The Perfect Primal Omelet

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time. Hard boiled, scrambled, poached, fried. We’ll take eggs any time of day, any way you want to cook ‘em. But if we had our choice, the omelet just might be our favorite. Like an edible envelope that can be stuffed with anything you desire, an omelet is a quick and healthy way to satisfy hunger.  You really can’t go wrong when eating a meal based around such an excellent source of protein, choline, selenium and vitamin D.

Unless, of course, the thought of cooking an omelet makes you break into a cold sweat.

At one time or another, almost every cook has been defeated by an omelet that refused to un-stick from the pan or cook all the way through or stay snugly wrapped around its fillings. Like most things, practice makes perfect when it comes to omelets, which gives you another incentive to make them a regular part of your meal plan. The key to great omelets is getting organized beforehand, as they turn out best when cooked quickly. Fillings should be ready-to-go and within arm’s reach, and so should two basic kitchen tools: an 8-inch skillet (non-stick is the most forgiving for omelet-making) and a heat-resistant rubber spatula. Three eggs are about right if you’re using an 8-inch pan, as it keeps the egg mixture from being too thick and cooking unevenly. If you’re extra hungry, consider making two omelets of this size rather than one gigantic one. A few tablespoons of either butter or oil – both work well – should be warmed in the pan over medium heat before adding the eggs. The part about medium heat is important if you want to avoid an overly browned (and usually dry) omelet. And finally, it helps if you decide which style of omelet you crave, since there are a few ways to go about making a perfect omelet.

The Basic Omelet

The fastest and easiest method for most, this is your basic dump-some-eggs-in-a-pan-and-add-ingredients omelet.

Pour the three beaten eggs (lightly seasoned with salt and pepper if you like) into the awaiting skillet where your butter or oil has already been warming. As the eggs cook, the edges will be the first part to firm up. Gently pull the edges back with a rubber spatula and tilt the skillet so the runny egg in the middle flows to the edges of the pan to cook. Do this continuously until there is very little uncooked egg left and the middle has set. Give the pan a few shakes – the omelet should move around easily and not be stuck to the bottom. If it is sticking at all, either you didn’t add enough butter/oil or you’re cooking over too high of heat.

Some people like to flip the omelet at this point, but this runs the risk of tearing it. If you’re feeling lucky, go for it. Otherwise, leave the eggs be and simply add any fillings across the middle of the omelet.

With your spatula, lift the edge of the omelet closest to the handle of the pan and fold it across and over the top of the filling, so that the edges of the omelet line up. Put a lid on the pan and cook for another minute.

For all types of omelets, use your spatula to lift the omelet out of the pan, or better yet, hold a plate level with the skillet and tilt the plate and the skillet towards each other. Then, flip the skillet over the plate so the omelet turns over and rolls out.

The Fluffy “Souffle” Omelet

This variation of the basic omelet is type most often served in diners and has a fluffy, cloudlike texture.

You begin with three eggs but this time, separate the whites from the yolks. With a whisk or electric mixer, beat the whites until soft peaks form and the whites have basically tripled in volume. You can whisk all three whites, which results in a very fluffy omelet, but it’s a bit hard to cook all the way through. For a little bit of fluff, leave two whites with the yolks and beat just one egg white into soft peaks. Either way, stir the yolks with a fork then pour them in with the fluffy whites, gently stirring until fully incorporated and the mixture is a pale yellow color.

While this method guarantees an airy texture, it isn’t the only route to a fluffy omelet. You can also whir the eggs yolks and whites together until frothy in a blender (or with a handheld mixer). Or, whisk the yolks and whites together by hand, but add two tablespoons of water to the mixture. Be warned – this last method is very controversial among omelet purists. Some say the water steams the eggs a bit while they cook making the omelet lighter, and others claim it does nothing more than dilute flavor.

Whichever route you choose, you’re still going to heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat and add the eggs. As the omelet cooks, occasionally shake the skillet vigorously so the egg moves around and doesn’t stick. Super-fluffy eggs won’t set all the way through like runny ones do, so after about a minute you’re going to have to flip the sucker. This can be done very quickly with a large, flat spatula or if you’re really good, with the flick of a wrist.

If you’re adding fillings, now is the time, then put a lid on the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Fold the omelet in half and roll it out of the pan using the same method as for the basic omelet.

The French Omelet

Julia Child seductively described a French omelet as a “smooth, gently swelling, golden oval” which should convince just about anyone to give it a try. Considered the “classic” technique, no aspiring chef graduates from culinary school without mastering this method. This is also the favored method by those who prefer an omelet to be a bit loose and custardy, rather than firm or rubbery.

French omelets are not made American-style, that is, stuffed until bursting with a dozen ingredients. Rather, it’s all about the egg. A light filling of some sort can be added, but sprinkling fresh herbs on top is our favorite simple preparation.

French omelets are in and out of the pan in a minute or two and therefore can be cooked at a higher heat, closer to high than medium. Butter is the preferred fat, so melt about a tablespoon and add the eggs just after the foaminess subsides and before the butter begins to turn brown.

Right away the eggs are stirred continuously, using a rubber spatula or the flat side of a fork, while shuffling the pan back and forth over the heat. This keeps the eggs from sticking or browning, even while over high heat. For the first 10 seconds or so, it’s almost as if you’re making a scramble instead of an omelet. But as soon as the eggs move from runny to thick and custardy, it’s time to stop stirring. If you’re adding a filling, add it to the middle of the pan now.

Tilt the pan at a 45-degree angle and use your spatula to coax the eggs, partially rolling them and partially pushing them, to the end of the pan farthest from the handle. Hold the pan tilted over the heat for a few seconds to give the outside of the omelet a final chance to cook. At this point, the omelet will look like a long, lumpy, rolled bundle of gently cooked egg. Loosen any grip the eggs have on the pan by gently sliding your spatula underneath the omelet or by hitting the handle of the pan several times to bounce the omelet around.

Roll the omelet onto a plate so that the smooth bottom side is now face up. A French omelet is traditionally and deliciously finished by melting a pat of butter on top.

The Fillings

While a French omelet is usually filled with refined and delicate flavors like sautéed asparagus, crab, truffles, or a little cheese, the basic and/or fluffy omelet can continually be re-invented by adding any number of bold flavor combinations.  Go Tex-Mex by adding avocado, salsa and sliced steak, or choose an Asian theme with shrimp, scallions and dash of tamari. You can’t go wrong with a bacon or sausage filling mixed with dark, leafy greens or by swirling in some pesto and mushrooms. When you have a bit of a sweet tooth, try flavoring your omelet with cinnamon and sliced strawberries. The options are only limited by your own imagination. And don’t forget about omelet muffins and frittatas, close cousins of the omelet that will add even more variety to your breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) routine.

What are your favorite and most unusual omelet combinations? Do you have any tricks to share? Let us know, because we’ve got a dozen eggs in the fridge right now, just waiting to be whisked into the Perfect Primal Omelet.

Challenge #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals

This is the mini-challenge relevant to this post:

Cook at home: If you don’t know how to cook the challenge above really will be a challenge. Over the next 30 days we’ll be covering some essential cooking skills and techniques that anyone looking to go Primal should master. If you’re the type that dines out more often than dining in, and doesn’t know a pot from a pan, make an effort this month to get into the habit of preparing your own food.

(This is just one of many challenges. Learn about all of the 30-Day Primal Blueprint Challenges here.)

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46 thoughts on “The Perfect Primal Omelet”

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  1. Thanks Mark, always great to learn new ways to make eggs! Gonna try the fluffy omelet tomorrow

  2. Great post!
    Just remember to not cook the eggs on high heat! I wish someone had taught me that when I was younger. My omelets have suffered so much in the past. Turn it down to just above Medium, and the eggs stay together and cook more evenly.

  3. Dee-lish. I do love making myself a big ol’ omelet on the weekends. I’m also a big fan of scrambled eggs, James Bond-style, meaning 2 T of butter for every 3 eggs. After years of only using a sliver of butter, I can’t believe how great this tastes.

  4. I haven’t mastered the art of the omelet yet, but I won’t give up. Thanks for the step by step instructions – very helpful.

    BTW, my favorite omelet is filled with goat cheese and grilled apples and onions. Perfect in the fall.

  5. Just got done eating a 3 egg ham and cheese omelet, with a healthy serving of bacon. God I love this diet.

  6. Old stand by. We eat omelets 5 out of 7 mornings. Amazing all you can put in an omelet and not spike your blood sugars. Good article. I’m going to try the french one.


  7. My chef friend taught me a valuable lesson about making/messing up omelets. “If at first you don’t succeed, just call it a scramble and get on with breakfast!”

  8. I like to partially bake my omelets. Preheat the oven to 400. Whisk together 3 eggs. Grease a cast iron skillet with coconut oil or butter and heat it over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, pour the eggs in, allow them to sit for about 10 seconds, cover them, and reduce the heat to low. Let the omelet sit for five minutes. After this, transfer it to the oven and bake it uncovered for another five minutes.

    Add Roma tomato slices, raw provolone cheese, spinach, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper for a Mediterranean-style omelet. :]

  9. To get some fluffiness without the hassle of separating the white from the yolk etc., try taking the pan off the cooker when the bottom half of the omelette is cooked and put the whole thing under the grill. This method gives a fluffy omelette, requires no flipping or folding and little whisking, gets things cooked evenly and lets you melt some cheese on top too. It’s awesome!

    1. That’s the way I do it and it doesn’t take but a couple of minutes to make one this way. Cast iron and the broiler for finishing it off is the way to go.


  10. 3 eggs, dash of milk, 1/2 cup chopped onion, minced garlic 1/2 tsp, whisked together. 1 tblspn of butter to grease the skillet, pour whipped egg in skillet. While cooking get a slice of Sargento Chipolte cheddar(natural cheese is better) and two tblspoons of chunky salsa. When omelet is done on both sides, put on a plate, add cheese and salsa, fold over enjoy. *use small skillet for ease of flipping omelet over* 536 calories, 39 grams of fat, 14grams of carb and 24 grams of protien. Pretty primal

    1. Milk? Yuck! Mark shows how to make a beautiful french omelet in the article and you jump in with your non primal milk mish mash omelet?

    2. There was a GRIN in there that got cut off, seriously there is no right way to make an omelet but milk is hardly primal and in my experience a good way to screw up an otherwise perfect omelet.

  11. I might be missing out by not creating omelets but I just go usually go for my fillings sauteed in bacon grease or coconut oil with over easy eggs on top! I love the yolky sauce!

    My kids love their fillings mixed in scrambled eggs.

    No pressure for either of those creations! My favorite combo is avocado (I don’t sautee that, just stick it in the bowl), bacon, mushroom, and onion. Sometimes I toss a little salsa in too! Yum!

    1. I like to saute some shitake or baby bella mushrooms in the bacon fat, leave the fat in the pan to grease it, and add the mushrooms and bacon to the omelet. mmm

  12. In the past I probably ate some form of eggs for breakfast five days a week.
    Recently, I had an Allergy Test done by the LEF.
    It seems that I’m mildly allergic to eggs now.
    With no outward symptoms.
    I only eat them once a week now.

    Mark, could my allergy/sensitivity be from eating them everyday in the past ?
    If so…should people get allergy tested ?
    Should they just not be eaten everyday ?
    Could the test itself not be 100% ?

    I’m also allergic to peanuts/almonds/walnuts and bananas.
    They also used to part of my everyday diet.
    Any thoughts/ideas on allergies caused from foods eaten everyday ?
    Whereas foods I rarely/never eat – dairy, corn, rice, shellfish, showed no sensitivities.

    1. Yep, eggs and nightshade planta can have this effect. If your gut lining is not healthy (AKA you suffer from leaky gut) you can test positive for allergies to all sorts of foods that under nirmal healthy circumstances, you wouldn’t be allergic to. Robb Wolf talks about this a lot on his blog and in his podcast too – check his blog and his new book out. Book is called the Paleo Solution.

  13. I always turn to omelets when I don’t have something ready to cook. Easy fast and very delicious! Spinach/Ham/Bacon/Cheese are my favorite toppings. Sometimes throw on artichokes if i have them handy!

  14. Thx for the new ideas. Everything sounds delicious.
    Herbed cream cheese is my fav omelete filling.

  15. I do not like any sort of brown crustiness on my eggs so I use a lower heat..patience..and you really can throw anything in there..
    On a slightly related topic, I have always (in the past) loved runny yolks to dip my toast in, or corned beef hash or yum
    Last week after cooking 2 pork tenderloins with lots of leftovers, I decided to make a “primal” hash..I fried the diced pork in Coconut oil til crisp, with zucchini and squash from the garden, onions (of course) and put my 3 soft cooked eggs on top..Oh my..I used some madras and curry seasoning for my veggie/pork “hash”, and voila! Best suprise brunch in a while!

  16. I just had a great one with ground lamb, onion, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, and a bit of salsa. Pretty delicious.

  17. I make omelets with a little bit of heavy cream in the beaten egg- makes them really fluffy!
    And I have also discovered that cottage cheese is super good in an omelett!!

  18. I really like omelettes, but mixing everything into a scramble is what I like best. Pesto in an omelette is incredible!

  19. I prefer a deconstructed omelet: Cook the bacon or sausage, push to the sides of the pan, add the diced veggies, cook 2-3 minutes and push to the sides of the pan, then drop in the eggs, adding a little butter first if needed to keep the eggs from sticking. If I don’t have meat on hand, I saute the veggies in stock and/or butter. Sriracha sauce makes any omelet taste better.

  20. I love the three-egg French omelet cooked in lots of butter and topped with parsley.

  21. The key rule to any egg dish is this: if it looks done in the pan it’s way overcooked. Any good egg dish will finish on the plate.

  22. Mark I love you and your ideas, please note though that one of your pictures shows a teflon pan. Please your word is gold to many people and this one photo could encourage them to buy this type of pan which is a well know environmental nightmare! Just last night I read in Scientific America the affects this item is having on our water supplies. I use a stainless steel pan with lots of butter which works great as long as you have a good thin spatula for getting under the eggs (this works better than my cast iron pan)

  23. I use whatever veggies I have leftover from the day before in omlettes (or scrambles). Yesterday I mixed 3 eggs with a big glob of roasted and mashed butternut squash with red onions and garlic and cooked it up in a pan… delicious, dense and filling. Not technically an omlette but yum.

  24. It was a really bad idea to read this post sat in a library waiting for my flat mate to get home because I went and locked myself out my flat. Now I’m hungry and don’t have access to a kitchen.

  25. Awesome recipes! My addition? Lots of hot peppers, jalapeno, habernero and the flavoring of bell peppers. Some onion and then Tabasco on the side!

  26. I, too, love an omelet, but rarely have time to make them in the mornings during the week. What follows is my solution . . .

    First, brown 1lb of sausage . .. take your pick on you favorite, most primal roll sausage.

    Then, in a 9×13 Pyrex dish . . .

    Crack a dozen eggs
    Salt, Pepper, stir
    Add up to 8 oz shredded cheese (if you do dairy)
    add anything you like – I typically go with mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, etc.
    Add the sausage
    Stir well

    Place in 325 over for 25 minutes

    Cut into squares and you have breakfast for the week!

  27. I like them French Style, 2 eggs instead of 3 (which means 2 omelettes instead of 1), no milk, but about 2 teaspoons water. A little salt and pepper, maybe some tarragon, and you’re done. For a filling/topping my favorite has to be chorizo and avocado.

  28. O no! What are you doing to your poor omelet? You want to mix your eggs up with a fork and add just a splash of milk, pour it in the already-heated pan (very important), and let it go until the edges crisp. Lay your cheese and fillings in and close it up, take it off the heat when you can see melty bubbly cheese. I usually leave a corner of cheese sticking out the side for this purpose. Yes, your egg will still be a bit liquidy. If you pre-heated your pan at a nice low-to-medium heat, no flash frying, it should still be warmed through enough to satisfy the local diner cooks if not the FDA. The milk helps it keep a nice texture too. There is nothing worse than an omelet with the egg cooked all the way through. Yuck!

    1. The milk will also make the mixture thin enough that it spreads throughout the pan, so use a smaller frying pan or make a bigger omelet. I find that 2 eggs works well in a 6″ pan, but anything larger than that needs 3.

  29. My fav fritatta or omelette filling is shredded baby bok choy, soysauce, mushrooms, and green onions.