Frittatas are one of the most versatile dishes. Suitable from breakfast through dinner, they can be made right before mealtime or well in advance. They’re delicious hot or cold and also the ideal canvas for all those end-of-week veggies.
While a fluffy frittata isn't terribly difficult to pull together, there are a couple missteps that could prevent this one-pan meal from reaching its potential. Here's what you need to know to make sure that isn't the case.
1. Using the wrong type of pan.
While you might love that pan with a plastic or wooden handle, or often reach for a nonstick pan when making scrambled eggs and omelets, those aren't going to work for a frittata. Unlike other egg preparations, frittatas utilize two cooking methods: They start off on the stovetop and then finish off in the oven, which means they require cookware that works for both.
Follow this tip: An oven-safe skillet should be your go-to cookware for frittatas; a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is ideal. Not only can it go from the stovetop to the oven, but a well-seasoned skillet also has a natural, nonstick patina that helps to distribute the heat evenly during the cooking process. Stainless steel also works well, but usually requires a little extra oil or butter to prevent sticking.
2. Not cooking the vegetables before adding the eggs to the pan.
Despite the time the frittata cooks on the stovetop and in the oven, it's important to cook any vegetables before pouring the eggs into the pan. This is especially important when using veggies with a high water content, like mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and spinach. If you skip pre-cooking them, that excess liquid can make for a watery frittata that steams rather than bakes when it's placed in the oven.
Follow this tip: All veggies really benefit from at least a quick sauté before the eggs are added to the pan. This will allow firm vegetables (like potatoes) to soften, and softer vegetables with a higher water content (like mushrooms and spinach) to release excess moisture. Use this time to add in a bit more flavor. Minced garlic, a dash of chili powder, or a few shallots can be cooked with the vegetables for an added boost of flavor. Also, don't be shy with the butter or oil. If you want that frittata to crisp up and come out of the pan easily, you've got to use some fat!
3. Forgetting to add milk or cream.
Dairy, like milk or cream, is a crucial component of frittatas. This is the ingredient that gives frittatas their signature light, fluffy, and super-luscious texture. Without this important addition, frittatas cook up flatter and a bit more dense.
Follow this tip: After whisking the eggs together, be sure to whisk in some milk or cream. As a rule of thumb, use 1/4 cup of dairy for every six eggs.
4. Misunderstanding the stovetop process.
While frittatas do have some cook time on the stovetop, this isn't where the bulk of the cooking takes place. Too much time on the stovetop, or too high of a flame, and the frittata will easily get too much color or burn on the bottom.
Follow this tip: Cook the frittata on the stovetop, keeping the heat at medium-low to low, just until the edges have set, which takes about a few minutes. In terms of temperature, think of this as if you were cooking scrambled eggs. Low to medium heat will allow the eggs to set without them obtaining any color.
5. Giving it too much time in the oven.
The very best frittatas have a texture that's light, fluffy, and springy. But leave it in the oven too long and you'll quickly find yourself with a frittata that's dry, rubbery, and crumbly.
Follow this tip: Cook the frittata in the oven just until the center is no longer jiggly and the edges are golden-brown. For extra reassurance it's done, you can place a sharp knife into the center of the frittata. If raw eggs run into the cut, bake for another few minutes; if the eggs are just set, pull the frittata from the oven and let it stand 5 minutes before slicing.