Chef John's Best Pastries and Breakfast Treats

a half dozen gold, butter croissants are resting in a basket lined with a blue linen
Photo: Chef John

Okay, pastry people, this one's for you! We've picked a baker's dozen of Chef John's most impressive pastry and breakfast goodies, ranging from relatively simple muffins and scones to more elaborate creations like tender, flaky croissants and pain au chocolat. A few of these recipes may seem daunting, but Chef John's clear instructions and intelligent techniques really help dial down the fear factor. Be sure to watch his videos for all the smart tips, funny quips, and careful step-by-step instructions, which will help you create pastries that are tender, buttery, crispy, flaky perfection. Let's take a look!

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Chef John's Banana Bread

Chef John's Banana Bread
Photo by KGora.

The secret to this banana bread is adding just enough dark chocolate chips to develop a richer flavor but not enough to qualify it as chocolate banana bread. "Banana bread is one of those things people rarely make on purpose," notes Chef John, "only when those last three bananas are almost black. This scrumptious banana-walnut loaf is so good, you'll want to make it well before the bananas get to that condition." See how to make Chef John's Banana Bread.

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Chef John's Chocolate Croissants

Chef John's Chocolate Croissants
Chef John

"Making your own chocolate croissants takes a while, but for these crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside pastries, it's time well spent," says Chef John . "Properly done, this should ride that line between sweet pastry and a savory bread, so don't overdo it with the chocolate chunks; otherwise you'll lose that beautiful balance. Other than that, not much can go wrong. Just be sure to bake them until nicely browned, and let them cool before enjoying."

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Photo by Chef John.

"Pronounced 'queen-a-mahn,' kouign-amann wouldn't be one of the world's greatest pastries if it also weren't a legendary labor of love," says Chef John. "The irresistible combination of sweet, salty, sticky, buttery, crispy, flaky, and tender is something you must experience to believe. Made with bread flour, the dough is a little different from croissants or puff pastry. Salt is also key here; the authentic ones are about as savory as they are sweet."

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Chef John's Scones

Chef John's Scones
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine.

These simple scones are remarkably quick and easy to make at home. Delicious with any jam or marmalade you can think of, these scones are also excellent old-school style, served with clotted cream. "I have to say, I am very impressed," says Chef John. "It was light, tender, moist and very delicious." Check out the video to see how to make these scones.

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Chef John's Blueberry Muffins

Chef John's Blueberry Muffins
Photo by Kim's Cooking Now.

These fresh homemade blueberry muffins are perfect for breakfast or brunch, of course. But who can resist them for afternoon, evening, and even midnight snacks? Not us. They're just too good. See how to make Chef John's Blueberry Muffins.

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Chef John's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Photo by Chef John.

Make amazing pumpkin cinnamon rolls from scratch with sinfully delicious cinnamon sugar filling and a cream-cheese glaze. "The addition of pumpkin puree made these the best cinnamon rolls I've ever tasted," says Chef John.

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Pecan Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Sour cream or crème fraiche gives the cake a tender crumb and tangy flavor. But really, this cake is primarily about the incredible crumb topping. "For me, the best part about coffee cake is the crispy, crunchy, buttery crumbs," says Chef John. "So here I significantly upped the amounts used. Bake times will vary according to pan size and composition." Watch how Chef John makes this amazing coffee cake.

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Chef John's Sweet Potato Biscuits

Chef John's Sweet Potato Biscuits
Chef John

"This would be a great way to use leftover sweet potatoes," says Chef John, "By forming and folding dough, we develop beautifully buttery layers and avoid overmixing. Amazing with just plain butter, but for a little seasonal twist, I made a pomegranate spread."

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Puff Pastry Shells

Puff Pastry Shells
Photo by Buckwheat Queen.

Puff pastry shells are elegant containers for both sweet and savory fillings. "These are fairly simple to make, and once baked the real fun begins, as they can hold so many amazing fillings," says Chef John. "The key is making sure your puff pastry dough is very firm, and very cold, preferably still partially frozen, before you start cutting it. You want nice clean cuts, because if you mash the layers of pastry together, your shells will not rise as high, and they can also bake into some strange shapes."

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Chef John's Cronuts

Photo by Chef John.

Believe the hype! It's true, the cronut is an amazing hybrid combining the crispy flakey croissant with a delicious fried yeast donut. "Cronuts are the donuts that make people go nuts!" says Chef John. "They have the shape and flavor of a doughnut, yet feature the crispy, flaky texture of a buttery croissant. In Part I, I'll show you how to make the dough; in Part II, we'll fry, eat, and analyze."

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Chef John's Croissants

Croissants in a blue cloth-lined basket
Chef John

Chef John's homemade croissants are tender and buttery on the inside, crispy on the outside. "I wouldn't describe making homemade croissants as easy since there are multiple steps, and it does take at least half a day," says Chef John. "But it's really not that hard either; and certainly simpler than flying to Paris, which is the only other way to enjoy these amazing pastries."

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Chef John's Apple Fritters

Chef John's Apple Fritters
Pictured:Chef John's Apple Fritters | Photo by Chef John.

Chef John shares his technique for making apple fritters with that perfect pillowy-soft texture. "I didn't think I liked apple fritters, but turns out I just don't like chunks of almost raw apple, surrounded by a doughnut," says Chef John. "Maybe I've just been going to the wrong shops, but I've never enjoyed the texture, and always wanted to try them with cooked apples."

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Chef John's Sticky Buns

chef john's sticky buns
Photo by Chef John.

"It's been my experience with baking that the harder a dough is to work with, the better it comes out," says Chef John, "and this is no exception--the contrast between this beautifully tender, airy dough and the sweet, crunchy, sticky topping is just otherworldly. "

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More of Chef John's Best Recipes

Chef John's Tandoori Chicken
Chef John's Tandoori Chicken | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine.
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