Of Course the Endlessly Adaptable Frittata Needs No Recipe

January 10, 2018

I’m always on the hunt for recipes that can be made in advance, useful for feeding a family on busy weeknights as well as serving a crowd without stress. Preparing food a day or two before you need it is like saving money for a rainy day: not as fun as flying by the seat if your pants, but helpful, and all the smartest people do it.

This is where the humble frittata excels. This preparation is truly underrated in terms of its versatility and usefulness. Besides being an obvious winner at breakfast or brunch, it can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, portioned into bite-size pieces, and served as hors d'oeuvres at a party or eaten for dinner alongside some salad greens.

This one's got chorizo and chives—see how we made this in the video below. Photo by Mark Weinberg

My frittata inspiration comes from Chef Andrew Feinberg, who recommends slow-cooking a frittata for a creamy, custardy texture. Since most frittatas are cooked quickly, giving the eggs a slightly spongy or puffed-up texture, a slow-cooked frittata results in eggs that may appear to be denser than the traditional, yet mind-bendingly silky and delicate.

When I make a frittata, I rarely follow a recipe. Instead, I adhere to a few basic principles. First, season the eggs—properly—before whisking them. I crack between 8 and 10 eggs into a large mixing bowl, and I season each yolk individually with a small pinch of salt and pepper. I then whisk the eggs along with a splash of milk or heavy cream. If you try to season the eggs after they have been whisked, it becomes much harder to estimate how much salt and pepper to add, and you run the risk of under-seasoning or over-seasoning.

Season those eggs really, really well. Photo by Mark Weinberg

The next step: Choose the appropriate baking vessel. A large nonstick skillet works best, because you will easily be able to unmold your frittata when it is done cooking. You could also use a cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch cake pan, but in this case, you should cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your skillet or cake pan so the frittata won’t stick. Drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom of your skillet or cake pan, and then place the circle of parchment on top. The oil will prevent the parchment from slipping out of place. This is important, because if the parchment slides during the cooking process, then some of the egg mixture ends up cooking underneath the parchment, sticking to the skillet or cake pan and causing a big mess.

When you have selected a baking vessel, your next move is to decide which ingredients you want to add to your frittata. This is your chance to be creative and have some fun. You can use any combination of herbs, spices, cheese, meats, seafood, and vegetables. No need to measure anything here, just use a handful or two of any add-in that you choose. However, keep in mind that certain add-ins should be individually cooked ahead of time (raw protein, vegetables that benefit from a nice sear), while other add-ins can be tossed directly into the egg mixture (cheeses, delicate fresh herbs).

When you’ve chosen an exciting flavor combination for your frittata, simply mix the add-ins with your egg mixture and gently pour everything into your baking vessel. If you can summon the patience to slow-cook your frittata for approximately 40 minutes at 300° F, you will be rewarded with a frittata that is texturally superior. The frittata is done cooking when the center is just firm to the touch.

Cover with greens before serving—if you want! Photo by Mark Weinberg

Keep in mind that different cooking vessels can affect the cooking time of your frittata. Non-stick pans in particular seem to result in a quicker cook time and a slightly thinner frittata. When the frittata has been in the oven for nearly 20 minutes, start to check on it regularly. If the eggs puff up around the edges, that is a sign that the frittata has begun to overcook.

You can store the frittata in your fridge for up to a few days. Gently reheat it whenever you need some quick and tasty sustenance.

What would you put in your frittata? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • anniette
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    Patrice Anderson
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Josh Cohen

Written by: Josh Cohen

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.


anniette January 8, 2021
16 eggs in a very large cast iron skillet. I always start with a generous pour of olive oil, potatoes, cooked or raw, sliced thin, and sliced onions of any sort. Then veg from the fridge—peppers, eggplant, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, whatever, topped with a bag or two of spinach.
Season every layer with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, whichever herb you choose.
Let pan cool a little before adding beaten eggs, then cheese—chevre and feta are my frittata favorites, but manchego, Comte, any assortment. Warm on stovetop until the center shows a small bubble or two, then under the broiler in preheated oven until just set. Parchment never needed.
Serve hot, cold, or room temp. Always welcome. Great for cleaning out a beach house fridge on the last morning.
Donalyn November 4, 2018
I love making frittatas and since I live alone, they are a perfect way of using up leftovers from other meals. I have even made small, single or double-serving sizes. My favorite ingredient combo is yellow squash and zucchini in thin half-moon slices, carmelized onion and red bell pepper, with a mixture of Swiss and cheddar cheeses. Paired with a salad and biscuits, it is a dinner favorite. And warmed up leftover it's even better!
Patrice A. October 22, 2018
I make my frittatas in a pie plate (4 eggs) so they turn out like crustless quiches. Should I not call it a frittata? They are always delicious. My favorite is ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and parmesan, but like Josh said, you create countless combinations.
Deborah January 28, 2018
I made a frittata last weekend containing caramelized onions, spinach and ricotta cheese, following your basic instructions. It turned out wonderfully— thanks!
Erin January 26, 2018
How many eggs would you recommend for an 8 in cast iron Le Crueset pan? I've never used parchment and have never cooked lower than 350. Definitely want to try this method and see how it come out :)
Josh C. January 26, 2018
Hi Erin,

I recently made a frittata in a 9 inch cake pan (greased, and the bottom lined with parchment) and preferred the texture of this frittata to one made in either a cast iron or a non-stick skillet. I used 12 eggs and cooked it for 45 minutes at 275. I was very happy with the results.

For an 8 inch Le Crueset pan, I would try using 10 eggs and see how it comes out.
Maryann January 12, 2018
Do you pour your egg mix into a cold pan and then stick it in the oven? Or do you saute what needs to be so cooked and then pour the egg mixture into it and deposit in oven?
Josh C. January 22, 2018
Hi Maryann,

I pour the egg mixture into a cold pan, and I will add any sautéed items to the egg mixture (allowing them to cool to room temperature before adding them).
Katherine January 26, 2018
Missed the cold pan part. Will try tonight. Made two fritattas, both stuck to pan. However were delicious and creamy. I did my Italian version and then decided to do a riff on a shrimp egg foo yung omelet. . Instead I got scrambled shrimp fu yung. Very tasty, but.... I love this. Hope my Italian nonna-in-law isn't watching from beyond and giving me the evil eye! I'm getting all kinds of ideas for experimental omelets.
Katherine January 12, 2018
I love frittata with roasted red pepper, zucchini, and onion (pre-sauted); flavored with garlic crushed in salt and olive oil with mortar and pestle; a little crushed red pepper and herbs; topped off with buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Feta is good too. My new favorite feta is Valbreso. I am looking forward to trying the slow cooked method. Creaminess in any form sounds good to me. P.S., I swear the mortar and pestle approach has a remarkable effect on the garlic flavor - pungent and smooth at the same time.
Larry F. January 12, 2018
I frequently make frittatas for large parties at brunch. I typically make them in large (15") pyrex baking dishes with 15-24 eggs each, depending on what else I am adding and how many people I want the frittata to serve. To avoid sticking I heat the baking dish with butter or oil in a hot oven before adding any ingredients. My two go to favorites are Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, Kalamata Olives, Feta and a touch of Parmesan to brown and bubble on top, adapted from Jennifer Martin, Bon Appétit, January 2003; and Caramelized Onion, Cremini Mushroom, Spinach and Gruyere, also with Parmesan. In both cases, I sprinkle finely grated Parmesan midway through cooking.
The L. January 10, 2018
If I had to let it cook for 40 minutes in the oven, I wouldn't make frittatas regularly for my family!
I either cook them on the stovetop till the bottom is set, then put it under the broiler to brown and finish cooking,or cook them on the stove, covered for about 20 minutes, then finishes in the broiler. I use a nice LeCreuset skillet & just spray the bottom with non-stick spray, no need to fuss with parchment. Favorite filling/toppings are a combo of broccoli/corn/peppers (frozen veggies thawed and quick steamed before adding) with turkey bacon and a little cheddar cheese, a spinach/ricotta/feta filling that is basically spanakopita without the phyllo, or a Nigella Lawson combo, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and mortadella.