Omelets and frittatas are satisfying healthy meals, and are enjoyed all across the world. But if you’re wondering which you should cook for supper, you’re probably trying to weigh up the pros and cons of each.
You might also be wondering how the two differ! Luckily, that’s exactly what we’ll be covering in this post.
Both are cooked using whisked eggs, but they differ significantly in cooking techniques, ingredients, and even the serving temperature. An omelet is like a hot egg sandwich you can add fillings to, while a frittata is more like egg custard with vegetables.
Here’s what else you need to know.
What Ingredients Do You Use?
Omelets and frittatas have similar ingredients in some ways. They both obviously include whisked eggs, and they both tend to have milk (or cream) in them.
Here is one of the first differences. A frittata must have milk or cream in it, but some people prefer to cook omelets without this addition and enjoy the egg. While lots of people do include milk, it’s not essential for an omelet.
Omelets can also have various toppings; you might add cooked meat, cheese, herbs, or vegetables to an omelet. Frittatas could include any of those or may have something like pasta in too.
A second big difference is that you usually add an omelet’s other ingredients after the egg has finished cooking. You might allow a few moments for the cheese to melt or the flavors to mix, but usually, you sprinkle toppings on once the omelet is ready to serve.
By contrast, a frittata’s ingredients are added before it is cooked—and they will cook inside the egg. They are not sprinkled on top but mixed in and combined to create something like a crustless quiche.
How Do You Cook Them?
There’s also a fairly significant difference in how you make these two dishes. An omelet will be cooked in a large skillet on the hob. You want a medium heat and a hefty knob of butter in the pan to give the egg flavor and creaminess.
You add the whisked egg to the pan and gently move it around with a spatula, not breaking it up but ensuring that it doesn’t stick or burn. You then allow the egg to set a little.
Some people like to add the toppings at this stage, while others add them at the end; this is down to personal preference!
By contrast, a frittata is started in a skillet on the cooktop but finished off in the oven. They are intended to serve many people (usually), so you often want a large pan, while omelets tend to be single-serve pieces.
You add the whisked egg and the fillings to the hot pan and mix them gently to make a frittata. When the eggs are beginning to set, instead of remaining on the hob, the pan should be transferred to the oven.
A lid will be added to keep heat and steam in, and the eggs can continue cooking. Once the eggs are set and custard-like, the frittata is ready to serve!
What Should You Avoid Doing?
There are a few differences between these meals, and some things that you can do with one, you should not do with the other.
For example, it is perfectly acceptable to serve frittatas at room temperature (although not necessary). You can take them out of the oven and leave them to cool. Omelets, on the other hand, should be eaten piping hot and fresh from the pan. A cold omelet is rarely an enjoyable culinary experience!
Secondly, you should avoid adding raw ingredients to an omelet (unless you are happy to eat them raw, such as chives, onions, garlic, cheese, etc.). The amount of time that an omelet is cooked for is not enough to ensure that raw meats are cooked properly.
You may enjoy raw vegetables with your omelet, but anything that you want cooked should be cooked separately and added to the omelet when it is ready to eat. If you try and cook fillings in with the egg, you will end up with either undercooked ingredients or very rubbery, overcooked eggs.
You do not have this restriction with a frittata; you can add anything that will cook in about 25 minutes in the oven.
Do make sure that any meats are thoroughly cooked before consuming them, however. Many people prefer to cook vegetables first to reduce the amount of water in a frittata, but this is down to personal preference.
If you’re cooking a frittata, you should definitely avoid cutting the milk out; the frittata depends on the creaminess of this ingredient to work well. For an omelet, if you prefer a thicker, eggier experience, you can omit the milk without affecting the dish.
When making an omelet, avoid trying to make one for lots of people at once. Omelets are supposed to be light and fluffy, and if you add a lot of egg or try to put in too many toppings, they will usually fail. It is better to make individual omelets for all diners.
For both dishes, you should avoid beating the eggs too lightly. Much of the fluffiness of the end product depends on how much air goes into the egg. Remember that they both start out in a skillet on the cooktop, and they will both benefit from a thorough beating before they hit the pan.
You should also avoid putting either in a very hot pan, as they are likely to burn. This is a bigger problem for frittatas, which are supposed to be cooked long and slow, but it can also be an issue with omelets. Medium heat is usually ideal for these foods.
Finally, don’t overcook either dish. Rubbery eggs are not nice and will not be enjoyable, no matter how many other ingredients you have added. They tend to smell of sulfur and often have an unpleasantly dry texture, a little like a sponge.
An omelet should be removed from the pan as soon as it has properly set. A frittata can be taken out of the oven when it has turned opaque, and the center moves just a little when shaken. Remember, if you aren’t serving your frittata hot, it will continue to cook as it cools down, so take that into account when considering cooking times.
What Tools Do You Need?
To cook an omelet, you will need a skillet, a spatula, a whisk, a cup or jug (to whisk the egg in), and a chopping board/knife if you are adding other ingredients. You may also require a cheese grater.
A frittata will require similar tools, but you will need to ensure that your skillet is large enough to serve frittatas to several people, and it must also be oven safe. Furthermore, it should have a lid that is oven safe and fits on top well; this will help it cook properly in the oven.
The Bottom Line
Omelets and frittatas share a lot of characteristics, but they are decidedly different dishes. The most notable change is probably in terms of the temperature; few of us would eat omelets cold, but sliced frittata is an acceptable dish to many people! The texture is also surprisingly different.
If you are an omelet whizz, perhaps it’s time to get an oven-safe skillet and give a frittata a go.