The omelet is a basic dish every home cook (especially broke students) should be able to master. Eggs are relatively cheap and an excellent source of protein and takes minutes to cook. Omelets are also perfect for any leftover scraps you have in the fridge whether it’s that last cube of cheese, broccoli floret, or the lone slice of ham. We’ve been conditioned to only eat eggs during brunch, but omelets make for quick and easy (and budget-friendly) dinners.
When I first got into cooking, my omelets would always run into one of two problems:
1. The omelet tore and fell apart when I tried to fold it in half or
2. I added too many toppings and the whole thing became more of a weird egg stir-fry.
Here are some tips to avoid those problems:
The Perfect Omelet
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon oil or small pat of butter
3 toppings of choice (peppers, mushrooms, ham, onions, tomatoes, etc.), 1/3 cup each
Salt and pepper, to taste
Step 1: Have Your Mise en Place Ready
A ‘mise en place’ is a French term for having everything in its place. As you can see, I diced the onions and mushrooms, grated the cheese, beat the eggs, poured out the oil, and had my seasonings ready. You don’t want to be still chopping mushrooms while the eggs are cooking away (in addition to risking burning the eggs, once they cook up and solidify the mushrooms won’t stick to the omelet).
As for how much of everything to use, a general guideline is to use three large eggs and then up to three toppings at 1/3 cup each or 1/2 cup if you’re only using two toppings. Loading your omelet with too much stuff would result in the egg ripping and becoming more of a scramble.
Step 2: Get the Oil Hot Enough
Put the skillet over medium heat for about a minute. Then pour in the oil or butter and wait again till the butter melts (and starts foaming) and the oil becomes shiny and coats the pan.
If the oil is still cold when you pour the egg in, you get this gross-looking oily egg mixture where the oil floats on top of the egg, which defeats the purpose of the oil making the egg not stick to the pan.
Step 3: Cook the Tougher Fixin’s First
First sauté the toppings that require more cooking time than the eggs such as bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, bacon, and broccoli.
I’ve had many hotel omelets when I’d bite into the eggs and taste raw mushrooms in the centre. Don’t do that.
Step 4: Pour in the Eggs
Spread the sautéed toppings evenly across the skillet. Gently pour the beaten eggs into the hot skillet, making sure that it envelops all the toppings and there aren’t any gaps in the omelet.
Step 5: Be Patient
Don’t poke the omelet with the spatula just yet. Let the omelet cook and solidify for about 30 seconds so that it won’t fall apart when you fold it.
Gently nudge the edges of the omelet towards the centre with a spatula, making sure the eggs aren’t stuck to the pan. You can tilt the pan and give it a light swirl with the wrist to allow the uncooked eggs from the middle of the pan to flow to the edges. The centre of the omelet should still be a bit runny.
Step 6: Add the Delicate Stuff
Sprinkle in the toppings that don’t require as much cooking time such as finely grated cheese, herbs, or chopped tomatoes.
Step 7: Fold
This is the critical part. Try to get as much of the spatula under one half of the omelet before you do a quick flip (it’s all in the wrist). You also can use your other hand to tilt the pan towards the spatula.
Step 8: Shimmy
Gently slide the folded omelet on to a plate. Garnish with additional herbs or cheese if you like. Serve immediately.
Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.