15-17 minutes, or until the croissants are deeply golden. (Hold the second pan in the fridge if it’s done proofing, but you aren’t ready to bake yet. Egg wash and bake when the first pan is done.)

Place your finished pastries on a rack to cool completely before serving or storing.

sourdough croissants cooling after baking

How to Store Sourdough Croissants

Freeze any leftover sourdough croissants in a zipper freezer bag for optimal freshness. Place a croissant on a plate and microwave for about 20 seconds to thaw.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

If you make this recipe and love it, I would greatly appreciate if you would come back to leave 5 stars and a review! Tag me on Instagram @aberlehome to show me what you made!

homemade sourdough croissants

Sourdough Croissants

Yield: 10 croissants
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 19 hours
Total Time: 20 hours 15 minutes

These homemade sourdough croissants are akin to what you would find at a wonderful bakery but with all the benefits of sourdough with a long fermentation. They are flavorful, but not sour, and worth the time spent to laminate the dough.

Ingredients

Sourdough Croissant Dough

  • 1/2 cup (98g) active sourdough starter, 100% hydration
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (36g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (10g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (29g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (240g) whole milk, cold
  • 3 1/3 cups (423g) unbleached all-purpose flour

Butter Block

  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) unbleached all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) milk

Instructions

Sourdough Croissant Dough:

1. Scale and mix the dough ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. Remove dough to a clean countertop and knead for a few minutes until a smooth dough forms. Form dough into a ball.

2. Transfer dough ball to a lidded bowl, and prop the lid on loosely to keep the dough from drying out. Leave in a warm place to ferment for 4 hours.

3. Place lid on securely and refrigerate dough for at least 12 hours.

Butter Block:

1. Place cold butter on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with the flour. Fold the ends of the parchment loosely to cover the butter and begin pounding the butter with a rolling pin until it starts to flatten.

cold butter and flour on parchment paperpounding butter with rolling pin

2. Use a measuring tape to form the parchment paper into a 6x8-inch rectangle pouch over the butter. Flip the pouch over to keep the edges closed. Then use a rolling pin and your fingers to evenly press the butter into the pouch to make a butter block. Chill if butter has begun to melt on the edges. If butter is still cold but very pliable, it is ready for the next step.

measuring the parchment paper pouchmeasuring the parchment paper pouchbutter pouch after flipping it overparchment pouch after rolling and pressing the butter evenly

Lock in Butter Block:

1. Remove dough from fridge and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to begin to shape the dough into a rectangle and pinch the corners to shape them. Roll the dough into a 13x9-inch rectangle.

2. Unwrap butter block and place in the center of your dough with a short side facing you.

placing butter block in the center of the rectangle

3. Bring the ends of the dough over the butter so they meet in the middle of the butter block, encasing the butter. Press every seam to seal so the butter does not escape during rolling. Brush away any loose flour with a pastry brush.

folding the ends of the dough over the butter block to meet in the centerfolding the ends of the dough over the butter block to meet in the centerpinching the edges to seal the dough over the butter

First Lamination Fold (Book Fold):

1. Turn the dough so the center seam is parallel to you. Use your rolling pin to gently pound the dough to lengthen it. Then roll to a 24x10-inch rectangle. Try to keep the edges and corners straight, and dust underneath with more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

2. Fold the short ends of the rectangle inward to meet in the center. Then fold the new ends together like you're closing a book. Brush away any loose flour as you go.

folding short edges to meet in the center during first lamination foldfolding short edges to meet in the center during first lamination foldclosing the edges like a bookside view after first lamination fold

3. Wrap book in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Second Lamination Fold (Letter Fold):

1. Place dough on your lightly floured surface again, this time with the fold facing you. Pound and roll to a 24x10-inch rectangle again.

2. Fold the short ends of the rectangle in thirds this time, as if you are folding a letter. Brush away loose flour as you go.

folding short ends of rectangle into thirds during second lamination foldfolding short ends of rectangle into thirds during second lamination foldside view after second lamination fold

3. Wrap in plastic again, and chill for 1 hour or overnight.

Shaping and Baking Croissants:

1. Remove dough from fridge and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. With the folded side facing you, roll to a 18x11.5-inch rectangle. Use a pizza cutter to trim the edges.

trimming the edges of the rectangle with a pizza cutter

2. Cut the rectangle into 5 equal rectangles, measuring for accuracy. Cut each rectangle in half on the diagonal to form 10 triangles.

rectangle cut into 10 triangles

3. Set a triangle in front of you with the bottom two corners facing you. Brush away loose flour. Gently stretch these corners wider with your fingers and then roll the dough up tightly from the bottom until you have a crescent shape. Lightly pat the croissant when you've finished shaping to help seal the bottom. Repeat for remaining triangles.

stretch the bottom ends of the triangle before rollingrolling the triangle to form a crescent shapeshaped croissant

4. Arrange the croissants on 2 parchment-lined half sheet pans, 5 to each pan. Cover with plastic wrap (not too tightly) and set in a warm place to proof for 1-2 hours, or until croissants look "poofy" and jiggle when you bump the pan. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°F.

5. Beat your egg and milk together to make an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to brush egg wash over the entire surface of each proofed croissant.

6. Bake one pan at a time on the center rack for 15-17 minutes, or until deeply golden brown. (Hold second pan in the fridge until you're ready to egg wash and bake.)

7. Place croissants on a cooling rack, and serve or store once they've cooled completely. Store in the freezer in a zipper freezer bag. Place a croissant on a plate and microwave for about 20 seconds to thaw.

Notes

  • When laminating your croissant dough, make sure your butter is the same consistency as your dough. Your dough should be chilled. Your butter should be cold but still very pliable. Chill your dough when necessary during lamination if your butter and dough become too soft.
  • If your dough gets too cold in the fridge your butter will crack beneath the surface of the dough when you roll it. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before rolling to allow the butter to become pliable again.
  • Make sure you allow enough time for the croissants to proof before baking. They should "jiggle" if you scoot the baking tray.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 269Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 8g

    *Nutrition information is not always accurate.