If you asked me to list my favorite dishes to make on a weeknight (or a weekend, for that matter), a frittata would certainly be at the top of the list. It’s tasty, relatively quick, and incredibly versatile. It can be served warm, at room temperature, or even cold. Not only is it great for breakfast or brunch, but I also serve it with a tossed salad or soup for a satisfying lunch or supper. And when I cut it up in elegant little squares, it turns into a tasty hors d’oeuvre that’s perfect for a slightly more formal occasion.
But the greatest thing about a frittata is that once you learn how to make it with the simple method below, you can customize it any way you like using your favorite ingredients. And if that weren’t enough, it’s really easy to make—certainly easier than its French cousin, the omelet. When you make a frittata, there’s no fussy folding of the eggs over the filling and no risk of the dish falling apart in the process.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish, 8 to 12 as an appetizer.
Prep and cook the add-ins
Almost any type of vegetable works in a frittata and, if you want to make it a little heartier, add bacon, pancetta, or sausage. Just think of what goes well together, and don’t go crazy adding too many things—a combination of three vegetables and meats is plenty. Frittatas are also a great way to use up leftovers, whether they’re roasted or sautéed vegetables from yesterday’s dinner or a link of sausage that’s been lingering in the fridge. Just cut everything into small pieces.
Heat the oven to 350ºF. You'll want a total of 2 cups of add-ins (see options below). Cook your choices according to the notes below. Allow the add-ins to cool a bit before you make your egg mixture. (They can be warm but not piping hot when combined with the eggs.)
Choose up to 3 vegetables and/or meats in any combination, for a total of 2 cups
(The quantities given below all yield about 1 cup, unless otherwise noted.)
Asparagus: 1/2 to 2/3 lb., steamed, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
Bell peppers: 1 lb. (about 2 large), roasted, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch strips
Chorizo: 1/2 lb., cut into small dice, browned (yields about 1-1/4 cups)
Potatoes: 6 oz. (1 medium), peeled, boiled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Fresh mushrooms: 1/2 lb., cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, sautéed
Hearty greens (such as collards or kale): 1/2 lb., trimmed, cooked until tender in salted water, drained and squeezed to remove excess liquid, coarsely chopped
Italian Sausage: 1/2 lb., removed from its casing, crumbled, browned
Leeks: 2 medium (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced, sautéed
Onions:1 large, thinly sliced, sautéed
Pancetta or bacon: 1/4 lb., cut into 1/4-inch dice, sautéed (yields 1/2 cup pancetta; 1/4 cup bacon)
Spinach or Swiss chard: 1 lb., trimmed, sautéed, drained and squeezed to remove excess liquid, coarsely chopped
Zucchini: 6 to 7 oz. (about 1-1/2 medium), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, sautéed
Beat the eggs with dairy and flour
Adding dairy to the eggs provides a bit of extra moisture and richness and keeps the frittata light. A bit of flour bolsters the eggs’ setting and thickening properties and helps incorporate the added milk or cream.
In a bowl, lightly whisk 8 large eggs with 1/2 cup your choice of dairy (see options below), 1 Tbs. flour (don’t worry if the flour forms small lumps), 1 to 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and several grinds of pepper. Note: If using a salty cheese (such as pecorino or feta) or other salty ingredients (such as bacon or pancetta), use only 1 tsp. salt; otherwise, use 1-1/2 tsp.
Choose one dairy option
Stir everything together
You can’t go wrong with adding cheese to eggs. Sharp cheeses, such as Parmigiano, pecorino, and feta deliver a pungent, pleasantly salty flavor. Goat cheese adds a nice creamy tang, while ricotta creates little pockets of moisture and sweetness. But you can skip cheese entirely and let the other ingredients shine. My favorite thing to add to frittatas is fresh herbs. I use them copiously because they lend a fresh, subtle flavor note.
Gently fold together the egg mixture, the meat or vegetable add-ins, 1/2 cup of your choice of cheeses (see options below), and 1/4 cup of your choice of herbs (see options below), and your choice of spices (see options below).
Choose 1 or 2 cheeses, for a total of 1/2 cup (optional)
Crumbled fresh goat cheese
Fresh ricotta (add to the eggs in dollops)
Grated Pecorino Romano
Choose 1 or 2 fresh herbs, for a total of 1/4 cup (optional)
Thinly sliced basil
Thinly sliced chives
Chopped marjoram (use 1 Tbs. maximum)
Thinly sliced mint
Choose 1 or 2 spices & aromatics (optional)
Crushed red pepper flakes: up to 1/2 tsp.
Garlic: 1 medium clove, minced, sautéed
Finely grated lemon zest: 1 tsp.
Finely grated nutmeg: 1 pinch
Thinly sliced scallions: 1/4 cup, sautéed
Spanish paprika (pimentón): 1/2 tsp. (add to any sautéed ingredients at the end of cooking)
Start the frittata on the stovetop
To promote faster and more even cooking, I start on the stovetop with the pan covered for the first 10 minutes or so to help the eggs set. Before you pour in the egg mixture, your pan should be warm enough to set the frittata on the bottom but not so hot that the bottom will brown too quickly and become tough. That’s why I heat the oil gently over medium heat and keep a close eye on the pan (you don’t want the oil to start smoking).
Heat 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof anodized aluminum or nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture, spreading everything evenly. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the eggs are set about 1 inch in from the sides of the pan, 8 to 12 minutes.
Finish the frittata in the oven
Some people cook frittatas entirely on the stovetop, flipping them halfway through the cooking. But the flip can be tricky, so I finish my frittatas in the oven, instead. It’s foolproof and eliminates the risk factor.
Uncover the pan and transfer the frittata to the oven. Bake until the top is puffed and completely set, 15 to 25 minutes longer.
Slide onto a cutting board. Remove from the oven and run a rubber spatula around the sides of the pan to loosen the frittata. Slip it out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Let the frittata cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Or let it cool completely to room temperature.