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How to Make an Omelet, the Breakfast Classic

Our test kitchen's secrets to getting this diner favorite just right—in three swift steps.

Associate Editor
american omelet with tomatoes
Photography by: Chris Simpson

We love a French omelette, bien sur. But there's nothing like diving into an American diner-style omelet on a Saturday—make that any—morning. The golden ticket: Whisk a bit of water into fresh-as-possible eggs, and pour them into a bubbling-hot buttered skillet. Jazz them up with cheese and chives, and breakfast is served in short order.

 

Related: How to Make the Ultimate Lasagna

 

Grocery List

  • Large eggs
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sharp cheddar
  • Fresh chives, tomato, and toasted bread, for serving
beaten egg in bowl next to fork
Photography by: Chris Simpson

Whisk Well

Using a fork (for good control), beat three eggs with one teaspoon water until yolks and whites are completely combined and no streaks remain. The water helps incorporate them and steams while the omelet cooks, which puffs it up. Season with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper. 

making an omelet
Photography by: Chris Simpson

Coax Into Curds

Heat one tablespoon butter in an eight-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high until foaming; swirl to coat. When foam subsides, pour eggs into center of skillet. Let stand 10 seconds. Stir eggs with a rubber spatula in a circular motion with one hand while shaking skillet with the other, about 15 seconds. Reduce heat to medium. Working your way around skillet, gather outer set eggs toward center, then tip skillet so runny eggs move to outside edges, about 1 minute. Lightly spread any remaining runny eggs evenly over top and cook until creamy but no longer wet.

 

Finish with Cheese

Sprinkle two tablespoons finely shredded cheddar (the smaller the shred, the faster it melts) onto far side of omelet. Remove from heat. Tip pan away from you; gently slide spatula under near side of omelet and fold up and over cheese. Slide onto a warm plate. Top with chopped chives and serve, with sliced tomato sprinkled with salt and buttered toast, if desired.

 

Get the Classic Cheese Omelet Recipe

 

Pro Tips

The magic pan for an omelet is an eight-inch skillet (measured across the top). It ensures a creamy omelet with a little lift; anything bigger will make the omelet too thin. When adding extra ingredients, less is more: The goal is to enhance, not upstage, the eggs. (That's why we stop at two tablespoons of cheese.) If you're folding in vegetables, be sure to precook them; raw ones are less flavorful and release water as they heat up, leading to sogginess.

omelet with salsa and avocado
Photography by: Chris Simpson

More to Love

Rev up your omelet with these savory ideas. We're sharing two of our favorite twists on the classic breakfast staple below.

 

Cheese, Avocado, Salsa, and Cilantro Omelet

In place of cheddar and chives in step three, lightly press thin slices of avocado into far side of omelet (this prevents them from sliding around), and add one tablespoon each chunky red salsa and chopped fresh cilantro leaves before folding. Top with more cilantro, if desired.

 

Get the Cheese, Avocado, Salsa, and Cilantro Omelet Recipe 

omelet with mushrooms avocado and watercress
Photography by: Chris Simpson

Mushroom, Parmesan, and Watercress Omelet

Prior to step one, cook 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms in two teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil in skillet over medium heat until caramelized, six to eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a bowl. Stir 1/4 cup packed watercress into mushrooms until slightly wilted. Return skillet to heat; proceed with step one. In step three, add mushroom-watercress mixture and two tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano in place of cheddar before folding. Serve with more grated cheese instead of chives, if desired.

 

Get the Mushroom, Parmesan, and Watercress Omelet Recipe