Une Petite Omelette

French food sometimes gets a bad rap for being hoity-toity and overly complex, but the humble omelette disproves that claim. This classic dish is gorgeous in its simplicity, requiring only three ingredients: eggs, butter, and cheese.

This dish is all about the technique. It comes together very quickly in the pan and finishes with a dramatic flourish as you flip the final product onto the plate. It takes a bit of practice to get the motion right, but once you do, it’s a great way to impress housemates/friends/lovers.

Now let’s talk about fillings. Cheese is absolutely essential. My favorite is a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. But you can also use Cheddar, Gruyère, Swiss, Asiago, or Jarlsberg. Anything that’s melty and has a nice nutty quality.

As for other fillings, you can toss in some fresh herbs, ham, bacon, or turkey bits, if you have ’em. If not, no worries. Even with just cheese, the results will taste sublime (You might even have a—how should I phrase this?—egg-piphany.)

Finally, this technique works best with a small non-stick pan that you can lift with one hand. If you have a stainless steel pan, that’s fine too, just make sure you use a lot of butter so it doesn’t stick.

Okay! Let’s make a classic French omelette!

Tools Needed:

  • 8" or 10" non-stick or stainless steel skillet
  • small mixing bowl
  • rubber spatula
  • grater optional

Ingredients Needed:

  • eggs
  • cheese 1 tablespoon grated per egg
  • butter

Lesson Gallery... Yum yum.

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  • Haha that happens—sometimes I eat the whole thing before taking a pic! (or I lose the pic, or my dog eats it off my phone… somehow.) Nice job on being the first to complete the mission! :D

  • Yes! This is why I love omelettes, and make them at all times of day. Such an easy and tasty and complete source of nutrients. If you like scallions in your om, I recommend you try this amazing flavor combination: shiitake, bacon, and kimchee. Sounds mildly crazy but it is actually phenomenal!

  • Mmmmm basil and cheese! I wouldn’t worry too much about the color because it certainly looks deliciously toasty, and we’re not perfectionist chefs training at Le Cordon Bleu right? :) BTW, it makes me super happy that this is becoming a weekly collaborative project with you and the little one. Looking forward to seeing what you guys cook up next!

  • Hah I love your progression photos! Keep at it and I’m sure you’ll hit that sweet spot. (Did I mention it took me 7 omelettes to get the shot right in the video?)

    And yes, it is totally a myth that a cast iron pan can get as non-stick as a Teflon pan. Hate to admit it, but it’s true. Glad to have gotten your non-stick a second chance at life :D

  • You have 11 chickens!? Man, I really have to reconsider my life living in a tiny 5th floor apt in NYC. This is awesome. I love the way you garnished it with herbs and styled the photo with eggs in the background—those beautiful eggshells! *swoon*

  • Yes, I agree that omelettes are really just a vehicle for cheese, as are most things in life :P This looks really good and completely omelette-shaped, so kudos to you!!

  • Wow! Nice job experimenting, as usual :D Go Karen!

    Two thoughts:

    1. Dill and mint are totally legit in an omelette. (See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/health/nutrition/30recipeshealth.html). My guess would be the nooch is the culprit here… maybe gave it a bit of a funkiness you weren’t expecting. :)

    2. A good dairy-free sub for butter is Earth Balance Buttery Spread. I used it when making cookies for a vegan friend. It apparently has zero trans fat, unlike margarine. You could also try coconut oil, but it would impart a certain coconuttiness :)

    If you’re having trouble using up that mint, make a giant batch of minty iced tea! As for dill, you can freeze it.

  • This one was a frankenstein kind of flop, for a few reasons:
    1. I had wanted to use some of the mint and dill leftover from the past mission, but realized I’ve only ever seen Sage Scrambled Eggs” for a reason… Pretty funky taste.
    2. I’m lactose intolerant so am trying to be good and avoid dairy products for real. I had bought a giant container of nutritional yeast for making pesto, so used it here and also replaced the butter with olive oil. The flavors… well… yeah.
    Lesson learned for next time, stay with sage and make a dairy sacrifice or just go scrambled.

  • We have a running joke in our house that any time I’m making omelettes, what we’re actually going to be having is scrambled eggs. But this time my eggs actually transformed into an omelette! I used some fresh parsley that we had from the herb-tastic salad mission and then just salt and pepper for seasoning. I like my eggs to taste more like cheese than eggs, so I added quite a bit of shredded cheddar. Served with some leftover potatoes and steak to make a delicious brunch. Overall, I think adding the water to the eggs really helped my eggs into being the right consistency to evenly spread in the pan. Also, next time I’ll hold back a bit on the salt and pepper, because it was a bit too seasoned. Yay! Breakfast!

  • Well, this isn’t the most beautiful omelette and I tried to hide the imperfections with some extra placed tomatoes, it is quite tasty. I didn’t have hard cheese at home so I just filled it with bacon pieces, tomatoes and chives. I omitted the salt from the egg mixture since I knew there would be a lot it in bacon. This was the first time I made a omelette with the spatula method. I usually try just shaking the pan to get the cooked egg to move to the center. I’d say this was a big success.

  • If you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs. Always looking for a chance to break some eggs with 11 chickens, yet omelets do make me a little panicky! I liked making the one egg version…easier to keep an handle on things.

  • This mission saved a pan I was going to throw out, because it turns out not everything is better on cast iron, as omelette 1 shows.

    No dairy for me yet, so I subbed in olive oil for butter and yesterday’s leftovers for cheese.

    The trickiest part of this for me was figuring out what heat to set my stove on. Omelette 1 turned into scrambled eggs, because the pan just wasn’t hot enough. I overdid things a little on omelette 2, and so I knocked back the heat the slightest bit on omelette 3… which turned out to be inedibly raw. But prettier! I’d figured out how to get the omelette off the pan by then.

  • Basil and cheese. My 10 year old did not want to flip or fold, so the brownness is because I waited too long. Next time!

  • It was harder than I expected to get the egg to cook completely, which is why it browned a bit (but I like it that way anyhow). Delicious! I used parmesan reggiano.

  • I think this took about 5 minutes from me thinking I was hungry to eating this omelette, which was great! The green onions added on top made a huge difference in flavor. Turned out great!

  • Cooked two of these for me and my boyfriend but I ate more than half of my omelette before I remembered to take a picture!