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Buttermilk Crepes (Ukrainian Blini)

These Buttermilk Crepes (aka Buttermilk Blini) recipe makes the most delicate, delicious crepes. It's a great recipe to use up leftover buttermilk if you have a container open from another recipe. Even if you don't have buttermilk on hand, it's worth going out to get some just to make these amazing crepes!

Making crepes isn't any more complicated than making pancakes. In fact, I prefer making crepes because they cook so quickly.

The batter for these crepes is whipped up in the blender for easy prep and clean up: to clean up, just rinse out the blender, add some warm water and a squirt of dish soap, and blend again to clean your blender!

Buttermilk Crepes with berry compost on a plate
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What's the difference between crepes, blini, and blinchiki?

All three terms refer to thin, delicate batter pancakes that can be folded, rolled, and served sweet or savory. These pancakes are much thinner than American pancakes. They're called Crepes in French, and they're called "Blini" or "Blinchiki" in Russian. Blinchiki is the diminutive form of the word "blini."

Blini are typically softer, fluffier, and more delicate than crepes, and these buttermilk blini are the perfect example of how soft and fluffy blini can be.

Overhead picture of buttermilk crepes on a plate

The Ukrainian word is "mlyntsi," but since we spoke Russian in Ukraine when I was growing up, we call these crepes "blini." For the purpose of this recipe, I will refer to these are "crepes" because that's what I call them at home now when I speak English with my husband.

Related recipe: Savory Crepes Stuffed with Chicken

Fluffy soft crepes

What makes these crepes extra soft, fluffy, and delicious is using buttermilk and baking soda. Buttermilk is thicker than milk, so it helps make fluffy pancakes without making them too thick. Baking soda reacts with the buttermilk because buttermilk is acidic, and it creates tiny bubbles in the batter, which help make the crepe batter fluffy and soft.

It's the same idea of using baking soda and Greek yogurt in pancakes to make the fluffiest pancakes!

Table with a plate of buttermilk crepes with berry compote and honey

Related recipe: Syrniki (Russian Cheese Pancakes)

Blender crepes

The easiest way to whip up the batter for these crepes is to make it in a blender. No whisks, no bowls, and easy to clean by simply blending soap and water when you're done!

I make these crepes by blending together all the ingredients aside from water (flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil). Then I add a cup of boiling hot water, a little at a time. Adding the hot water helps to speed up gluten formation in the flour, which helps these crepes not tear while they're cooking and makes for super soft, fluffy crepes.

If you don't want to use a blender, you can use a food processor or an electric mixer. If you don't have those, manually whisk together all the ingredients for the crepes in a bowl. Start by whisking together eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Then add the flour, sugar, baking soda. Then add the boiling water slowly, while whisking constantly.

Ingredients to make buttermilk crepes

Related recipe: Zapekanka (Farmer's Cheese Cheesecake)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-4 tablespoons sugar (1 tablespoon gives the crepes just a hint sweetness, 4 tablespoons makes them sweet and dessert-like)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Vegetable oil for cooking (I recommend an oil sprayer), or butter

You'll also need:

Related recipe: Buttermilk Smoothie

Instructions

Step 1: Add all the ingredients aside from the boiling water to a blender. Pulse several times to make a smooth mixture. No blender? Use a food processor or whisk the ingredients together REALLY well.

Step 2: Carefully and gradually add the boiling water to the mixture and pulse to combine. If you have a blender that allows you to pour it in from the top (WITHOUT the mixture splashing out), use that. If not, add about ¼ cup of boiling water, cover the blender, and blend. Repeat until all the water is added. Skim off the bubbles from the top of the batter. 

Step 3: Preheat a 7 or 8 inch non-stick pan (a 9-inch is fine too, but it will be harder to flip the larger crepes). Spray it with oil (alternatively, brush about ½ teaspoon oil all over the pan, or brush the pan with butter quickly so not too much butter melts on it).

Step 4: Add a scant ¼ cup of batter to the center of the pan and swirl the pan immediately to spread the batter all around to coat the pan. Cook over medium heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the crepe is mostly set and the bottom is golden but not too browned, you will see bubbles on top. It might take a few crepes to adjust the heat just right.

Buttermilk crepe batter in a pan

Step 5: Run a silicone spatula/turner alongside the edges of the crepe to loosen it. Gently wiggle the spatula underneath and flip the crepe over into the pan. It's OK if the crepe doesn't land perfectly in the center of the pan, do not try to adjust it. Cook for another 20-30 seconds, or until the crepe has golden brown spots on the bottom and is fully cooked. Remove carefully onto a large plate.

Crepe cooking in a pan

Step 5: If your pan is not non-stick and if it's needed, spray another ~½ teaspoon oil into the pan and repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the crepes are cooked. 

Related recipe: Buttermilk Red Velvet Pancakes

Crepe cooking tips and troubleshooting

There is a saying in Russian "Первый блин комом," which means "the first crepe (or pancake) is always lumpy (or broken)." This is used as a metaphor for lots of things in life, but is so true for cooking crepes!

It takes a few tries to get it just right. Even if you follow the same trusted recipe over and over, there might be differences in the humidity in the air, the temperature of your skillet, or in how you measured the ingredients. It can take 1-2 ripped crepes to get the perfect crepe!

That said, here are a few tips for cooking crepes.

Get the right pan to cook crepes

Make sure your pan is non-stick. I recommend designating a pan that is ONLY used for crepes so that it does not get scratched up from cooking other things. 

Use a smaller pan. A 7-inch pan is perfect for making nice sized crepes that are easy to flip. For a 7-inch pan, you'll need a little less than ¼ cup crepe batter. For an 8-inch pan, you'll need almost a full ¼ cup batter. For a 9-inch pan, you'll need a full ¼ cup, plus maybe another ½ tablespoon—it depends on how runny or thick your crepe batter is.

Get the right temperature and spatula for cooking crepes

Get the cooking temperature just right. I like to adjust the heat until I am able to cook the crepe on one side for 50-60 seconds without it getting too brown on the bottom, then flipping and cooking for another 20-30 seconds. If you try to flip the crepe too early and the bottom is not set, it will tear easier. 

Use a silicone spatula/turner to flip crepes. This will ensure that your pan does not get scratched, plus silicone spatulas are flexible enough to wiggle under the crepe to flip it.

What to use if you don't have a blender

The buttermilk batter for these crepes can be made in a food processor. If you don't have that either, you can whisk together the batter with a whisk by hand (make sure to whisk REALLY well!), or use an electric mixer to beat everything together.

Adjust the buttermilk crepe batter as needed to get the batter just right

Crepes will fall apart if the batter is too thin (liquidy) and there is not enough flour. If your crepes are just falling apart even after you cook a few crepes and getting the heat just right, you can add 1-2 tablespoons flour to the batter and pulse it again in the blender to combine. 

While the recipe here is my go-to buttermilk crepe recipe, every little thing can affect the crepe batter: the brand of flour used, how you scoop the flour, the size of the eggs, the humidity in the air, slight variations in measuring cups. 

Typically if crepes are completely falling apart, that typically means you need to add 1-2 tablespoons flour to the batter to thicken it. I recommend only adding 1 tablespoon at a time because you don't want to make the batter too thick—thin delicate crepes are the best!

Related recipe: Buttermilk Churro Pancakes

What to serve with buttermilk crepes

This buttermilk crepe recipe is delicious enough that I often eat the crepes on their own! Especially when I use all 4 tablespoons sugar in the batter to make sweet crepes.

But the crepes are amazing served with a berry compote, with cottage cheese or ricotta and honey or maple syrup, or with Greek yogurt and fruit preserves. Try drizzling this bourbon caramel sauce, this chocolate sauce, or a little condensed milk on top instead of syrup. They're also great spread with nutella with fresh fruit on top, or whipped cream and chocolate chips. Anything works!!

If you prefer savory flavors, then I recommend reducing the sugar in the crepe (although some people LOVE that sweet and savory combo, so that's up to you!). Then you can serve these crepes with sautéed mushrooms and melted swiss cheese, with chopped ham and shredded cheese, or with some homemade lox and sour cream.

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Recipe card

Buttermilk Crepes with berry compost on a plate
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5 from 5 votes

Buttermilk Crepes (Ukrainian Blini)

These buttermilk crepes always come out so soft and fluffy, yet so thin and delicate. And always so delicious! Whip up the batter in a blender, or read the notes for making these without a blender. And make sure to read the notes for troubleshooting tips for your crepes!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Russian, Ukrainian
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 15 crepes
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-4 tablespoons sugar - (1 tablespoon gives the crepes just a hint sweetness, 4 tablespoons makes them sweet and dessert-like)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil - (or melted butter)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Vegetable oil for cooking - (I recommend an oil sprayer), or butter

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients aside from the boiling water to a blender. Pulse several times to make a smooth mixture.
  • Carefully and gradually add the boiling water to the mixture and pulse to combine. If you have a blender that allows you to pour it in from the top (WITHOUT the mixture splashing out), use that. If not, add about ¼ cup of boiling water, cover the blender, and blend. Repeat until all the water is added.
    Skim off the bubbles from the top of the batter.
  • Preheat a 7 or 8 inch non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Spray it with oil or brush about ½ teaspoon oil all over the pan.
  • Add a scant ¼ cup of batter to the center of the pan and swirl the pan immediately to spread the batter all around to coat the pan. Cook over medium-low heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the crepe is mostly set and the bottom is golden but not too browned.
  • Run a silicone spatula/turner alongside the edges of the crepe to loosen it, then gently wiggle the spatula underneath and flip the crepe over into the pan. Cook for another 20-30 seconds, or until the crepe has golden brown spots on the bottom and is fully cooked. Remove carefully onto a large plate.
  • Spray another ~½ teaspoon oil into the pan and repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the crepes are cooked.

Notes

If making crepes without a blender: You can use a food processor or an electric mixer. If whisking by hand, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and oil. Then whisk in the flour, baking soda, and sugar. Then carefully and gradually whisk in the boiling water. 
A smaller pan (7-inches) makes it easier to flip the crepes. If using an 8-inch pan, you'll need almost ¼ cup batter. If using a 9-inch pan, you'll need ¼ cup batter, or maybe ½ tablespoon more.
If your crepes are falling apart as you try to flip them, blend in about 1-2 tablespoons more flour (1 tablespoon at a time). 
Serving ideas: blueberry sauce or berry compote, maple syrup, honey, bourbon caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, blackberry jam, Greek yogurt, spread with hazelnut, add fresh berries, whipped cream, chocolate chips. Or try them savory: reduce the sugar to 1 tablespoon and add some ham and cheese, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese, or lox and whipped cream cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 64kcal (3%) | Carbohydrates: 10g (3%) | Protein: 3g (6%) | Fat: 1g (2%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (5%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg (11%) | Sodium: 48mg (2%) | Potassium: 45mg (1%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 2g (2%) | Vitamin A: 74IU (1%) | Calcium: 25mg (3%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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