Never fear! Making an omelette at home is not difficult. With a few basic steps and a flip of the wrist you can pull this off in minutes. Fill it with whatever you have on hand—it’s a great way to use up leftovers!
Not only is an omelette quick and easy to make, it is a paragon of economy. Odds and ends (a.k.a. leftovers) rise to a new level when placed inside an omelette.
Leftover, cooked vegetables paired with a little cheese and folded into eggs present a much more cheerful meal than a bowl of vegetables haphazardly reheated in the microwave!
French Verses American Omelettes
It seems that the French invented omelettes, possibly stealing the idea from the Romans. Let’s leave the argument there and just say that the omelette has a long history.
A French omelette starts out with beaten eggs in the pan (just like scrambled eggs). The pan is shaken constantly during cooking until the eggs just begin to set. When the eggs are cooked, the omelette is rolled and snugly folded to form an oval and finally turned out onto a plate with the seam side down.
It can be plain or filled, with or without cheese. (An omelette with fines herbes is a famous standard French dish. An assortment of chopped herbs is stirred into the eggs before cooking; no cheese.)
American omelettes (or “omelets” as they are sometimes spelled) start out in the same way, but as the eggs cook, the edges are lifted from the sides of the pan with a spatula so the runny eggs can flow underneath.
When the eggs are nearly set, the filling is added and the omelette is folded in half rather than rolled.
How to Make an Omelette
For our purposes here, we’ll make an American-style omelette and you will see how easy it is to accomplish even if you have never tried to make an omelette before.
Here are the key steps to read before you start so you know where you are going:
- Beat the eggs: Use two or three eggs per omelette, depending on how hungry you are. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork.
- Melt the butter: Use an 8-inch nonstick skillet for a 2-egg omelette, a 9-inch skillet for 3 eggs. Melt the butter over medium-low heat, and keep the temperature low and slow when cooking the eggs so the bottom doesn’t get too brown or overcooked.
- Add the eggs: Let the eggs sit for a minute, then use a heatproof silicone spatula to gently lift the cooked eggs from the edges of the pan. Tilt the pan to allow the uncooked eggs to flow to the edge of the pan.
- Fill the omelette: Add the filling—but don’t overstuff the omelette—when the eggs begin to set. Cook for a few more seconds
- Fold and serve: Fold the omelette in half. Slide it onto a plate with the help of a silicone spatula.
The Best Pan for Making Omelettes
I said this above, but it bears repeating! Use an 8-inch nonstick skillet (like this one) for a 2-egg omelette; use a 9-inch skillet for 3 eggs.
Ideas for Omelette Fillings
Here are a few winning combinations:
- Avocado and cheddar
- Roasted potatoes and Gruyere
- Leftover ratatouille or other vegetable stew, alone or with a little Parmesan
- Bacon and cheese, or bacon and potatoes without cheese, chives
- Spinach and tomato, with or without feta
- Goat cheese and herbs
- Use your imagination and what appeals to you for the filling.
Don’t Overstuff Your Omelette!
Channel your inner elegant French cook and don’t overstuff the omelette! You should have enough filling to make the omelette tasty, but not so much that it’s bursting and spilling out of the eggs. With practice, you will be able to eyeball how much to put in the omelette.
Omelettes: Not Just for Breakfast!
Americans think of omelettes as breakfast food, but the French have a long association with eggs at other times of day. In fact, they don’t actually eat them for breakfast all that much.
In her book An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, the late British writer Elizabeth David, who was one of the first food writers to educate a generation of English speakers about real, everyday French cooking, extolls the virtues of the simple omelette enjoyed with a glass of wine. It’s worth a read just for the pleasure of armchair cooking and a bit of perspective. As she points out, omelettes are for pretty much any time of day.
My husband, who once worked as a line cook where he refined his omelette technique, offers to make omelettes for supper often, especially when I am too tired to even think about getting near a stove.
We always have eggs on hand, often have cheese, and sometimes a few herbs or leftover vegetables. We love our “house” omelettes with a glass of wine, but they would be equally good for breakfast on a day when scrambled eggs aren’t quite substantial enough for a long day ahead.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons grated cheese, any kind
- 3 to 4 cherry tomatoes, cut in half and sprinkled lightly with salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil, parsley, or herb of your choice
- Prep the eggs: In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork.
- Melt the butter: In an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
- Add the eggs and cook the omelette: Add the eggs to the skillet and cook without stirring until the edges begin to set. With a silicone spatula, push the edges toward the centre of the pan and tilt the pan so the uncooked eggs move to the edge. Repeat until the eggs are somewhat set but still a little soft in the centre, about 6 minutes.
- Fill the omelette: Place the cheese, tomatoes, and herbs in a line down the center of the omelette and cook for about 1 minute longer, or until the eggs are mostly set but still a little soft in the center.
- Fold and plate the omelette: Slide the spatula around one side of the omelette at the edge to loosen it. Slip it under the eggs, and use it to carefully fold the omelette in half. Slide the spatula under the folded omelette to loosen it from the pan. Tilt the pan over a plate and use the spatula to nudge it onto the plate. Voila!