While both croissants and crescent rolls may seem like two terms for the same delicious breakfast treat, they are, in fact, different in nearly every aspect except appearance. Developed on opposite sites of the world and with different preparation methods, you’ll likely not have a problem keeping them straight after reading your way through this article.
What is a Crescent Roll?
Crescent rolls are an American invention developed in the 1960s by Pillsbury and are more often served alongside holiday dinners by the basketful. Pillsbury (and many brands since then) have streamlined the process of making fresh crescent rolls that can be made and enjoyed in minutes, making them a good kid-friendly, hands-on baking project.
Since its inception, creative home cooks have taken the basic crescent roll recipe and modified it to include a variety of creative fillings. Now, it’s not unusual to find recipes with brie and homemade jam or even bacon-stuffed crescent rolls.
What is a Croissant?
Oddly enough, while the croissant has gained worldwide recognition as being a French creation, it was actually an Austrian baker’s take on the Hungarian kifli, which he brought to his bakery located in France in the early 1900s. Shortly after this, the French term for “crescent” or “crescent of the moon” was given to this yeast-leavened bread, the term we now know as the croissant.
Croissants are typically served as an early morning pastry as part of a classic French breakfast. You can expect them to be readily available at every patisserie, alongside espresso or an assortment of rich cheeses.
Today, most mainstream grocery stores and bakeries make croissants, and it’s certainly possible to make them from scratch, though they do require some patience to perfect.
What’s the Difference Between Crescent Rolls and Croissants?
While both terms are often tossed around interchangeably, there are quite a few notable differences between the two. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major contrasts:
To put it simply, crescent rolls are bread, whereas croissants are pastries. While both recipes result in light, fluffy, and buttery sweet treats, the ingredient lists are noticeably different. For example, croissants typically have milk and substantially more butter, whereas crescent rolls usually have more sugar.
In addition to the ingredients required, the order in which the ingredients are added also notes a big difference. For example, crescent rolls are yeast-leavened at the beginning of the recipe, whereby the yeast is combined with water and sugar to “activate” or wake up the yeast. Once the yeast is activated, the rest of the ingredients are added.
Croissants, on the other hand, are proofed right before baking, meaning the yeast does its job after the croissants have been shaped into that classic crescent shape. The croissants are baked once they have “proofed,” or the yeast has finished its job.
Croissants also have the additional step of “laminating” the dough, where thin sheets of butter and dough are layered before being rolled into a crescent shape. Once baked, these layers turn into buttery and flaky goodness that’s wholly unique to this pastry.
If you’ve ever bitten into a fresh croissant, you certainly know about its flaky, buttery texture. This is caused by the laminating of the dough, as detailed above. While baking, the layers of butter melt between the layers of dough, making for a very soft and buttery pastry.
Crescent rolls, on the other hand, are shaped prior to baking and maintain a fluffy and doughy consistency. There’s no layering of dough or butter required, making this a less complex – though nonetheless delicious – sweet breakfast treat.
In general, crescent rolls are easier to make because they require less time to proof (since the yeast is added in the beginning) and lack the extra step of “laminating” the dough. Croissants, on the other hand, require a bit more patience in order to create those classic flaky and buttery layers.
Crescent rolls also have the added bonus of being available as premade dough in those nostalgic cardboard tubes. This makes them a fuss-free and convenient choice that the whole family can make and enjoy in minutes.
When They Are Best Enjoyed
As noted above, crescent rolls can be enjoyed for breakfast or brunch, though it is more common to see them being served as a dinner component. Most notably, crescent rolls have earned their spot at the Thanksgiving table by providing an easy-to-make bread that’s seen as a special treat in most households.
Croissants, on the other hand, are almost exclusively served as a breakfast or brunch treat. Considering they’re more of a rich pastry, it would seem unusual to serve them as part of a dinner.
Hopefully, this has answered just about every question you could think of when comparing the differences (and similarities) between crescent rolls and croissants. Luckily for you, there’s no need to choose because both can be made and enjoyed with ease. Be sure to follow along with Golden Truffle on Instagram and Pinterest for more answers to your brunch-related questions, plus all the brunch recipes you could ever want.
The short answer is no. That is because crescent rolls and croissants are made differently and are different in flavor, texture, and size. While you can make one or the other depending on your preference, they won’t substitute one another well.
In French, croissant translates to “crescent” or “crescent of the moon” and was developed by an Austrian baker in France who became notorious for his kifli, a yeast-leavened Hungarian pastry that eventually led to what is now known as the French croissant.
No, while both doughs require roughly the same types of ingredients, they are used in different proportions. Also, croissants are formed and proofed before baking, whereas crescent rolls are not proofed before baking. Aside from the shape, they are not interchangeable.
Olivia has been in love with all things food and libations for nearly a decade. When she’s not cooking up new recipes, she enjoys bikepacking, wine tasting, crocheting, and traveling in her camper van up and down the Pacific Northwest.