A truly great omelette is a pillowy little bundle of creamy, curdled eggs encased in a soft eggy shell. Best of all, it's a meal in 3 minutes flat that's so delicious you just can't stop eating it.
This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, based on the books and Netflix series by Lemony Snicket.
Makes one 2-egg omelette
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
About 1 - 1.5 teaspoons chives and herbs such as parsley, tarragon, chervil (this is a classic French combination for omelettes)
If desired: a small amount of shredded cheese or other ingredients (see notes)
1. Choose a small non-stick saute pan with sloping sides, approximately 8 inches in diameter across the top. A lightweight pan is easiest to use for this. Warm the pan over medium heat.
2. Break the eggs into a medium bowl, add the salt and pepper, and whisk with a fork until the whites and yolks are thoroughly blended.
3. Add the butter to the pan and rotate the pan to film the bottom evenly. When the butter has fully melted and the foam is beginning to subside, pour in the eggs and add the herbs.
4. Shake and swirl the pan as the eggs cook, so that they form a curdled mass in the middle of the pan. This should take roughly 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the heat of your pan.
5. Once the eggs have formed a mass, work your way around the outside edges of the pan with a rubber or silicone spatula, releasing the cooked edges and flipping them over the eggy mass. There are three ways to do this:
- Flip one cooked edge over the middle, then flip the entire omelette upside down over the other edge, so that the smooth pillowy surface is on top and the edges are folded over each other on the bottom (this is my preferred method). Or,
- Flip each cooked edge over so that the edges meet in the middle. Or,
- Flip one half over the other half to form a half-moon shape.
You may need the help of a second spatula to flip the omelette the way you want to, especially if you have added any extra ingredients to it (see notes). Alternatively, depending on your confidence and the shape of your pan's edges, you may be able to move the pan in such a way that you can flip the omelette over itself just by jerking the pan. As you gain experience with omelette-making, you'll develop a method that works best for you and your pan.
6. The omelette is done when the soft curdled eggs have been encased inside the cooked eggs and are just about to set. The inside of your omelette should be soft and creamy, not runny and not cooked solid. Most importantly, the outer surface of the omelette should not brown. If you are having a hard time getting your omelette to flip and cooperate before it browns, lift the pan or move it away from the heat as you work.
7. To plate the omelette, you have two options:
- Tilt the pan over the plate to allow the omelette to slide out of the pan, so that it lands with the folded edges underneath. Or,
- Lift the plate in one hand and the pan in the other and bring them together so that you flip the omelette upside down onto the plate as it leaves the pan (again, with the folded edges underneath).
8. Sprinkle with more herbs and/or a little grated cheese, and serve hot.
To make a good omelette, you need a non-stick pan. Unlike in most cooking, in this case a lightweight pan is preferable for many reasons. I usually keep one cheap, small non-stick pan in my kitchen specifically for omelettes - it's lightweight, costs about $9.99, and when the surface starts to degrade (as they all inevitably do), I can just replace it with another cheap omelette pan.
This recipe makes a 2-egg omelette. Two-egg and 3-egg omelettes are both standard, but I wrote this recipe for 2 eggs for a couple of reasons. First, I actually find that a 2-egg omelette is usually enough for most people, especially if you like to add any other ingredients to your omelette (as I often do, see below), and definitely when served with a slice of toast and some fruit or a salad on the side. Also, the pan I describe in the instructions above is ubiquitous, so I'm confident you'll have access to the right pan for a 2-egg omelette. If you find you have especially hungry guests who need more, it's quick and easy to simply make them a second omelette. Or, if you want to make a 3-egg omelette (or larger!), just use a larger pan.
You can add cheese to your omelette! I often hear people say that you can't add cheese to an omelette while it's cooking because it will stick to the pan, but this is simply not true. The only thing better than a well-made omelette is a well-made omelette with delicious, melty cheese inside. If (like me) you want cheese in your omelette, here's how to do it:
- Shredded cheese will be easiest to work with. You can also use something soft and un-shreddable (like ricotta), but it might make your omelette a little more challenging to work with. Have it ready to be added in very small pieces, such as with a small spoon.
- Only add a little! If you add too much, it will indeed become difficult to work with.
- Add the cheese once the egg has begun to set on the bottom of the pan, just after you add the herbs. The barrier of cooked eggs on the bottom will prevent the cheese from sticking to the pan.
You can add more good stuff to your omelette! Omelettes are a great way to use up small scraps of leftovers like that last bit of spinach or those three asparagus spears no one ate at dinner last night, or those two strips of bacon left over from yesterday morning (is it possible to leave bacon uneaten?). Here's how to add delicious things to your omelette and still produce something fantastic:
- Whatever you add should be fully cooked and seasoned (so leftovers are perfect!). Omelettes are in the pan for a total of about a minute, which isn't enough time for anything other than the eggs to cook.
- Everything should be tiny. Large broccoli florets, chunks of mushrooms or leaves of spinach should be cut into smaller pieces, so that they're easier to work with and you don't end up with a huge chunk of something sticking out and burning in the pan.
- Only add a little - think in terms of a teaspoon of each thing. The more you add, the harder it will be to flip and work with your omelette.
- After you pour the eggs into the pan, turn the heat down, then add the extra ingredients. This will give you more time to add things without browning your omelette.