One of our most popular lessons at The Dynamite Shop, an online cooking school for kids, is how to make a frittata, the big, ingredient-packed Italian baked egg dish. Not only is it a beloved brunch staple, it’s a great recipe for teaching beginner cooks all about eggs, knife skills, and how to create your own flavor profile when making a meal. Maybe your frittata is filled with spinach, dill and feta cheese; or sausage, peppers and onions; or tomatoes and basil: the beauty is that once you know the basic recipe (and it really is basic!), you can make it countless ways that are entirely your own.
The Difference Between a Frittata and an Omelette
A frittata is similar to several other eggy dishes: it’s like an omelette (but the ingredients are mixed together, not folded in), a Spanish tortilla (but not as dense or limited to potatoes), a quiche (without a crust) and even bread pudding (without the bread). But what truly makes a frittata special is what you decide to put in it, which means there are some great lessons about pairing flavors and seasoning baked right into the dish.
Why Everyone Should Learn How to Cook a Frittata
Frittatas are one of those smart, affordable recipes that resourceful cooks keep in their back pocket. It’s perfect for transforming leftovers in creative ways and, since it is just as good cold or at room temperature, the frittata is a great make-ahead meal to cook for a crowd.
You can be a brunch superstar by hosting a frittata party, featuring several versions people can try with a big salad, and have it all prepared hours or even a day ahead. But frittatas aren’t just party food; they make a healthy, satisfying family breakfast when they're filled with cooked vegetables, meat or fish from last night’s dinner. Add some fresh herbs and seasoning and cheese, and no one will ever know they’re eating leftovers!
Equipment That Makes Cooking a Frittata Easier
There's no need for special equipment to make a frittata, but a 10 to 12-inch cast iron pan or nonstick skillet that can go from the stovetop to the oven to the table is an ideal choice. That way, you have fewer dishes to wash. As a bonus, the cast iron makes for a nice, crispy exterior crust.
Don't have a cast iron or nonstick skillet? No problem. Prepare the vegetables in a regular skillet and transfer to a casserole dish to bake with the egg mixture.
A large whisk makes whisking the eggs and cheese together a breeze, but if you don't have one, you can use a fork. And it's helpful to have a silicone spatula to free the frittata from the pan if you want to invert it onto a plate.
The Dynamite Shop's frittata recipe is a flexible and forgiving formula. This means you can follow the ratios and not worry if there is one less egg or milk instead of cream; it will still be delicious. Our general rule is to use 1/2 cup cream per dozen large eggs: whisk them together until frothy, incorporating as much air as you can to give your frittatas a good rise.
Eat Your Fillings
Now it's time to talk about fillings, which is where things get creative. Here is a Dynamite Shop pro tip: Whisk the cheese in with the eggs, because there’s nothing worse than eating a frittata with a cold, hardened layer of cheese on top. That's what happens when you add the cheese at the end. Adding the cheese to your eggs means it will be evenly distributed across each bite.
As for the other fillings, start with an onion sautéed in olive oil to create a delicious base of flavor, and then add whatever additional vegetables you want. When selecting these vegetables, think about their texture and how long they take to cook, then slice and dice them accordingly.
For example, sweet potatoes need more time then summer squash, so dice the potatoes into smaller cubes and slice the squash into thicker half moons if they are being added to the pan at the same time. Leafy greens should be roughly chopped and added once the firm vegetables are cooked, since they wilt in a flash.
Why cut the squash into half moons? Here's a quick Dynamite Shop knife skills lesson: with round or cylindrical vegetables, start by cutting them in half to “find the flat”—in other words, to create a flat side of that vegetable. (Slice in half lengthwise for long, cylindrical vegetables like zucchini squash.) Now place that flat, cut-side down and you have a safe, stable vegetable to slice.
It’s important to cook the ingredients first and the drain off any excess cooking liquid to avoid a soggy frittata. After removing the cooked vegetables from the heat and draining, add the cooked, leftover or cured meats or fish (we love chopped ham, crumbled sausage, shredded chicken or pork) and herbs (the more, the merrier, we say: parsley, basil, dill, even mint).
Taste, Taste, Taste
Tasting is a very important part of cooking. Before you add the eggs, grab a fork, have a taste, and season. Here is where changes can be made; add more salt, pepper, herbs, or spices to balance the flavor of the dish.
Bring It All Together
Pour the egg and cheese mixture over all of those cooked vegetables, making sure to get it into every crevice and fill the bottom of the pan. Place the frittata in the oven to cook for about 30-40 minutes.
The frittata is done when the eggs are just set, firm and hold together, but still jiggle when the pan is shaken. The whole frittata will evenly puff up. Should it cook too long, the eggs will take on too much volume and rise too high in the center of frittata.
How to Flip a Frittata Onto a Plate
Take the frittata out of the oven, let it rest (and deflate a bit) and serve. To show off the frittata's golden crust, you could invert it onto a plate or cutting board. Here's how:
- Run a knife around the rim of the skillet.
- Lay a plate or cutting board over the top.
- Flip the pan with the plate over. Use a silicone spatula to gently and slowly free the frittata from the skillet.
- Then cut it into wedges.
Of course, you don't have to invert your frittata onto a plate. You could cut it like a pie, straight out of the pan, instead. Either way, each bite will have a little of each ingredient you added and will be packed with flavor.