How to Make an Omelet

updated Apr 2, 2024

Here are the steps to make a perfect diner-style omelet at home with whatever fillings you like.

Makes1 omelet

Cook6 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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There are many amazing breakfast recipes out there, but nothing can get me out of bed on a lazy weekend like an omelet stuffed with melty cheese and herbs. This classic dish is so easy that it can be made before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee (omelets also make an ideal breakfast-for-dinner!).

Plus, omelets go great with side dishes like sheet-pan home fries, a fresh berry fruit salad, and, of course, crisp, oven-cooked bacon. Before you run to get that carton of eggs, here are a few tips for omelet perfection. 

What’s the Difference between French Omelets and American Omelets?

Unlike the somewhat fussy tri-fold French omelet I stressed out over perfecting in cooking school, American diner-style omelets — what we typically simply just call an “omelet” in the U.S. — are simple. Here are the key differences between them:

  • French omelets: French omelets are slender with no color on the outside and a bit runny on the inside. It involves the technique of stirring the eggs constantly until creamy, with just enough heat to set the bottom without browning. It takes a bit of practice, but once you understand the technique, you can experiment with different fillings like Boursin cheese.
  • American omelets: American omelets require you to fold the eggs in half into a half-moon shape, which are perfect for holding a variety of fillings (like spinach and Parmesan). Many diner-style omelets also feature a light golden-brown outside which adds flavor, and a just-set interior.
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

Tips for Making a Great Omelet

  • Use the right number of eggs. A classic omelet contains two or three eggs — whichever you choose is entirely up to you.
  • Crack the eggs properly. First, let’s all agree that eggshell fragments in an omelet are a big no. That’s why I crack eggs on a flat surface, not on the rim of the bowl. The blunt force makes it easier to pull open the eggshell without little shards landing in the bowl. Make sure to coax out all the egg white in the shell; use your finger to dislodge any extra still stuck in there. 
  • Blend, don’t beat the eggs. Next, blend the eggs with a fork until homogeneous, with no blobs of egg white and yolk visible. Don’t beat the eggs too much, though. Beating air into the egg mixture will cause air bubbles which can make the omelet cook more slowly and unevenly. Adding the salt now will help the eggs stay moist and tasty.
  • Don’t overstuff the omelet. As tempting as it might be, do not overstuff your omelet. For a 2- to 3-egg omelet, a total of 1/2 cup of filling total is plenty. Any more than that and your eggs will likely fall apart when you’re folding the omelet. 

Best Omelet Fillings

You can make a great minimalist omelet without filling, but fillings are half the fun. Just make sure you have them prepped before eggs hit the  pan. Remember: Omelets cook (and overcook) quickly and wait for no one.

  •  Meat fillings: If you’d like to add a cooked meat filling (think: ham, smoked salmon, or crispy bacon), make sure it’s warm or at least room temperature when you start, as the omelet is pretty much done once you add fillings.
  • Cheese fillings: For cheese, opt for a softer cheese that will melt quickly. Soft, young cheeses like havarti, Jack, herbed goat cheese, or a young cheddar are ideal. Dry cheeses like Parmesan, aged cheddar, or aged Gruyère will not melt quickly so you won’t get that gooey melted cheese effect. 
  • Vegetable fillings: As for vegetables, sauté or roast them first so they release some of their moisture before adding them to an omelet. (If you skip this, the veggies will be undercooked and may weep moisture into the eggs, causing a runny mess.)
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

How to Make an Omelet

  1. Preheat your pan. Reduce the likelihood of omelet-sticking angst by investing in a good-quality nonstick pan — and remember to preheat it. By preheating the pan for 2 minutes over medium heat, you cause the metal in the pan to expand slightly, thereby making the pan less porous and slicker so eggs have less to stick to. Adding a little butter to the pan before the eggs also helps and will give the omelet a nice golden-brown color. 
  2. Stir, swirl, and then stop. To ensure even cooking, stir the eggs constantly with a rubber spatula as soon as they hit the hot pan, nudging the soft curds of egg into the center of the pan. While you’re stirring, pick up the pan and swirl the still-liquid egg around in the pan so everything is in an even layer; you may even need to flatten the eggs out a little with the spatula. Then let it all cook for a minute or two without moving anything. The bottom should be set, but the top will still look a bit wet. 
  3. Fill and cover. While the eggs are still wet on the top, turn the heat down to low. Sprinkle the fillings (if using) on top of the eggs evenly (so there is filling in every bite) and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid; I recommend a tempered glass lid so you can keep an eye on the progress. Let the omelet cook for about 1 minute more; the steam trapped in the pan will finish cooking the top of the omelet and melt the cheese.
  4. Flip. To finish the omelet, remove the pan from the heat, uncover it, and loosen the edges with the spatula. Flip half of the omelet over onto itself and slide it onto a plate. Sprinkle with tender herbs, if using. Voila! Your breakfast/lunch/dinner/midnight snack is ready! 

How to Tell When an Omelet Is Done

The omelet is done when the cheese is just melted and the eggs look just set or a little bit wet. Keep in mind that eggs cook quickly and will continue to cook after you slide the omelet out of the pan.

I always err on the side of a little underdone so that the interior is still moist and creamy. If you’re firmly in the well-done egg camp, cook the omelet a little longer at this stage; just keep in mind that the longer the eggs cook, the tougher they will become. 

How to Make an Omelet

Here are the steps to make a perfect diner-style omelet at home with whatever fillings you like.

Cook time 6 minutes

Makes 1 omelet

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3

    large eggs

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 pinch

    black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons

    butter

  • Optional 1/2 cup of desired fillings

  • Chopped fresh chives or basil, for garnish

Instructions

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  1. Crack 2 or 3 large eggs into a bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 pinch black pepper and whisk with a fork until the eggs are well blended but not frothy.

  2. Heat a 6- to-8-inch nonstick pan over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons butter and swirl to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.

  3. Add the eggs and cook, gently moving the egg around constantly with a flexible, heat-resistant rubber spatula, until curds just begin to form, at least 5 seconds.

  4. While stirring, swirl the pan slightly to encourage the uncooked egg to settle evenly on the bottom of the hot pan, patting down any large clumps with the spatula. Gently push down any bits of cooked egg that are stuck to the sides of the pan. Cook without stirring until the bottom is starting to set but the top is still runny, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Reduce the heat to low. Top one side of the omelet with desired fillings (about 1/2 cup total). Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid (ideally a domed glass lid so that you can monitor the cooking without lifting the lid), and cook until the top is just set but still a bit creamy, at least 1 to 2 minutes more.

  6. Uncover the pan and use the rubber spatula to loosen the edges and bottom from the pan. Slide the spatula underneath the side of the omelet without the filling and carefully fold it over the filling.

  7. You may need to gently press the top of the folded omelet for a few seconds to secure it.

  8. Carefully slide the omelet out of the pan and onto a plate. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs, such as chives or basil.