The Secret to Making a Perfect Frittata Every Time

Four all-important tips for making a creamy, custardy frittata.

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A frittata, by its nature, is a kitchen sink kind of meal. It's designed to use up scraps of this or that and leftover bits of whatever is fresh in your crisper and cheese drawers. It's also intended to be quite easy on nights when you don't have much effort to give but still want a great meal. Indeed, the frittata formula is quite simple: you cook or warm the filling, pour in a basic egg mixture, and bake until just set.

It appears flawless, but the reality of the frittata is that it's all too often underseasoned and undercooked, which results in a dry, flavorless, sponge-like meal that's not at all appealing—or even respectful of those leftover ingredients you saved up just for this meal.

What Is a Frittata?

A frittata sits somewhere between a quiche and an omelet. It doesn't have a crust like a quiche, but it's not folded like an omelet. The texture is a cross between the rich, creamy quiche and the airy, buoyant omelet.

Most frittatas are delicious at just about any temperature, from fresh-out-of-the-oven hot, to room temperature or even cold. For lunch or dinner, you complete the meal with a side of lightly dressed greens; for breakfast, add fruit or a slice of bacon.

Use mastering your frittata method as a way to sharpen your time-honed kitchen skills. Before you know it, your version of the classic Italian meal will be adored for its always-consistent texture, flavor, and ability to surprise and delight. You can rely on a classic frittata recipe, like this Zucchini-and-Mozzarella Frittata, or once you've mastered the egg mixture rules below, you can wing your frittata with ingredients you have on hand.

Here, learn how to make a frittata perfectly each time, with four all-important secrets even the best home cooks may not yet know.

How to Make a Delicious Frittata Every Time

The secret to cooking a silky, luscious frittata comes down to these important steps:

1. Use the right number of eggs: If you underfill or overfill your skillet, the texture of the frittata may be compromised. Thin frittatas easily overcook; thick ones may cook too long on the outer edges before the inside is set. That leaves you with an eggy, spongy dish.

To figure out the right balance, use the same number of eggs as your skillet's measurement. For a large 12-inch skillet, use one dozen eggs. For a smaller 9-inch skillet, the ideal size if you're feeding four to six people, use nine eggs. For a smaller group of two to three people, a six-inch skillet will work, and you'll want to use six eggs.

For example, this Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata is baked in a 10-inch ovenproof non-stick skillet, and it calls for 10 eggs. You can use any non-stick skillet, but cast-iron skillets are preferred. They help the frittata develop a rich crust on the bottom, while keeping the interior custard-like.

2. Beat eggs until just blended: Overbeating the eggs invites too much air in to the egg mixture. As the frittata bakes, the eggs will expand and puff up. That can leave them with a spongy texture that's dry and unappealing. You want to combine the eggs well, but stop once everything is fully incorporated.

3. Add rich dairy: You might assume the basic frittata recipe is whipped eggs poured over cooked veggies or meat, but you'd be missing one very important ingredient: dairy. Adding a bit of dairy, whether it's cream or thick yogurt, is essential for getting the moisture and creaminess of the frittata just right.

For every dozen eggs, use a half cup of dairy. It can be cream, whole milk, sour cream, yogurt, crème fraîche, even cottage cheese. This recipe for Mushroom, Kale, and Cheddar Frittata calls for crème fraiche, but sour cream would work, too. Full-fat dairy is best; skim or low-fat dairy won't impart the lushness you're seeking.

Also consider whether you want cheese in your frittata, and if so, where you want it. You can stir in cheeses that melt well for a bit of gooeyness in every bite. This Potato, Ham, and Spinach Frittata recipe uses white cheddar in the egg mixture.

For cheeses that don't melt as well, consider sprinkling them on top, like the goat cheese in this Spring Vegetable Frittata recipe. Lastly, you could sprinkle the cheese directly on top while baking. That will help give the appearance of a golden-brown crust, and you won't risk overcooking the frittata in order to achieve the look. Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses are especially good for this task.

4. Bake only until set: Be watchful of a cooking quiche. You don't want it to overcook, or you'll ruin the texture you were seeking. About five minutes before your quiche should be done, give the pan a slight jostle. If the center is still liquid, you've got to cook longer. If it's almost set, cook the frittata a few more minutes, then remove it. As long as the frittata is still in the hot pan, it will continue to cook. That's why it's important to pull the dish from the oven as soon as it reaches that "set" stage. Any additional cooking won't send it into squishy, elastic-like texture territory. It'll just help firm it up a bit more.

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