The perfect omelet is something to aspire to, not just for home cooks, but for chefs as well. Fluffy but firm eggs, a sunny yellow color with not too much browning, the ideal ratio of filling to eggs, hot throughout, and just the right amount of runny on the inside. And like everything, practice makes perfect. And the best news is that even if you mess up in striving for perfection, you’ll still have the most delicious breakfast (aor brunch or lunch or dinner – omletes are for any time of the day, right?)
If you’ve ever been to a nice breakfast buffet, you may have stood before a toque-d chef wielding a shallow pan, a ladle and a bowl full of beaten eggs, producing perfect omelet after perfect omelet. While you nibble your bacon (perhaps that’s just me), you marvel at the ease with which he uses his spatula, the way he knows just how much filling to put in, the way he flips or rolls it up at the end, the cheese and vegetables completely encased in perfectly cooked fluffy eggs.
All of this omelet magic is yours for the learning. And there is a particular Zen pleasure in making a pretty omelet — and immediate gratification as well. Breakfast sure, but a lovely omelet makes a fabulous lunch, and a delightful light dinner, paired with a tousle of vinaigrette-coated greens. Here’s how.
Best Pan for Making an Omelet
In The Way to Cook, Julia Child discusses the perfect omelet pan in affectionate detail, explaining that in a perfect world a thin iron pan, with a 10-inch top diameter, a 7 1/2 –inch bottom diameter, and a 2-inch depth, is what was traditionally used in French cooking. If you have access to that exact pan, lucky you, if not you will be looking for an 8-inch omelet pan, preferably nonstick, or a similar shallow 8-inch shallow skillet. If you don’t have a nonstick pan, try giving the pan a nice spritz of nonstick cooking spray before heating the pan.
How Many Eggs to Use in an Omelet
A typical omelet is made with two or three large eggs (if you have a 7-inch pan, use two eggs, if you have a 9-inch pan, use three, if you have an 8-inch, you choose depending on how thick or thin you like your omelets). More than three eggs is hard to manage in the pan, and also makes a pretty big omelet.
If you know you will be making more than one omelet, you can whisk up all of the eggs at once, and then ladle them out in ½ cup portions (which is about 2 ½ large eggs) to make each omelet. You can use a whisk or a fork to beat the eggs, but you don’t want to overbeat them, just stir until they are blended.
Cooking the Omelet
Heat the burner to medium/medium-high, which will allow eggs to cook through and turn slightly golden on the outside, but prevent the bottom from getting too brown before the top/middle gets cooked. Heat the pan first, then add the butter, let it melt, and swirl the pan so that it coats the bottom evenly.
Pour the eggs into the hot pan and quickly shake and swirl the pan so that the eggs cover the entire bottom of the pan. Let the eggs start to firm up on the bottom, about 30 seconds, then use a rubber spatula to lift the edges of the omelet up so that any uncooked egg on the top runs underneath.
Repeat until there is no more liquid egg that will run underneath. The top should not be too runny, but should not be at all dry – how runny vs. dry is up to personal preference, with the understanding that once you add the filling and fold it up, the center will continue to cook a bit more.
Filling an omelet is actually optional, though most of us think of our omelets with something into the middle. An omelet can be rolled or folded, and technically it can also be flat, which is more commonly known as a tortilla in Spain and Mexico, or a frittata in Italy, with the “fillings” mixed right into the top of the eggs.
Fillings can range from vegetables to ham, ratatouille, bacon, sausage or other meats, smoked fish, cheeses, even jam. You’ll want to have your fillings ready to go before you start cooking the omelet, because the cooking process is very quick.
How Much Filling Should Go in an Omelet?
For a folded omelet, you’ll want about 3 to 6 tablespoons of filling, and the filling should be crumbled or chopped into very small pieces so that the eggs will easily fold over it. Cooked fillings should be warm, since they won’t have time to heat up in the omelet itself.
When the eggs have set on the bottom, sprinkle half of the eggs with whatever filling you choose, or put it in a swath down the middle. Cook for another 15 to 30 seconds; allowing the omelet to finish cooking through. Adjust the heat as needed.
How to Make a Perfect Omelet: The filling, the folding – everything you need to know to turn out beautifully cooked omelets every time.Tweet This
How to Fold an Omelet
There are a couple of choices here. The simplest is to use a spatula to fold the un-filled side of the eggs over the side with the filling, and leave the omelet in a half moon shape. Another option is to put the filling down the middle of the omelet, and fold the two sides over the middle so you have a more rectangular shape. A little bit more dexterity will allow you to use a fork or a spatula to roll the omelet up, starting from the side with the filling, and rolling it towards the plain egg side.
Omelet vs. Omelette
Which spelling is correct? Both. Omelet is often how is it spelled in the U.S. while Omelette is the French spelling, usually used in the U.K. as well. You can pick whichever pleases you!
Folding an Omelet with a Snap of the Wrist
If you are feeling more ambitious, you can fold it without a utensil, which is a sure way to impress anyone who’s watching. You can do this by holding the pan handle in one hand, at the end of the handle, and using your other hand in a fist quickly rap the handle at the edge of the pan so that the edge of the eggs flips over the filling. Some agile cooks are able to achieve the same results by swiftly jerking the pan away and towards themselves, so that the eggs roll up over the filling. This will take some practice, and should be first tried in privacy, or with someone who loves you unconditionally.
Serving the Omelet
You could sprinkle a bit of fresh herbs over the eggs, and if you’re really feeling fancy, give the top a light brush with melted butter to give it a bit of shine. Whatever you do, serve it hot.
You should also feel free to whisk a tablespoon of fresh minced herbs into the eggs before they go into the pan — parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil are some classic choices, alone of in combination. Other cheese can be used in place of the triple crème.
Other Egg Recipes:
- The Classic Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich
- Fried Eggs and Smoked Salmon over Polenta Cakes
- Open Faced Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches
- Fried Egg and Cheese Tostadas
- Denver Omelet
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How to Make A Perfect Omelet
- 2 to 3 large eggs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon (unsalted) butter
- 3 to 6 tablespoons filling of your choice (such as sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or other vegetables, chopped tomatoes, roasted red pepper, cheese, sausage, bacon, smoked salmon, etc)
- Pinch of chopped fresh herbs to garnish (optional)
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and use a fork to beat them with the salt and pepper.
- Heat an 8-inch omelet pan, or shallow skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Add the butter, let it melt, and swirl the pan so that it coats the bottom evenly. Pour the eggs into the pan and quickly shake and swirl the pan so that the eggs cover the entire bottom of the pan. Let the eggs firm up on the bottom, about 30 seconds, then use a rubber spatula to lift the edges of the omelet up so that any uncooked egg on the top runs underneath. Sprinkle half of the eggs with the mushrooms and the cheese and let it cook for another 30 seconds; the top should be moist but not quite runny (unless you like it runny). Flip the uncooked side of the eggs over the filling, and slide it onto a plate. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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I’m defiantly not a chef. Learned by watch and some TV shows. I’m OK with the basics and frozen, canned and boxed foods are my speciality. I would rate myself 1-1/2 starts knowing I’m not a complete loss in the kitchen and not afraid to try something new. I’ve tried making omelets where the presentations were all disasters. I was thinking of getting an omelet pan, but realize it is too much work, but most likely spilling the cooking eggs etc. over everything. I have gotten some ideas from this article and will try something. In the past, my omelets end up making a burrito instead. The food still tasted good, although an eyesore for its presentations.