Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Omelet

A cast iron skillet omelet
For many, the idea of cooking an omelet in a cast iron skillet is overwhelming.

That's why Teflon was invented, right? (wrong).

Sidebar: Teflon was actually invented to help lubricate the insides of nuclear weapons. But the cold war dragged on for 43 frickin' years without the thrill of all-out nuclear war... and those nuclear warheads just didn't get used up at the revenue-producing rate the marketing team had predicted. No wonder DuPont diversified into cookware. Unfortunately, Teflon emits PFOA at stovetop cooking temperatures. PFOA is a known carcinogen. When building components for nuclear weapons, emitting cancer-causing chemicals at stovetop temperatures is not particularly problematic. When building cookware, however, it is problematic. I encourage you to check out my Ignite Boulder presentation for more info on this topic.

I believe it is imperative that you learn to cook omelets on cast iron cookware. Your family is counting on you! Fortunately, it's really easy.

For starters, just about any old (or new) cast iron skillet will work. If your skillet has some rudimentary seasoning and a good coating of oil, things will turn out great. Of course, the more well-seasoned your cast iron is, the easier a time you'll have of it.

A small bunch of chard
I typically use two cast iron skillets for omelets—one for sauteing the filling, one for the omelet itself. You could do it all in a single skillet by sauteing the filling first, and then setting it aside in a covered bowl until ready. If you use the one-skillet method you'll probably want to wipe out or rinse your skillet before beginning to cook the eggs to avoid unsightly vegetable residue on the outside of your finished omelet.

Speaking of the outside of your omelet... Escoffier himself relished a well-browned exterior. So don't be afraid to let those eggs set and set well.

For this recipe, I had on hand chard, onions, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. But you can put just about anything into an omelet as long as you taste the filling and it tastes good.

This recipe serves 2-4, depending on side dishes and appetites.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced
  • Small bunch of chard, chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 pound (4 oz.) grated cheese (cheddar, jack, what have-you)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola oil
Any time you cook with cast iron, your skillets should start out shiny with a coat of fresh oil. If they weren't put away shiny, you should wipe them with oil until they are.

Begin by heating a medium cast iron skillet on medium heat. This skillet will be used for the filling. Slice your onions, slice your mushrooms, and roughly chop your chard. When the skillet is hot, add a tablespoon or so of oil, and toss in the onion to begin sauteing. Saute your onions for 2-3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and chard. Continue sauteing until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are soft and tasty (pull them out and taste them). Perhaps another 5-7 minutes.

While your filling is finishing up, heat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat. This skillet will be used for the omelet. As the skillet heats up, crack four eggs into a mixing bowl, add a pinch or two of salt, and beat the eggs well with a fork.

Turn on your broiler.

Omelet fillings ready to go
Back in the "fillings" skillet, clear everything out from the center of the skillet and add your halved cherry tomatoes face-down.

After 2-3 minutes—when they've developed a nice brown crust, add your minced garlic, and stir everything together after about 30 seconds.

Remove the skillet from heat and set aside. Taste your filling, and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Meanwhile, your "omelet" skillet should be nice and hot. Toss in your butter, stir it around for an even coating, and then pour in your eggs.

Massage the eggs gently as they cook: pop bubbles, smooth out rough spots, and tuck the ragged edges back in.

The goal is not to scramble them... just to move things around and to create bit more structural integrity for the omelet.

An omelet cooking in a cast iron skillet
Once the bottom of the omelet begins to firm up, stop stirring, and add your grated cheese on top. Place the whole affair under the broiler for 20-30 seconds.

The idea is to melt the cheese and give the top layer of eggs a chance to cook a bit more.

BE CAREFUL! It's really easy to burn the whole thing at this point. Do not walk away once you've placed the omelet under the broiler.

As the cheese melts and the eggs begin firming up (but before they cook through), pull the skillet and turn off the broiler. Again, this will take 20-30 seconds.

Omelet filling ready to be covered up
Add your filling to half of the omelet. Then, using a spatula, gently turn the empty side over to cover the filling.

Remove the omelet from the skillet and serve immediately. It's easier to get it out of the skillet if you cut it into sections for serving first... that way you don't have to get the whole thing out in one piece.

If you do wish to get the whole thing out in once piece... it can be done with two wide spatulas and a little bit of skill.



  1. I love using my cast iron for eggs.

    I think the biggest mistake most people make with cast iron (aside from not seasoning it right the first time) is not giving it enough time to preheat. Cast iron holds heat like nobody's business, but it doesn't always heat evenly. I think sticking comes from trying to use a pan before it's properly heated through. Your thoughts?

  2. Hey Kirby,

    Agreed. Most people don't let the pan heat up enough before cooking... which will make those eggs stick for sure. I also then see people burn their food because they had the heat too high (in their rush to heat up the pan), and once it gets hot it gets REALLY hot.

    In the words of Axl Rose: "Just a little patience..."

    ; - )


  3. Just watched your ignite boulder presentation on cast iron. Nicely done.
    My husband and I got rid of all teflon products about 12 or 13 years ago. We use only stainless steel and cast iron. We love our cast iron, and have 4 in regular use. It is a wonderful thing.

  4. Hey Monstergirlee,

    Thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked the Ignite Boulder preso. Sure was fun!

    Happy to hear that your family has crossed over to cast iron and stainless steel. Well played!

    I also checked out your 365 photo project... really cool! Look forward to more.


  5. Thanks for the helpful blog! I was never able to make omelettes in the past that didn't have a runny inside. Once I got my cast iron, and I knew I could put it in the oven, I've been excited to give the omelette another try. Your instructions were very helpful, thanks again!

  6. Howdy,

    You're welcome! Glad it worked out for you.

    Thanks for stopping by!



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