An omelet is not as simple dish as it seems at first glance. Of course, if you spend your whole life making an omelet using the same recipe, how hard can it be? But if you go deeper, a lot of questions arise. When do I salt an omelet? Should I add milk or maybe cream and what is the difference? Can I cook without milk, and if so, why add it? How do I make a puffy omelet? How do I make a thin omelet? How do I make an omelet in the oven?
I collected all the questions I had in my head, added to them questions from Google, found answers to most of them, made a dozen omelets on purpose, and now I’ll tell you all about them.
4 Types of Omelettes
I’m sure you can find dozens of different kinds of omelets, if you wish. Each of them will be different in some way: technique, nuances, and ingredients. So as not to bore you and myself, I’ve highlighted what I think are the four main ones.
Classic. Tender and not the slightest bit overcooked. Can be served fully cooked or slightly moist inside.
American style omelette
Fluffy, toasted and airy. Usually served rolled in half with the filling inside, between the halves.
Tall omelette baked in the oven
Baked in the oven, it turns out high and very tender.
I’m not nostalgic for such omelets and cooked only to complete the picture, but if you like it – why not.
A simple lazy homemade omelette
It is prepared and served according to the mood. It can be thin, it can be puffy. Today it’s fried on both sides and folded in half, tomorrow it’s wrapped in a tube. The key difference from the first two is that we don’t touch or stir the omelet mass in the pan.
According to the way of adding stuffing
There are three ways to add toppings to an omelet:
- Pour. Fry the filling in a pan, pour the omelet mass.
- Stuffed. Fry/heat stuffing ahead of time, remove from pan, cook omelet, add stuffing and roll up omelet.
- Wrong. Add the filling to the omelet mixture, cook all together.
We discard method #3 at once. While the omelet will be cooked – the filling simply will not have time to warm up and on the plate will be a hot omelet with barely warm filling. Exceptions: spices, hard cheese like parmesan, and finely chopped herbs can and should be added to the omelet mixture.
The other two methods are similar and interchangeable (with some reservations). In the first case, the filling is pressed into the omelet and forms one with it. In the second, the filling is simply wrapped in the omelet. In the case of a simple homemade omelet, the choice of how the filling is added is a matter of taste and preference.
But! If you’re making a French omelet or an American-style omelet, it’s better to go the second way. Both of these omelets require stirring when cooking, and the filling in the pan will prevent you from doing so (i.e., prevent you from stirring the omelet).
|—eggs||2 to 3 eggs per serving|
|— salt||~ one small pinch per 1 egg|
In this section, I’ll answer the question right away, “Can I make an omelet without milk/cream, etc.?” You can.
The liquid in the composition plays an auxiliary role, but it is by no means obligatory. Moreover, I’ve encountered the opinion that a real French omelet is made without milk or any additional liquid. Arguing about “authenticity” is a thankless task, so just know that this opinion exists, and we don’t care if it’s right or wrong.
|— liquid: water, milk or cream||10-15 ml (~1 tbsp.) per egg or for a more puffy omelet – 25-30 ml per 1 egg (more watery, less rich flavor of omelet)|
|— flour||~ 1/3 tbsp. per egg|
|— cold butter||~ 5 g per egg|
Liquid. Any liquid in the omelette makes it softer and more fluffy, due to the process of evaporation. What is the difference and which liquid to use? J. Kenji Lopez Alt in his book The Food Lab says roughly the following: water increases puffiness but “dilutes” the flavor, milk increases puffiness and makes the omelet more tender, and cream does not greatly increase puffiness, but adds cheesy flavor and texture to the omelet.
I’ve also encountered the opposite opinion, that using water makes an omelet taste less watery than using milk. To me, it’s all pure taste. You either have to try everything and choose your ideal, or don’t bother and use what you have on hand.
That’s what I personally do – use what I have on hand. By volume, it’s about 1 tbsp. per egg. I’m not chasing some extreme puffiness, but too much liquid does make an omelet taste watery and less rich.
Flour. Flour serves as a stabilizer and allows the omelet to stay more puffy and sink less after cooking. Personally, I don’t add flour to an omelet. I don’t see the point and a big difference in the result, but it’s also a matter of taste and preference.
Butter. Cold butter (before cooking the butter is put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes) is cut into small cubes and added to the omelet mass. It adds fatness, flavor and makes the omelet more tender. In addition, it helps to regulate the temperature. Eggs take longer to cook and set more slowly, resulting in a more delicate, creamy texture.
What to put in omelette. Fillings and Stuffing ideas for omelettes.
|Hard vegetables: onions, shallots, sweet peppers, chili peppers, carrots||Cut into small cubes and fry in butter until soft|
|Soft cheese to your taste: feta, gruyere, gouda, cheddar, brie, sheep and goat cheeses, blue mold cheese, etc.||Grate or break it up. If cheese is not the only filling, mix it with the other filling ingredients after frying them.|
|Hard cheese (Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Grano Padano)||Grate on a fine grater (like Microplane) and add to the egg mixture.|
|Smoked meats, sausages, frankfurters, ham||Slice into small cubes (~1×1 cm). Fry in butter until crispy|
|Tomatoes||Dice, salt, put in a sieve and let drain. Add fresh.|
|Spinach, rucola, and other greens||Sauté in butter or add fresh.|
|Zucchini||Sauté in butter until soft|
|Asparagus||Cut off the tough part of the stem, cut into pieces ~ just under 1 cm long and poach in butter until soft.|
|Green onions||Finely chop. Sauté the white part in butter with the other filling, add the green part to the omelet mixture or leave it to sprinkle over the omelet before serving.|
|Herbs and spices: rosemary, thyme, oregano, coriander, dried garlic, chili flakes, zira, etc. Also herbs (dill, parsley, cilantro, etc.)||Add to the omelet mixture. Finely chop the greens beforehand.|
*The table will be supplemented
The Principles of Making an Omelet or the 11 Omelette Rules
In this section, I’ve gathered tips that will make cooking easier, close most potential questions, and make your omelets even tastier and prettier.
- Cook on medium-low heat, don’t overheat the pan.
- Eggs are usually cooked with butter. An omelet is no exception. First, it’s delicious, and second, butter helps control the temperature. If it smokes, it’s too much, and the heat needs to be reduced. Turn down the heat and raise the pan for 15-20 seconds over the stove.
- Do not overcook. An omelet should not be extremely overcooked, and a French omelet should not be overcooked at all.
- Do not overcook. Remove the omelet from the heat when it is still slightly moist on top. Cover and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.
- The height of the omelet and its puffiness depends on the amount of omelet mass and the size of the pan/mold. There is no magic here, the more mass and the smaller the mold, the higher/thicker and more fluffy the omelet will be.
- A lid will help make the omelet fluffier and higher. Bring the omelet to a semi-cooked state and cover the pan with a lid. Under the lid finish cooking, turn off the heat and leave the omelet to cook for a couple more minutes. Once you lift the lid, you’ll be surprised at two things: how high the omelet turned out and how quickly it fell off. But even after the omelet has fallen, it will still be puffier and higher than without the lid.
- Use a non-stick pan that measures about 20-22 cm for classic 2-egg omelets and about 23-25 cm for 3-egg omelets.
- A good non-stick pan is the key to successful omelet making. Of course, you can make omelets in other pans as well. But, a few portions may have to be thrown away.
- Salt the omelet mixture beforehand. Better – 15 minutes before pouring it into the pan. If there is no time, salt the omelet mass at least before whipping, it is still better than salt the omelet itself during cooking. Read below why.
- Don’t beat eggs in a cup or small saucer, use a large, deep bowl.
- Break any of the above rules if it makes you feel better.
When do I salt my omelette?
The best option is to salt the eggs in a bowl, beat them into an omelet mixture, and leave them for 15 minutes. This helps to retain the moisture inside during cooking, leaving the omelet more juicy and depriving you of soggy marks on the plate.
The option to salt the omelet mixture just before cooking also works great, but it’s still best to let the salt dissolve completely and evenly into the omelet mixture.
Interestingly, after 15 minutes, the salty omelet mass slightly changes its color and becomes more transparent, compare:
This is because the salt weakens the attraction of the yolk proteins to each other.
Yolks are made up of millions of tiny balls filled with water, protein, and fat. They are small enough to be seen with the naked eye, but large enough that light cannot pass through them. The salt breaks these globules into even smaller ones, allowing light to pass through, so the salted eggs changed color and became translucent.From the book The Food Lab
How and what use to whip the omelette?
With a fork, whisk or immersion blender.
The blender should be used if you add flour to the omelet. 10-15 seconds and no lumps. The feasibility of blending an ordinary omelet is low, but if you really want to, why not?
The whisk is the golden mean: it can handle flour and does not seem too extravagant to whip three eggs with milk and salt.
A fork – you definitely have one in your kitchen, but it requires a little bit of skill.
How do you whip it?
Why don’t you whip an omelet in a small container? Well, the blender doesn’t care as long as it can fit in there. A whisk needs space to work. The same goes for a fork.
With a blender – you dip the blender into the bowl, turn it on, 10-15 seconds and it’s done.
With a fork and a whisk – pierce the yolks, with one hand tilt the bowl sideways in the other take the fork and whip in a circular motion. It is important that the fork not just flounder in the depths of the mixture, but as if capturing some of the mixture at the bottom, rising above the surface at one end and pulling some of the egg mixture with it, dives at the other end and so on in a circle. Whisk for about 30 seconds.
How do I check if the omelet mixture is well whipped?
Dip a fork or whisk into the omelet mixture and raise it high above the bowl. If the mixture flows evenly in a thin, single stream, you’ve done it. But if it drags like snot (or like unwhipped protein), falls apart – whip some more.
How to make an omelette
Before cooking, take a large bowl and beat the eggs in it. Two to three eggs per serving, remember?
What is the right way to break an egg? There is an opinion that the correct way to break an egg is as follows: take an egg with one hand, break it on the table, take it between your index, middle and thumb and as if “open” it with your thumb. The shell remains in your hand and the egg falls into a bowl. They say you won’t get bacteria from the shell this way, and if you break it with a knife, the bacteria will get inside upon impact. I have little faith in such a thing, but I shared just in case.
Pour the liquid component (milk, water or cream), add salt.
! Add flour, if using, at this step.
Whisk the mass, as described in the relevant section.
Leave for 15 minutes or cook immediately.
American style omelet
Prepare a spatula and a suitable lid for the pan. If you plan to make an omelet with the filling, fry the filling in advance, according to the advice in the table above, and put it on a plate.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add about 10 g of butter. Wait for the butter to melt.
Lightly whisk the omelet mixture and pour into the pan.
When the bottom layer of the omelet begins to set (this will happen quickly enough, within 5-10 seconds) begin to gently slide the set omelet with a spatula from the edges of the pan to the center. If necessary, tilt the pan to allow the liquid omelet to fill the empty spaces in the pan.
It will take you about 30-45 seconds. During this time I manage to “move” an omelet from two eggs 6-8 times. But it is better to be guided by the consistency. If omelet mass becomes thicker, starts to tear and is no longer so eager to fill the empty spaces – then the omelet is almost ready, set aside the spatula. Most likely by this time the omelet will be about 80% ready, remaining a little moist on top (left photo below). That’s what we need. Cover the pan with the lid and remove from the heat. Allow the omelet to cook for 1-2 minutes under the lid.
Remove the lid, place the filling (if using) on one half of the omelet and roll the omelet in half.
Classic French omelette
French omelets are often made with fresh, finely chopped herbs added directly to the omelet mixture, or they are not cooked to perfection, leaving the inside slightly moist. Do this only if you are 100% sure of the quality of your eggs, wash them before cooking, and do not give half-cooked eggs to children (even if you are sure of their quality).
Prepare a spatula and lid.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add about 10 g of butter. Wait for the butter to melt.
Whisk the omelet mixture again with a fork, 4-5 times, before you start cooking. Pour into the pan.
As soon as the mass is in the pan, take the spatula and begin to stir the mass vigorously from the center of the pan to the edges, and then from the edges to the center, doing it quickly, making your way with the spatula to the bottom. Continue until the mass has set. This is done so that the omelet cooks evenly and does not have time to fry at the bottom.
Here you need to choose by trial and error the power of heating and duration of stirring, feel the heat and lift the pan over the stove if it overheats.
Ideally, the French omelet should still be moist on top, but it should not have time to brown on the bottom. Stirring helps to keep it from browning at the bottom, but if you over-stir it will cook more than it needs to inside and on top. All in all, you have to find a middle ground here.
I went a little overboard (pictured below) and almost cooked it to perfection. But that’s okay: if the omelet mass is like mine – just smooth it over the pan with a spatula and go on.
Cook for another 10-15 seconds, until the omelet is firm enough that you can roll it up and not tear it. To check this simply use a spatula to gently lift the edge of the omelet and judge the consistency, if it doesn’t tear – roll it up.
If you’re making an omelet with filling – add it to the center of the omelet. Roll the top and bottom edges of the omelet toward the center. Remove from heat, cover and leave for 1 minute. When the omelet is still slightly liquid on top – this folding allows it to sort of seal the filling inside.
Slide the omelet to the edge of the pan, bring the pan to the side of the plate, holding it almost vertically and tilt the pan sharply toward the table so that the omelet is in the plate with the seam facing down.
Tall omelette baked in the oven
For this type of omelet you need a small baking dish. I didn’t have one, so I just took the smallest glass storage container I had and used it as a mold. It’s simple: the smaller the size of the mold and the more omelettes you have, the higher you’ll have an omelet. I also use more milk and add flour for this omelet.
More milk will increase the overall volume of the mass and make the omelet higher. It will also slightly dilute the egg flavor, making it flatter. But this is for me, someone else may call such a flavor omelet – more delicate. Flour, as you already know, is responsible for stabilizing.
For a high omelet, I used ~30 ml of milk per 1 egg, and 1/3 tbsp of flour per 1 egg. The amount of milk can also be increased to 50 ml, or even more. If you want an even higher omelet. Experiment.
Preheat the oven to 170 °C / 340 °F
Break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk, salt and flour. Whisk with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, use a whisk.
Grease the baking dish with butter. Before pouring the omelette into the mold, whisk it well again to lift the settled flour. This time you can also use a fork.
Optional: Take about 10 grams of butter, cut into small cubes and add to the omelet, trying to distribute evenly (to avoid the cubes sticking together, put the butter in the freezer 10 minutes before slicing).
Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. The time will vary depending on the number of eggs and the height of the omelet mixture. I had the mold half filled (2 cm in height), the omelet was ready in 30 minutes.
The finished omelet will double in volume, if not more. But when you open the oven door it will fall off pretty quickly, it should.
You can try turning off the oven and leaving the omelet inside for another 10-20 minutes without opening the door. They say this makes it fall off less, but I haven’t tried that myself.
Simple, lazy homemade omelette
This is an ordinary omelet, without being too pretentious, that we most often make at home. Now, knowing the principles of cooking, you can take its flavors to the next level. Below I’ll show you my version of a lazy omelet.
Prepare the ingredients: beat 2-3 eggs in a bowl, add milk (I pour directly from the bottle, by eye) and a pinch of salt. Whisk. If you have time, leave for 15 minutes, if not, cook immediately.
I will cook a thin omelet, for this I take a large frying pan (28 cm) for 2 eggs. But remember that even in such a large frying pan, the omelet will become more fluffy and higher if you cover it in the middle of the cooking process with a lid and cook under it.
If using stuffing, fry in butter and leave in the pan or set aside to add later. If without the filling, heat the frying pan, melt the butter and pour in the omelet mixture.
Cook the omelet for about 1 minute. During this time it will have almost completely set. Flip it over.
To flip the omelet and fry the other side – take a spatula and gently slide it under the omelet to the center of the pan. Gently lift the spatula and flip the omelet over. If it tears, cook for another 10 seconds and try again.
Fry another half minute or so on the other side, add toppings (if using), roll up as you like and serve.
This omelet can be prepared in many different ways.
Cover with the lid 15-20 seconds after pouring the mixture into the pan, cook for a minute, then turn off the heat and let it cook without lifting the lid for another minute. The omelet will turn out puffy and high.
Take a smaller frying pan and repeat the above with a lid – the omelet will turn out even more fluffy.
In this article I have tried to collect all possible nuances of cooking an omelet and show how to cook the most popular of them. I wanted to systematize my knowledge and fill in the gaps. But I am not an omelet expert, with 10,000 hours of experience making omelets. If you have anything to add or even correct me on any points to make this material more useful, I look forward to hearing about it in the comments.