Beyond the Basics

How to Make a French Omelette

By • December 30, 2013 • 13 Comments

Once you've perfected basic techniques like frying an egg and cooking rice, it's time to move on to those things that may have initially scared you off. Every other Monday, chef and stylist Camille Becerra is going beyond the basics to help us tackle even the scariest cooking techniques.

Today: Camille shows us how to make a classic French omelette. 

How to Make an Omelette

I am of the school of thought that finds it perfectly fine to judge fellow cooks by the way they make an omelette. As they say, “It’s the simple things...”

First off, a few rules: Omelettes should be made with 2 to 4 eggs. They shouldn’t have any color. They should be fluffy. And they must be well seasoned. The fillings are the cook's choice -- leftovers from the fridge work quite well. My favorite is simply just chives, and maybe some goat cheese.

How to Make an Omelette

In an episode of The French Chef devoted to the omelette, Julia Child succeeds in hosting an omelette party for 300 people! Guests chose their fillings, including chicken livers, ham, a sauté of spinach, ratatouille, and an array of stinky cheeses. 

 More: Another thing we learned from Julia Child? How to cook zucchini, in style.

Chefs and experienced cooks take their omelette pan very seriously: small and non-stick is everything. On another TV show, Anthony Bourdain hangs out with chef Marco Pierre White at his restaurant-pub in the British countryside. In the kitchen there’s a special nail where only the omelette pan hangs, and this pan is only used for making their signature trout omelet. The entremetier is the only one that can touch it, and nothing but egg and a rubber spatula can ever go into it -- it’s the law. 

How to Make an Omelette

Here's how I make mine:

Crack 2 to 4 eggs into a bowl, season with salt, and whisk well.  

With a rubber spatula in hand, warm your pan over medium-high heat. If you’re really committed, you’ll use clarified butter; if not, a touch of oil (any kind will work) and a bit of butter will do, but make sure you heat your pan gently and add your eggs before the milk solids in the butter begin to brown. 

How to Make an Omelette

As soon as the eggs hit the pan, it's showtime. Make sure you stir aggressively with your spatula; this creates an airy omelette. 

How to Make an Omelette How to Make an Omelette
How to Make an Omelette How to Make an Omelette

The next step goes very fast; once you see that the eggs are holding their structure but are still soft and gooey, lower your heat, add your heated filling (if using), and begin to roll your omelette out of the pan. 

How to Make an Omelette

There are many ways to roll out an omelette from pan to plate, but I find this technique to be most useful: First, grab your plate and have it ready to catch your omelette. Then bring your hand, palm side-up, under the handle, which gives you much-needed leverage.

How to Make an Omelette How to Make an Omelette

Gravity is your friend here. Start tilting the pan, with the handle lifted towards you and the far side of the pan tilting towards the plate. Using the spatula, begin to fold the omelette onto itself, starting with the edge closest to the handle. Then guide it along, folding it over a bit more. 

How to Make an Omelette How to Make an Omelette

Continue tilting the pan slowly as the omelette begins to roll onto itself. You want it to hop off the pan and onto your plate.  

How to Make an Omelette

New techniques take practice, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it on the first try. Remember that once you do get it, no chef or fellow cook will ever judge you. 

Photos by Emma Jane Kepley

Tags: how-to & DIY, omelet, omelette, eggs, french, julia child, breakfast, technique

Comments (13)

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Stringio

6 months ago Serafim Mascarenhas Serrano

Em inglês não vou lá!!!A minha omelete é mais "fina" pois "fala" francês!!!

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6 months ago Jen Massey

I tried this technique this weekend and the result was divine. As I tend to like really soft scrambled eggs, this yielded a very light omelette. I just have to perfect the roll.

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6 months ago I_Fortuna

This is a great demo! I sometimes make my omelettes this way. Personally, I prefer pouring my eggs into a 10 or 12 inch ceramic pan, letting it set at a medium low temperature, then rolling, rolling and rolling it into an almost cigar or burrito shape. The layers of the omelette are super thin and this makes an almost crepe like omelette. It is delicate and delicious. Sometimes, if I want a sweet omelette, I add a bit of flour to the eggs, roll the same way and top with fruit and sometimes sour cream. Please let me know if any of you make your omelettes this way, or if you have tried this.

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3 months ago Knightcraft

I haven't tried your sweet version. But you can bet I'll be giving it a go VERY soon! Thanks!

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6 months ago Stumpstein

You've just gotta love this website! Thanks for the omelette photo demo. Very helpful. And the stirring, I completely missed this before. Now my eggs are... well, almost as fluffy as I am. What can I say! I love to cook.

Stringio

7 months ago C Katina Wimbush

this is the way I was taught in culinary school, I used to be baffled too as to why they are scrambled a bit but I love omelettes, that is my go to comfort food.

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7 months ago MRubenzahl

I'll add two suggestions. First is to heat the pan very evenly. As soon as I start, the first step is to put the pan on the stove, over the lowest setting. It can be heated indefinitely at that setting and preheating while you're prepping everything ensures an evenly heated pan.

Second is that stirring the eggs as they cook is key. Cook's Illustrated's omelette article suggested a pair of chopsticks and that's what I use.

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7 months ago Suzanne Rogers Buckles

I, too, think the pictures make it look like scrambled eggs are being prepared. I've been doing it all wrong.........can't wait to try it out.

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7 months ago Ronbet

I don't understand how what looks like scrambled eggs becomes an omelette. How does it hold together as a omelette after the eggs are scrambled?

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7 months ago Camille Becerra

what looks like very runny scrambled eggs on top is actually smooth on the bottom and cooked through enough to supply the structure needed to make an omelette. try it out... let me know how it works for you.

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7 months ago John Koch

Instructions were perfect, was able to make an omelete that had the perfect amount of air and puff. Realize though to turn the heat down when directions say, it can brown quickly! Thanks again for the great article

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7 months ago KtMcB

I am experience a great feeling of accomplishment. just made my first classic french omlette, magnifique! Thanks for great simple instructions. How do you say yummmmmm en francaise?

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7 months ago laurenlocally

Lauren is Food52's Director of Partnerships.

I can't wait to try this.