Omelettes and frittatas are very easy to make and take a few minutes to prepare. However, there are different reasons people prefer one over the other. Read ahead for a close look at the simple dishes as well as their differences.
The beauty of an omelet is that it can be as simple as eggs and milk or as elaborate as spinach, tomato, and feta cheese; you can add any ingredient you like and have a meal on the table in a matter of minutes. The basic recipe calls for cooking a lightly whisked mixture of eggs, seasonings, and milk in butter in a frying pan. The key here is that you don’t stir the eggs once they are in the pan; you let them sit and cook until firm. If you choose, you can sprinkle fillings over the top, from cheese to vegetables to herbs to cooked meat, and then either fold in half or thirds. What you end up with is somewhat of an egg pancake wrapped around a delicious filling.
We can make a frittata with the same ingredients as an omelet, but here the milk—or more preferably, cream—is crucial. A frittata is essentially a custard-filled with any vegetables, herbs, cheese, meat, and even pasta of your choosing, which is then cooked in a frying pan. Whereas an omelet’s filling is just sprinkled on top of the egg, the frittata’s additions need to be mixed in with the egg and cream before cooking. The frittata can be cooked either in the oven or on the stovetop, but no matter which method is used, it is almost always placed under the broiler at the end of cooking time.
In the strictest sense, the difference between the omelet and the frittata boils down to a matter of folding the cooked egg around the filling versus mixing the filling into the raw egg mixture. But there are a few other distinctions as well.
- To make an omelet, the eggs are whisked until blended before cooking; when making a frittata, the egg mixture is whisked vigorously to help create the custard-like consistency.
- Both sides of the frittata are cooked while just the underside of the omelet touches the pan.
- A frittata is cooked over low heat while an omelet is cooked quickly over higher heat.
- Whereas omelets are served hot straight from the stove, frittatas are often served at room temperature, making them perfect to make ahead for brunches or larger groups.
- Their origins also differ. While the omelet is French and has a long history dating back to perhaps as early as the 14th century, the frittata is what some people call an « Italian omelet, » although the word frittata comes from the word « friggere » and roughly means fried.