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Omelette cooking - High Heat or Low?

I've always read that a French-style omelette should be cooked over high heat and take barely a minute to prepare. That's how I've always made mine.

Yesterday, however, Ina Garten did an episode of the Barefoot Contessa from Paris where they were served very attractive looking omelettes that, she said, were so very tender because they were cooked over a low flame.

Talking only about a plain, classic, French-style, flat folded omelette, how do you approach the heat issue?

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  1. high and rolled-classic french style. Used to teach my cooks that an an omelette should take no more than 1 minute to prepare-with maybe a flash in the sally to melt cheese if needed(course this "souffles" em also to its detriment).

    1. I always to my omlettes on high too - quick and to the point.

      1. Omelettes high and fast, scrambles low and slow.

        1. About 35 years ago I saw Julia Child cook omelets on the Tonight Show. She had a gas burner with the flame set high enough for Johnny Carson to feign comic alarm, then she threw in the butter and, when the foaming had just barely subsided, the egg. I tried it myself the next morning, and have been doing it that way ever since.

          I have to say I usually scramble my eggs in a stirred-omelet format, taking my cue from many years of watching short-order cooks. I know it makes'em a bit rubbery, but we like the flavor (especially when stirred in the pan rather than in a bowl), and we prefer our breakfasts pretty much in a hurry.

          1. Not to be contrary, but...
            I was taught to heat the pan gently- I usually start with Asiago in the non stick for a kick of flavor- pour in beaten eggs, let set a little, draw in the edges of the egg puddle, lay on the flavor- cheese and chives/green onion often in this house- fold over gently and onto the plate once the egg is set as desired.

            1. Hot & fast with a non-traditional twist. Using a knob of butter, I'll saute whatever the filling is to be (nix on cheese for this step) onions, bell pepper, chicken livers or whatever in the pan first, crank the heat up and add the beaten eggs to the already cooking filling. A thrifty French grandmother taught me this many years ago and I've used the technique ever since.

              NB: it works best on a gas stove, the "heat up" time for most electrics is too lengthy for the fillings.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sherri

                I like the sautéed-ingredients approach - last time I was at a hotel brunch I watched the omelet chef do it this way, and got some tips on timing from him as well.

                My omelet pan is a cast-iron sauté pan, and is just the right size for a single-egg omelet, so that's the kind I make. Usually make two per person.

              2. I do both ways. With the high temp I end up with a classical touch of brown on the outside. Or at the least the outside is much firmer than the interior.

                When I do low heat I end up with an omelette that is in texture like soft scramble but not all broken up.

                1. I checked out "The Way to Cook" by Julia Child and have made omelets everyday this week. It says to heat a 10 inch non stick pan really hot, heat some butter until it stops foaming, and put in two eggs. Coat the pan with the eggs, wait a couple seconds..... and then it gets too complicated for me to describe on here. From pouring the eggs into the pan to plating it, it takes 20 seconds.

                  1. Here's a different approach from Tyler Florence's old show. I remember that he went to France and was shown this approach. He uses medium heat on the stovetop and stirs quickly to get the eggs to set up like custard, then finishes them off in a 450 degree oven. I've tried this and it comes out quite nicely - fluffy and not too dry, although you can control that by the time in the oven. Here's the link to the FTV recipe:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: applehome

                      I read the omelette entry in McGee's On Food and Cooking, and he says that the classic omelette, as described by Escoffier is cooked with high heat, very fast, and is thin and has a well formed skin. The version I mentioned from Tyler is often referred to as an Omelette Soufflee.

                    2. I always thought it was slow, that high heat would make it tough and brown the eggs. But I only make omlettes a couple of times a year so I'm no expert. I do try to use what I can recall of Julia's tips.

                      1. In "Mastering the Art...", Julia says high heat. In my life there is no other book nor other god.

                        1. The best method I've used is Jacques Pepin's in "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home". The eggs are cooked quickly over medium-high while being shaken and stirred rapidly.

                          1. This method works for me every time. You need to have the filling ready beforehand or prepare it simultaneously.

                            Heat a skillet brushed with oil on medium-high.
                            Pour in the beaten eggs and tilt the skillet to spread the egg evenly.
                            When the edges begin to set, lower the heat and cover the skillet for 30 seconds to a minute.
                            Lift the lid, fill and roll the omelet.

                            1. to all you high-heat proponents: what about the emerging consensus that you shouldn't heat nonstick pans over high heat because of the fumes? are you all doing your omelets with cast-iron?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: nicosian

                                I believe the emerging "concensus" is a lot of b.s. unless you are in the habit of heating the pan to close to 1900 degrees!

                              2. There are 2 kinds of omelets - puffy/baked and french. French high and very fast in a nonstick pan with unsalted butter and a little grapeseed oil to prevent burning; baked/puffy omelet - high to saute your veg. fillings - then low in the oven to prevent eggs getting tough and to melt your cheese without rubberizing it.

                                1. Definately HIGH!

                                  I've tried making omlettes a bunch of ways, including some mentioned above, but the one I've found works best for me is this method by Delia Smith (see below, with pictures):