Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Breakfast Brunch»French»Eggs»Perfect French Omelets Recipe

Could we defy 100 years of French culinary tradition and create an omelet you could get right the first time?

The Problem

In contrast to half-moon, diner-style omelets stuffed to the seams, the French omelet is a pristine, rolled affair. The temperature of the pan must be just right, the eggs beaten just so, and hand movements must be as swift as the ability to gauge the exact second the omelet is done. Even a few extra seconds can spell disaster.

The Goal

A foolproof method for making the ideal French omelet-unblemished golden yellow with an ultra-creamy texture, rolled over minimal filling-that even an inexperienced cook can get right.

The Solution

The classic method requires a black carbon steel omelet pan and a fork, but a nonstick skillet worked fine here. Instead of a fork, which scraped our nonstick pans, bamboo skewers and wooden chopsticks gave us small curds with silky texture while saving our pans. Since the omelets were splotchy due to hot spots over the pan’s bottom, we preheated the pan for 10 minutes over low heat to eliminate this. For creaminess, typically the eggs are pulled off the heat at the right moment, but we wanted to cheat with creamy ingredients. We recalled an intriguing recipe that added diced butter to beaten eggs before cooking. Sure enough, very cold butter dispersed evenly and fused with the eggs for a creamy omelet. But what about lightness? We knew that beating the eggs was key-excessive beating unravels egg proteins, leading to denseness-so we found the perfect number of strokes to achieve the lightest eggs. For heat level, anything lower than medium-high heat wouldn’t trigger the fast vaporization of the eggs’ water that causes them to puff up with steam. But even at medium heat, the omelet cooked so quickly it was hard to judge when it was done. We turned off the heat when the omelet was still runny, then smoothed the egg into an even layer. When covered, the skillet’s residual heat finished cooking the omelet without turning it tough. Finally, for an easy rolling method, we slid the omelet onto a paper towel and used the towel to roll the omelet into the sought-after cylinder.