Classic French Omelette Recipe

by | Mar 26, 2018 | Editor's Picks, Reader Favorites, Recipes

What is the perfect French omelette?

I’ve been on the lookout for the most authentic French omelette-making technique for quite sometime. After watching chef-after-chef cook french omelettes on YouTube, it’s evident there’s a wide range of cooking techniques for making a French omelet.

The following videos present the techniques I adopted from the masters to help me formulate my own French omelette recipe. If you have a fascination with omelettes like I do, you’ll enjoy all that I’ve included here.

French Omelette vs  american omelette

First, the French omelet is not what most Americans are familiar with. What Americans are familiar with is a fully stuffed fluffy egg frittata folded into a halfmoon shape, and often topped with sour cream, avocado and salsa. And when it’s cut open, the cooked egg oozes cheese from the center. This is definitely not a french omelette.

Is there a proper omelette technique?

Identifying the perfect omelette technique seems to be elusive. In the following videos, as presented by several master chefs, you’ll see that French omelette cooking methods do vary – sometimes greatly.

However, it is accepted that all French omelettes are described as a delicately cooked egg rolled into a tapered cigar or almond shape, then topped with butter – and often topped with chopped herbs. Rarely is cheese added.

Contents of this article

List of omelette-making techniques (as demonstrated by the master chefs)

My Classic French Omelette Recipe

Omelette-making instructional videos by Master Chefs

 

How to Make a Michelin Star French Omelette

Master Chef Techniques of Interest…

These summaries are omelette cooking techniques as described by master chefs in the following videos. While much of the instruction on the French technique was consistent, conflicting advice was also given. You be the judge on that.

Omelette Pan Cooking Temperature

Conflicting advice from the masters

Should the pan be hot? Should the eggs cook slowly on a low temp? Pan temperature was of diverging opinion for omelette cooking. Chefs Traci Des Jardins and Thomas Keller are adamant about cooking eggs low and slow for several minutes. While Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck insisted on hot pans. This conflicting advice had me scratching my head. While cooking temperature drastically affected the cooking time, it also greatly influenced the finished egg texture.

Shake and Stir while cooking

Confirmed as a French Omelette technique

During the cooking process, it was consensus to gently stir the eggs in order to make them more custard-like; while at the same time, shake the pan to fill gaps of exposed pan. Many chefs used the back of a fork to stir the eggs (a technique, of which, I thought would damage a pan). Advocates of the slow cooking method, on the other hand, used spatulas to stir eggs. Julia Child didn’t instruct much on the egg stirring; but on the other hand, she got quite intense with her pan shaking and omelette flipping.

Avoid browning of eggs and seams

Inconsistant advice from top chefs for making a French Omelette

Many of the more contemporary chefs were resolute in producing an omelette with no signs brown or seams (where the finished eggs showed folds and crinkles). They insisted the omelette should be a smooth as a baby’s bottom with no color blemish. The old-school chefs, such as Wolfgang Puck, Raymond Blanc and Julie Child lacked this aversion. Their eggs were quite brown and covered in seams.

Omelette is Rolled out of Pan onto serving plate

Confirmed as a French Omelette technique

While the American Omelette making technique is to fold the eggs in half like a clam shell, the French technique is to roll the egg off the pan onto a plate with the seam faced down against the plate. Some of the chefs folded the omelettes two or three times, most rolled the egg like a roulade cake. Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child tended to tuck their eggs rather than rolling them.

Cigar-like almond shape of Omelette

Confirmed as a French Omelette technique

When the omelette is transferred from pan to dish, fashioning it into a cigar- or almond-like shape is the standard technique for plating. Although many of the master chefs formed the cigar shape with their cooking utensil, a few chefs actually hand-squeezed the omelette with the help of a clean towel or paper towel to get the desired shape.

Final Rub of butter on Omelette

Confirmed as a French Omelette technique

It was standard practice, across all the videos, for a chef to perform a final butter rub. It was repeatedly explained that the butter rub was to give the omelette a glossy sheen.

Sprinkle of fresh herb

Confirmed as an optional French Omelette technique

Many of the master chefs either added herbs in the egg mixture or on top of the finished egg. Adding herbs seemed to be a personal preference of the individual chef, and not a hard and fast rule.

When to add salt and pepper

No consensus with the timing for seasoning the eggs

Some chefs say to add salt and pepper when beating the eggs. While others say to season when the egg starts to stiffen in the pan. And others say to add seasoning when plating. Well, what is it?

Avoid the Fluffy Egg Omelette

Confirmed as a French Omelette technique

All chefs agreed that thick and fluffy omelettes aren’t part of the French omelette-making technique. The purpose of scrambling the eggs for a French omelette is to make the whites and yolks homogenized. There shouldn’t be any floating whites when the eggs are added to the pan. A couple of the chefs specifically said to not use a whisk because it adds excess air to the eggs. So, leave fluffy egg beating with the American omelette.

French Omelette Egg texture

Inconsistent advice from the master chefs

The younger contemporary chefs emphasize that the creamy and delicate layers should be visible after cutting through and observing a cross-section of the plated omelette. Old school chefs didn’t emphasize this as an important feature at all. After watching their videos it was hard to fathom a creamy omelette center in Julia Child’s or Wolfgang Puck’s creations.

Choose the Right Pan for an omelette

Confirmed as a French Omelette technique

Across the board, all of the chefs stated that pan choice for French omelette-making is crucial. All chefs recommend some form of a non-stick skillet. I personally use a Le Creuset ceramic frying pan.

 

Classic French Omelette
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Classic French Omelette

Prep Time1 min
Cook Time7 mins
Total Time8 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: French
Servings: 1
Author: Peter La Fond

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt
  • smidgen of freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh herb optional

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, mix eggs with fork until whites and yolks are homogenized (and no whites are floating).
  • In an unscratched skillet, melt butter on medium-low heat. Swirl butter around pan as it melts so entire surface is coated. If butter starts to foam and pop, reduce heat.
  • When butter is almost completely melted, add eggs. Stir eggs gently with spatula to break up curds and prevent crust from forming. Prevent wispy edges from forming on side of pan. Stop stirring when eggs are soft and creamy yet still loose enough to come together while stirring. 2-4min.
  • Add Salt and Pepper for taste.
  • With spatula, gently spread eggs evenly around pan and ensure bottom of pan is completely covered. Observe cooking rate of eggs across pan and rotate pan over heat to ensure colder spots are cooked evenly. 1-2 minutes.
  • When top surface of eggs are creamy but no longer loose or viscous, remove pan from heat.
  • Tilt pan, and with cooking utensil or fork gently roll cooked egg over itself; start from top edge and roll egg downward. Hold skillet over serving plate and roll egg onto plate.
  • Omelette should have roll seam facing downward against plate. Omelette should be cigar-shaped with ends tapered. Use hands to make adjustments on omelette shape.
  • With small piece of butter, coat top of omelette for a glossy sheen.
  • Sprinkle freshly chopped herb on top of omelette (optional).

Notes

This recipe uses the low-heat slow cooking method, as advised by Thomas Keller and Traci Des Jardin.
As a result of the environmental and health concerns non-stick pans pose, I've moved to Le Creuset's ceramic coated cast iron fry pan almost exclusively for egg dishes. Using a ceramic coating pan is a very good alternative to a non-stick pan, however cooking with this pan requires extra butter to prevent eggs from sticking.

How to Make a French Omelette as Taught by the Masters

The following instructional videos are ordered in a way I thought was most helpful.  By far, the Adam Savage/Traci Des Jardins video was the most insightful and is the first on my list.

Adam Savage with Traci Des Jardins’ French Omelette

Traci is a James Beard Award Winner and owner of Jardinière restaurant

 

Thomas Keller on the perfect omelette

(Currently holds 7 Michelin stars across his three restaurants)

 

David Kinch Omelette

Chef and owner of three Michelin star restaurant, Manresa

 

 

Jacques Pepin’s French Omelette

He’s a recipient of 24 James Beard Foundation awards; impressive! This Jacques Pepin omelette video seems to be the bridge between the ‘contemporary’ and the ‘old school’ French omelette-making techniques.

 

A Wolfgang Puck Omelette

 

Julia Child’s French Omelette Tecnnique

There’s nothing like watching Julia Child making an omelette!

 

 

Chef John Mitzewich – Allrecipes

Raymond Blanc

Chef and owner of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, a two Michelin star restaurant.

 

 

 

 

Jamie Oliver’ Omelette

 

 

 

Amanda Haas (Williams-Sonoma’s Culinary Director)

Alison Roman (Senior Food Editor for Bon Apetite)

 

My Experiene in Pursuing the Perfect French Omelette

Why a Le Creuset Omelette Pan?

My personal quest in learning the best French Omelette technique has not been easy.  Right from the start I handicapped myself by attempting to learn this skill without using a modern non-stick pan. The use of comtemprary non-stick coated pans seen as product placements on cooking shows should be considered blasphamy for cooking French omelettes.

Using a Le Creuset Enameled Frying Pan for Omelettes over a Non-stick Pan

First, not only does non-stick cookware do far more destruction to the environment than plastic straws, the manufacturing process of teflon and teflon-alternative coatings are likely the root of many cancers. As an environmental-friendly replacement to these pans, I’ve decided to standardize on the Le Creuset enameled cast-iron shallow frying pan for my morning eggs. This pan is very high-quality and I use it daily; however like any kitchen tool, it does require some getting used to. It is cast-iron and will retain a lot of heat. And, the cooking process does require a little more butter or olive oil to minimize sticking.

My second argument against using non-stick for omelettes is a little pretentious.  I figure the omelette is a dish that’s been around for centuries; and considering that non-stick pans are a mid- 20th century invention, how can any chef say the Classic French Omelette should be cooked in a non-stick- coated pan? Personally, I decided to employ this classic egg technique on cookware that’s closer to what chefs used centuries ago.

Written by Peter La Fond

I'm food- and- wine obsessed. Discovering a new recipe is a delight; refining a classic one is my all-consuming idée fixe.

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