Memorize This to Make a Frittata Without a Recipe

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Frittatas are in heavy rotation in my household. They are a breakfast-for-dinner staple easy to enough to pull off when I don’t want to cook, and a weekend morning go-to. What I love most about frittatas is that I never follow a recipe when I make them — and you don’t need to either. Instead, all you really need is a template and some inspiration. Once you have the essential technique down, the possibilities are endless.

A Template for Making Any Frittata

When it comes to making a frittata, there are really only two things you need to remember: four ingredients and the two-step cooking process. Both of which are surprisingly simple.

The basic template making any frittata:
6 eggs + 1/4 cup cream + 1 cup cheese + 2 cups meat and/or veggies

The Eggs + Extra Ingredients

Here are the basics. Understanding what each component does will help you freestyle your next frittata.

  • The eggs: Six large eggs is a good place to start for a basic frittata that will feed about four to six people.
  • The cream: A splash of cream is the key to a frittata that’s tender and just rich enough. As a rule of thumb, use 1/4 cup heavy cream for every six eggs. Don’t have cream? Half-and-half or milk will also work in a pinch.
  • The cheese: Any and all types of cheese are fair game for frittatas. One cup of shredded or diced cheese is our rule of thumb for a six-egg frittata.
  • The meat and vegetables: Here’s where you can give your frittata some personality. About two cups of veggies, herbs, and/or meat are all fair game. If you’re using vegetables or meat, just make sure they’re cooked first.

The Two-Step Cooking Method for Any Frittata

The most important thing to know about actually cooking a frittata is that it requires two steps: stovetop cooking and oven cooking.

I’ll confess that I always forget precisely how long frittatas need to cook at each stage of the process. And if you forget too, don’t worry about it. While it’s helpful to have a timer handy, visual cues will signal exactly when your frittata is ready.

  • Step one: After you’ve cooked the veggies and/or meat, sprinkled on the cheese, and added the beaten eggs with cream to the pan, cook the frittata just until it’s set around the edges. The total stovetop time will vary depending on how many eggs are used, but it will typically clock in at about three to five minutes over medium heat.
  • Step two: Finish the frittata in a 400°F oven until the eggs are set and no longer jiggly at the center. Again, the total time will vary depending on how thick or thin the frittata is, but eight to 10 minutes is a good baseline.