A crêpe is a very thin pancake; which has various ingredients added on top to make either a dessert crêpe (if sweet ingredients such as sugar or chocolate are added) or a main meal crêpe (if ingredients such as cheese or ham are added).
A crêpe maker is used to fry the pancake batter for the crêpe. One can do this in a frying pan, but since the crêpe needs to be very thin, it is much easier to use a speciality crêpe maker.
For details on how to make crêpes, and more general information about them, click on Crêpe Recipes.
Types of crêpe makers
The most common type of crêpe maker is an electric griddle, consisting of a round flat surface with a electric element inside (under the griddle) to heat it up. It is about a foot (30 cm) wide. It normally comes with a special wooden tool which is used to spread the batter evenly, so that the resulting crêpe is not only thin but also of a consistent thickness. The following photos shows a typical crêpe maker with the two typical wooden tools: the flat one is for turning the crêpe over (like a pancake, one first cooks one side and then turns it over to cook the other), the round tool with a handle is for spreading the batter evenly over the cooking surface.
One can also get crêpe makers which have several small griddles instead of a single large one. This can be used for making mini-crêpes. However, it is not as popular as the standard size crêpe maker.
Another variation is crêpe makers that are heated by gas (e.g. from a barbeque gas cylinder) instead of electricity. They are mainly used by professionals selling crêpes at markets or in city streets, as the use of gas means they do not need an electrical connection and thus can be used anywhere. They also cook slightly faster than an electric crêpe maker. However, this type is mainly for professionals with special requirements and generally not of interest to the average person.
There is also a special non-stick flat pan (no walls). It can be placed directly on the stove like an ordinary pan, but its shape makes it more suitable for making crêpes than an ordinary pan. Some cooks like this approach, but most people prefer the stand-alone electric griddle discussed above. The following photo is an example; even though it looks like an upside-down pan it is actually upside right.